“University for a Day” Gives Area Residents a View of ‘America and the World’

Aug 27, 2012

The Schemel Forum’s University for a Day, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22, will feature lectures by one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional scholars, an international peace activist and distinguished faculty members from The University of Scranton. The sessions include ample time for discussion. This year’s program focuses on “America and the World.” Morning coffee, lunch and a closing reception will round out the event, which will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Brennan Hall on campus.

Legal scholar Akhil Amar, J.D., Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will discuss a portion of his new book “America’s Unwritten Constitution,” in a lecture that not only looks back during the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, but looks to the future, asking “What Should the Constitution Look Like in 2020, 2121, 2222 and Beyond?”

“(T)he written Constitution nowhere speaks of a “Bill of Rights” as such. The phrases “separation of powers,” “checks and balances,” and “the rule of law” are also absent from the written Constitution. Yet all these things are part of America’s working constitutional system – part of America’s unwritten Constitution,” writes Amar in the introduction of “America’s Unwritten Constitution.” He will discuss “What should our Constitution look like 225 years from now – and how do we get there?” A book signing will immediately follow his lecture.

The program opens with “Democracy as a Political Project: Reflections from Palermo and Colombia.” Aldo Civico, Ph.D., co-founder and director of the International Institute for Peace and professor of anthropology at Rutgers University Newark, will examine the relationship between politics and violence, as well as the influence of organized crime on the cultural, social, economic and political life of a society.

After lunch, Matthew H. Meyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy at The University of Scranton, will present “From Self-Interest to Self- Destruction: Views of Greed and Corruption from Antiquity to Modern Times.” In ancient Greece, Athenian democracy was arguably destroyed by an insatiable and seemingly inescapable greed or desire to have more. “Today we may very well be facing a similar situation,” said Dr. Meyer. “In antiquity, one response to this tragic dynamic of excessive self-interest and self-destruction was to construct an ethics and politics that channeled the desire for private acquisition toward the public good.”

Jeremy Sepinsky, Ph.D. assistant professor of physics at The University of Scranton, will deliver the final lecture, “Are We Alone? An Exploration of Life in the Universe.” Dr. Sepinsky will discuss the possibility of life on the myriad of newly discovered planets, starting with an examination of life here on Earth. “Are we alone in the universe, what kind of life might it be, how prevalent is it?” asks Dr. Sepinsky. “In light of ongoing discoveries of life thriving in extremely hot, cold and other hostile environments on earth, we are optimistic that it exists elsewhere in the universe.”

“University for a Day is the Schemel Forum’s flagship program,” said Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton. “Participants develop friendships through the collaborative community of learning that University for a Day and other Schemel programs provide.”

Seating is limited and reservations are required to attend the Schemel Forum’s University for a Day program, which is sponsored by PNC Bank and the Scranton Area Foundation. The participation fee is $25 for non-Schemel Forum members, which includes morning coffee, lunch and a reception.

To register, contact Kym Fetsko, events coordinator, at (570) 941-7816 or fetskok2@scranton.edu. For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers at (570) 941-4089 or sondra.myers@scranton.edu.


The Schemel Forum is a program of participatory learning experiences aimed at cultivating the intellect and the imagination through study and discussion of classical texts and current policies, from the arts, history and philosophy to technology and theology. Founded in 2006 through generous gifts to the Rev. George Schemel, S.J., Fund, the forum has grown quickly from a handful of informal lectures to a comprehensive enrichment program of study, dialogue, performances and special events. Session fees vary by program.

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