2004-2005 Toward Equality: The Global Empowerment of Women
Report of Orientation and Goal-Setting Meeting
April 14-19, 2004
The Orientation and Goal Setting Meeting of the 2004 New Century
Scholars Program (NCS) was held at the Emory Conference Center
in Atlanta, Georgia, April 14-19, 2004. The meeting brought
together for the first time 30 of the 31 multinational and multidisciplinary
NCS Scholars from Europe, Africa, North and South America, the
NIS, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.
Under the leadership of the NCS Distinguished Scholar Leader,
Carolyn Elliott, Professor Emerita, University of Vermont, the
Scholars shared research perspectives, and engaged in debate
and small group discussion around the NCS theme "Towards
Equality: The Global Empowerment of Women." At the meeting
the Scholars also ultimately formed five core focus groups through
which they will continue to interact and pursue collaborative
projects both electronically and in-person during the program
year: "Responses to Gender Related Violence in Conflict
and Transitional Situations:" "Negotiating Citizenship
and Diversity; Gender, Nation and Diaspora;" Gender, Globalization
and Neoliberal Governance: Recasting the 3 Gs;" "Bridging
the Gap between People and Prevention/Policy: Social Science
and Sexual Health;" and "Women's Voices."
Goals: The goals of the meeting were:
To introduce the scholars to each other,
develop an esprit de corps among the group, and establish
patterns of communication that will be sustained electronically
between group meetings.
To establish working groups among the scholars
that will plan collaborative projects among the scholars that
can be carried out during or after the program year.
To carry out "program business"
including providing information about grant administration,
instructing scholars in usage of the program's internal website,
and planning the mid-term seminar to be held in December 2004.
Preparation: Prior to the meeting, Leader Carolyn Elliott
identified eight topics for panel discussions that would serve
as means of introducing scholars and getting conversation going
on major themes. These topics arose from reading of the project
proposals. The scholars were asked to suggest panels on which
they might appear, and were informed of their assignments one
week in advance of the meeting.
The meeting opened with a Reception on April 14, during which
the scholars were asked to identify another scholar whom they
would introduce during the plenary sessions.
Introductory Panels: The first 2 ½ days of the
meeting were devoted to panel discussions. Each of the four
scholars on a panel were to provide a brief description of the
project they are pursuing during the program year, and then
to comment on questions posed in advance to the panel. Time
was allocated at the end of each panel for general discussion.
The topics for the panels were as follows:
Representations of Women
Families and Households
Insiders and Outsiders Making Change
Law and Social Change
Religion, Culture and the State
Outside speakers were invited to join two of the panels and
make longer presentations. These speakers were selected to provide
an overview of topics that would provide a framework for the
specific research topics of the scholars. These speakers were
Jane Jaquette, Professor of Political Science, Occidental
College. Her topic was "Relationships between Insiders
and Outsiders in Making Social Change."
Rosalind Petchesky, Professor of Political Science, CUNY
Graduate Center. Her topic was "Empowerment: Has it been
oversold as a way of improving women's lives?"
Formation of Working Groups: In the second third of
the orientation meeting, the scholars divided into working groups
to begin the process of identifying collaborative projects.
This activity started with a general discussion of topics emerging
from the plenary discussions. Five topics were tentatively identified:
Women's Voices in Literature
Sexuality and Health
The scholars then sorted themselves into groups for three sets
of meetings, after each of which there was a report back from
each group on the nature of their discussions. The groups were
charged with the tasks of identifying leaders and establishing
goals for working together over the program year. In the course
of the three sets of meetings, some participants changed groups
as the group goals were clarified. By the conclusion of the
orientation each group was asked to write a document for posting
on the NCS program's internal website to guide their activities.
Electronic Communication: NCS Distinguished Scholar
Leader made a presentation of the website to be hosted on the
University of Vermont server which will utilize WEBCT to facilitate
discussion among the scholars between meetings, provide a placing
for posting drafts of papers and receiving comments, and isolate
e-mail messages within the group from the deluge of outside
e-mail. The scholars were given a demonstration of the WEBCT
Special Events: On one afternoon, the group went to
Spelman College to participate in a symposium with Spelman faculty.
By prior arrangement, Spelman had designated eight scholars
working on HIV/AIDS and on Global Feminism to participate in
panel presentations. Two Spelman scholars described action research
with African-American women being conducted by the Comparative
Women's Studies Program of Spelman.
The same evening, the scholars were feted at a reception cohosted
by the Fulbright Alumni Association of Atlanta and Emory University.
On the last evening, the group was addressed by Linda Basch,
Executive Director of the National Council for Research on Women,
speaking on "The Promise and Perils of the New Discourse
on Human Security."
Outcomes: The most important outcome is the establishment
of personal networks among the scholars that will facilitate
their sharing of research and planning collaborative projects
throughout the program year. I believe this face-to-face interaction
is key to the scholars being motivated to sustain communication
electronically between the group meetings.
The orientation program also accomplished cementing the scholars'
commitment to the goals of the NCS program. The program's collaborative
goals differ from the goals of other Fulbright programs, and
run somewhat against the individualizing grain of academic life.
Therefore it was critical to bring the group together to begin
the process of working together even as they embark on their
Concretely, the meeting accomplished the establishment of scholars'
working groups, with identified membership, leadership, and
written statement of goals for the year
Mid-term Meeting. Thanks to a generous grant from the
Ford Foundation and the support of the Fulbright Commission
in India, the group will again come together in Delhi for a
week in early December for their mid-term meeting. Through and
concentrated work in their focus groups and a series of panel
discussions, they will further their collaborative objectives
and engage local scholars and activists in an interdisciplinary
and cross-cultural examination of issues critical to the continuing
improvement of women's roles at the community level and in the
global arena. The scholars were consulted on dates for the Mid-term
conference in India, and focus groups were asked to recommend
ways of drawing Indian scholars into their discussions to facilitate
their research goals.