... we need to abandon the notion that complex problems can be effectively addressed in silos. We need to break out of the idea that only one kind of organization, one leadership approach, one style of academic training can alone address these issues.’’ —Dana Hamdan, executive director, Career Development Center
Oberlin’s Junior Practicum is a program about seeking purpose in uncertain times. Drawing upon the expertise and experience of professionals in a range of fields, the program offers meaningful educational experiences for students that take place off campus.
Future Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions
The challenges of the future will require interdisciplinary solutions. This truth is at the core of Oberlin’s liberal arts mission; it also was a guiding principle for the Junior Practicum program. Launched in fall 2020, the practicum supported third-year students during their semester away from campus as a result of Oberlin’s three-semester plan.
Over the course of a month-long remote summit, students heard from visionary leaders in a range of fields about a series of ‘‘Complex Problems.’’ From climate change to public health to reproductive freedom, these keynotes illuminate both the most pressing challenges of our time, as well as the skills and approaches that will help Obies discover their purpose and make a difference.
After opportunities to debrief each keynote, students chose one complex problem to focus on for the remainder of the summit. Working in small teams, students developed potential projects that would work to address their problem of choice, which they then pitched to panels of experienced entrepreneurs.
Career Readiness and Skill-Building Summit
The summit comprises three programming dimensions—skill-building and career readiness; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and investigating alternatives for complex problems. Students joined one of seven early-career communities that featured presentations by accomplished professionals in a wide range of career fields: public health, media, the arts, social and natural sciences, politics and diplomacy, and more.
Racial Bias and Reproductive Freedom
Presentation by Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Transforming the Prison Industrial Complex
Discussion with Fatima Ashraf, policymaker, consultant, and professor of public policy and nonprofit management at the City College of New York.View presentation
Founder and CEO of the technology-based Gro Intelligence, Sara Menker seeks to bridge data gaps across the global agricultural sector and empower decision-makers to create a more informed and efficient industry.
Trust in Media
Presentation with news correspondent April Ryan, the only Black woman reporter covering urban issues from the White House for American Urban Radio Networks.View presentation
Gentrification and Urban Development
Discussion with Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who leads the Inclusive Cities practice at HR&A Advisors. Schlesinger understands how government, advocacy, and philanthropy can make cities just and dynamic places.View presentation
Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
Jessica Horn is a feminist analyst and strategic advisor on women’s rights with 20 years of experience in civil society, donor, and multilateral spaces in the Africa region and globally.View presentation
Reimagining Refugee Protection in the 21st Century
Presentation by Gregory A. Maniatis, who has worked closely with a range of international organizations, including the European Commission, on all aspects of migration and integration policy.View presentation
Music as Social Change
Celebrated artist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Rhiannon Giddens ’00 is cofounder of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, which uses the past to reveal truths about our present.View presentation