Ingeborg Powell (1958)

The late Ingeborg Powell, who became Inge Bell, was a graduate student in the department between 1958 and 1965, during which time she was active in CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). We do not know when or how she died. She wrote her dissertation on CORE and then published it as a book, CORE and the Strategy of Non-Violence (1968).  She later published This Book is Not Required (1983) which pursued her vision of Buddhist Sociology, taking a critical look at undergraduate education. The following extract is taken from the preface, but you might want to turn straight to the last paragraph:


This is a book that invites you to look at your college education: what it could be, and what, alas, it often is. It is a book which suggests to you what you can make of this opportunity, given the resources at your disposal. If you want to become truly educated, you will have to educate yourself, and at times you will have to do it in spite of the academy. Perhaps this is good, because knowledge which comes too easily doesn't train one to be an independent thinker, and only an independent thinker is ever truly intelligent. 

We will not look at these four years merely in terms of the formal world of classes and professors. We want to look at the larger experience: at your whole environment and your whole life during these four years, because some of the most important learning is always done outside the classroom. 

I have tried to make this a survival manual for undergraduates: emotional survival and intellectual survival. I will even say that it speaks to the issues of spiritual survival, if by "spiritual" we mean the capacity to live in harmony with oneself and with the universe. 

You will undoubtedly disagree with parts of this book. It is only one person's view. But if it connects with your life at any important point, I shall feel that it has served its purpose for you. I have tried to give you the broadest possible picture of your position as a student in the academic world and in the larger society of which you are a part. To do this, I have had to use a large brush, and I have undoubtedly made mistakes. But I have always considered this broad perspective more important than the fine attention to detail given by the academic specialists. 

This is not an academic or scholarly work. It is a very critical look at academia by one who has been through it from freshman to full professor. Occasionally, I will suggest a book which I think you might like. But you will not find an ibid. or an op.cit. littering these pages. 

In my years as a college teacher, I succeeded in what was ever the chief ambition of my career: to keep my students awake. Of course, there were always a comatose few who hadn't gotten to bed until four in the morning, or had mononucleosis, or where merely in love. But on the whole, I succeeded because I discovered that students always came awake when I laid aside academic sociology and talked to them about their lives as students -- about the academic institutions in which they labored, and the how and why of how those institutions functioned; about the competition and anxiety created by grades; about their ambitions and difficult choices of major and career; about the travail of those who came from minority or working-class families; yes, even about their love affairs and loneliness. We talked about how you find out what you want to do in life and about how you can keep your integrity and your sanity in this very difficult society. 

Eventually, drawing on sociology and Eastern philosophy, I developed a course devoted solely to these questions. I shall describe that to you in the chapter "Adventures in Desocializatioin" and give you some of the exercises and "walking meditations" which I used to help students gain insight into their own functioning. 

As I discussed life in the academy with my students, I also listened, and learned a lot. It is therefore to all my former students that I dedicate this little book, because much of what I have written here I learned from them.

It is, perhaps, ironic that after writing a chapter called "Everyone Hates to Write," I found myself hugely enjoying the process of writing this book. After the writing I had done in the usual, stilted language of social science, it was a huge relief to talk good English. I always love to write, and I think I did pretty well at it until I got to graduate school and had all the style knocked out of me by the demands of acedemic sociologese. I always resisted a little. I remember my dissertation chairman asking me sadly whether I had "turned against sociology" because I used too much plain English. In writing this book, I felt that I had regained my writing voice after 30 years.

Dissertation Title
Ideology and Strategy of Direction Action: A Study of the Congress of Racial Equality
Dissertation Book Title
CORE and the Strategy of Non-Violence