Clarke Forum Announces Spring Lecture Series Theme

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Clarke Forum Announces Spring Lecture Series Theme

Claire Jeantheau ’21, Staff Writer

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The Clarke Forum’s slate of events for the current semester highlights topics from community resiliency to homelessness to environmental decline.

The events fall under the umbrella of “Sustainability,” the forum’s official theme for spring 2019. The topic was selected last semester by faculty.

The sustainability theme “will focus on many of these big ideas…including debates about limits to growth; politicization and communication of science; climate change and social justice; indigenous knowledge; sustainable lifestyles; sustainable tourism; circular economies; arts and sustainable design; food waste; transnational food systems; the roles of technology; and public participation in science,” according to the Clarke Forum website.

Kayleigh Rhatigan ’19, a student project supervisor for the Clarke Forum, said she was most looking forward to the Jan. 28 opening lecture “Extractive Zones + Decolonial Praxis.” 

“Our first event [was] really cool. It’s about the legacies of colonialism and environmental degradation in Latin America,” Rhatigan said.

Neil Leary, director for the Center for Sustainability Education, said the lecturer for one event, Barbara Brown-Wilson authored a book used in one of his classes.

“I actually had used her book in a course I taught in the fall…called ‘Building Sustainable Communities,’” Leary said. “It’s a series of case studies that looks at how an approach called community-driven design has been used to make communities more resilient to stresses from climate change, social issues, issues of injustice, a variety of kinds of things.” The lecture, “Resilience For All,” will take place on Feb. 6.

Amy Farrell, the executive director for the Clarke Forum, said that their events that are not part of the official “Sustainability” theme still address sustainability.

“You could almost take any single one of the talks and think about them in terms of sustainability,” Farrell said. “If you think, for example, about the panel on homelessness [“Unveiling America: Addressing Issues of Contemporary Homelessness”] —how do we create cities that are resilient to the problems of climate change?”

Clarke Forum themes are selected the previous semester during a faculty seminar. This spring, faculty will also participate in workshops and readings related to sustainability.

Farrell said faculty propose themes which are decided on by a committee. “What’s interesting about that faculty seminar is that we’re modeling what we ask students to do,” she said. “Whoever makes up that group—and it’s a different group every time—are faculty across campus and they aren’t necessarily specialists in that topic. They’re people who want to read deeply in that topic.”

The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues sponsors Dickinson lectures and seminars on diverse topics. The spring lecture series will run from Monday, Jan. 28 to Thursday, April 18.