Best-selling activist author to speak at Commencement

Naomi Wolf.Feminist author and political activist Naomi Wolf will speak at SUNY Oswego’s 149th Commencement ceremonies, slated for 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15.

The theme of Wolf’s commencement address will be “The Changemakers: Ethical Leadership and Real Power.”

Wolf is the founder of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, which teaches ethics and empowerment to young women leaders, and is a co-founder of the American Freedom Campaign, a grassroots democracy movement supporting the rule of law.

She gained international recognition in 1991 with her bestseller “The Beauty Myth”—a book the New York Times called one of the most important of the 20th century because of its challenge to the marketing of unrealistic standards of beauty.

Wolf expanded her reputation from feminist social critic to political activist with her more recent writings. Her 2007 bestseller “The End of America” warned of growing threats to civil liberties and democratic institutions. Wolf’s seventh and most recent book is “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.”

A native of San Francisco who now resides with her family in New York City, Wolf is a graduate of Yale University and did her graduate work at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. She blogs for the Huffington Post and has published essays in the New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Esquire, Ms., Washington Post and New York Times.

Students of Wolf

By the time Wolf stands at the graduation lectern in the Campus Center, a dozen or so Oswego students will have read two of Wolf’s books, written a paper about her thinking and met with the author to talk about it all.

The unusual opportunity comes about in a one-credit course starting March 26. Dr. Rhonda Mandel, dean of SUNY Oswego’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will teach “Writings of Naomi Wolf” on Fridays for the remainder of the semester. “It’s for students with an interest in activism,” Mandel said.

Students in the short class will start with “The Beauty Myth” and jump to “Give Me Liberty,” which Mandel described as “a hands-on primer on activism.”

The course ties in with SUNY Oswego’s emphasis on civic engagement, one of the pillars of its strategic plan, as well as with a planned cluster of courses concerning activism.

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(Posted: Mar 17, 2010)