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Brown Bag Lecture Series

Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Institute for International Studies

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.

Spring 2020 Schedule

Thursday, January 30 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda –  Brown Bag Presentation - History of Community Health through Art & Culture in Italy! – Presented by Ladona Tornabene, Ph.D., MCHES, UMD Department of Applied Human Sciences: Public Health and Lisa Vogelsang, Ph.D. UMD International Programs and Services - This presentation provides short-term study abroad course highlights from Rome, Florence, Siena, and Venice as they pertain to historical factors that affect a community’s health. Such factors encompass religion, tradition, beliefs, politics, SES, education, culture, and the environment (natural, built and aesthetic).  How did Rome function with a population of nearly 1.5 million people over 2000 years ago? See glimpses of the ruins from Rome’s key political/civic center, The Forum, as well as Antiquity’s wellness epicenter, the Baths of Caracalla. Learn of health connections to the David and about other art & health connections and changes that happened during the Renaissance. See how art in hospitals was used over a thousand years ago and witness the philanthropic power of one individual’s behavior that has impacted every...single... continent today! We conclude on the Venetian Islands, visiting one of the first mental health hospitals and on the vestiges of quarantine islands, a plague museum and the remnants of the world's very first hospital established solely for Bubonic Plague patients. Hear how Venice, Italy invented the political/health action of “Quarantine” that saved millions during the plague. 

Thursday, February 13 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Brown Bag Presentation - A Trip Down Under: New Zealand and Australia – Presented by Dr. Denny Falk, UMD Distinguished Global Professor Emeritus - This presentation will focus on a trip that Denny Falk and a friend took to New Zealand and Australia. The beauty of the North and South islands, a powerful experience in Christchurch, and visits to Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef will be included.

Thursday, February 20 –  12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – The Repurposing of Culturally Significant Sites from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires in Southeast Europe – Presented by Timothy French, Adjunct Instructor of History, Lord Fairfax Community College & UMD Graduate - Tim French is a frequent traveller to Southeastern Europe.  He will discuss how historical sites such as the Hagia Sophia have been remade over the centuries to reflect the needs and will of the ruling elites.  He will share photos of these sites and offer historical analysis of the changes to them over the years. 

Thursday, March 19 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda Grigg Center – Family Wedding in Uganda: Traditional Culture Meets Modernity – Presented by Ann Gumpper, Scenic designer, decorative painter, and color consultant, and Mark Harvey, Associate Professor Lighting Design and Department Head, UMD Theatre Department - Ann Gumpper and Mark Harvey visited Uganda for their nephews wedding a Ugandan woman. They had quite an adventure being part of the wedding and getting to know the bride's  family. The second week there, they spent on Safari in and near Queen Elizabeth Park. They will share photos of their time in Uganda and some of their memorabilia from the trip, including the traditional dress made for Ann.  

Thursday, March 26 – 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - The Story of the Holocaust In Poland  - 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 - This presentation examines strategies for engaging people in the study of the Holocaust in Poland.  The presenters review how they utilize museums, concentration camps, ghetto and shtetls tours, and workshops for their Study Abroad program offered again in 2021. (Cosponsored by the UMD Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee)

Friday, March 27 - 12:00 p.m. – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - The Aesthetics of Remembrance: Documentary Films on Persecution and Political Incarceration during Spain’s Dictatorship – Presented by Dr. Maureen Tobin-Stanley, Professor of Hispanic Studies, UMD Department of World Languages and Cultures - Tobin-Stanley explores three documentaries based on Ángel Fernández’s testimonial narratives. Resistant fighter, sixteen-year political prisoner in Franco’s jails and current expatriate, Ángel Fernández has penned several written testimonies, participated in the documentary films Te doy mi palabra (I Give You My Word, 2012, dir. Quino González) and Au temps des roses rouges (Time of the Red Roses, 2013, dir. Francis Lapeyre) , and protagonizes the biopic Ángel (2016, dir. Stéphane Fernandez). These works are a testament to his commitment to justice through memory. As a survivor of the cumulative traumas of war, exile and political imprisonment, his journey to make his story known through memory activism reach the apex of communication in the documentary Ángel, a film that embodies what Brett Ashley Kaplan and Marianne Hirsch have respectively termed unwanted beauty and the aesthetics of remembrance. (Cosponsored by the UMD Department of World Languages and Cultures)

Thursday, April 2 – 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda – Living La Vida Matizada: Participatory Video Making with a Creative Indigenous Community in the Ecuadorian Andes – Presented by Presented by Dr. David Syring, Professor and Associate Department Head, UMD Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Criminology - Indigenous peoples such as the Saraguros of southern Ecuador respond to the challenges of globalization in fascinating ways. Telling stories and creating art that expresses Saraguro identity provide foundational strategies for individuals and communities simultaneously to assert their continuity with the past and dynamically engage with their future. Saraguros create through beadwork, spinning and weaving, pottery, music, painting and other plastic arts to affirm ideas and values. In addition to self adornment and traditional reciprocal gifting, Saraguro artisans sell their work in venues such as the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and elsewhere, bringing their culture into transnational conversations about identity. David Syring has worked with Saraguro collaborators to learn about unique aspects of their daily lives and their cosmovision, and to develop representations of their daily worlds as well as their artistic expressions. Basic ethnographic research has led to the idea of “la vida matizada,” the “blended life,” as a metaphor for the “good life” in local terms. This presentation will share several videos created as participatory media with Saraguro collaborators, and will include examples of unique Saraguro bead art.  Bead art can be purchased at this event.  

Thursday, April 9 - 12:00 p.m.  – Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - ¿Qué está pasando?: A Briefing of Contemporary Politics in Spain  - Presented by Dr. Jennifer Brady, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Interim Department Head, UMD Department of World Languages and Cultures - Jennifer Brady will provide an update on the current political situation in Spain, specifically, the Catalonia's independence movement.  She will share her analysis of the fate of Catalonia given the new coalition government formed in August of 2020.  

Wednesday, April 15 - 12:00 p.m. - Kathryn A. Martin Library 4th Floor Rotunda - The Power of the Past to Shape the Present: The Power of the Icelandic Sagas for Today Presented by Þórdís Edda Jóhannesdóttir, Manuscript Department, The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, Andrew McGillivray, Assistant Professor and Tracy Whalen, Associate Professor, both from the Department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications, University of Winnipeg - The past is the set of resources that shape our present, our understanding of ourselves. Tracy Whalen explores a celebrated statue of Winnie the Bear and Captain Harry Colebourn (a Canadian veterinarian and soldier). These statues in the London Zoo and in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park shaped Winnipegian and British community identity. McGillivray will discuss the Gimli Viking, a statue standing in the center of Gimli, Manitoba, that commemorates the Icelandic settlement in that area. Commissioned by the Gimli Chamber of Commerce, and unveiled in 1967, the Viking Statue demonstrates the ways that Manitobans use the resources of the past to shape their self-understanding in the present. (Co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts)

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.