Schemel Forum Luncheon Series Focuses on Global Topics

Jan 29, 2014

The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum offers area residents food for thought on a wide selection of World Affairs during the spring semester luncheon series.

“We are delighted to bring the world to Scranton through such interesting and accomplished stars in the international galaxy.” said Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton. “Many of our luncheon presenters look forward to returning because our audiences ask very good questions and we accommodate their busy schedules.”

The series begins on Monday, Feb. 10, with “The Art of Leadership,” presented by William E. Strickland Jr., president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, as well as a social architect, community leader and visionary. Strickland has used his leadership skills to improve the lives of many disadvantaged young people through creative training programs of his own design. From their base in Pittsburgh, these programs have been instituted in five other American cities to date. Winner of the coveted MacArthur “Genius” Award, Strickland will focus on what skill sets and leadership style can speak to the very complex and increasingly global nature of our challenges.

“An American phenomenon, Bill Strickland has modeled a genuine collaboration among local government, education and business that can transform cities in any country” said Myers. The seminar will take place in the Heritage Room of the Weinberg Memorial Library.

On Monday, March 3, Fredrik Logevall, Ph.D., John S. Knight Professor of International Studies and vice-provost for international affairs at Cornell University, will present “Obama & the World in Historical Perspective.” A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Dr. Logevall asks, “How should we judge Barack Obama’s foreign policy as he approaches the midpoint of his second term? And how does he compare to his predecessors in his approach to the world?”

“As a world power, the United States retains unmatched wellsprings of strength, and no other nation seems likely to replace it at the center of the global stage any time soon. Yet it’s also true that the U.S. is in relative decline and that it faces tough choices in several areas abroad,” said Dr. Logevall. In placing Obama’s foreign policy in historical context, Dr. Logevall pays particular attention to the enduring legacy of the Wilsonian call to make the world “safe for democracy.” The lecture will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

Jiri Pehe, director of New York University in Prague, Czech Republic, as well as a political analyst and former chief political advisor of President Vaclav Havel, will present “Emergence of Anti-Liberal Politics in Central Europe” on Monday, March 10. According to Pehe, all of the Visegrad countries have had problems in the last few years with maintaining liberal democracy. In Hungary the Fidesz party has stifled some liberal freedoms while in Poland, the anti-liberal right is likely to stage a comeback in the next elections. In Slovakia the political scene is entirely dominated by a leftist populist movement while in the Czech Republic, the last elections marked a spectacular rise of anti-system parties and movements, some which reject traditional party politics. The lecture will take place in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center.

On Friday, March 14, Jesse Ferris, Ph.D., vice president for strategy at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem, will present “Nasser’s Egypt & the Origins of the Arab Spring.” Dr. Ferris will talk about the subject of his book, “Nasser’s Gamble: How Intervention in Yemen Caused the Six-Day War and the Decline of Egyptian Power,” demonstrating how the missteps of Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt from 1956 to 1970, set the stage for the decline of Arab nationalism and the rise of political Islam. The lecture will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall, followed by a book signing.

Celeste Schenck, Ph.D., president of the American University in Paris, will present “An American in Paris: Straddling Two Educational Cultures” Monday, March 31. With 25 years of experience as an American educator in Paris, Dr. Schenck offers her insights on the profound differences between the French/European university system and the American one. She will discuss the public/private divide, differences in faculty status and governance, the constraints of labor relations, and the different organization of degree programs and student services in the U.S. and abroad. She will also discuss the how the political and cultural differences between French and American culture contribute to the educational divide. The lecture will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

The fall series will conclude on Friday, May 9, when LeoLuca Orlando, Ph.D., mayor of Palermo, Italy, will present “Identity & the Struggle between the Culture of Human Rights & the Mafia.” As mayor of the capital city of Sicily from 1985 to 1990 and 1993 to 2000, and returning to the position in 2012, Dr. Orlando has dedicated his career to the rebirth of his beloved city after decades of Mafia rule. His brilliant civic strategy ignited a virtual Renaissance in Palermo, demonstrating the power of civil society to change the city’s trajectory from one of crime and corruption to one of justice, democracy, and civil and human rights. Palermo’s story exemplifies Dr. Orlando’s leadership and the courage of its citizens to restore social and political values despite a looming threat of retaliation and fear. The lecture will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

“We’d like to express our deep appreciation to Munley Law, one of the region’s leading law firms, for underwriting these Schemel Forum World Affairs Luncheon Seminars,” said Myers. “Like the University, they understand that what’s going on in the world at large is relevant to the city of Scranton.”

All Luncheon Seminars run from noon to 1:30 p.m. Participants can register to attend one luncheon for $20 per person or $30 per couple — or for the entire series of six luncheons for $110 per person or $160 per couple (Schemel Forum members attend free of charge). To register, contact Emily Brees, Schemel Forum assistant, at (570) 941-6206 or For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers at (570) 941-4089 or

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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