by Janet I. Martineau
“Roles and Responsibilities: Ethical Responses to Revolutionary Change” .. .what could be a more timely topic for lecture series in this election year.
And thus it is the title for eight fall programs at Saginaw Valley State University exploring some of society's most vital decisions, ranging from global affairs and genetic engineering to economic revitalization.
All free, they are:
-- Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m.: John W. Limbert on "America and Iran: Endless Enemies?" In the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts
For years, relations between the two countries have been tense, with both sides locked in trading threats and insults. Limbert will discuss how to escape this downward spiral and avoid a disastrous confrontation because, like it or not he says, we have many reasons to rely on each other.
A former deputy assistant secretary of state for near Eastern (Iranian) affairs, Limbert completed his doctorate at Harvard University and spent 34 years in foreign affairs. He also was a hostage at the American Embassy in Iran in 1979-1980, and has written three books on Iran.
-- Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.: Catherine Tumber on "The Life and Death of America's Smaller Industrial Cities." In the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts
In the late 20th century, small industrial cities like Flint fell on hard times. Yet according to journalist Tumber, an age of global warming may improve these cities' fortunes. Now, she argues, they are poised to thrive and, in a talk based on years of research, she will explain her rationale.
Her book on the subject, “Small, Gritty and Green: The Promise of America's Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World,” was named among the best 15 books of the year by the American Society of Landscape Architects. With a doctorate from the University of Rochester, the MIT researcher has published work in the Washington Post, Wilson Quarterly, Bookforum and In These Times.
-- Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m.: Arthur Caplan on "Bioethics: Just Because We Can, Should We?" In the Rhea Miller Recital Hall
Should you eat genetically modified foods? Should we experiment with genetics at all? Asking these questions is a renowned bioethicist and the director of the Center of Bioethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
The author of 29 books, Caplan won the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics for 2011 and was named by Discover magazine as one of the 10 most influential people in science.
In this discussion, Caplan will take a look at some of life's deepest mysteries and examine the implications of putting our hands where they might not belong.
-- Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m.: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana." In the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts
In places like Afghanistan, women are unsung heroes of business. A journalist and New York Times bestselling author, Lemmon will speak about the critical role that female entrepreneurs play in war-torn regions and emerging markets. She draws from hundreds of hours of on-the-ground reporting, and examines what we in the West can learn from the example of businesswomen pushing against a glass ceiling in places it can be all too visible.
A former ABC News correspondent and Fulbright scholar, Lemmon has published articles in the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Daily Beast and Christian Science Monitor.
-- Thursday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m.: Robert Edsel on "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History." In the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts
Author Edsel will tell the story of the Monuments Men, a group of art lovers who chased down great works stolen by Nazis during World War II and saved them from ultimate destruction.
Edsel established a foundation in the group's honor, which in 2007 became one of 10 recipients of the National Humanities Medal.
-- Monday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m.: Kwame Anthony Appiah on "The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen." In the Rhea Miller Recital Hall
What does it take to transform moral understanding into moral behavior? That's the question Princeton University professor Appiah addresses as he explores the mysteries of moral revolution and the power of two forces: honor and shame.
As president of the PEN American Center, an internationally acclaimed literary and human rights association, Appiah was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the White House in 2012. Having earned a doctorate in philosophy at Cambridge, he has been called one of foreign policy's top 100 global thinkers and has taught at Harvard and Yale, among other universities.
-- Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.: Carma Hinton on "History in Images: The Making of 'Gate of Heavenly Peace.'" In the Rhea Miller Recital Hall
Hinton will recount one of her most challenging projects: a film about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. With clips and outtakes from the finished product, Hinton will discuss the difficulties of choosing which material to keep and which to discard, along with the ethics and craft of nonfiction film.
Born in Beijing, Hinton completed a doctorate in art history at Harvard University and has directed 15 documentary films. Her work has been shown at festivals and on television programs worldwide, winning two Peabody Awards, the American Historical Association's O'Connor Film Award, and both the International Critics Prize and the Best Social and Political Documentary award at the Banff Television Festival.
-- Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m.: Jules Gehrke on "The Dilemmas of a New Era: Collectivism and Individualism in the Victorian City." In Founders Hall
Gehrke, an associate professor of history at SVSU, will explore one moment in 20th-century British history and examine its lessons for the political and economic situation faced today by the United States.
Gehrke specializes in late 19th and early 20th century British reformist political movements and teaches classes in both world and modern European history.