Dynamics of Social Movements – JMU


ABSTRACT: Junior Kearney Quillen brings together the interests of collective responsibility, political philosophy and economic justice in a self-designed program

Kearney Quillen came to JMU from Purcellville, Va., a small town in Loudoun County surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards. Kearney’s mother works at one of the local wineries. His stepfather Mike is a facilities engineer for computer servers in Dulles, a northern suburb of Virginia. Kearney attended nearby Loudoun Valley High School. She describes herself as just a little hyperactive: “When I’m excited about something, I have trouble managing my personal oral volume.”

One of his favorite teachers was Michael Skvarch, professor of physics at LVHS. “He was so optimistic,” Kearney recalled. “He had so many plans, but he thought he should mainly be a facilitator or a guide who goes with you and helps you discover and understand things.” Kearney’s English teacher, Rachel Finney, assigned students to do TED-style talks and slam poems, which she thoroughly enjoyed. “She would sometimes write us thank you cards rather than assigning fixed grades.” Kearney was also a teaching assistant to Shelly Burkett in AP Psychology. “It was fun because I got to grade the vocabulary tests,” Kearney says. “I love the subject and I was able to review things that I didn’t fully understand the first time around.” Kearney also took several years of Latin with Michael Krepich and a lot of math with Terri McConnell. “My mum and Mrs McConnell wake up at 4am and go for a run together. Did I mention it’s a small town? ” she laughs.

Kearney joined the LVHS debate team in its first year, participating in Lincoln-Douglass public forum debate formats. “Our debate team was basically four people plus a few hangers who did their own thing. We were all four co-captains in our last year. Kearney says debating really helped her perform in JMU classes because it helped her find flaws in logic and merits in arguments. “I had a lot of fun in Philosophy 101 at JMU because of my experience in the Lincoln-Douglass debates: ‘Should Constitutionally Protected (Hate) Speech Be Allowed on College Campuses?’ There’s a lot of philosophy in answering a question like that. Kearney learned a lot about John Rawls’ original position, often called the “veil of ignorance”, and the categorical imperative, the central concept of Immanuel Kant’s deontological moral philosophy.

“I really like the JMU campus and the variety of course offerings. I made some great friends here: Jesse, Jacob and Lucas, and Sydney from our Independent Scholars class,” Kearney recalls. She has a dual major in sociology and independent scholars, with a minor in honors interdisciplinary studies. Kearney chose sociology because she loved history, psychology, anthropology, and the discipline seemed to be the intersection of all of those things.” There are so many things I want to learn.” The Independent Scholars major allowed her to explore even more areas. “Through Independent Scholars, I understand why I have the interests I have, and the major also helped me bring these interests together.Instead of just being a tangle of different things that I want to learn, I have systematically identified the intellectual branches that I want to follow.

Built-in Quillen

Kearney was interested in how small communities and movements affect mainstream culture and ultimately lead to big cultural shifts. Kearney also wants to become a teacher, and sees Independent Scholars as a ground for higher learning that focuses interests and develops academic skills, while granting the freedom to explore new territory and not simply repeat what others have learned. “The idea of ​​spending my life doing research to add to the stock of public knowledge really appeals to me.” Kearney’s interdisciplinary interests align well with the Independent Scholars program. “If you’re primarily interested in one area, this isn’t for you,” she says. “But if your interests are broad or combine knowledge from many areas, this major is for you.”

Growing up in a small town led Kearney to develop global aspirations. In 2020, Kearney completed two terms at Oxford University under the JMU Oxford programme. An education at Oxford emphasizes independent learning, one-on-one meetings with faculty members, regular writing, and critical reflection. Kearney wanted to learn at Oxford about the divisions of socialist thought and the contexts in which they were applied. She enrolled in classes on Marxism (Luke Lattanzi-Silveus), Socialism (Oliver Gough), Hitler and Fascism (Thomas Heyen-Dube), and Homer and Greek Mythology (Richard Rutherford). “I had two meetings a week. Six meetings over an eight-week period,” says Kearney. “Each professor emails you a reading list and a list of possible guest speakers. You spend the week reading, then two or three days writing an essay. You send it 24 hours before the meeting so that they can read it in advance. According to program director Jared Diener, “Oxford is not for the faint-hearted. It’s intense, with high expectations for reading, writing and critical analysis And it’s daunting to sit down with an Oxford professor and have to make your case on the spot.Students who accept the challenge are better prepared to tackle tough problems and more confident in their own abilities.

Kearney reports that she reached a turning point in her education during her first term at Oxford, as the connections between her studies and world events became clear. She became involved with an organization called Bernie Abroad while visiting a British pub. “They were handing out stickers. It’s an American primary and there are our campaign posters hanging in the UK. What’s up with that? I thought, “You know you can’t vote in the primaries, right? “I want to know the theory well,” Kearney says, “but I also want to actively help people.”

Recently, she has written on topics such as late capitalism, automation and the future of work, socialism and freedom, and the history of the left for the new Independent Scholar e-zine. “If you want to make changes, it can’t just be about tearing things down. It has to be about rebuilding a foundation,” Kearney says. “The universe is indifferent, but you shouldn’t be.” Kearney believes in radical kindness. “You don’t have to finish a good job,” she says, “but you don’t have the right to give it up either.”


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