Taking power

WIIH invites students to shape campus life

A five-year-old program that is designed to help Wheaton students explore the humanities is offering up some new opportunities this year.

The Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH) not only will deliver a series of campus-wide events but also invite more students to join the program as fellows who take on leadership roles. The goal is to offer students the opportunity to discover how the humanities are applied in a wide variety of intellectual and professional contexts.

This year’s WIIH will kick off with Haas Visiting Artist Reverend Billy and Savitri D., performance artists who rail against the sins of consumerism and human degradation of the environment. They will appear on Wednesday, September 26 at 5 p.m. in Cole Memorial Chapel.

The calendar also includes performer Abena Koomson-Davis, who will visit campus in early November and work with students to bring a selection of the most beloved works of African American poetry into song; and a two-day celebration of holistic healing practices for body, mind, spirit and community in the spring.

The connecting theme running through the events is the idea that every individual can challenge the status quo, said Charlotte Meehan, who is leading this year’s WIIH programming in partnership with Provost Renée White, and professors Stephanie Burlington Daniels, Gabriela Torres and Kirk Anderson. The formal title for the theme is “Interpretation and Its Expressive Modes: Challenging Hegemony.”

“I think sometimes we forget that we have choices about how we are going to live our lives,” said Meehan, the college’s playwright-in-residence. “I want to nurture and encourage our students to make their own choices and to be outspoken in productive ways. My intent is to have this year’s programming reflect the community we are—and hope to continue becoming—absent of being organized in response to something ‘bad’ that has just happened on campus.”

Meehan said that she is looking for additional students to sign on as WIIH Fellows, a role that calls upon students to become involved in the organizing, promoting and staging of program events.

The WIIH Fellows may also develop programming ideas of their own—small group events or campus-wide activities.

“I would love if that happened,” Meehan said.

“It’s about making a good world,” she said. “This programming provides Wheaton students, and the whole community, with opportunities for experiential learning, inclusive conversation, art