A group of people are situated in a circle on the stage of Kirby Theater. They hold their arms out in a dance position.

The theater and dance department debuted the African American Dance Symposium on Feb. 16. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, consists of master classes, film screenings and lectures leading up to a two-day conference on April 13 and 14.

The symposium was organized by theater and dance visiting scholar Ninoska M’bewe Escobar, whose speciality in African-American dance brought new offerings to the department.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz spoke to the college community on March 2 in Johnson Chapel. The event was a part of Lit Fest, a three-day literary festival that celebrates the college’s literary history by inviting distinguished writers to campus. Lit Fest is sponsored by Amherst College-affiliated literary magazine The Common, the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI).

Food justice activist and farmer Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm spoke on Thursday, Feb. 8 in Stirn Auditorium about the intersection of racial and environmental injustice and the food industry. The event was sponsored by the Office of Environmental Sustainability, the Victor S. Johnson Lectureship fund and the Multicultural Resource Center.

President Biddy Martin announced the college’s membership to the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration in an email to the college community on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Her email follows the Alliance’s Dreamer Fly-In, a conference in Washington, D.C. at which college and university presidents urged Congress to pass legislation protecting Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Andrea Quiles-Sanchez ’18 is a sexuality, women’s and gender studies and psychology double major. Quiles-Sanchez’s thesis explores causes for depression within the Latino community. Her advisor is Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies Sahar Sadjadi.

After years of advocacy from students and faculty, the Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) major has debuted this semester. The major was approved after a unanimous vote from the faculty in the spring of 2017.

Despite its recent creation, the major has seen growth beyond expectations, said professor Rick Lopez, chair of the program.
“We didn’t know that we would have this many courses,” Lopez said. Over 10 courses related to the major were offered this fall.

Krista Goebel ’18 is a psychology and English double major. Her thesis focuses on 8- to 10-year-old children and how they behave in response to the help they receive under different circumstances. Her advisor is Assistant Professor of Psychology Carolyn Palmquist.