'In the Struggle' Series

This series was held from September 23 through December 16, 2016

Fall Speaker's Series: 'In the Struggle' is a history of academic scholarship and community engagement in the San Joaquin Valley. This series examines the democratic purposes and civic values of scholars who conducted research and advocated for change as the region's rural agricultural economy consolidated and industrialized. The Valley's highly politicized and intensely adversarial setting offers a backdrop for this unique story. 'In the Struggle' describes the activism of these scholars as they lobbied to enforce existing federal laws, organized underserved communities, led labor strikes, founded community development programs, created non-profit institutions in addition to working as traditional social scientists. This series hosts these scholars (some of them now emeritus professors) to revisit their experiences and tell their stories - a narrative that spans eighty years and work that continues to this day.

Video recordings of talks in this series:

  • Friday, September 23, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Scott Peters, Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University specializing in Community Development and Public Engagement.
    Topic: What is the Role of Scholars in a Democracy?
    Peters will trace the debate about the ways scholars have pursued their conflicting roles as academics and citizens. In doing so, he will recall an important event in the history of American higher education: the creation in 1946 of a Presidential Commission on Higher Education. In its 1947 report, the Commission declared that higher education's role in a "free and democratic society" was to function as "critic and leader as well as servant; its task is not merely to meet the demands of the present but to alter those demands if necessary, so as to keep them always suited to democratic ideals." While this radical vision continues to offer one of the best ways of understanding the higher education's democratic promise, it remains largely unrealized.
  • Friday, September 30, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Daniel O'Connell, San Joaquin Valley scholar and community advocate.
    Topic: The History of Scholarship Defending Democracy in the San Joaquin Valley.
    Scholars played instrumental roles in the defense of democracy in the San Joaquin Valley during the twentieth century as its agricultural economy consolidated and political power coalesced around elite interests that undermined civil society, disregarded the rule of law, and inappropriately influenced public institutions and processes. O'Connell charts the narrative of this largely unknown history, highlighting significant stories and critical juncture points, theorizing the work of these "politically engaged scholars," and concludes with lessons learned and prospective next steps in the movement towards a just, sustaining and equitable society.
  • Friday, October 7, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Don Villarejo, Agricultural Policies Researcher and founder of CIRS (California Institute for Rural Studies).
    Topic: Can We Achieve an Ecologically Sound, Economically Viable and Socially Just Agriculture?
  • Friday, October 14, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Dean MacCannell, Professor Emeritus, UC Davis and author of the classic, 'The Tourist, A New Theory of the Leisure Class'.
    Topic: The Goldschmidt Re-test: The Struggle to Preserve Acreage Limitations under Reclamation Law.
    In this presentation, MacCannell will tell the story of his arrival at the College of Agriculture in Davis in 1975 and how he was immediately swept up in the controversies over industrial scale farming in the Central Valley. He will share his scientific findings of the Goldschmidt "retest" and also the human side of his work including the enthusiasm of students, and the intimidation, death threats, a poisoning attempt, and efforts at getting him fired from the University by industry adversaries.
  • Friday, October 21, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Isao Fujimoto, Senior Lecturer and founder of Asian American Studies and the graduate program in Community Development at UC Davis.
    Topic: Dynamic Mosaic: Building on the Potential of the Central Valley's Ethnic Diversity.
    Fujimoto's presentation focuses on the challenges and activities of facilitating the Central Valley Partnership. During the 10 years, Fujimoto was involved as the CVP project facilitator, 20 activist organizations worked with 150 emerging immigrant groups in the 450 mile, 18 county reach of California's Central Valley. The CVP's efforts were based upon a collaborative, multiethnic approach to organizing emerging immigrant communities.
  • Friday, October 28, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Trudy Wischemann, rural advocate and scholar who worked with several of the academics featured in this series (Paul Taylor, Walter Goldschmidt, Dean MacCannell, and Don Villarejo).
    Topic: Paul Taylor's Baton: Carrying On in the San Joaquin Valley.
    Paul Taylor was an economist and advocate for farmworkers, the small farm, and the acreage limitation provisions of federal Reclamation Law. During his lifetime he influenced academics, policy makers, politicians and community organizers with his respectful but relentless passion for understanding the land’s role in maintaining democracy. His legacy carries on in the works of many people still struggling to right the wrongs of concentrated landownership and political power, featured in the forthcoming volume, A Little Piece of Land: Writings on Agriculture and the Common Good in California to be published this winter by West of West Books.
  • Friday, November 11, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Sara Ramirez, Community Engaged Scholar & Executive Director of Foodlink for Tulare County.
    Topic: Good Food Changes Lives: Transforming our food system from charity to solidarity.
  • Friday, November 18, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Tom Willey, T & D Willey Farms, host of 'Down on the Farm' on KFCF, 'veritable grandfather of organic vegetable production in the Central Valley'.
    Topic: Reflections on a forty-year farming career in California's San Joaquin Valley.
  • Friday, December 9, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Janaki Jagannath, Coordinator, Community Alliance for Agroecology.
    Topic: Dust to Dust:
    Janaki Jagannath will unpack the history of today's disadvantaged unincorporated communities of the San Joaquin Valley, including case studies of communities nested in the vast Westside who lack safe and affordable drinking water. She will uncover lived reality in farmworker settlements that suffer with the acute impacts of socioeconomic and pollution burden and discuss government and civil society's responsibility, in 2016 and beyond, in supporting rural communities' "just transition" to ecological agriculture and a new economy in the countryside.
  • Friday, December 16, 6:30-8:30
    Speaker: Jonathan London, Associate Professor of Human Ecology, UC Davis and Director for the Center of Regional Change.
    Topic: Community-Engaged Scholarship: From Rogue Academic to Institutional Actor.
    London will share stories of his development as a community-engaged scholar as boundary-crosser between the realms of academic, activism, and public policy. He will discuss the dilemmas of building an institutional base to sustain and scale up action research in the university while still retaining the freedom to serve as a critic of these same institutions. The talk will draw examples from his work directing the UC Davis Center for Regional Change and supporting its projects on themes of environmental justice, rural community development, youth well-being, and civic engagement, with a focus on the San Joaquin Valley.