First Word

By President Jonathan D. Green
Spring Summer 2024 Issue

We recently celebrated commencement, and one of the recurring themes of that event was using our talents to change the world for the better. This is the altruistic goal of “achievement, leadership, and service”; and that is an underlying theme of this issue of Currents, making our world better through the art of storytelling.

This Spring, we hosted two alumni who screened documentaries they have recently produced.

Alumnus Fernando Ramirez’s film lifts up Ukrainian refugees and reifies the humanitarian components of their crises. When he was on campus, he was joined by our Ukrainian students and faculty whose stories helped to expand our community’s received narrative.

Baktash Ahadi returned to his alma mater to share his new documentary about the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan. It is a poignant window into the transition and almost immediate dissolution of control in that troubled nation.

You will also read about the dedication of the Erynn E. Reiss LGBTQ+ Resource Center, the wonderful spring production of two little-known one-act operas by our Departments of Music and Theatre, and interviews with Professors Emeritus Tom McGrath and Fred Grosse through WQSU’s new podcast studio, yet another venue for storytelling.

At commencement, I told our students, “You proved that we learn best in community; that by engaging with each other to tackle life’s most challenging questions, we can find common ground; and that allowing ourselves to be intellectually vulnerable opens us up to new levels of wisdom.” 

Storytelling makes that possible. It helps us to personalize complex questions, to humanize geopolitical challenges, and to understand and respect difference. These are the tools our students and alumni employ to successfully impact our evermore “diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world” for the better.

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