YSU co-hosts national Working Class Studies Conference

WCSAYoungstown State University’s Center for Working Class Studies co-hosts the annual Working Class Studies Conference, which takes place mostly virtually from Monday through Thursday, June 7 to June 10.
The conference, which began at YSU in 1995, is the birthplace of the working class studies discipline in the United States and will include more than 150 academics, activists, researchers and performers from across the globe, including presentations by YSU students and faculty from psychology, economics, English, and journalism.

The conference was originally slated to be held on campus last year but was postponed and switched to a virtual format due to the Covid 19 pandemic. There will be a live streamed event and reception from the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor in Youngstown on Wednesday, June 9, 6:30 to 8 p.m., but the rest of the program will be virtual.

Joseph Varga, associate professor of labor studies at Indiana University and incoming president of the Working Class Studies Association, said the pandemic makes the work of the interdisciplinary conference even more relevant.

“The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought working class issues back to the front page, as researchers, journalists, activists, and workers debate workplace safety for frontline employees, the tattered social safety net, wages, child care, and a whole host of issues affecting working class people around the globe. In fact, the crisis has afforded the opportunity to question the very essence of work, labor, wages, and working conditions,” said Varga.

Tim Francisco, English professor and director of YSU’s Center for Working Class Studies, said he’s excited for the conference to come back to YSU—even in this year’s virtual format.

“More than 25 years ago, my predecessors and colleagues at YSU helped spark a national conversation about working-class issues, equity and opportunity, and in so doing helped found an entire discipline,” he said. “Now more than ever, we must continue the important work of appreciating and understanding diverse working-class cultures and advocating for human rights.”

Francisco added that YSU’s CWCS is internationally known and that the work of the center is what attracted him and several of his colleagues to YSU in the first place.

The conference is open to all and registration is $25. The program and registration can be found here: https://www.wcsa2021.com/