Spring 2017

Spring 2017 Global Issues Colloquium

Thursday, January 26, 2017, 7:00 pm
MG 2001
Speaker: Taner Edis, Professor of Physics, Truman State University
Title: Can Secular Liberalism Accommodate Islam?

Abstract: Public debates about Islam in democratic Western countries center on accommodating Muslim beliefs and behaviors within a secular liberal political framework. We might celebrate diversity and institute multiculturalism, but we also expect believers to moderate their religiosity in public. We ask everyone to defer to science and secular expertise in education and in policy; for example, we frown on creationism. We take human rights to be universal, and if traditional Islamic law does not comply, so much the worse for it. We say that women and men should be free to choose, though they may choose to be devout and dress according to religious standards. Government should not favor any particular religion. Different cultural communities should live together in mutual respect. Many conservative Muslims, however, do not accept a secular liberal framework—they do not think it is religiously neutral or fair. They aspire to an alternative, pious form of modernity, in which politically active forms of religion define and shape the public sphere. Examining conservative Muslim critiques of secular liberalism provides us with insight into some current developments in the Muslim world, and also exposes serious weaknesses in secular liberal political ideas.

Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7:00 pm
MG 2001
Speaker: John Quinn, Professor of Political Science, Truman State University
Title: When Elephants Fight: How Global Geopolitical Changes Impact African Institutions

Abstract: Global Geopolitical Power and African Political and Economic Institutions: When Elephants Fight describes how two region-wide shifts in prevailing political and economic institutions and practices of sub-Saharan Africa can be linked to two prior global geopolitical realignments: the end of WWII with the ensuing American and Soviet led bipolar system, and the end of the Cold War with American primacy. Each period featured changed or newly empowered international and regional leaders with competing national priorities within new intellectual and geopolitical climates, altering the opportunities and constraints for African leaders in instituting or maintaining particular political and economic institutions or practices. The economic and political institutions of Africa that emerged did so as a result of a complex mix of contending domestic, regional, and international forces (material and intellectual)—all which were themselves greatly transformed in the wake of these two global geopolitical realignments. The argument assumes that ideas as well as material resources matter, and that how they matter is contingent on which particular nations are running, or trying to run, the international system as well as the type of competition or cooperation evident among and between the great powers.

Thursday, March 23, 2017, 7:00 pm
Speaker: Richard Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Title: Curing Capitalism through Democracy. A Radical Analysis of the Global Economic Crisis
Co-Sponsors: Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); History Department Early-Vreeland Lecture Series; Office of Interdisciplinary Studies

Abstract: Since its 2008 crash, capitalism has been experiencing its second worst breakdown ever. The on-going economic crisis (unemployment, disappearing middle class, and so on) has now broadened into a social crisis. Everywhere, old political establishments fall with the rise of new left and right political alternatives  (the votes for Bernie Sanders and Trump are but one of many examples). Reforms in laws and regulations are now too little, too late to solve capitalism’s mounting problems. We need a far more basic, structural change such as the democratization of enterprises (factories, offices and stores). A transition from capitalist to cooperative enterprises is available and possible if we dare to make it happen.

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 7:00 pm
SUB Activities 3200
Speaker: Kelly Hayes, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University
Title: Intergalactic Space-Time Travelers: Envisioning the New Age in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn
Co-Sponsors: PHRE, Society & Environment, SACS, Interfaith Center

Abstract: Founded in the 1960s, the Valley of the Dawn is a Brazilian religion known for its synthesis of elements drawn from Christianity, Spiritualism, Afro-Brazilian religions and various esoteric traditions. Its adherents believe that they are descendants of a race of extraterrestrials originally sent to earth to advance humanity’s spiritual evolution in preparation for the Third Millennium. In this talk Kelly Hayes explores the Valley’s imaginative reconstruction of the past and its utopian vision, contrasting it with Brasília, the great modernist capital in whose shadow the Valley was founded and whose construction promised to catapult Brazil into the future.