Professor Maureen Heffern Ponicki highlights importance of social connections during Hispanic Heritage Month – The Courier


In a research and insight sharing session from her time in Córdoba, Argentina, COD Professor Maureen Heffern Ponicki passed on many lessons that Argentina’s history, people and culture can bring to states. -United. and COD students. She stressed the importance of connection for all aspects of individual and community life. “My kind of hope for all of us is that you find, take the lessons of Latin America, Argentina in this case, to find hope by connecting with others.

Assistant professor of political science at COD, his research focused on the cities of Cordoba, Argentina; Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh to find common themes that made the economy fastresurgence in the aftermath of economic and / or political instability. Heffern Ponicki’s presentation, titled “Urban Resiliency: A cross-national Comparison,” included an overview of how political scientists conduct research, a brief history, and an explanation of the similarities between Cordoba, Buffalo and Pittsburgh that led to their inclusion in her work, and which of the cultural, political and economic innovations and / or examples of ingenuity she found most fascinating. His research includes time spent in Argentina interviewing leaders in politics, business, community and higher education.

“My guess, after talking to many interviewees, was that there are two main factors that help a city bounce back faster. The first is that a city with high levels of social connectivity… bounces faster.

During her presentation, she focused on periods of economic and political volatility in Argentina’s history, such as military coups that overthrew the democratic government, as well as crises of deindustrialization and convertibility during which the value of the currency has fallen.

She noted that in the aftermath of these crises, the rapid recoveries all had a common factor of social connectivity that could be identified in the solutions found by city residents. One of these solutions was the activity of small business associations.

“They call them PyME, Pequeña y Mediana Empresas, so they are associations of small businesses, and they are very active, very strong,” she said.

Among other solutions, she found social connectivity to be a common theme: cooperatives and unions, as well as collaboration between local organizations, nonprofits, universities and the federal government.

All of this aligned with his main message that high levels of social capital and cross-network collaboration between groups has allowed cities such as Cordoba and Pittsburgh to bounce back quickly from periods of instability. She also stressed that this type of collaboration was important at the individual level for overall health, to facilitate the learning process and for groups to have a greater capacity to effect change by working together.

Heffern Ponicki painted a picture of many aspects of life in Argentina from the 1900s to the present day. The resilience of the Argentine people and their willingness to be active in the community around them has been continually highlighted in examples of unions, political activism and increased civic engagement. Innovations such as participatory budgeting, a process in which citizens decide how a municipal budget is allocated, have shown an example of how the people of Cordoba have successfully overcome downturns caused by political and economic turmoil.

She urged COD students to find social connectivity by joining clubs and / or finding ways to work with different clubs and attend events that push you to hang out with people you might not have been involved with. not normally the opportunity to interact.

To that end, she structured her session to include two opportunities at the start and end of the presentation for attendees to introduce themselves, share what brought them to the event, and express their thoughts. In this way, Heffern Ponicki urged the students to channel the spirit of the Argentine people by being active participants in the community around them and by allowing themselves to learn and experience important elements of different cultures and to build relationships. community partnerships.

This session took place on September 23 as part of COD’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15.

More information on the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations and events at COD can be found below:

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