Creating spaces

Today’s post comes Evan Jansen, another member of IEDP and a fellow GA. He discusses some of the challenges our cohort has faced this semester as well as his position as his position as the GA Events Coordinator. He’s also got an amazing blog that you should check out.



Around this time a three years ago I was living in rural Thailand undertaking my initial efforts at the nation’s premier sport, Muay Thai. This method of martial arts begins with a grueling, month-long lesson in biomechanics, specifically Wolff’s Law. My first “lesson” was to tap away at my shins with a lead pipe for two hours to fracture my shins. The basic idea being that micro fractures in bones, just as micro tears in muscles, regenerate stronger and denser than they previously were. While my resolve lasted all of one class, I never stopped applying that lesson to my personal philosophy.

Our cohort has had the misfortune of forming amid a divisive election year. There has been a visible proliferation of social injustices and it has had a serious impact on campuses across the nation. We have been impacted time and again with a continuum of micro-fractures, which has worked to cause a great deal of stress. Yet we have worked tirelessly to overcome these struggles and focus on regenerating stronger than we originally were. Our greatest strength is our diversity. We are as diverse a group of young adults as you will find anywhere in this country and this affords us a unique perspective of overcoming adversity.

In the IEDP we create space for dialogue, get involved with the local community, and host several types of events that promote the construction of knowledge and relationships. My role as the Events Coordinator GA for the IEDP is, in part, to facilitate this learning process and inter-departmental networking through unique programming. With the support of the program administrative staff, the other GAs and myself have made great strides in achieving these goals. I want to highlight some of our successful events and what they mean for both the cohort and myself.

Coffee Table Sessions with the GSE Faculty – Each month we organize a meet and greet between IEDP cohort members and a member of the GSE staff. These informal meetings have helped us to broaden the GSE network and have provided some profound insight into several dimensions of academia from the perspective of our own school’s practitioners.


Adichie Discussion on Feminism – My colleague Anna Drabek lead an academic discussion highlighting a TEDtalk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism. Most of the cohort came to this event and we had a great discussion about what modern feminism looks like, intersectionality, and each of our personal experiences with it. Many of us, myself included, walked away with a much deeper understanding of feminism….and bellies full of pizza and candy.

Friendsgiving – Anna was also gracious enough to host a Thanksgiving celebration for all the IEDP cohort members and their families/friends who were in Philadelphia prior to the holiday. Friendsgiving included food, drink, trivia, and good company. Those who came saw how tirelessly Anna worked promote a safe space for us all to get together.


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