Brown Bag Lecture Series

Alworth Institute

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Brown Bag Lecture Series

The International Brown Bag Series has been an integral part of the Alworth Institute's programming since its inception in 1987. In the fall of 2013, it was renamed the Martha B. Alwoth International Brown Bag Series. It provides the audience the opportunity to share in the international travel experiences of numerous individuals from the University, local, national and international communities. Many presentations are travelogues; some are reflections of the current issues confronting a country's people; others capture the cultural character of distant societies; but, each allows a unique insight into places many would never have the opportunity to visit.

The objectives of this series are to:

  • help fulfill the overall objectives of the Alworth Institute;
  • introduce students, staff and the wider community to interesting aspects of foreign culture, society and history;
  • raise awareness of political life and conditions in diverse parts of the world;
  • create opportunities for sharing insights developed during professional and leisure interest travel and other programs of study abroad;
  • create opportunities for visiting faculty to share relevant topics with the wider University;
  • involve students, staff and community members in exchanging ideas and reflecting on international and any related domestic policy issues.

To learn more about the renaming of the International Brown Bag Series click here.

SPRING 2018 Schedule 

Thursday, January 25 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - Morocco: Reflections on a Unique Model for Undergraduate Research Abroad - Presented by Dr. Ryan Goei, UMD Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Director of University Honors, and Dr. Dana Lindaman, Associate Professor of French Studies in UMD Department of World Languages and Cultures - Goei and Lindaman led a group of UMD students to Morocco in the summer of 2017.  Students spent time in the country touring and conducting their own research.  They will discuss the unusual way this program was conducted and how it allowed students to focus on their individual interests.  

Thursday, February 8 - 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - My Time in Montpellier – Presented by Megan Resch, 2016 recipient of the Alworth Institute Study Abroad Scholarship and UMD student with a triple major in Statistics, Mathematics, and French Studies - Resch studied in Montpellier, France, six miles from the sea, for four months in the fall of 2016.  She will discuss and show images of what she calls "an invaluable experience."  She learned to communicate efficiently in another language, appreciate different cultures, to grow in her independence as a person. She will share such experiences as learning  o bake "canelés," and navigate the chaotic TGV platforms for weekend trips around the country and continent.

(CANCELLED) Thursday, February 15 - 12:00 p.m. – Kirby Student Center Rafters - Why Taiwan?  Celebrating Learning Chinese with an Astonishing Island of Markets, Food, Temples, and Great Geography – Presented by Dr. Gordon Levine, Retired Assistant Professor, UMD Department of Geography, Urban, Environment & Sustainability Studies - Levine will provide an illustrated discussion of visiting Taiwan for the 55th Anniversary of ICLP (International Chinese Language Program) on the campus of NTU (National Taiwan University). Levine began learning Chinese there in 1967-68 when it was known as IUP.  He will share his 60 years of experience learning Chinese and discuss the places he visited on this trip to Taiwan.  

Thursday, March 1 - 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - Along the Saxon Shore in Kent (UK): England’s Historic Frontline - Presented by Dr. William Henderson, Alworth Institute International Associate and former director - This travelogue, a personal account of a landscape that Henderson has recently fallen in love with, looks at the interaction of geography and history along the Kent Coastline from Folkestone to Rye. It takes in Roman remains, medieval churches, the Cinque Ports, romantic castles, defences against Napoleon and significant geographical features such as Dungeness (a pebble desert) and the Romney marsh.

Thursday, March 22 - 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - Living like a Kiwi: Studying Abroad in New Zealand– Presented by Rachel Wachtler, 2017 recipient of the Alworth Institute Study Abroad Scholarship and a UMD Journalism and Environment & Sustainability major - Wachtler will discuss her study abroad experience at Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand.  She was in New Zealand in the fall of 2017 where she studied and traveled.   

Thursday, March 29 – 12:30 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Flo0rr Rotunda – In the Heart of Ethiopia: Journey to the Monastic Order of the Disciples of Estifanos – Presented by Steffan A. Spencer MA, PhD, UMD Department of History - Spencer will discuss his field research from the summer of 2017.  His work ultimately led to the remote monastery of the 
Disciples of Estifanos, nestled in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia.

Thursday, April 5 - 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Incarceration in the Desert: An Examination of the Gila River Japanese-American Internment Camp during WWII - Presented by Dr. Deborah Petersen-Perlman, Chair of the Beumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee and Associate Professor, Department of Communication - Based on her research on the Gila River camp in Arizona, Petersen-Perlman will discuss the experiences of the Japanese-Americans who were relocated from their homes near the Pacific military zone and held in internment camps.  The argument was that this would prevent espionage caused by purported sympathy with the country of Japan.  (Co-sponsored by the Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee.)

Thursday, April 12 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - Discovering Modern Rwanda, The Gem of Africa – Presented by Tom Voelk,  award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, NBC News Channel, KING Television and WCCO Television - In the fall of 2017 Tom Voelk documented the experiences of Expedia employees from all over the globe gathering in Rwanda. The purpose of the trip was to immerse the group in the true spirit of the re-emerging nation and prove that it’s a destination worth traveling to. They trekked to see the rare mountain gorillas, visited schools determined to lift up Rwanda’s children, explored genocide sites and met the people determined to make this country the gem of Africa.  Tom will talk about the unexpected moments he experienced along with the Expedia group and the impact it had on all them.   

Thursday, April 19 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Brown Bag Presentation - Finland 100 - Northland – Presented by Ira “Mimmu” Salmela, KUMD Interim Station Manager and Director of Development - Salmela will describe the historical connections between the Northland and Finland by looking at the planning and execution of the area's celebration of Finland's 100th anniversary in 2017. The theme of Finland's 100th birthday is yhdessä, which means "together" in English.  This togetherness serves to unite the people of the two areas and influenced the way in which the anniversary was celebrated in Duluth.  

If you are interested in proposing a topic for discussion, finding a qualified speaker, or co-sponsoring a lecture; check the suitability of the topic and the speaker against the objectives above and contact the Alworth Institute at or (218) 726-7493.