Schemel Forum’s “University for a Day” Lets Area Residents Go Back to School

August 26, 2015

On Saturday, Sept. 26, The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum will present its annual University for a Day. Two Scranton faculty members, a constitutional scholar, and an alumna who is fostering tolerance and global citizenship will engage area residents in a full day of thought-provoking topics.

Offered every fall, University for a Day features four lectures, with ample time for discussion, as well as mingling over morning coffee, lunch and a closing reception. The event will run from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Brennan Hall on campus.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. with “Remember that Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam: The Dutch Roots of American Pluralism.” David Dzurec, Ph.D., associate professor of history at The University of Scranton, will attempt to dispel a widely accepted belief about the origin of American society. “It has been argued that contemporary American culture was built on a British foundation and over time that initial culture grew – with waves of immigration, principally from Europe – creating a multicultural society that became a model for progressive societies all over the world,” said Dr. Dzurec. “This talk will ‘complicate’ the British foundations model by presenting evidence that it was the 17th Century Dutch colony of New Netherland, rather than Puritan Massachusetts or Anglican Virginia, that offered the pluralistic model for what the United States was to become.”

Next, Akhil Reed Amar, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will present “The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic.” In this talk, based on his just-released book, “The Law of the Land,” Dr. Amar will discuss how geography, federalism and regionalism have influenced some of the biggest questions in American constitutional law. For example, he will address how Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about secession were influenced by his Midwestern upbringing, how certain key states have played an outsized role in the Electoral College, and how all the current justices learned the law in the Northeast.

Dr. Amar will also discuss what modern Americans can learn from the fact that our nation’s map proximately and repeatedly features the names Camden and Wilkes – as in Camden, Maine; Camden, New Jersey; Camden, South Carolina; Camden Yards (home of the Baltimore Orioles); Wilkes County, Georgia; Wilkes County, North Carolina; and, of course, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

“Few Americans know anything about Lord Camden, the namesake of Philadelphia’s little sister city,” said Dr. Amar. Born Charles Pratt, Lord Camden was a great lawyer, a lover of liberty and chief justice of England’s Court of Common Pleas. “Revolutionary-era Americans adored him, not only because he championed the American cause in grand speeches, but also because he decided two great cases in the 1760s.” Lord Camden ruled against the government and in favor of the plaintiffs, John Wilkes and John Entick, in cases that served to protect citizens from illegal search and seizure. “These rulings, which served to deter similar unconstitutional conduct in the future, led to the establishment of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Dr. Amar. A book signing will follow the lecture.

After lunch, at 1:45 p.m., University for a Day continues with “Wright Spaces: Citizenship Learning in Liquid Times.” Colette Mazzucelli, Ph.D., professor at New York University, Long Island University Global, and Pioneer Academics Global Research Program, said, “In the 21st century, millions of refugees are homeless as residents of camps located in no-man’s land, a space for which no state takes responsibility. Millions of others, although not in camps, lack the opportunity to learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in societies that control education.”

Dr. Mazzucelli will speak about her efforts to stimulate students around the world to critically think and ask questions about how governments foster intolerance of people who are in the minority in their countries. “Videoconferencing brings together students from diverse backgrounds who interact with me as well as each other,” she said. “Still in the early stages of development, these mentoring/research programs are anchored in helping students learn to question what they think they know and to address their nation’s history.” In the title of Dr. Mazzucelli’s presentation, “Wright” refers to the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed buildings to enhance the human experience. Part of the focus of her programs relate to how architecture influences learning.

Dr. Mazzucelli graduated magna cum laude from The University of Scranton in 1983 with a B.A. in history and philosophy and a minor in modern languages. She received a prestigious Swiss Universities Grant following graduation.

The final presentation of the day will be delivered by Teresa Grettano, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and theatre at The University of Scranton. In “Suis-Je Charlie? The Rhetoric of Solidarity in Civic Responses to 21st Century Terrorism,” Dr. Grettano will use the response to the lethal attacks on the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris in January 2015 to analyze expressions of solidarity in reaction to terrorist attacks.

“Drawing on theory from Kenneth Burke and Terry Eagleton, my presentation will question recent responses and speculate on more effective approaches that could lead to dialogue, empathy and reconciliation,” she said.

Seating is limited and reservations are required to attend the Schemel Forum’s University for a Day program, which is sponsored by the Neighborhood Development Fund 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 Emily Brees, Schemel Forum assistant, at 570-941-6206 or emily.brees@scranton.edu.

For more information on Schemel Forum programs and memberships, contact Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum, 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, created by friends of the late Father Schemel in his loving memory, and spearheaded by Harmar Brereton, M.D, the forum has grown from a handful of informal lectures to a comprehensive enrichment program of study, dialogue, performances and special events. Through the forum the University offers to the community its most valuable assets – its faculty members and the wealth of knowledge that they possess.

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