|EMS Technology Teacher, Marianne Malmstrom|
by Evan Brown
Director of Communications and Alumni
On February 29, Elisabeth Morrow Technology Teacher, Marianne Malmstrom, joined an esteemed gathering of experts, educators, researchers, policy-makers and foundation leaders at the Symposium on Youth Meanness and Cruelty at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Cambridge, Massachusettes. The Symposium served as a pre-launch to Lady Ga Ga's Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) which occurred later in the day. More importantly, the members of this symposium, through their collective expertise, were tasked with identifying trends and initiatives that would assist the BTWF in determining their policy as they seek to address issues of bullying and youth empowerment.
Jason Rzepka (VP of Public Affairs at MTV) and Anastasia Goodstein (author, journalist, currently Director of Digital Programs for Inspire USA Foundation). The group debated over how best to utilize media, both "new" and "old," to spread "messages of bravery and tolerance." Ms. Malmstrom's thirty-year teaching career along with her extensive expertise and notoriety regarding virtual worlds and gaming, brought an important perspective to the group.
Click here to view a full PDF of the Symposium program with member bios.
Upon her return to campus, Ms. Malmstrom lead a faculty meeting to relate her experience and offered the following links for further reference.
- Elisabeth Morrow students weigh-in
- Video of BTWF Launch Event
- Complete Coverage: Born This Way Foundation Launch: Ask With Forums, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Lady Gaga, Winfrey Target Bullying: C. Walsh @ K. Kotch, Harvard Gazette, 2/29/12
- From "Born This Way" to "Move This Way:" A New Foundation: Reflections from Anne Collier, one of the symposium organizers
Ms. Malmstron also had an opportunity to pass along the following letter to Dr. Lowry, relating her feelings about the experience:
Last Wednesday was incredible. It is still hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I was invited to Harvard to work with such an amazing group of professionals. Peggy (Peggy Sheehy) and I felt extremely humbled and honored to be included. I have never experienced anything quite like it before and I believe that most everyone else attending felt the same way. There was this amazing energy as we all shared our respective expertise and knowledge, tackling the complex issues set before us. Which relates to the point of this symposium–to bust people out of their professional silos and get them talking and sharing with each other on this very important issue . It was certainly mass intelligence put to work.
We all came prepared knowing our assignments and the "four driving questions" that each group was expected to resolve. Even though the time line for our agenda was brutally tight, the six workgroups got a great deal done in that short period of time. When all the groups convened at the end of the day, we were all surprised to hear how our recommendations meshed with the each other. Upon wrapping up, we all felt a sense of great satisfaction walking across campus to watch the formal launch of BTWF, knowing that we had helped established its working foundation.
I pinched myself several times, wondering how I had ended up involved in such an incredible project. When Anne (Anne Collier) introduced me at the symposium, it became clear that it was for the same reason LEGO invited me to speak at FOSI a few months ago: Anne and I strive to create unique models for developing healthy online norms for young children through the use of "games" (virtual worlds & MMOGs).
David, it was quite humbling to be there, but I was even prouder to be representing our school. I can't thank you enough. This wonderful opportunity only arose because you, Germaine and Sarah gave me the freedom to think outside the box, the faith to let me follow my instincts and the support to make it happen. Thank YOU!
P.S. Officially, Lady GaGa has one new fan :-)