Seth Moglen, professor of English, member of the South Side Initiative and author of the forthcoming book “Bethlehem: American Utopia, American Tragedy,” has been key in forging partnerships between Lehigh and the community.
A recent project was “Festival UnBound,” a 10-day event led by Touchstone Theater, in which dozens of Lehigh faculty, students and staff collaborated with community artists, officials and activists.
“A university-community partnership on this scale and with this level of richness is rare. It’s possible here because of an extensive network of social, intellectual and artistic collaboration that goes back decades. Together, artists and scholars and residents have created a cultural ecosystem that can foster an ambitious project of this kind, where a community can explore its past and imagine its future.”
The College of Education recently hosted a “crucial conversation” with the community on the troubling and challenging issue of gun violence in schools. It featured two Lehigh alumni—Bethlehem Area School Superintendent Joseph Roy ’09 Ph.D. and psychologist and author Peter Langman ’00 Ph.D., who has studied school shootings around the world and has authored several books on the topic.
Questions at the event centered on perceptions and frequency of school shootings, possible warning signs, prevention and lessons learned, including from the 2018 attack that resulted in the deaths of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
A group of students in Lehigh’s Interdisciplinary Studies created a documentary film examining the impact legalized gambling made on the city of Bethlehem, which struggled in the wake of the shuttering of industrial giant Bethlehem Steel. The students produced, wrote and directed the film.
A decade after Bethlehem successfully won a bid to hold one of nine gaming licenses available in the state, the students began to study the impact the casino and the subsequent development have had on the economically distressed city. Their research included interviews with local officials, gambling experts, Bethlehem residents and academics and resulted in a complex portrait of the local community. Their findings are particularly important when viewed through the broader lens of similar communities around the country in several post-industrial areas.
Building on the popularity of sidewalk extensions that expand outdoor living spaces and encourage more community interaction, a group of students on the outreach committee of Lehigh’s Engineers Without Borders constructed a 34-foot-long by seven-footdeep parklet for popular South Side eatery Roasted. The group, which has designed and tested parklets for other locations in Bethlehem, trained in woodworking to construct the project on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus before transporting it to its final location. “Our hope is that more people will come out to the South Side, especially Lehigh students, and integrate more with the community,” said Annaliese Cunniffe ’19, who chaired the outreach committee. “And to beautify the South Side too.”