The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs at Colby College is proud to share with you highlights of our past year. We decided to create a fully digital annual report this year and hope you like it. Scroll down, click around, and enjoy.
It has been a year like no other. As a center on public affairs, we were called to respond to a nation grappling with a racial reckoning as well as deep, dangerous political divides. Add to that a presidential election year and a global pandemic.
We embraced the challenge. The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs launched a new website and set the standard at Colby for virtual programming; one of our talks has been viewed nearly 6,500 times. We created opportunities for the Colby community to unpack difficult topics ranging from the unprecedented attack on the Capitol to the broken U.S. criminal justice system. Colby faculty stepped up and guided us in conversations on racism, elections, and global health. Students from the Goldfarb Executive Board drove our programming, including hosting in-person events and moderating virtual conversations with policymakers, activists, and academics.
There is a lot to highlight as we reflect on the 2020-21 academic year. In the fall, the George J. Mitchell Lecture hosted Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer to discuss the Middle East not long after the Abraham Accords was signed. We spoke with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas P’22 in the spring about the border crisis. In addition, we were able to gather in person on campus for student-focused events, including outdoor presidential debate watch parties with fire pits and blankets on Dana Lawn and an election night event that included trivia and prizes.
We are proud of what we were able to accomplish in a year that tested our resilience, and we are grateful for your part in making our work possible. Thank you for your financial support and your intellectual engagement. Stay tuned for great things in the fall, when we expect to host a blend of in-person and online events. I always welcome your feedback.
Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs
Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs
The Goldfarb Center invited policymakers, authors, academics, and advocates to help us better understand the depth of racial inequalities in our nation’s justice system. One of the most common themes was looking at how public policy, from the drug war to police reform, has the power both to exacerbate and equalize the issue.
people were killed by police in the last year, according to The Washington Post’s police shooting database.
“Of course there is racism in the criminal justice system of America. Racism is a part of the soil from which sprouted this great nation.”
U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA)
House Judiciary Committee
Secretary, Congressional Black Caucasus
The Goldfarb Center hosted or co-sponsored over two dozen events, including 16 virtual events that were often open to the Colby community or public. We were able to reach a much broader audience than in a typical year; our event with ACLU’s Jeffery Robinson has been watched by 6,500 viewers. Some of the events highlighted below were in collaboration with other centers or institutes on campus, but most were organized by the Goldfarb Center and live streamed on our YouTube channel.
“If you use 1619 as a starting date, America has existed longer with slavery than without it: 246 years with slavery and 155 without it.”
Deputy Legal Director
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
"One study has suggested that term limits would reduce stability and predictability in law as precedents would be more frequently overruled. I don’t know exactly how to fix the problems of polarization and politicization, but I do know that term limits are not the answer.”
Herman O. Loewenstein Professor of Law
Vanderbilt University Law School
“We've talked a lot about trust [in the public health system], and why, particularly in the black community, why is there so much distrust? The question is what have we done to actually earn the trust over the years?”
Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD, MPH, MPA
Founder and CEO
“I am scared [Black Lives Matter] is a going to be a moment, not a movement.”
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Columnist, Miami Herald
Elijah Parish Lovejoy Winner
One of the highlights of the Goldfarb Center this past year has been the engagement and leadership shown by the ten members of the Goldfarb Student Executive Board. They helped shape our programming, from selecting topics and inviting speakers to co-moderating conversations.
Meredith Allen ’21 led a career talk with Colby alumni about working on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.Meet Meredith
Josué Gonzales ’23 helped host a panel on the Covid-19 pandemic and how it disproportionately impacted marginalized populations.Meet Josué
Halle Carroll ’23 sought out the best voices for our annual theme, including Anthony Ray Hinton, who served three decades on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.Meet Halle
Andrew Ordentlich ’22 selected the Cotter Debate topic of term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices.Meet Andrew
Grace Hillis ’24 asked the ACLU’s Jeffery Robinson questions about racial and criminal justice.Meet Grace
An important element of our success this year was organizing events on campus. In the fall we watched the presidential and vice president debates outside on Dana Lawn with fire pits, blankets, and pizza. Our election night watch party with trivia games hit maximum capacity. In the spring, the student board hosted Pizza & Policy, lunch-time public policy discussions featuring Colby faculty and staff.
The Goldfarb Center also supported other student-led initiatives. The center funded and guided Colby’s first student-led journal of international affairs, Overture, founded by co-editors Josh Brause ’23 and Tom Cummins ’21. The impressive journal includes a diverse collection of student and faculty commentaries covering topics ranging from the coup in Myanmar to violence in Mali.
The pandemic halted internship and research opportunities in the fall 2020 and during Jan Plan 2021. The Goldfarb Center was proud to be able to fund the following experiences in the spring and summer of 2021:
In collaboration with DavisConnects, the Goldfarb Center awarded over $32,000 in Sandy Maisel Student Internship and Research Grants to support eight student experiences in public affairs.
interned for Logan Perkins ’01 to provide legal representation to historically underrepresented groups, and helped with legal research and trial preparation for climate activists involved with pipeline protests across the country.
worked for Lisa Kaplan ’13 to detect and mitigate disinformation and social media manipulation by building out disinformation databases, strengthening social networks, and analyzing digital threats.
served as a legal intern in central Maine helping clients who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault seek justice in the form of protection through abuse orders, divorces, and other civil matters.
lived in Washington, DC this summer working at J Street on government affairs and political advocacy issues related to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
worked in the spring with Government Professor Nick Jacobs to support research on how religion affects modern-day Republican members of Congress, including looking at behavior based on religious constituencies and how religiously-affiliated lobbying groups affect voting outcomes.
provided research assistance to the China Environment Forum for the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC.
lived in Portland this summer working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) supporting advocacy priorities, researching policies and legislation, and helping protect civil liberties across New England.
was a nonprofit leadership intern with The Borgen Project, reaching out to congressional members and staff to support poverty reduction legislation and utilizing social media to engage and inform policymakers.
This year’s winner of the Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy is Emmanuel Sogunle ’21, who plans to pursue a career in education policy to reform the inequalities he has seen and experienced among communities of color. He was a double major in economics and education, held numerous leadership positions across campus, and will be working for Teach for America in Dallas while simultaneously getting his master’s in education policy after graduation. After two years teaching low-income middle school students, he plans to attend law school in order to use litigation to reform the education system.
He became intrigued and inspired by the role of advocacy, policy, and litigation to reform communities when he co-moderated a Goldfarb-sponsored event last fall with Jeffrey Robinson from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the U.S. justice system and racial inequalities. Emmanuel was then hired by the ACLU in Maine to help design a Youth Advocacy Summit for high school and college students to better understand their voting rights, lobbying, and how to organize for change. He plans to create a similar youth summit in Texas.
In his application, Emmanuel talked about the discriminatory policies, inequitable funding, and lack of support that he witnessed in the education system. He wrote, “I want to help contribute to reforming the system.” He reflected that growing up he only had one Black teacher his entire life and how important it is “to see someone that looks like you in the classroom.” Through Teach for America his hope is to not only better understand the education system, but also to connect to students of color to improve their academic outcomes.
The Goldfarb Center engaged faculty across disciplines throughout the year. Faculty helped organize panel discussions to respond to current events. They were also featured speakers in our student-initiated Pizza & Policy series, including Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government Sandy Maisel lecturing on filibusters and Assistant Professor of Government Nick Jacobs on President Biden’s first 100 days. The Goldfarb Center also funded a research survey conducted in Stockton, CA by Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology Neil Gross to help inform a book he is writing on police reform in America.
Special thanks to Christel Kesler, the Goldfarb Faculty Associate Director and Associate Professor of Sociology, who played a significant leadership role this year. She lead the Goldfarb Faculty Advisory Committee, moderated multiple events while Kimberly was on maternity leave, and co-led a reading group over Jan Plan 2021 on racial injustice in policing with Charles A. Dana Professor of Education Adam Howard. Professor Kesler also helped guide faculty panels that determined student winners for the Freedom of Expression Policy Symposium and the Franko-Maisel Prize for Public Policy.
Colby faculty served as featured speakers in many of our virtual events, including the following:
Goldfarb Faculty Associate Director and Associate Professor of Sociology
In response to the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the protests across the nation for racial justice, the Goldfarb Center felt it was imperative that we focused our attention on how systemic racism has created massive inequities within the justice system from police brutality to mass incarceration.
We hosted half a dozen speakers to address the topic, including a member of Congress who authored the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, a part of the Congressional Black Caucus’s response to police violence. We also talked to Colby faculty who are conducting research on procedural justice, a well-known lawyer from ACLU who discussed the issue from a historical, cultural, and legal perspective, and an innocent man who was in prison for nearly 30 years because of the color of his skin.
In April, the center hosted its annual Freedom of Expression Policy Symposium, a student competition that includes policy briefs and presentations related to the selected theme for the year. Students can win up to $2,000 in cash prizes. The top prize went to Esther Kim ’21 for her work on Policing in the US: Ensuring Equitable Involvement and Citizen Participation, second place went to Alice O’Neill ’23 and Halle Carroll ’23 who teamed up to focus on Anti-Capitalist Justice: Divesting from the Prison-Industrial Complex, and third place was awarded to Connor Flotten ’21 for his compelling thoughts on Ending the War on Drugs: Decriminalization and Racial Justice.