Letter from the Director

Submitted by Suzanne St Peter on

Dear Friends,

As I write, the sun is shining after weeks of rainy, cold Seattle days. CHID, in a similar fashion, still exudes warmth and light despite the various dark clouds that have hovered over us. Taking inspiration from the sunny days, I wanted to send a few lines noting how CHID has been blossoming. 
Let us first celebrate some of the amazing new intellectuals that will formally be a part of CHID in the fall. Chandan Reddy, whose friendly face and fierce intellect is already familiar to many of us, will be a new joint appointment in CHID and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS). Chandan brings a wealth of expertise in Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Postcolonial Studies, and so much more to CHID. 
We are also excited to welcome July Cole, whose courses next year on “Eco-Poetics” and “Animal Engagements” will build on CHID’s strength in re-visioning the connections between the humanities and the natural sciences, and human/non-human entanglements; they also come just in time to contribute to a new minor on Environmental Cultures and Values. Additionally, we are delighted to welcome our 2017-2018 Collaborative Learning and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (CLIP) Fellows Lauren O’Laughlin and Jey Saung (both PhD candidates in GWSS), who will focus their teaching next year on the theme of Race, Reproduction, and Sexuality, bridging their overlapping scholarship on queer studies, trans studies, and reproductive justice. The CLIP is an important part of our program, as it highlights the many ways that CHID is not only a vibrant space for undergraduate thinking and making, but also a significant intellectual community for graduate students. 
As we build innovative new offerings on environment, race, sexuality and the cultures of science, we have also ventured out in some exciting new directions. For example, in Winter 2017, CHID offered a new course on “Critical Community Organizing,” co-led by Velma Veloria (former Washington State representative) and Third Andresen (PhD, Education). As noted in this edition’s article, Veloria was the first Filipino American and the first Asian American woman to be elected to the Washington State Legislature, and she brought her considerable influence and connections to the class, inviting such important guests to campus as Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu. Earlier this quarter I attended a lunch with the students from that class and Mayor Ed Murray. I was greatly impressed by the intelligence, poise, and passion of the students as they asked challenging questions of the Mayor and his aides. CHID is offering this course again in Fall 2017 and we hope to make it a permanent offering if we can find the resources to support it. 
Moreover, CHID International continues to provide some of the most exciting and thoughtful study abroad programs at the UW, modeling the importance of reciprocity in our global engagements and moving away from colonial and extractivist modes of education. Although we may be facing a declining demand for study abroad during times when many students seek the quickest path to a college degree, CHID International continues to be recognized for providing amazing opportunities to find meaningful ways to be in the world. Anu Taranath and Sasha Duttchoudhury’s program on LGBTQ Communities, Public Health, and Migration in Mexico City is just one example of this kind of critical, collaborative engagement—you can read about their vision and accomplishments in this newsletter article
And, as always, our students and alums continue to amaze; as examples, a current CHID senior’s story stimulates creative thinking about pregnancy, bodies, and societal expectations; and an alum updates us with exciting news of a documentary series on individuals diagnosed with breast cancer. Additionally, our own CHID alum and current International Programs Director and Part-Time Lecturer Nick Barr Clingan is a brilliant intellectual historian who is becoming an important public intellectual, and who provides a strong voice in support of public scholarship, as evidenced in his wry, poignant discussion of writing beyond academia
It is not news to you that CHID has always had to fight against the current to create a special kind of education in a large research university that is still largely imagined in terms of disciplines and departments. Our refusal of orthodoxies and convention has created an intellectual environment and approach that we will continue to defend and promote. But the dark clouds of budgetary crisis and administrative reorganization still loom on the horizon. As we prepare for the storms ahead, as we always have, we remember that CHID was built by a commitment to connection and community that does not depend on budget lines. That said, tell your friends that there has never been a better moment to contribute to CHID, support our students, and remind all who will listen of the worth of a CHID education.

María Elena García