Scranton’s Luncheon Seminars Explore Interesting Foreign and Domestic Trends

Feb 2, 2016

During the spring semester, the Schemel Forum’s World Affairs Luncheon Seminars at The University of Scranton offer area residents the opportunity to examine the growing influence of international events on the U.S. and vice-versa.

“Our aim is to provide back stories, fresh approaches and deeper insights into the very confusing and often alarming state of the world as it is reported daily in both public and social media,” said Sondra Myers, director of the Schemel Forum.

Michael Edwards, distinguished senior fellow at DEMOS in New York City, opens the luncheon series on Wednesday, March 2, with “What’s Happening to Civil Society in America?” Edwards asserts that the collective life of citizens is often seen as a vital factor in the health of democracy, the pursuit of equality and the achievement of successful social change. Yet today communities, non-profit groups and social movements face a challenging and rapidly changing landscape of threats and opportunities.

“The weaker our society is, the less chance we have to solve our problems,” he said. “It’s a critical time for action, not just intellectualizing, if we truly want to create a vibrant, dynamic society.” The lecture, which will provide a provocative picture of the past, present and future of civil society, will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

On Wednesday, March 16, Peter Zilahy, award-winning Hungarian author, will present “Can it Possibly Get Worse for Europe and the Middle East?: An Update on the Refugee Crisis and the Thick Fog of Fundamentalism.” Zilahy asks, “Why does it look more hopeless than ever before? Is this the beginning or the end of an era? What are we most afraid of? Is there any cause for optimism?” The luncheon will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

On Monday, April 4, Judson Brewer, M.D., Ph.D., director of research at the Center for Mindfulness and associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, adjunct faculty at Yale University, and research affiliate at MIT will present “Please Pay Attention (it could change your brain!: Insights Into How Mindfulness Helps Us Change Our Habits.” In February 2014, the cover of Time magazine declared a “mindful revolution” based on a growing body of research suggesting that mindfulness might be useful in treating a number of health-related problems ranging from stress to anxiety to addiction. Dr. Brewer will discuss laboratory studies that help to unravel these mysteries in both clinical studies and basic research involving meditation. The luncheon, presented in collaboration with The Commonwealth Medical College, will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

Rosalind Williams, Ph.D., Bern Dibner professor of the history of science and technology at MIT, will present “History at the End of the World” on Thursday, April 14. Some exceptionally insightful writers, such as Jules Verne, William Morris and Robert Louis Stevenson, believed this historical condition would bring a rolling apocalypse of loss along with what is usually called progress. Dr. Williams will discuss if they were right. The lecture will take place in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center.

On Friday, April 29, Zamira Djabarova, J.D., Bertha Justice fellow at EarthRights International, will present “Human Rights and Corporate Accountability.” Transnational corporations surpass borders. Though they contribute to economic development, their actions can result in human rights abuses, such as displacement of people or health repercussions. This lecture will focus on major human rights abuses committed by corporations in recent years and some of the changes that need to be made to ensure that victims of these abuses have redress within the legal system. The luncheon will take place in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall.

The spring series will conclude on Friday, May 13, with “Shared Paths, Divergent Courses: Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism.” Co-presented by David Myers, Ph.D., Sady and Ludwig Kahn professor of Jewish history at UCLA; and Hussein Ibish, Ph.D., senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, the lecture will explore the entwined paths of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism.

“A deeper understanding of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians requires an integrated historical account that considers together the aspirations and actions of Jews and Arabs to achieve national self-determination in Palestine/Israel,” said Dr. Myers. “Toward that end, this talk will focus attention on the way in which Jews and Arabs experienced a number of key flash points in the conflict: 1917, 1948, and 1967. This blended perspective will provide greater clarity about the ongoing challenges, as well as the opportunities, facing both groups in the future.” The luncheon seminar will take place in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center.

The World Affairs Luncheon Seminar series is sponsored by Munley Law.

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.

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, director of the Schemel Forum. 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, 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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