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O’Dowd Hosts Second Annual Bay Area Social Justice Teach-In


Students from both schools were joined by those from Carondelet High School, Stuart Hall High School, Cristo Rey – Sacramento, Cristo Rey – San Jose, College Prep, and St. Mary’s High School for the day-long event that included presentations from two keynote speakers, UC Berkeley Professor Khalid Kadir and judicial professor Kimberly Papillon ’87, and workshops that focused on topics like energy and environmental justice, organizing communities for social action, mass incarceration and police brutality, art and social justice and diversity in the classroom. Attendees also had an opportunity to brainstorm about taking action, solutions, and getting motivated.

In a single year, event attendance grew from 30 to 100 participants and the number of workshops offered doubled.

“When my colleague, Jocelyn Sideco (Director of Community Service and Social Justice at St. Ignatius), and I discussed how to approach the Bay Area Social Justice Teach-In this year, we discerned that opening up registration to other area high schools would serve not only those students and communities, but also ours. Given the current political climate, shared spaces for both students to get excited together about change-making and engage in dialogue are so important. We all left the event feeling electrified with hope for the future,” O’Dowd religious studies teacher and campus minister Beth Mueller said. Mueller and Sideco teamed together to organize the event.

In her keynote presentation, Papillon talked about the neuroscience of decision-making, guiding attendees through exercises from the Implicit Association Test (IAT) which shows how our unconscious drives our day-to-day decision-making.

“Scientists say that in a single second, the conscious components of the human brain can process 40 frames of information. In that same second, the unconscious components of the human brain can process 1.2 million frames of information,” she said.

Chase Holliman ’17 was particularly interested in Papillon’s discussion of the IAT as he’s taking AP Psychology and recently took the test. “It shows how you can make a split-second decision and judge people unconsciously,” he said.

Papillon said patterns of IAT results are vastly different in different countries. “This tells us it’s learned behavior, which means you can unlearn it. That’s the really good news,” she said. “But the hard part is we have to undo a lifetime of learning.”

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