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Panelists at Third Annual Storytelling and Human Rights Symposium Advocated for Voices on the Margins

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pictured are panelists at the 2015 Storytelling and Human Rights Symposium at Point Park University. | Photo by Amanda DabbsPsychology and global cultural studies major Hana Valle addresses student rights as a panelist at the symposium.

The Third Annual Storytelling and Human Rights Symposium focused on the marginalization of human rights by examining the issue through a variety of disciplines including psychology, humanities, journalism and the arts.

"The symposium was founded on the idea that stories have the power to reshape the way we collectively encounter the world."

-- Justin Karter, graduate student



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Sponsored by the Honors Student Organization, the Department of Humanities and Human Sciences, United Student Government, Confluence Psychology Alliance and Global Solutions Pittsburgh, the theme of the Feb. 20 symposium was “Voices on the Margins” and featured Nathaniel Granger, Ph.D., professor at Saybrook University, as the keynote speaker.

Granger discussed the psychology of racial microaggressions and gave a moving interpretation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Additional symposium panelists and workshop presenters included:

  • Michael Fuoco, reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;
  • Hadeel Salameh, student at the University of Pittsburgh and president of Pitt Students for Justice in Palestine; and
  • Hana Valle, psychology and global cultural studies double major and member of the Student Solidarity Organization at Point Park University.

Fuoco spoke about the importance of humanizing stories in journalism while Salameh discussed issues relating to the political turmoil between Palestine and Israel. Valle advocated for the expansion of student rights in regard to freedom of speech and due process. 

“The symposium interested me because it takes the concept of storytelling and shows how important it is across different academic disciplines,” noted Sara Payne, a senior double majoring in journalism and global cultural studies.

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“With a journalist on the panel, the symposium reinforced how important storytelling is in the field I have studied during my college career. Journalists are able to give a voice to those who are marginalized. By telling these stories, journalists make the marginalized more human and show their struggles in a way that will get readers thinking, feeling and hopefully, reacting,” Payne added.

“The symposium was founded on the idea that stories have the power to reshape the way we collectively encounter the world. This year I wanted to recognize that the voices that are most likely to challenge our current mindset often go unheard because they come from those groups who are marginalized and denied currency on the idea market,” explained Justin Karter, who founded the symposium. 

Karter is an M.A. in journalism and mass communication alumnus, M.A. in clinical-community psychology student and graduate assistant for the Honors Program.

When asked why he attended the symposium, M.A. in clinical-community psychology graduate student Kristopher Bartow said: “I always have been a big proponent of narrative therapy and the power of storytelling as both therapeutic and a means of social change.”

“I also really enjoyed Dr. Granger’s spirited revival of Dr. King’s speech,” Bartow added. 

"The work with Dr. Nathaniel Granger was so powerful that it was emotional for me. His workshop opened my eyes to a lot of things. I am truly thankful to have attended the symposium," said Ja'Nia McPhatter, a senior premedical and preprofessional studies major.

“It was about creating a space for these voices to be heard, even amplified — making social and political change possible,” said Karter.

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