The University community is invited to a campus forum on Monday, March 4, to learn about Universitywide diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) efforts. Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Mary Grace A. Almandrez will provide key updates about DEIA…
Second Lender Symposium Honors Life of Evan Weissman
Honoring the life and legacy of professor and local food justice activist Evan Weissman is an ongoing effort, much like Weisman’s tireless work to strengthen the local food system. Weissman was selected as the 2020-22 Lender Center for Social Justice Faculty Fellowship shortly before his untimely passing in April 2020. A food studies scholar committed to community-engaged research and social change, Weissman envisioned using his Lender fellowship to co-construct a local food policy council rooted in justice and equity.
To honor his legacy, Professor Jonnell Robinson, six student fellows, the Syracuse Onondaga Food System Alliance and community members have spent two years collectively engaging in reflective dialogue, research and action around promoting greater control over the local food system by people marginalized by the current global corporate food regime. While we all engage in the local food system, which includes everything from farm to fork and beyond, not everyone has equal access. Weissman set the stage with his scholarly work, and his vision continues as part of the second annual Lender Symposium, “Centering Food Justice in Food System Transformation: Honoring the
Legacy of Professor Evan Weissman.” The event takes place in person on March 31 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET at the Schine Student Center.
“Evan’s deep commitment to social justice was evident in all he did,” says Robinson, a friend and colleague of Weissman. “He also had an incredible impact on his students. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with this amazing group of students to advance the important work he dedicated his life to. I think he’d be proud of the students’ accomplishments.”
The Lender Symposium will have a partner event this year. The Social Differences Social Justice Symposium will also take place on March 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET at the Whitman School and is presented by the Social Differences, Social Justice faculty cluster and sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, Renée Crown University Honors Program and Whitman School of Management. The inaugural symposium will explore the themes of equity, social justice and global transformation. Additionally, the Humanities Center is also serving as a sponsor of the symposium.
“With the (Lender) symposium, we hope to accomplish a demonstration of how the Lender Center has successfully built itself as a place where academia and the community can come together,” says Avalon Gupta VerWiebe, an M.S. candidate in food studies. “We want to show how the Lender Center’s generous resources were utilized to create real change in the community and set projects in motion that will have long reaching effects.”
Among them is a project conducted by Lender Student Fellows focusing locally on the Onondaga Nation, to begin developing a food stories archive, preserving the nation’s food traditions, history and knowledge.
“The most important thing to me about food justice is giving people back autonomy when it comes to their relationship with food,” said Krzeminski, an M.A. candidate in public diplomacy and global communications. “Food is a huge part of our lives, but many people find themselves disconnected from the history or traditions that are so intertwined with the foods they eat. This project with the nation perfectly represents the idea of food sovereignty—we assisted in teaching youth so that they could continue the archive process on their own and complete ownership over that content. And most importantly, the youth have a strengthened relationship with their culture, the nation and food.”
According to VerWiebe, “Food justice is important because it expands on the initial idea of food insecurity and sheds light on the very real issues of justice and equity that impact when, how and why people get fed.”
For Lender Student Fellows, it goes beyond the research.
“My experience working so far with the Lender faculty has been fabulous,” said VerWiebe. “Jonnell is truly dedicated to her work as a participatory researcher, and is a shining example of how academics can learn from, and with, communities even as they are also teachers. Jonnell’s perseverance in carrying out Dr. Weissman’s vision shows in all of the work that we have done collectively as fellows. I’m so grateful for her in my life and that she is at Syracuse University in general.”
The Lender symposium takes place in room 304 AB of the Schine Student Center. Refreshments will be offered. Registration is required.