The UMass-Amherst program in Social Thought and Political Economy kicks off this week with a series of brown-bag lunch discussions with notable Valley activists. It begins Wed., Jan 30, with a talk by Lois Ahrens, director of Northampton’s Real Cost of Prisons Project, which advocates for reforms to the justice system and the end of mass incarceration,
The Feb. 20 lunch will feature Dan Keefe of the Springfield LGBT youth group Out Now; he’s also involved with Justice for Charles, which worked for the release of Charles Wilhite of Springfield, who was convicted of a 2008 murder, only to have a key witness later recant his testimony. Wilhite was granted a new trial and earlier this month was acquitted by a jury, after spending three and a half years in prison.
On March 13, the guest will be Michaelann Bewsee, a founder of the Springfield poor people’s advocacy group Arise for Social Justice, whose campaigns have focused on housing policy, election reform and environmental justice, among other issues. The final lunch, on April 10, will feature the dean of Valley activism, peace activist Frances Crowe of the Northampton Committee to Stop the Wars.
The free lunch discussions will take place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the UMass Campus Center; see http://www.umass.edu/stpec.•