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Presidential Events Series

Presidential Events Series

The Human Experience: An Odyssey

The 2013–2014 Presidential Events Series, The Human Experience: An Odyssey, emphasizes the philosophy that Eckerd’s faculty imparts to first-year students, “Think critically about the world around you and your place in this world.” Through speaker presentations and campus initiatives, the series will reflect ideas and concepts that inspire minds to move beyond illusive walls and barriers, compel an openness to new ways of looking at the world, and ignite an intellectual journey that transitions to a lifelong quest and adventure.

This year’s series is inspired by Human Experience, a two-course sequence and the cornerstone of the first-year academic program at Eckerd College. This introduction to Eckerd’s General Education curriculum provides students with a foundation in the liberal arts, an opportunity to examine the liberal arts more deeply, and a platform to awaken their scholarly interests.

In addition to Eckerd’s focus on the human experience, the 2013–2014 Presidential Events Series shines a spotlight on The Arts at Eckerd College by featuring the talent and creativity of Eckerd’s campus community as well as artists from around the state of Florida.

Eckerd College is pleased to present lectures and presentations as a service to the community. Your questions, comments and feedback are always welcome. We look forward to seeing you this fall!

View the Presidential Events Series publication, or see individual events below.

Event Information

All events at Eckerd College are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated. For more information about Eckerd College events, please contact 727-864-7979 or events@eckerd.edu or visit www.eckerd.edu/events.

The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish MysticTuesday, September 17, 7:30 pm, Fox Hall
Bishop John Shelby Spong

Author and Former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, New Jersey
In his most recent book, John Shelby Spong argues that Jesus never spoke a literal word in the Fourth Gospel and that most of the characters that populate this Gospel’s pages are literary figures, not historical figures. As we break the Gospel out of its literal prison, however, it reveals the deepest and most profound understanding of Jesus in the Bible—we discover that it is “The Tales of a Jewish Mystic.”

John Shelby Spong, whose books have sold more than a million copies, was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001. His admirers acclaim him as a teaching bishop who makes contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary layperson. A visiting lecturer at Harvard and at universities and churches worldwide, Bishop Spong’s bestselling books include Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, A New Christianity for a New World, Why Christianity Must Change or Die and Here I Stand.

Part of the Center for Spiritual Life Burchenal Lecture Series

Talking About Race: Social Justice in a Time of Difference and Indifference

King SpeechWednesday, September 25, 7:00 pm, Fox Hall
Raymond Arsenault, Ph.D. - Author and the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History, University of South Florida
Lenice Emanuel - CEO, YWCA of Tampa Bay
Ronald Porter ’05, Ph.D. - Acting Director of Service-Learning, Eckerd College
Moderated by Alizza Punzalan-Randle, Director of Community and Media Relations, Eckerd College

For many, the national conversation about race relations is viewed through a historical lens as an issue that has been “covered” by the Civil Rights Movement. For others, it’s as relevant today as it was in 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told the world he had a dream. Whatever your perspective, Eckerd invites you and all members of the community to participate in what will be the first of several engaging discussions about race relations in our society.

Professor Arsenault, an expert in the political, social and environmental history of the American South, is the author of the acclaimed Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice and The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America. Ms. Emanuel brings a rich background in the YWCA, an international organization whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. Mr. Porter returns to his alma mater after completing his dissertation, which focused on the Intellectual History of African-American Educational Thought.  

Sponsored by the Afro-American Society, Eckerd College of Organization of Students and the Offices of Multicultural Affairs, Service-Learning, and Marketing and Communications.

Moral Interdependence and Global Citizenship

Moral Interdependence and Global CitizenshipTuesday, October 1, 7:30 pm, Fox Hall
William “Bill” F. Felice, Ph.D. - Associate Dean of General Education and Professor of Political Science, Eckerd College

Professor Bill Felice will explore ideas of moral interdependence and global citizenship through an examination of the brutalization, the arrest and, in some cases, the killing of gay men in Uganda; and ecological devastation in China. While such suffering may seem unrelated to our lives in the U.S., both issues demonstrate the ways in which we are morally interdependent. Homophobia in Africa, for the most part, is not indigenous to the continent but was introduced by colonialists and is perpetuated today by American missionaries. As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, China is responsible for serious suffering abroad. Professor Felice will explore the history and current status of these situations, examine the local and global policy options, and explore how these examples relate to the ethics of cosmopolitan justice and global citizenship.

Part of the Center for Spiritual Life Burchenal Lecture Series

When the Spirit Moves Me: A College Student’s Perspective on Spirituality and Religiosity

GazerThursday, October 3, 6:00 pm, Miller Auditorium
Patrick Henry, Ph.D. - Professor of Sociology, Eckerd College
Ryan Cragun, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Tampa

How spiritual are you? How religious are you? How does either of these concepts matter in your life? These are some of the questions answered by Eckerd College and University of Tampa (UT) students in spirituality and religiosity surveys administered by Professors Henry and Cragun from 2008 to 2013. The impetus for the survey project was to measure the potential impact of UT’s Sykes Chapel, which was dedicated in December 2010. While the basic survey questions addressed the uses of a college chapel, many more issues rose to the surface, including physical and emotional health, alcohol and substance use and attitudes.

This presentation will be in conjunction with the When the Spirit Moves Me art exhibit in Elliott Gallery Sept. 29–Oct. 4. Artistic interpretations of spirituality and religiosity will be explored by Rachel Stewart, Don Williams, Kyu Yamamoto and artists from Creative Clay.

Sponsored by the Sociology discipline

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

Byron HurtWednesday, October 9, 7:30 pm, Miller Auditorium
Byron Hurt - Activist, Writer, Documentary Filmmaker

In a talk that will critique sociological and cultural representations of race, gender and class in American society, Byron Hurt will provide an examination of manhood, sexism and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Mr. Hurt, who pays tribute to the genre while challenging the rap music industry’s misogyny, urges artists and producers to take responsibility for glamorizing destructive, deeply conservative stereotypes of manhood. His documentary Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was later broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens, will be shown. The former host of the Emmy-nominated series Reel Works with Byron Hurt, and former Northeastern University football quarterback, Mr. Hurt was a founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program, the leading college-based rape and domestic violence prevention initiative for college and professional athletics. He also served as an associate director of the first gender violence prevention program in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sponsored by the Women's Resources Center, Women's Empowerment Society, Athletics, Eckerd College Organization of Students (ECOS), Center for Spiritual Life and the Afro-American Society.

Why Can’t We Speak with Dolphins?

Why Can't We Speak with DolphinsThursday, October 17, 7:00 pm, Miller Auditorium
Dr. Stan Kuczaj, Ph.D. - Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, and Director of the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory, The University of Southern Mississippi

The objective of Dr. Kuczaj's laboratory is to conduct research on the behavioral and cognitive abilities of marine mammals and other animals as a means of increasing both our scientific understanding and our ability to conserve other species that inhabit the planet we all share. The notion that meaningful two-way communication between dolphins and humans is possible has garnered considerable support in the media and popular literature, resulting in an enduring myth that dolphins and humans can communicate in ways that rival, and perhaps even surpass, human-human communication. In this talk, Professor Kuczaj will consider the reasons why communication between humans and dolphins has been much more limited than many media reports suggest.
Sponsored by the Psychology discipline

Computer Chess

Computer ChessFriday, October 18, 7:00 pm, Miller Auditorium
A film Directed by Andrew Bujalski, in English, 92 min., 2013

Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers more than 30 years ago, Computer Chess transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs. We get to know the eccentric geniuses possessed of the vision to teach a metal box to defeat man, literally, at his own game, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we know it and will come to know it in the future. Shot last year on video equipment from yesteryear, this retro-adventure features eccentric geniuses who paved the path to our present.

Director Andrew Bujalski has written and directed the films Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation and Beeswax, all of which have appeared on The New York Times critics’ “Top Ten of the Year” lists. Funny Ha Ha was also identified by A.O. Scott as one of the “Ten Most Influential Films of the ’00s.” Between duties to his own projects, Andrew has also worked as a screenwriter-for-hire and a teacher of film production at Boston University and the University of Texas. The Boston Globe describes him as “unerringly polite and somewhat disheveled.”

Part of the International Cinema Series

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Katherine BooWednesday, October 23, 7:30 pm, Fox Hall
Katherine Boo - Author and Staff Writer for The New Yorker

Katherine Boo, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, will be speaking to the first-year students this fall. Her book is assigned reading for them in the two-course sequence Human Experience and for seniors in the capstone Quest for Meaning course. Ms. Boo, who spent more than three years in the Annawadi slum in Mumbai, India, draws on knowledge from across the disciplines to present the lives of the powerless. Her dramatic account of 21st-century India is informed by her exploration of issues of poverty, class, globalization and environmental sustainability. Behind the Beautiful Forevers received the 2012 National Book Award.

Katherine Boo has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003, focusing on issues of poverty, opportunity, social and economic policy, and education. She has received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.

Sponsored by the Class of 1968 Distinguished Visiting Scholar Endowment in partnership with the Col. Christian L. and Edna M. March International Relations Lecture Series and the Center for Spiritual Life Burchenal Lecture Series.

Slam Poetry with Natasha “T” Miller

Slam Poety with Natasha MillerThursday, October 24, 7:00 pm, Miller Auditorium
Natasha "T" Miller - Spoken Word Artist, Slam Poet

Natasha "T" Miller is a three-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist—once ranking as high as the third female slam poet in the world—and a member of four national slam teams. The 28-year-old native of Detroit, Mich., was named a Kresge Performing Arts Fellow by the Kresge Foundation in 2012. Two years prior, she starred in a national Sprite commercial and started her publishing company, All I Wanna Say Publishing. Since then, she has published two books, Dreams of a Beginner, an anthology of quotes, and Coming Out of Nowhere, a social networking memoir about homosexuality, religion and cyberbullying. Ms. Miller believes her purpose is to create change and peace like so many great leaders before her.

Sponsored by the Eckerd College Organization of Students (ECOS)

The Making of St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg pierWednesday, October 30, 4:00 pm, Lewis House
Will Michaels, Ph.D. - Author and President of St. Petersburg Preservation

In his book, The Making of St. Petersburg, local historian Will Michaels chronicles St. Petersburg’s storied history through the telling of significant events, from the Spanish clash with indigenous peoples to the creation of the downtown waterfront parks and grand hotels.

Dr. Michaels has served as executive director and trustee of the St. Petersburg Museum of History, vice president of the Carter G. Woodson Museum of African American History and president of St. Petersburg Preservation. He co-chairs the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society and is currently president of the Flight 2014 Planning Board, which is coordinating celebrations for the centennial of the world’s first airline. He has a Doctorate in Anthropology from the University of South Florida and is a recipient of the Anthropology Department’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. A St. Petersburg resident for more than 40 years, Dr. Michaels is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel.

Part of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC) Public Forum Series

Curing Alzheimer’s Disease by 2020

Curing Alzheimer's Disease by 2020Tuesday, November 5, 4:00 pm, Lewis House
Dave Morgan, Ph.D. - CEO and Director of Basic Neuroscience Research, University of South Florida Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute

Dr. Morgan’s research interests are aging and brain function, focusing on drugs to treat Alzheimer’s dementia. He participated in the development of a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. His work focuses largely on the neuro-immune interactions associated with the Alzheimer phenotype, and the role of astrocytes and microglia in the disease process. He is presently testing anti-amyloid immunotherapy and gene therapy to treat the Alzheimer-like changes in transgenic mouse models of the disease. This work is supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), private foundations and contracts from industrial partners. Dr. Morgan regularly sits on review panels for NIH and other agencies evaluating grants to develop new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Part of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC) Public Forum Series

What Cells Will Do for Global Climate Change

Timothy Bromage, Ph.D.Thursday, November 14, 7:00 pm, Fox Hall
Timothy Bromage, Ph.D. - Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, Professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics and Director of the Hard Tissue Research Unit, New York University College of Dentistry

Rhythmic changes in the distance between the Earth and Sun lead to cyclical global climate change (so-called Milankovitch cycles), with a consequential effect on the flora and fauna existing on Earth. It isn’t all that different on Earth’s surface itself, with constant cyclical changes deep within, exhibited as tectonic movements of the Earth’s crust. Milankovitch cycles and tectonic cycles together resulted in changes in worldwide climate about 2.5 million years ago—culminating in the inexorable connection of events through time that links every aspect of ourselves and our world to every other aspect of the galaxy and beyond.

Paleoanthropologist Dr. Timothy Bromage focuses on human evolution and growth and development, with emphasis on the biology of bones and teeth as windows into life history. He is the recipient of the 2010 Max Planck Research Award in recognition of his achievements in the research on the microanatomical structure of ancestral human teeth and bones.

Sponsored by the Eckerd College Phi Beta Kappa chapter, Zeta of Florida

Burchenal Lecture Series

Visit the Center for Spiritual Life site to view the entire Lecture Series Schedule.