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Gerard Stropnicky, theatre-maker and community organizer, will share his experiences and expertise surrounding community dialogue. (3/27)

On March 27th at 6:00 p.m. in the Villard Room, Gerard Stropnicky will host the workshop, “Civic Empathy: A Field Report.” In our time, when 280-character insults and snarky memes pass for conversation, is Civic Empathy possible? Writer, director, activist and instigator, USA Fellow Gerard Stropnicky offers a Field Report on community story applied to community healing and progress as part of the Engaged Pluralism Initiative Semester of Storytelling:

“In my work in post-trauma, post-crisis, or transition communities, from rural Pennsylvania to New Orleans, from Kentucky coal-fields to post-war Uganda and post-genocide Rwanda, I’ve been moved witnessing how art and story can be employed to frame the present through the lens of honest personal past experiences, toward a more mindful collective future. I’ve found that in this blessed human work, Story isn’t simply a useful tool, it’s essential. I’ll take it a bit farther – in the processing of story, moving from “My Story” or “Her Story” or “His Story” or “Their Story” into a consensus intentional collective “Our Story,” there can be terrific power. That power can be available for any oppressed people to let their stories rise. It can also be used for former enemies and rivals to locate their common humanity. It can be a way forward in a fractured world. It can also be grievously misused. Community Story’s power can be channeled for good or ill, but when channeled and intentionally harnessed toward civic empathy, peacebuilding, healing – astonishing transformation can and does happen. When served well, these efforts become a shared community ethical exercise at the intersections of race, class, gender, age, ability, geography, faith, politics and more. Story can become our best vehicle toward Civic Empathy. But here’s the thing: All good Story Work begins not with telling, but with listening. A lot of listening. I’m eager to get to Vassar, to listen.” -Gerard Stropnicky

Sponsored by The Engaged Pluralism Initiative, The Philaletheis Society, The Social Consciousness Fund, Vassar Student Association, and Creative Arts Across Disciplines.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays–Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities can be found on the Accessibility and Educational Opportunity website.


Vassar College is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, March 7, 2019