Education and Counseling week empowers youth

Kendra Davis

Between student responses to the Tim Miller controversy and, more recently, the Kony 2012 campaign, this campus has seen a wave of constructive criticism this semester that is, to many, more noticeable than in semesters past. Nicely fitting with this wave is next week’s theme for the second annual Education and Counseling Week. Deborah Schussler and Rev. Bob Murray, O.S.A. this year’s co-chairs, with the help of their colleagues in the Education Department decided to title the week “Empowering Youth” for various reasons.

“Last year when we started talking about this year’s theme, we wanted to choose one that was particularly salient, that would resonate with the Villanova community, and this one seemed very important given all of the cyber bullying that has been in the news lately,” Schussler said.

                  The week kicks off next Monday night with an interactive discussion whose panelists include Merle Horowitz, the superintendent of Marple Newtown school district, Andrew Mullen, a counselor at Conestoga High School, and parents and students from the Campaign for Non-Violent Schools, an organization of Philadelphia high school and college students whose core claim is that violence in classroom settings, rather than being strictly interpersonal, begins at the structural or systemic level. The group will discuss such issues as report cards on youth and violence and systemic structures that promote strong communities.

                  Wednesday’s event will be an interdisciplinary faculty luncheon at which Elizabeth Dowdell from the College of Nursing, Alice Lesnick, an education professor from Bryn Mawr College, Allison Payne from the sociology department and Chris Schmidt of the education department will use their own research to discuss the topic of “Building Resiliencies in Individuals and Systems.” 

                  The week will culminate next Thursday with the induction ceremony of members of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society, and Chi Sigma Iota, the counseling honor society. The speaker for the event, which will be held in St. Mary’s Chapel at 4 p.m., will be Joyce Zavarich from the Center for Peace and Justice.

                  Most notable among the events in Schussler’s opinion, however, is Tuesday night’s keynote address. On paper, Mark Greenberg is the Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research, the director of the Prevention Research Center and a professor of human development and psychology at Penn State University. In summary, however, his is one of the nation’s leading scholars on mindfulness studies and he is heavily engaged in research with the Dalai Lama. In fact, it was hearing Greenberg speak with the Dalai Lama some years ago that initially compelled Schussler to want to bring him to the University. Greenberg’s topic of choice for next Tuesday’s speech is “Nurturing Mindfulness in Families, Schools and Youth: Advancing the Science and Practice of Awareness and Caring,” a subject that Schussler promises will spark the interests of audience members.

                  “Our job as educators working with this theme is to avoid, to ameliorate, to prevent and so forth,” she said.