Here are details of the speakers and sponsors from previous years. We are pleased to have been able to bring such a diverse group of scholars to campus to enrich our academic community.

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Fall 2017

Images that Demand Change: Democracy and Social Justice in African American Children’s Literature

Speaker: Dr. Katharine Capshaw

Sponsor: Dr. Althea Tait

Date: Tuesday, October 24, 7 pm, in the SERC, Eagle’s Lookout

Description: How have images of black youth promoted democracy and exposed inequity? By thinking about the mobilization of the photograph and illustration against public visual rhetoric of black criminality and deprivation, Capshaw, who is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut, will explore a range of writers, photographers, and illustrators who employ images of childhood innocence, anger, and resistance in order to argue for social and political change.

Crazy Love: Surviving Relationship/Domestic Violence

Speaker: Leslie Morgan Steiner

Sponsor: Dr. Karen Logsdon

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 7 pm, in the Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job at Seventeen magazine, a New York City apartment, and a boyfriend who adored her. But behind a façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret. Steiner’s New York Times bestseller Crazy Love is an inside look at the violent, devastating world of abusive love. Her TED Talk, “Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave,” has over three million views.

Creating and Sustaining Positive Dreams

Speaker: TheArthur A. Duncan II, Esq.

Sponsor: Dr. Korni Kumar

Date: Monday, October 30, 3:45 pm, in the Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: “From hustling crack on a corner to practicing law in a courtroom…this is my story! I am living proof that despite your past, your dreams can still come true.

“My story begins as I escape the violence of the Crips and Bloods street gangs in South Central LA and the abuse of a cocaine-addicted stepfather, only to go back to Buffalo, New York and perpetuate both ills by becoming a drug dealer myself. Ironically, I became a part of what victimized my family and me in Los Angeles….”
— Excerpted from the book jacket of Duncan’s Felon-Attorney

Duncan recounts in compelling fashion how he lifted himself from the societal scrap heap to morph into a pillar of the community. An uplifting, modern parable about a real-life Prodigal Son proving that anything is possible with faith in the Lord.

Feminist Political Economy in a Globalized World: African Women Migrants in South Africa and the US

Speaker: Dr. Mary Osirim

Sponsor: Dr. Denise Copelton

Date: Monday, November 6, 7 pm, in the Liberal Arts Building, McCue Auditorium

Description: Osirim, provost and professor of sociology at Bryn Mawr College, will discuss how the paradigm of feminist political economy assists us in understanding the socioeconomic challenges, intersectionality, and resilience experienced by African women migrants in South Africa and African women immigrants and refugees in the US.

The Issues in Our Tissues: Neurobiology, Trauma, Embodiment, and Social Justice

Speaker: Jacoby Ballard

Sponsor: Dr. Milo Obourn

Date: Tuesday, November 28, 6:30 pm, in the SERC, Eagle’s Lookout

Description: Ballard is a trans yoga and meditation teacher with over 20 years of unique experience. He will lead a conversation about the effect of mindfulness on our nervous system, how the trauma of injustice lives in our bodies/hearts/minds, and tools for the work we must do to evolve together as a campus and as a society.

Ballard will also offer a workshop, “Stress Reduction, Self Care, and Resilience Through Yoga,” from 2 to 4 pm in the SERC Multipurpose Room.

Spring 2017

Behind the Kitchen Door

Speaker: Saru Jayaraman

Sponsor: Dr. Susan Orr

Date: Thursday, March 23, 6:30 pm, in the Liberal Arts Building, McCue Auditorium

Description: Do you eat ethically? Do you know who touches your food? Did you know the minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.31? Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United); author of Behind the Kitchen Door; and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 18,000 worker members, 200 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide.

The Pink Tide? Women Presidents of Latin America

Speaker: Farida Jalalzai

Sponsor: Dr. Steven Jurek

Date: Wednesday, March 29, 7 pm, in the Liberal Arts Building, McCue Auditorium

Description: Farida Jalalzai, who earned her PhD from the University at Buffalo, studies the representation and behavior of women and minorities in politics and the role of gender in the political arena. She is the author of Shattered, Cracked and Firmly Intact: Women and the Executive Glass Ceiling Worldwide and is the Hannah Atkins Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at Oklahoma State University.

Fall 2016

Muslim Voices Series

The Muslim Voices project gives American Muslims a platform to speak for themselves, instead of being defined by stereotypes and media caricatures. This speaker series will bring together five Muslim scholars and community leaders to share their experiences of what it is like to be a Muslim in the United States and their views toward faith, culture, and politics.

Series Sponsor: Dr. Nilay Saiya

Speaker: Faizan Haq, PhD, SUNY Buffalo
Topic: “Muslims and the Western Media”
Date: Monday, September 19, 6:30-7:30 pm, McCue Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building
Description: Faizan Haq has been teaching Islamic Cultural History and US and the Muslim World since 1996 at State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a fellow of the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training in Washington, DC, and a lifetime member of Asian Studies Association. Currently he serves on the Executive Board of the New York Conference on Asian Studies. He is one of the founding members of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and the co-founder and President of Pakistani American Research and Information Center. He has served as Secretary and Vice President of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists and as Secretary General and Vice President of Pakistani American Congress. He has also served as the President of the Pakistani American Association of Western New York. Faizan Haq is a known media analyst and has been asked to render his opinions for various media networks on diverse international issues, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Voice of America, and CNN. He is the founder and Publisher of and an active member of the Western New York interfaith community.

Speaker: Amer Aziz, Muslim Writer’s Guild of America
Topic: “True Islam versus the Extremists”
Date: Monday, September 26, 6:30-7:30 pm, McCue Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building
Description: Amer Aziz is a writer and editor with The Muslim Writer’s Guild of America, a body of writers committed to combating stereotypes and media caricatures of Islam and Muslims while educating the public on true Islamic values. Amer writes opinion editorials in newspapers and blogs on Patheos and Beliefnet, two of the most popular religion blogzines. He is Vice President of the Buffalo Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a 19th-century reformist movement in Islam founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who Ahmadi-Muslims believe was the Messiah foretold by Muhammad. The movement currently spans 200 countries with membership in the tens of millions.

Speaker: Mohammed Shafiq, PhD, Nazareth College
Topic: “Micro-messaging and Muslims”
Date: Monday, October 10, 6:30-7:30 pm, McCue Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building
Description: Muhammad Shafiq is professor and Executive Director of the Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College. He is also Interim Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Rochester. He has been an active worker and participant in several interfaith forums and dialogue groups in America and abroad for over three decades. Dr. Shafiq has written over 50 articles and several books, including Interfaith Dialogue: A Guide for Muslims. His most recent article addresses the level of interfaith dialogue between different interfaith groups in the Rochester area.

Speaker: Sareer Fazili, Esq., Islamic Center of Rochester
Topic: “Growing Up Muslim”
Date: Monday, November 7, 6:30-7:30 pm, McCue Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building
Description: Sareer Fazili is a Rochester-based litigation attorney. He currently serves as the President of the Islamic Center of Rochester. He is a current member of the Board of Directors of the Kashmiri American Council and serves on an executive subcommittee for Torts, Insurance and Compensation Law for the New York State Bar Association. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Monroe County Bar Association and currently sits on a number of the County Bar’s subcommittees. He is a proud husband and father of three daughters.

Speaker: Najmah Abdulmateen, Women’s International Network
Topic: “Islam and Gender”
Date: Monday, November 14, 6:30-7:30 pm, McCue Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building
Description: Najmah Abdulmateen is a retired principal of the Rochester City School District and founded the Sister Clara Muhammad School in Rochester in the early eighties. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men and co-chairs the Interfaith Collaborative of The Children’s Agenda. Najmah is also an active member of the women’s international network. Her hobbies include gardening and studying piano and Arabic.

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens

Speaker: Gabrielle Burton, director

Sponsor: Dr. Brooke Starkoff

Date: Monday, November 14, 7 pm, in the Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: Join us for a screening of the documentary film Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, introduced by director Gabrielle Burton and followed by a Q&A with Burton and performer Dr. Cool Ethan. The film explores the concept of gender expression and identity as seen through the window of drag queens and kings and transgender performers in Columbus, Ohio.

Spring 2016

Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine

Speaker: Dr. Paul Offit

Sponsor: Dr. Susan Orr

Date: Thursday, March 24, 6:30 pm in Edwards Hall, Room 100

Description: Dr. Offit will discuss his new book which provides a look into the minds of those who choose to medically martyr themselves, or their children, in the name of religion. Offit chronicles the stories of these faithful and their children, whose devastating experiences highlight the tangled relationship between religion and medicine in America. Religious or not, this issue reaches everyone - whether you are seeking treatment at a religious hospital or trying to keep your kids safe from diseases spread by their unvaccinated peers.

Reconsidering “Resilience Thinking”: Critiquing and Engaging an Emerging Paradigm

Speaker: Dr. Lisa Keränen

Sponsor: Dr. Robert Mejia

Date: Tuesday, March 29, 3:30 pm in the Seymour Union, Room 119

Description: Dr. Lisa Keränen will discuss how constant medical crisis - such as Avian Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, and Zika - affects public confidence and participation in public health practices, and the larger social consequences of our ongoing public health anxiety.

The Politics of Consolation: Memory and the Meaning of September 11th

Speaker: Dr. Christina Simko

Sponsor: Dr. Tara Tober

Date: Thursday, March 31, 7 pm in the Liberal Arts Building, McCue Auditorium

Description: Dr. Simko will discuss her new book, The Politics of Consolation: Memory and the Meaning of September 11. She examines how political leaders narrated the events of September 11, 2001, arguing that they were mediated through memories of past suffering - from Valley Forge and Gettysburg to Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Vietnam - in powerful ways. She will also connect to her current work on the transformation of the meaning of the term “ground zero” after September 11.

Fall 2015

Education + Justice: How and Why Prisons and Universities Can Partner or a Better World

Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Ginsburg, Director of the Education Justice Project and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sponsor: Dr. Robert Mejia

Date:Friday, October 9, 4-5:30 pm in Seymour Union, Room 114

Description: Universities and prisons may not appear to be natural allies. However, there is significant common ground between them, especially when both are state agencies committed to supporting the wellbeing of society through transformative work with individuals in their care. Rebecca Ginsburg is director of the Education Justice Project (EJP) and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. EJP creates partnerships between a men’s medium-security state prison and the campus on multiple levels. It offers a rigorous college-in-prison program, conducts outreach to family members of incarcerated men and women, hosts events to educate the campus and local community about criminal justice issues, supports re-entry of formerly incarcerated individuals, and provides resources to support their continuing education. She’ll address how prisons, universities, and the wider public stand to benefit when university communities opt for critical engagement with the incarcerated.

Understanding and Combating Racial Inequity and Injustice in America

Speaker: Dennis Parker, Director of the ACLU’s Justice Program

Date: Thursday, October 22, 7 pm in Union Ballroom

Description: Parker will discuss how education, economics, police profiling, and systemic biases contribute to contemporary racial inequalities and injustice, and he will describe how the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program works with citizens and public leaders to combat these national problems.

Spring 2015

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

Speaker: Matt Taibbi

Sponsor: Dr. Susan Orr

Date: Thursday February 26, 6:30 pm in the New York Room, Cooper Hall

Description: Taibbi will lecture on his New York Times bestselling book “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.” Taibbi argues that in contemporary America our basic rights are determined by our wealth and poverty. The criminal rich go unprosecuted while the poor go to jail, often for their poverty.

Hunger Amid Abundance: The History and Future of Nutritional Assistance

Speaker: Janet E. Poppendieck

Sponsor: Dr. Amy Guptil

Date: Thursday, March 26, 5 - 5:45 pm, McCue Auditorium, Liberal Arts Building

Description: Sociologist and historian of food assistance Jan Poppendieck will look back over 80 years of federal food programs to explain why food assistance has been so much more “successful”—i.e. popular, acceptable and funded—than cash welfare, and she will reflect upon the implications of this history and emerging concerns about childhood obesity for the politics of federal food programs.

Fall 2014

Policy and the Politics of Wealth and Inequality in America

Speaker: David Cay Johnston

Sponsor: Dr. Jaime Spiller

Date: Tuesday, September 16, 6 - 8:30 pm in the Liberal Arts Building 103/4A

Description: David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and best-selling author who writes broadly on economic issues will lecture about how national economic policies have, in his estimation, exacerbated inequality of income, wealth and opportunity in the United States. This is the focus of his new book Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality.

More Than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women

Speaker: Jackson Katz

Sponsor: Caitlin Powalski

Date:Wednesday, October 22, 9:30 pm in the SERC

Description: Jackson Katz is an internationally recognized educator, author and filmmaker who works in the field of gender violence prevention. Katz co-founded Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP); a program focused on engaging and training professional and college male athletes in the prevention of violence against women. His lecture will coincide with other events coordinated for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. is coordinating this lecture.

Spring 2014

Creating and Sustaining a Positive School Environment

Speaker:Armando Ramirez

Sponsor: Dr. Kumar

Date: Tuesday, April 22, at 7 pm in the Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: Brockport Alum Armando Ramirez struggled with motivation in his scholarly endeavors until he found his passion for learning and teaching. Once a D student he is now an educational leader - the Principal of Monroe County’s James Monroe High School. Mr. Ramirez has been described as a “Latino to Watch” by Raquel Serrano of LaVoz, who wrote of him:

Mr. Ramirez inspires… While his life story is filled with a myriad of disappointments and ironies — it is the epiphany of believing in oneself, and the dedication of positive role models that helped him overcome statistical disadvantages. Everything he’s learned over the years, he tries to share with his students.

In his lecture Mr. Ramirez will share with the Brockport community his experience and ideas about creating a positive and welcoming school environment in which students from diverse backgrounds can thrive.

The Fracking of America: Ethics and Impact

Speaker: Dr. Sandra Steingraber

Sponsor: Susan Orr

Date: Tuesday, February 11, at 7 pm in the New York Room, Cooper Hall

Description: Dr. Sandra Steingraber has been hailed as “a poet with a knife” and proclaimed by the Sierra Club to be “the new Rachel Carson.” Her research explores the ways in which chemicals in the environment effect human health. She is well known for her ability to “translate” scientific studies in ways that make them readily understandable and highly readable for the general public. One of her goals is to educate citizens about problems in the environment and their connection to “human rights.” She does this with a view to motivating us all to come together to resolve the crisis of environmental degradation and in so doing improve our public health. Steingraber’s passion and motivation are perhaps best capture in her own words:

What I often say to my audiences is that it is now time to play the Save the World Symphony. It is a vast orchestral piece, and you are but one musician. You are not required to play a solo, but you are required to know what instrument you hold and play it as well as you can. Because in the end, the environment is not just something else to worry about. It is connected to all the things we already worry about - our children, our health, our homeland - and love with all our hearts.

An enthusiastic and sought-after public speaker, Steingraber has keynoted conferences on human health and the environment throughout the United States and Canada. She is recognized for her ability to serve as a two-way translator between scientists and activists. She has testified in the European Parliament, before the President’s Cancer Panel, and has participated in briefings to Congress and before United Nations delegates in Geneva, Switzerland. Interviews with Steingraber have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, on National Public Radio, “The Today Show,” and “Good Morning America.” You can see here in an interview with Bill Moyers here.

Fall 2013

The Audacity to Heal: Our Rape Culture

Speaker: Dr. Salamishah Tillet

Sponsor: Karen Logsden

Date: Wednesday, October 2, at 7 pm in the Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: Dr. Salamishah Tillet is one of the foremost feminist activists and academics of her generation. Dr. Tillet believes the public has reached a “tipping point” in our response to and prevention of sexual assault. All over the country, activists, legislators, and students are organizing to change how individuals and institutions perpetuate a rape culture and harm sexual assault victims. Using her own story of reclaiming her voice, sexuality, and self-esteem after being sexually assaulted in college as well as her two decade long leadership in the movement to end violence against women, Dr. Tillet will provide a road map for how colleges can organize to end campus rape.

Covered: Activists, Journalists, and the News in a Shifting Media Landscape

Speaker: Dr. Sarah Sobieraj

Sponsor: Dr. Denise Copelton

Date: Thursday, October 24, at 7 pm in the New York Room in Cooper Hall

Description: There is an elaborate and often invisible carnival that emerges alongside presidential campaigns as innumerable activist groups attempt to press their issues into mainstream political discourse. Dr. Sarah Sobieraj’s fascinating research follows fifty diverse organizations over the course of two campaign cycles and reveals that while most activist groups equate political success with media success and channel their energies accordingly, their efforts fail to generate news coverage and come with deleterious consequences. Sobieraj shows that activists’ impact on public political debates is minimal, and carefully unravels the ways in which their all-consuming media work and unrelenting public relations approach undermine their ability to communicate with pedestrians, comes at the expense of other political activities, and perhaps most perniciously, damages the groups themselves.

Spring 2013

Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equality

Speaker: Tim Wise

Sponsor: Margery Sounders and Barbara Kasper

Date: Tuesday, April 16, at 7 pm in the New York Room, Cooper Hall

Description: Ever since the civil rights movement, liberals have advocated a retreat from color-conscious public policies such as affirmative action, and even from open discussion of racism as a key factor in the perpetuation of racial inequity in the United States. They have argued that the barriers faced by black and brown Americans are largely divorced from racism, and that these stem, instead, from economic factors such as deindustrialization, capital flight from the cities, spiraling healthcare costs and inadequate funding for education, jobs programs, and other programs of social uplift. From this starting point, they contend that “universal” programs intended to help the poor and working class are the best means for narrowing the racial inequalities with which the nation is still plagued.
In discussing the pitfalls of “colorblindness” in the Obama era, Wise argues against colorblindness and for deeper color-consciousness in both public and private practice. We can only begin to move toward authentic social and economic equity through what he calls illuminated individualism - ;acknowledging the diverse identities that have shaped our perceptions and the role that race continues to play in the maintenance of disparities between whites and people of color in the United States today.

Candidate Without a Prayer

Speaker: Herb Silverman

Sponsors: Susan Orr and Sanford Miller

Date: Thursday, April 11, at 2 pm in Seymour Union 119

Description: Herb Silverman is Founder and President of the Secular Coalition for America, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston. He ran for governor of South Carolina in the 1990s to challenge a state law that required religious belief to hold public office. After an eight-year battle, Herb won a unanimous decision in the South Carolina Supreme Court, which struck down this religious test requirement. The lecture will be based on Herb’s experiences as a “Candidate Without a Prayer” which are also chronicled in his critically acclaimed auto-biography of the same name.

On Liberty and Justice in the Twenty-First Century

Speaker: Glenn Greenwald

Sponsor: The History Forum (President and contact is Nick Lind)

Date: Thursday, March 7, at 7 pm in the New York Room

Description: Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of How Would a Patriot Act? (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power; A Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

Political Movement: Dancing Democracy

Speaker: Candace Feck, “Of Politics, Performance, and the Seeping Nature of Democratic Values.”

Sponsors: Maura Keefe and Karl Rogers, Department of Dance

Date:Wednesday, February 27, 2:30-3:30 pm, Hartwell Dance Theatre

Description: Too often dance is considered solely on its aesthetic merits, as rarefied art or entertainment rather than a site of proposing, participating in, and propelling the action of change. From the physical reality of engagement with the body politic to choreographic activism, democratic impulses - freedom, enfranchisement, and ideas “of the people” - are often central to choreography. Notions of inclusivity, long present in vernacular forms of dance and non-Western dance practices, have fed into concert dance as both theoretical underpinnings and practical applications. This project seeks to investigate the role of dance as civic engagement, with particular attention to US concert dance from the 1930s to today. Lecture by Candace Feck

There will also be a Roundtable Discussion on Thursday, February 28, 12:30-1:45 pm in Hartwell Dance Theatre: “The Choreographies of Politics” with David Dorfman, Dr. Candace Feck, professor, the Ohio State University, Dr. Barb LeSavoy, Director of Women and Gender Studies (Brockport), Dr. Andrea Ciliotta-Rubery, professor of political science (Brockport, and Karl Rogers, company member and assistant professor of dance (Brockport), moderated by Maura Keefe, PhD, chair of the Department of Dance (Brockport)

Plenitude: The Economics of True Wealth

Speaker: Dr. Juliet Schor

Sponsor: Susan Orr

Date: Wednesday, February 20, at 7 pm in the New York Room

Description: Economist and sociologist Dr. Juliet Schor is author of such acclaimed works as “The Overworked American”, “Born to Buy” and the “Over Consumed American.” In this lecture she will discuss her new book “Plenitude: The Economics of True Wealth” which tackles issues of sustainability.

In Plenitude, Juliet B. Schor offers a groundbreaking intellectual statement about the economics and sociology of ecological decline, suggesting a radical change in how we think about consumer goods, value, and ways to live.

Humans are degrading the planet far faster than they are regenerating it. As we travel along this shutdown path, food, energy, transport and consumer goods are becoming increasingly expensive. The economic downturn that has accompanied the ecological crisis has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit are also in short supply. Our usual way back to growth - a debt-financed consumer boom - is no longer an option our households, or planet, can afford.

Responding to our current moment, Plenitude puts sustainability at its core, but it is not a paradigm of sacrifice. Instead it’s an argument that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure. Come along and join in the conversation about how this can be achieved.

Fall 2012

Shelby Knox on Social Justice

Speaker: Shelby Knox

Sponsor: Karen Logsdon

Date: Tuesday, October 3, at 7 pm in Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: Shelby Knox is a dynamic leader in the social justice movement and began her activism when she was 15 years old. She is nationally recognized for her social justice action projects and her advocacy for GLBTQ communities. Shelby Knox became known nationally as the subject of the Sundance award-winning film, The Education of Shelby Knox, a 2005 documentary chronicling her teenage activism for comprehensive sex education and gay rights in her Southern Baptist community. Shelby is currently the Director of Women’s Rights Organizing at, she lives in New York City and working on a book about the next generation of feminist activism and plotting the revolution via Twitter.

Spring 2012

Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues

Speaker: Sister Helen Prejean

Sponsors: Frank Kuhn and Kristin Heffernan

Date: Thursday, February 29, at 7:30 pm in Hartwell Hall

Description: Roman Catholic nun and noted anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean will bring her message to SUNY Brockport. Prejean is best known as the author of Dead Man Walking, an autobiographical account of her relationship with inmates on death row-where she frequently ministered to those awaiting capital punishment. The book was on The New York Times best-seller list for 31 weeks and was later turned into a movie that starred Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best actress - which Sarandon won for her portrayal of Prejean.

Surviving Acid Attack: We Have Lost Our Face But Not Our Voice

Speakers: Monira Rahman, executive director of the Acid Survivors Foundation, and Ms. Fazilatunnessa, an activist and acid attack survivor

Sponsor: Rehnuma Karim

Date: Friday, March 2, at 1:15 pm in Seymour Union 220

Description: Every year, Bangladesh records hundreds of cases of people being attacked with acid, usually as a form of domestic violence. Most of the victims are women. Acid attacks can be devastating, causing blindness, scarring and irreparable physical and emotional damage. Rahman and Fazilatunnessa will talk more about the dangers of acid attacks and share their personal stories.

Cutting Through Red Tape: Public Funding of Abortion

Speaker: Danielle Bessett

Sponsor: Eric Kaldor

Date: Thursday, March 22, at 7:30 pm in Edwards Hall

Description: Dr. Bessett conducts research on issues of women’s reproductive health, access to healthcare, and health care policies. Her talk, will provide students with a greater understanding about how public policies affect real people’s lives. Abortion is a hot button debate topic often. Dr. Bessett’s approach focuses on real lives, not abstract policy principals. This is perfect topic to help students understand how important civic engagement is for the quality of our lives and communities.

Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets

Speaker: John S Lewis

Sponsor: Mark Chadsey

Date: Thursday, April 26, at 6 pm in Edwards Hall

Description: While we worry over the depletion of the earth’s natural resources, the pollution of our planet, and the challenges presented by the earth’s growing population, billions of dollars worth of metals, fuels, and life-sustaining substances await us in nearby space. Noted planetary scientist John S. Lewis explains how we can mine these precious metals from the asteroids, comets, and planets in our own solar system for use in space construction projects. And this is just one of the possibilities. Join John S. Lewis as he contemplates milking the moons of Mars for water and hollowing out asteroids for space-bound homesteaders-all while demonstrating the economic and technical feasibility of plans that were once considered pure fiction.

Fall 2011

Citizens Fracking Forum

Speakers: Dr. Ron Bishop and Mr. Greg Souvas

Sponsors: Bernie Lobrocco and Susan Orr

Date: Thursday, September 29, at 7 pm in the Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: At this forum you will learn about hydro-fracking a method of extracting gas from the shale rock under our state that is currently an issue of great public concern and debate. Should the state permit hydro-fracking, permit hydro-fracking subject to regulations and limits, or ban hydro-fracking entirely? While some experts and citizens see this gas drilling technique as a threat to our environment and potential source of water pollution, others feel it is a vital source of energy and way to revitalize our economy. During the forum you will hear from two experts with extensive knowledge and diverse views on the potential impact of hydro-fracking in our state. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions. This is especially important at this time as the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has just released a report about hydro-fracking and is looking for public comments on the matter. You will be provided with information about how to comment at the forum.

Dr. Ron Bishop, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry at SUNY Oneonta, and a nationally certified chemical hygiene officer. Dr. Bishop has presented widely on technical aspects of the natural gas extraction industry, and is author of the report: “Chemical and Biological Risk Assessment for Natural Gas Extraction in New York”, available at

Mr. Greg Souvas worked at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for 33 years until his retirement in 2001. For the last twenty-two years at the NYSDEC, he was the Director of the Division of Mineral Resources overseeing the management and regulation of the oil and gas industry and the mining industry in NY. He is currently President of his own one-person consulting firm, XRM, LLC; a principal and director of Lake Country FracWater Specialists, LLC; and is the primary consultant to the Twin Tiers Landowners Coalition currently helping landowners leasing land for natural gas development focusing on Steuben County, NY and Tioga County, PA.

Exposing the Invisible and Silent Monster That Is Devouring Our Children

Speaker: Ralph Spezio

Sponsor: Dale Hartnett

Date: Thursday, October 6, 7-8 pm in Seymour Union Ballroom

Description: When Brockport alum Dr. Ralph Spezio became principal of Rochester’s School 17 in the early 1990’s, he was shocked to learn that more than 40 percent of the students in his school were unable to learn because of lead poisoning. The permanent damage to the children’s processing skills, auditory skills and ability to deal with frustration marked these children for life. Dr. Spezio will outline how he discovered the problem, how he and others in the Rochester community have joined forces to lead the battle against lead poisoning, and what we can do to join the fight. This issue touches many majors across the Brockport campus.

Poetry reading and reflection: on the roots of poetry in politics, religion and environment activism

Speaker: Kimberly Johnson

Sponsor: Brooke Conti

Date: Thursday, October 20, at 7.30 pm in Drake Memorial Library

Description: Kimberley Johnson is a current Guggenheim Fellow, an Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University (Ph.D. Berkeley), and author of “Leviathan with a Hook” and “A Metaphorical God” both published by Persea Books, as well as of various essays on Renaissance literature. Kimberley will read some of her poetry and engage the audience in discussion of how they engage politics, religion and the environment. To find out more about Kimberly and her poetry, visit her website

John Adams Unbound: Foundations of Democracy

Speaker: Dr. Lynn Parsons

Sponsor: Pam O’Sullivan

Date: Wednesday, October 26, 4 pm, main floor of Drake Library

Description: This will be an informative talk on one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Adams and the influences that shaped his life. The talk is in conjunction with the “John Adams Unbound” tour, a collection of writings by John Adams that will be exhibited in the college library - the University was one of only 20 across the nation selected to host the exhibit.

Dr. Lynn Parsons was a member of the SUNY Brockport Department of History from 1971 to 2005. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in 1958 and his PhD. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1967. While at Brockport he received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has published three books (John Quincy Adams: A Bibliography in 1993, John Quincy Adams in 1998, The Birth of Modern Politics in 2009). His unpublished play, “The Tie More Binding”, based on the letters of John and Abigail Adams, has been performed in the Brockport-Rochester area.

Debunking Myths about Lobbyists

Speaker: Mr. Tom Gosdeck

Sponsor: Dena Levy

Date: Thursday, November 10, at 7 pm in New York Room

Description: Brockport alum and successful NY State lobbyist Tom Gosdeck will share his experiences of lobbying in Albany. He aims to educate the college community about the day to day process of lobbying and undercut some of the “myths”associated with how money is used in the political process.

Biblical Protest and the Political Self

Speaker: Mark Brummitt, Professor of Old Testament Studies, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Sponsor: Austin Busch

Date: Tuesday, November 29, 7:30 pm, New York Room, Cooper Hall

Description: Prof. Brummitt will give a presentation, which will include significant time for discussion, about how discrete biblical literary commonplaces (e.g., that of the beleaguered prophet) have influenced American political discourse from the Puritan colonists to the recent emergence of the influential Tea-party movement.

Spring 2011

The New York State Constitution and the Imperative for Social Welfare for All: Article 17, the State Budget and Public Policy

Speaker: Anne Erickson, President and CEO, Empire Justice Center

Sponsor: Margery Saunders, Department of Social Work

Date: Thursday, April 21, at 6:30 pm, 100 Edwards Hall with reception to follow

Description: Anne Erickson is President and CEO of the Empire Justice Center, a leading statewide organization working to secure social and economic security. Empire Justice combines litigation and legal assistance; policy analysis and advocacy; and training and technical assistance in over 30 areas of law to drive high-end impact on critical programs and services for those who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised in New York State. Anne currently serves on the Chief Judge’s Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services and has been active in securing funding for legal services in the state budget for many years.

Women, Presidents, and Prime Ministers: A Global Perspective and Implications for Democracy

Speaker: Dr. Farida Jalalzai

Sponsor: Steve Jurek, Political Science

Date: Thursday, March 24, at 7 pm in the New York Room

Description: Political Scientist Farida Jalalzai is a 1996 graduate from SUNY Brockport. She is a leading researcher in women in politics and gender studies in the United States and worldwide and a scholar of Muslim-American political behavior. Her accomplishments highlight not only the successes of women in political science, but also are testimony to SUNY Brockport.

Lived Realities of Mayan Culture: Leveraging Gender Equality and Social Change through Education

Speaker: Randall Shea

Sponsor: Andrea Parada, Foreign Languages and Literature

Date: Wednesday, March 30, 6 pm in the Hartwell Dance Theater

Description: Randall Shea is a Brockport alum who graduated with a double major in Business and French. After working for Campbell’s Soup for many years he became involved in human rights advocacy coordinating 15 delegations of US citizens to Nicaragua, Southern Mexico and Guatemala and documenting human rights abuses in Nicaragua. In 1995 he became Program Coordinator of Santa María Tzejá Middle School, a small Guatemalan village located in the northwestern part of the country that in 1982 was brutally attacked by the Guatemalan army forcing members of the community to find refuge in Mexico.

Fall 2010

Speaker: Sean Thomas Dougherty

Sponsor: Steve Fellner, English

Description: For the last fifteen years, poet and performer Sean Thomas Dougherty has been quietly completing his project to fuse Modernist avant-garde writing with populist traditions that extend back to the father of American poetry Walt Whitman and beyond. Imagine a hip hop poem written in a thirteenth century Italian form and you will be in the uncharted territory of Dougherty. He is a writer who seems to scoff at boundaries and borders. As he has written, “borders offend my democratic principles”.

The Future of the Commons: Reflections from 20 years of Public Service

Speaker: The Honorable Susan John

Sponsor: Margery Saunders, Social Work

Description: After serving in the New York State legislature for over 20 years, Assemblymember John has been at the forefront of creating many significant shifts in public policy. Since she is leaving office this Fall, she is uniquely positioned to reflect on her years of service. Susan John will address several themes related to civic engagement and participatory citizenship by reviewing the role of government in modern society; these include: the shredding of our social safety net, the anti-tax movement, and the future of public policies that promote the public good.

Spring 2010

Vernon Wall: One of the founders and facilitators of the Social Justice Training Institute. He is a nationally known speaker in the areas of social justice and leadership styles.

Title:One Better World” (sponsored by Community Development and the Student Leadership Program)

Donald Grinde: Professor and Chair, Department of American Studies, University at Buffalo

Title: “The Iroquois/Haudenosaunee and the Development of American Government” (sponsored by Anthropology and History Departments)

Robert Westbrook: Professor of History, University of Rochester

“Creative Democracy - The Task Before Us” (sponsored by Political Science Department)

Fall 2009

Dr. Rosemary Ommer: Head of the Center for Earth and Ocean Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Title: “Coasts Under Stress - Interdisciplinary Research on Fisheries Sustainability, Communities, and Policy” (sponsored by History Department)

Ruben Carranza: Senior Associate at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).

Title: “The Past is Prologue: How Transitional Justice Can Help Build Democracy” (sponsored by Criminal Justice Department)

Spring 2009

Allan Johnson, PhD, writer, public speaker, and teacher who has published several books including The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy and Privilege, Power, and Difference. (sponsored by the History Department)

Ethel Long Scott, Executive Director of the Women’s Economic Agenda Project (WEAP), and a leader in the fight to end poverty among the poor.

Title: “Women, Poverty, and the Struggle of the Poor: Correcting Social Inequalities” (sponsored by the Department of Social Work)

Fall 2008

Jason Torreano, Brockport Alum ’06, Reporter /Anchor, KXMB-TV, Bismarck, ND

Title: “Cultural Collision: How South African Street Kids Changed a 20-Something’s View of the World” (sponsored by Department of Communication)

Spring 2008

Dr. Elaine Miller, Faculty Emerita, Foreign Languages and Literatures,

Title: “Drawing Conclusions: Political Cartoonists on the 2008 Election” (sponsored by Women’s Studies Department)

Azim Khamisa of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation

Title: “Engagement in Community and Society: A Journey of Forgiveness, Peace, and Purpose” (sponsored by Political Science Department)

Fall 2007

Bruce Niles, Sierra Club and Fred Palmer, Vice President of Peabody Energy

Title: “Reducing Coal Dependence and Powering America with Clean Energy”

Alan Wolfe, Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College

Title: “Who’s Afraid of American Religion?” (sponsored by Political Science Department)

Spring 2007

Dr. Trevor Parry-Giles, Department of Communication, University of Maryland

Title: “Campaign 2008 and the Political Image: Toward a Political Grammar for 21st Century American Politics”(sponsored by the Department of Communication)

Ms. Raheel Raza, Journalist for the Toronto Star and Author of “Their Jihad Not My Jihad”

Title: “Multicultural Discourse in the American Electoral Process” (sponsored by the Departments of History and Anthropology)

Fall 2006

Tim O’Brien: Author of the freshman reading selection, The Things They Carried

Kim Gandy: President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Chair of NOW’s Foundation and Political Action Committees