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Brown Bag Lecture Series

Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Institute for International Studies

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. Alworth 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.

Fall 2019 Schedule 

Thursday, September 12 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - Women Reclaiming Lives: Social, Economic and Environmental Justice in Oaxaca, Mexico– Presented by Dr. Carol Wallace, UMD Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies and Allyson Hilgeman, UMD Cultural Entrepreneurship Student - From March 9-17, 2019, Wallace and Hilgeman traveled in Oaxaca with a delegation of the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective. There they met with Oaxacan civic organizations that are working on a wide range of issues such as preserving indigenous cultures and traditions, sustainable agriculture, reforestation, fighting mining concessions on communal lands, women’s rights, migration, and much more. In this presentation, they will share what they learned and and information about the projects that inspired them.  

THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED AND WILL NOT BE RESCHEDULED Thursday, September 19 - 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Climate Change and Social Policy – Presented by Dr. Jiansheng Qu, Chinese Academy of Sciences - Jiansheng Qu currently works at the Scientific Information Center for Resources and Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He does research in Climatology, Social Policy and Energy Economics.  His current project is on the "Political economy of climate change adaptation and disaster."

Wednesday, September 25 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Trip of a Lifetime: Africa – Presented by Sue Brockopp, Executive Office and Administrative Specialist, UMD Department of Communication -  Brockopp traveled through South Africa including Cape Town and Robben Island, South Africa.  She went on Safari in Hoedspruit at the Kapama Private Game Reserve to find the BIG FIVE, ending her trip in Zimbabwe to take in the awe factor of Victoria Falls.  She will share her experiences and photos and describes it as the "best trip ever" except when and elephant stepped on her (maybe)! That is a story not to miss!  

Thursday, October 3 –  12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Exploring Jewish Life in Poland & Uncovering an Entangled History – Presented by Dr. Natalie Belsky, Assistant Professor, UMD Department of History, and Dr. Deborah Petersen-Perlman, Associate Professor, UMD Department of Communication and Chair of the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee, and UMD students from the May Session 2019 Study Abroad trip to Poland - Students who traveled to Poland came face to face with the history of Jewish life and culture and the Holocaust in Poland. During this program, they visited former Jewish neighborhoods in Warsaw, Lodz, and Krakow. The trip also included visits to the infamous death camps,Auschwitz and Treblinka, along with many museums and historical sites. This presentation will include the reflections of students and staff regarding their encounters with Holocaust history and the contemporary environment for studying the relationship between Jews and Poles. (Co-sponsored by the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee)

Friday, October 4 – 12:00 p.m. – Grigg Center – Eradicating Peace: The Other Side of the Colombian War on Drugs – Presented by  Leider Valencia, Colombian National Coordinator of the Growers of Coca, Poppy, and Marijuana (COCCAM) - Valencia will discuss the various forces threatening the Colombian peace process and how movements in the U.S may contribute in defending it.  He will review the grassroots efforts by afro-Colombians, campesinos and indigenous peoples working towards alternative sustainable development in areas hard-hit by the internal armed conflict as well as fumigations and forced eradication/militarization. These struggles come in the aftermath of the 2016 peace accords between FARC and the Colombian government as well as a staggering number of assassinations against environmental, land and indigenous rights defenders. He will examine the recent Minga (communal peoples' demonstration) in Cauca, Colombia which was met by tremendous violence by the state security forces leaving at least 16 people dead. (Co-sponsored by the UMD Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Witness for Peace – Upper Midwest)

Thursday, October 10 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - The State and Society in Morocco – Presented by Dr. Meriem El Haitami, Dr. Hamza Tayebi, and Dr. Badr Guennoun, all from the International University of Rabat (Co-sponsored by the UMD College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Extension, University of Minnesota Twin Cities GPA Alliance and Institute for Global Studies, and University of Minnesota Twin Cities College of Liberal Arts) -  As they apply to Morocco, these three scholars will speak, respectively, on encounters between Islam and feminism, the minority question and expressions of resistance to authoritarianism, and the role of the Moussem (a sacred religious feast) in allowing non-conventional, non-normative behavior to challenge the sacred order and body politic.

Thursday, October 17 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Brown Bag Presentation – Finnish Folk Traditions and the Compositional Styles of Jean Sibelius's Piano Music – Presented by Dr. Asami Hagiwara, Assistant Professor, Piano, UMD School of Fine Arts - Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) is Finland’s most celebrated composer. Many musicians know Sibelius for his orchestral music; his seven symphonies, violin concerto, and tone poems, such as Finlandia and Valse Triste, are widely performed. Although Sibelius also wrote more than 150 compositions for piano, these works are little known and are rarely performed. While his piano compositions follow the tradition of 19th-century Romanticism especially that of Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms, the influence of Finnish folk traditions makes his music distinctive from other Romantic composers. This presentation will provide an overview of Sibelius’s piano music focusing, especially on the influence of the Finnish Folk Traditions in Sibelius’s Piano Music and how his style was transformed from the beginning period to the later years. Hagiwara will play selections of Sibelius's compositions during this talk.   

Thursday, October 31 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Brown Bag Presentation - Art and Heritage in Urban Renewal: The Seaside Town of Folkestone, UK – Presented by Dr. William Henderson, Alworth Institute International Associate and former Director of the Alworth Institute - Using the seaside town of Folkestone in the U.K. as a case study, Henderson will illustrate the connections amongst the Triennial Festival, the heritage of the Great War, and the successful establishment of a vibrant Creative Quarter, for the significant changes of perception of Folkestone, both within the town and nationally. The development of the once decayed Harbour area has something in common with the regeneration of Canal Park in Duluth, though the methods are different. Art works by international artists such as Yoko Ono, Spencer Finch, and Antony Gormley, remain as part of the legacy of previous Triennial Festivals.

Friday, November 8 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda –Freedom at Last: My Life under Communism and How our Peaceful Revolution Brought Down the Berlin Wall - Presented by Michael Furchert, former East Berliner, Pianist and Ceramic Artist - Furchert was born and grew up in East Berlin at a time when the city was separated by the infamous Wall. He will share his experiences of growing up in a family that resisted the restrictions of the East German government.  His family was surprisingly given a pass to visit grandparents in the West and then returned to the East and witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall shortly thereafter.  Fouchert's family and personal story takes place "against a backdrop of dramatic, political, cultural, and historic times." 

Thursday, November 14 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Brown Bag Presentation – Travelling the Silk Road – Jill and Koresh Lakhan, Duluth community members - Jill and Koresh Lakhan will present a slide show and analysis of their trip to countries along the ancient Silk Road to China.  They spent time in the Republic of Georgia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  

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) 726-7753.