Athena SPARK image

Ignite your thinking about change and how it happens. Through interviews, book talks, field trips, film screenings, and more, you'll get to know the women and nonbinary people leading change in a wide range of areas, and learn more about the hard, but important, work of building a better future.

SPARK is open to all members of the Barnard community, including faculty, staff, alumnae, and friends of the college.

Click here to view our archive.

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This year, we're exploring the role of dialogue in changemaking.

What does healthy, productive dialogue look like — and what does it require?

How can we create spaces for healthy, productive dialogue, starting right here, on our racially diverse, economically diverse, and gender diverse campus?

Those are just a few of the questions on our minds.

What questions are on yours?

Let us know at

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Changing the Narrative by Changing the Storyteller :: A Panel Conversation 

Monday, September 25, 2023 at 5 pm

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism | Pulitzer Hall | Joseph Pulitzer World Room, 3rd Floor

2950 Broadway New York, NY 10027

Who tells the story matters. This power-packed panel of women newsroom leaders are demonstrating that the people closest to the story should become the storytellers of record. Leveraging local in bold new ways, Cristi Hegranes (Global Press) trains and employs local women journalists in some of the world's least-covered places; Yukari Kane (Prison Journalism Project) is training incarcerated writers to elevate new perspectives on the criminal justice system, and Akoto Ofori-Atta (Capital B) centers Black voices and partners with the communities it serves. Moderated by Lorraine Ali of the LA Times, this dialogue will probe challenging issues of audience, representation and how changing the storyteller can help us all better understand the world and our places in it. RSVP is required, space is limited. 

This event is presented by the MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the Columbia Journalism School and the Athena Center for Leadership. 

Dialogue and Difference :: A community of practice

Are you someone who can facilitate dialogue? No, really—even the hard stuff: dialogue that's particularly difficult, vulnerable, or challenging? If you want to be better equipped with strategies to hold space for creative and deep conversations, this community of practice is for you! 

Hosted in collaboration with the Center for Engaged Pedagogy, Dialogue & Difference is a community of practice that will embolden students to foster environments of learning and inclusion through facilitation. Over the course of the academic year, participants will explore the importance and challenge of dialogue, especially in democracy today. Students will leave with the skills to become the facilitators we need for discussing cutting-edge issues of our time.

Sign up here by September 29, 2023, by 11:59 pm ET.

This community of practice is a collaboration between the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College and the Center for Engaged Pedagogy at Barnard College. 

Faculty Lunch :: Erika Kitzmiller

October 26, 2023 at 12pm

Dr. Kitzmiller, term assistant professor in education studies, will lead a conversation about how dialogue with educators and youth has been central to building trust with the communities and schools where she engages in practitioner-based advocacy and research to showcase the challenges and possibilities for expanding educational justice in under-resourced urban public schools. 

These lunches are open to all Barnard students; lunch will be served. You must RSVP using this form in order to attend, space is limited.

The Second Annual Grace Lee Boggs ’35 Lecture with Mariame Kaba, co-author of Let This Radicalize You

Thursday, November 9, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Registration link coming soon, watch this space!

This event is presented by Barnard's Office of DEI in collaboration with the Athena Center for Leadership, Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Office of Community Engagement and Inclusion at Barnard, and Barnard's Young Alumnae Council. 

Take the Mic, Take Action! :: A community of practice

Take the Mic, Take Action! is a Fall 2023 community of practice facilitated by Jessica Weis, director of the Women In Energy initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. CGEP hosts numerous events throughout the year to educate and inform the public and give decision makers the independent analysis and information they need to address energy and climate challenges. Over two sessions, you'll gain public speaking skills, learn best practices for moderating panels and apply the concept of reflective practice. Following the sessions, you’ll be added to a pool of potential moderators for CGEP and Athena events — the perfect way to keep practicing your skills. 

The application for this community of practice is now closed. 

This community of practice is offered by the Athena Center for Leadership in partnership with the Center on Global Energy Policy’s Women in Energy initiative