With everyone mostly confined to their homes for the foreseeable future, the challenge has been trying to carry on meaningful conversations through our screens. Luckily, Associate Dean Stephanie Takaragawa and Dean Jennifer Keene came up with a way to make the most of a trying situation. 

Wilkinson’s Engaging the World Series: Leading the Conversation on the Significance of Race is a virtual film festival series held entirely online. Premiered in early April, each week features a new film and discussion. The selection of films tackle captivating topics, like Latinx identity, Japanese-American internment, and violence against the African-American community. The specific film (with the link) is announced on Mondays in This Week in Wilkinson allowing students and faculty to watch the film or documentary anytime throughout the week. Then on Fridays, students and faculty convene on Zoom to discuss the film with a professor, student moderator, or other experts.

“The film series was initially developed as a precursor to our 2020 Fall program of the same name,” said Takaragawa. “But it has also been a productive way to build community virtually while social distancing.”

The first installment of the series focused on the film Pariso for Sale, led by Ruben Espinoza (Sociology). Espinoza is no stranger to using film clips to educate in his in-person classes, but this virtual format allowed him to screen an entire film and then lead a discussion.

“Students should get involved in the film series because it is so important to see what is happening in the world around us. For me, I learned so much about the deeper nuances of an issue that I didn’t even know existed,” said Quezada. “I highly encourage students to get out of their comfort zone and engage in these discussions to further their Chapman experience, even if we’re at home!”

The series is also unique in giving opportunities for Wilkinson students to help lead the conversation. Marisa Quezada (‘22, Sociology) moderated this first one with Espinoza.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dr Ruben Espinoza as the Latinx student assistant, so being able to do an event with him was great!” said Quezada. “I am deeply passionate about issues related to Latinx populations and colonialism, so it was refreshing to talk about these ideas in the film Paraiso for Sale.”

C.K. Magliola (Sociology, Women’s Studies) hosted the following episode, where she presented the powerful film Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland. Her Friday discussion featured moderators from her Women’s Studies Senior Seminar class, allowing the event to serve as a natural extension of the class.

“I got involved because I think Wilkinson’s initiation of conversations on race – kicking off with this virtual film series and continuing with robust programming in the Fall –  is a politically urgent one,” said Magliola. “It was an edifying experience to gather with others in a Zoom setting to discuss something so important. And seeing so many faces in one place gave me a feeling of solidarity in the midst of an ‘all-controlling’ pandemic.”

Dr. Peter Simi (Sociology) screened the PBS documentary Documenting Hate: Charlottesville and is hosting a discussion on Friday with investigative journalist AC Thompson, who appeared in the film. 

“The Engaging the World virtual film series creates a safe space where members of the Chapman community can engage in critical dialogue surrounding the impact of systemic racism in America,” said Justin Riley, Associate Director of Student Community Support and Development at Chapman.

The series provides students with a preview of the types of topics to be discussed in fall.  Throughout Fall 2020, Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on the Significance of Race will include a series of events, art installations, and dialogue. Engaging the World is an annual Wilkinson interdisciplinary examination of one pressing societal issue concerning the college-age generation, the most recent being the successful La Frontera/The Border in 2019.