That’s a Wrap! Albright Institute Concludes Annual Wintersession Program

January 24, 2020

“Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”

That proclamation, made 25 years ago at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing by then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69, feels as urgent today as it did in 1995—perhaps even more so—and inspired the theme of this year’s annual Albright Institute Wintersession program, “The Spirit of Beijing: Revisiting the Fourth World Conference on Women.” The three-week program, which wrapped up January 23, also coincided with another important anniversary: the 10th year of the Albright Institute at Wellesley.

The 40 Albright Institute fellows who participated in the program hailed from 16 countries, represented 32 majors, and included 27 juniors, 12 seniors, and one Davis Scholar. They attended lectures and panels led by invited speakers and Wellesley faculty, and they worked together in small interdisciplinary groups to understand and identify opportunities to address complex global issues inspired by the call to action that resulted from the Beijing conference—among them gender quotas in national legislatures, women’s involvement in conflict resolution in Afghanistan, women’s access to family planning in the Philippines, and the impact on women of Boko Haram and the small-arms trade.

During the final week, the fellows presented their projects to Secretary Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59, who served as the Mary Jane Durnford Lewis ’59 Distinguished Visiting Professor during the program in honor of the institute’s 10th anniversary.

“Having the secretary as the distinguished visiting professor has been a real treat for the fellows,” said Rebecca Gordan, program director of the Albright Institute. “As one alumna of the program has said, ‘If you can present to Secretary Albright, you can present with confidence to anyone.’”

Here are a few scenes from the Albright Institute’s Wintersession program.

two students work on an architecture project

For one of their first activities during Wintersession, the fellows built a cantilever out of cardboard and plastic rivets. Amy Banzaert, lecturer in engineering and director of engineering studies, led the activity; she encouraged the fellows to test and refine their designs repeatedly, reinforcing the idea of “failing fast” to help them arrive at a better outcome more quickly. Photo left to right: Lindsey Gordon ’21 and Sandra Ohemeng ’20. Credit: Kelly Fitzsimmons

Susan Rice speaks to a crowd of students. She sits on the edge of the stage

Wellesley welcomed Ambassador Susan Rice on January 9 for a public talk titled “Tough Love and the Things Worth Fighting For.” Afterward, the fellows met Rice and asked about her experiences as former national security advisor to President Obama and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Photo: Kelly Fitzsimmons

Four students discuss a piece of artwork on a wall.

During the second week of Wintersession, the fellows visited the Davis Museum to examine 10 works by women artists. Led by Amanda Gilvin, Sonja Novak Koerner ’51 Senior Curator of Collections and assistant director of curatorial affairs, they spent time in small groups focusing on a single artwork, then helped Gilvin present that artwork to the full group. “We concentrated on women, abstraction, and conceptualism to explore the central role of women artists in the development of key modes of modern and contemporary art,” said Gilvin. “In addition to learning about how abstract art can shift understandings about representation, students learned about how art historians analyze artworks and the significance of both close-looking and other kinds of research.” Photo left to right: Dagmawit Assefa ’20, Ify Nwolah ’21, Shrutikona Das ’21, Amelia Forman ’21. Credit: The Davis Museum. Artwork pictured: Elizabeth Murray, Chicago, Illinois 1940–2007 Washington County, New York, The Weaver Painting, 1988, Oil on canvas. Gift of Betty Pfaelzer Rauch (Class of 1965) 2016.183.

Sec Albright joins Ambassador Nuland and a Wellesley professor on Stage

On January 22, Secretary Albright was joined by Victoria Nuland (center), assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. State Department (2013–2017) and senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, and Smitha Radhakrishnan (left), Luella LaMer Slaner Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and associate professor of sociology at Wellesley, for a dialogue titled “Leadership on a World Stage.”

“There’s a quality of listening which is essential to finding the middle, and to hearing where the compromise might be,” Nuland said. “There is a quality of trying to get under the words, and understand where the ambition is, where the politics are, where the fear might be, which helps to crystalize the motivation on the other side—whether it’s the individual you’re talking to or the individual representing the nation.” Photo: Kelly Fitzsimmons