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Academic Speaker Series

The mission of the Academic Speaker Series is to promote the intellectual environment of the College and to facilitate discussion of important issues in the community.

Spring 2017 Academic Speaker Series

Free and open to the public, these events are held on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium, located in the East Academic Building of Landmark College, unless otherwise noted.

Thank you to this semester's Academic Speaker Series sponsors.

Platinum Sponsors:

Gold Sponsors:

February 6: "The Power of Myth and the Challenge of Climate Change" with John Elder
February 20: “Self-organization, Co-evolution, and Sustainability” with Tom Wessels
March 6: “Art and Emotion Storm My World: What is…What could be?” with Jean Cherouny
March 27: “The Art of Turning Negatives Positive – A Sculptor Journey” with John Van Alstine

Headshot of John Elder"The Power of Myth and the Challenge of Climate Change”
John Elder
Monday, February 6, 7 p.m.
Brooks M. O'Brien Auditorium, East Academic Building

John Elder writes, "Climate activists in the U. S. often draw inspiration from the philosophies of Native American and East Asian traditions. But unless we can bring our own foundational stories into this defining dialogue of our time as well, we're nothing but mooches! In this connection, I'd like to explore the relevance of the myth of Persephone's abduction by Hades and the story of St. Francis, both of which flowed powerfully into my recent travels in Sicily."

John Elder taught English and environmental studies at Middlebury College from 1973 until his retirement in 2010 and lives in the nearby village of Bristol with his wife, Rita. His Reading the Mountains of Home, The Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa form a sequence that explores the meaning of Vermont’s landscape and environmental history for him as a teacher, writer, and householder. In 2016, he published a book called Picking Up the Flute that explores geological, historical, and environmental parallels between Connemara and Vermont. He is co-editor of the Norton Anthology of Nature Writing. If you missed John's talk, watch the video.


Headshot of Tom Wessels“Self-organization, Co-evolution, and Sustainability”
Tom Wessels
Monday, February 20, 7 p.m.
Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium, East Academic Building

This talk will examine the principle of self-organization from an ecological perspective as a model for creating human systems that will not only sustain themselves but thrive.

Tom Wessels is an ecologist and professor emeritus at Antioch University New England, where he founded the master's degree program in Conservation Biology. He has authored numerous books, with his forthcoming Granite, Fire, and Fog: The Natural and Cultural History of Acadia to be released in the spring of 2017. Tom has conducted programs on ecology and sustainability throughout the United States for over three decades. If you missed Tom's talk, watch the video.


Headshot of Jean Cheouny

“Art and Emotion Storm My World: What is…What could be?”
Jean Cherouny '87
Monday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium, East Academic Building

Jean Cherouny '87 writes, "Splashing and rolling paint, in all its trials and errors, forms the basis for my abstract rollerblade art. Whether it be a performance or a process, my practice allows me to observe the formal and informal: making a circle or a figure 8 or free-hand lines, I start painting and it feels right in my body. As in a dance, the shapes are fashioned with my rolling wheels on the canvas. I feel a sense of the power to change something even though it remains unclear what it is. We try to change our lives in ways that may not always be possible, but we keep going if we value the effort. Making art is a restorative process, allowing me to change and live my life, going forward with great anticipation of what could be. The work becomes finished without force or struggle."

Cherouny attended Landmark College from 1986 to 1987. She has returned to campus several times to mentor students. Cherouny graduated from the University of Vermont in 1991 with a B.S. in Art and Education. She made her way through Johnson State College and received her M.F.A. in 2010. Cherouny shows regionally and is most interested in spending time in the Czech Republic, where there is an emerging contemporary art scene and artist community. Currently she resides at The Generator makerspace, where she is creating art for social change with laser-cut graffiti stencils. Missed Jean's talk? Watch the video.


Headshot of John Van Alstine“The Art of Turning Negatives Positive – A Sculptor Journey” 
John Van Alstine
Monday, March 27, 7 p.m.
Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium, East Academic Building

With 45 years of living off his work under his belt, internationally recognized sculptor John Van Alstine traces his career and life from early student days through many ups and downs, pointing out “hinge” events that at first seemed negative, but through creative response actually turned positive, putting him and his work in a better place. “After forging a career as a working professional sculptor of over 40 years (first ten as a university professor), I have come to understand that there are pivotal moments in one’s career/life that at first seem like total disasters, and it is what you do in the face of these situations that generally has a big impact on where you end up.”

John Van Alstine’s work has been exhibited widely (including over 50 solo exhibitions) in this country as well as in Europe and Asia and the Middle East. He has completed many major large scale outdoor, site-specific commissions, recently installing a large outdoor work for the 2008 Olympic Park, Beijing, and a 35' tall piece for the new Indianapolis Airport. A new 28” work, “FUNAMBULIST,” was installed on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing in June 2010. Recent projects include a major outdoor piece for Tsinghua University - Beijing, China and a 30’h outdoor 9-11 memorial/sculpture using World Trade Tower steel remnants.If you missed John's talk, watch the video

Past Speakers

Our speakers' talks are recorded and broadcast by Brattleboro Community Television (BCTV).

Watch videos of past speakers

Watch a behind the scenes video about our speaker series

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