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Banks To Open Curris Lecture Series

Published: February 20, 2017

The Elena Diane Curris Lecture on Global Issues series arrives in the University Theater on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. as part of a newly endowed series organized by the Global Studies Institute. The speaker, Andre Banks, will speak on the ways in which social action campaigns have raised the profile of critical issues and delivered real victories for human rights and social justice, focusing the powerful tools that all of us have in a free society to stand up for what we believe in. The title of Banks’ talk is “Designing Resistance: Remaking the Movement for Human Rights.”

The Global Studies Institute (GSI) was founded in 2012 with the assistance of the (Elaine) Haglund Global Studies Endowment and subsequent grants. Richard Marcus, the director of The Global Studies Institute and a member of the university since 2006, explains the new lecture by prominent grassroots organizer Banks is the first of an annual lecture series paid for through a new Elena Curris Global Issues Endowment.

Curris was member of former CSULB President King Alexander’s team, responsible for organizing a well-received Human Rights Symposium and other topic-related events. She passed away on Dec. 29, 2015, at the age of 38.

“It was the wish of Constantine and Jo Curris, Elena’s parents, and the Curris family, to endow a lecture series in keeping with Elena’s passions,” said Marcus, who also serves as a professor and chair of the International Studies Program.

Banks is an activist, entrepreneur and strategic advisor serving organizations worldwide to plan mobilization and create a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or whom they love. Banks is a member of the Amnesty International governing board and has twice been recognized by Economist magazine as one of the “Top 50 Diversity Leaders in Public Life.”

He is the co-founder and former executive director of All Out, an organization 2 million-strong mobilizing people to stand up for equality in every country in the world. He served as Partner and Director of Strategy at Purpose where he built new movements and is on the board of ColorOfChange.org, a leading civil rights organization building a powerful voice for Black Americans in U.S. politics.

“Thanks to the endowment by the Curris family, we now have a global issues speakers series with the funding to bring an eminent speaker like Andre Banks to campus every year,” said Marcus.

Marcus is pleased that human rights serve as the starting point for the lecture series.

“We are living in a time when how we engage with issues and communities has become very important,” he said. “People try to stand up for their individual rights not just in the U.S. but throughout the world. What are the mechanisms of engagement? How do citizens of the world, around the world, express their needs, freedoms and desires? That will be the focus of Banks’ talk.”

Marcus believes the Curris lectures demonstrate the Global Studies Institute’s commitment to area outreach.

“We live in a globalized world where engagement takes many forms,” said Marcus. “That is in keeping with the global and community aspects of the Global Studies Institute. We hope to make this the beginning of a community-engaged series of events. The question of engagement is not just a CSULB issue. It is a California, national and global issue. I hope the audience we attract will represent a broad cross-section of both campus and community. I want to see CSULB faculty, staff and students sitting side by side with our community constituency.

“The Global Studies Institute works hard to reach out to CSULB and the surrounding community,” he added. “Grants and endowments go to support diverse academic areas of global learning such as funding department curriculum reforms and program innovations in departments, creating tools for the measurement of global learning outcomes, international education research and K-14 engagement. The Global Studies Fellow Program, now in its second year, offers up to three undergraduates a stipend, budget and mentoring to build their own global engagement projects on our campus. We want our Fellows to be global citizens dedicated to finding new and exciting ways to engage with the campus and the community.”

Potrait of Andre Banks
Andre Banks

The mission of the Global Studies Institute is to increase student global competencies–the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to understand and act creatively and innovatively on issues of global significance–as part of comprehensive campus internationalization, Marcus explained.

“Making what is international is integral to what it means to be educated,” he said. “The idea behind the GSI’s founding is to address the broader academic issues of international education. What do we need to know as part of our global competency? How do we know if a student is prepared to work in a global world?”

Marcus concludes that the Curris lecture series represents a vision for the Global Studies Institute’s future.

“This institute would feel the most rewarded and excited if its activities contributed to greater global learning and competency,” he said. “We feel there is always more that can be done. We want to build the tools we need to engage the world. If we can do things like this lecture series that builds on learning and skill sets that already exist, we can be better global citizens. We will better understand our roles in the world.”

Marcus encourages both campus and community to attend the Curris lecture series.

“There is a lot of frustration right now in California and on campus. Hundreds of thousands participated in a recent march through downtown L.A.,” he recalled. “The fact that so many were driven to the streets is a demonstration of their frustration. How often do we get the chance to engage with someone as knowledgeable as Andres Banks? He is a leading global expert in what we can do to engage on a daily basis. How do we make our voices heard? If you are sitting on a fence about hearing a talk like this, think about the kind of inspiration someone like Andres Banks can provide.”