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Past Speakers

Environmental science, politics, gender studies, religion, and fine arts are diverse cultural and academic traditions with wildly different styles, but they share importance as locations for social transformation. With compelling messages that invite audiences to think and feel outside contemporary boundaries, experts in the Landmark College Speaker Series ask challenging questions about our responsibilities to the planet and to each other. Armed with insight and an edge of social criticism, their explanations of current change open up the potential inherent in evolution—that of a better future.

  • Headshot of John Elder"The Power of Myth and the Challenge of Climate Change”
    John Elder
    Monday, February 6, 2017

    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.

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    Headshot of Tom Wessels“Self-organization, Co-evolution, and Sustainability”
    Tom Wessels
    Monday, February 20, 2017

    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.

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    Headshot of Jean Cheouny

    “Art and Emotion Storm My World: What is…What could be?”
    Jean Cherouny '87
    Monday, March 6, 2017

    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.

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    Headshot of John Van Alstine“The Art of Turning Negatives Positive – A Sculptor Journey” 
    John Van Alstine
    Monday, March 27, 2017

    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.

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  • Headshot of Allan Johnson"Unraveling the Knot of Race"
    Allan Johnson
    Monday, September 12, 2016

    One of the greatest barriers to ending racism and other forms of privilege is that we are trapped in cultural ways of thinking that turn conversations about privilege and oppression into occasions for members of dominant groups to feel guilty, defensive, and angry. As a result, the conversations we need to have either happen badly or, more often, don't happen at all. This presentation offers an alternative way of thinking about issues of privilege that can help to overcome that barrier. It is based on Allan Johnson's books, The Gender Knot (third edition, 2014) and Privilege, Power, and Difference (2nd edition, 2005).

    Allan G. Johnson is a nonfiction author, novelist, sociologist, public speaker, and workshop presenter who has devoted most of his working life to understanding the human condition, especially in relation to issues of social justice rooted in gender, race, and social class. He has spoken at more than 200 universities, colleges, corporations, and other organizations in 39 states. His social justice work is based on a deeply held belief that systems of privilege and the injustice and unnecessary suffering that result are not inevitable features of human life, and that the choices each of us make matter more than we can ever know. For more about his work, visit his website and his blog.

     

    Headshot of Amer Latif“Only God is Good”: Islam Through the Words of Jesus
    Amer Latif
    Monday, September 26, 2016

    This talk introduces Islamic teachings, ritual practices, and the sharia by using a story from the Gospels in which Jesus answers the questions of a rich man who desires to become his disciple. Although there are significant differences between Islam and Christianity, this comparative approach allows us to grasp some fundamental similarities between these two Abrahamic faith traditions.

    Amer Latif has been professor of religious studies at Marlboro College since 2003. His research focuses primarily on Islamic mystical texts and practices. He is also interested in the issues surrounding cultural translation and has published translations of the poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th century Muslim scholar and mystic. A current resident of Putney, he grew up in Pakistan and came to the United States for college. After getting a B.A. in physics from Bard College, he received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Stony Brook University.  

    This event is co-hosted by the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Initiative. For more information about this initiative, contact Rupa Cousins at rupa@together.net.

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    Headshot of Mark Timney


    "Off Target: What Hollywood, Journalists, and Shooters Get Wrong About Guns" 
    Mark Timney
    Monday, October 17, 2016

    This is an apolitical examination into the mythology that surrounds firearms. The term “mythology” is especially appropriate here given that much of what the average person, even the average gun owner, thinks s/he knows about guns is inaccurate. Without getting into a discussion about what we should or shouldn’t do about the issue of guns, Keene State College professor Mark Timney’s lecture and discussion will instead examine how our perceptions of firearms have been distorted by media and folklore. Such distortions—about the mechanics, ease of use, and lethality of guns— have seriously hindered public discussion about the regulation of firearms. 

    Mark Timney is an award-winning mass communicator and educator with more than 20 years of professional experience. He's worked as a television reporter, producer and news anchor, healthcare public relations professional, freelance magazine and Internet writer, and public relations and advertising consultant. Mark earned his M.S. in journalism and Ph.D. in mass communication from Ohio University. When he isn't at Keene State you might find him flying his hang glider, riding his motorcycle, in his kitchen cooking, or playing lead guitar in his classic rock band "Observant Ego."

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    Headshot of Carlton Turner (photo credit: Xiauna Lin Turner)“Imagining the Re-Integration of Art and Humanity”
    Carlton Turner
    Monday, November 14, 2016
    Next Stage Arts, downtown Putney

    (This talk is the Keynote Address for “Voices of Community” Conference at Next Stage Arts.)

    “Imagining the Re-integration of Art and Humanity” sounds like the title for an liberal arts college course, but it is more of a call to action for all of those interested in understanding the answers to the greatest challenges of our time. This talk will examine the connection between the commodification of art as a product and the separation of art from cultural practice and purpose and the impact of that disconnection on the development of our collective humanity. 

    Carlton Turner is the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a regional non-profit arts organization based in the South. Carlton is also co-founder and co-artistic director, along with his brother Maurice Turner, of the group M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction). M.U.G.A.B.E.E. is a performing arts group that blends of jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry and soul music together with non-traditional storytelling. M.U.G.A.B.E.E. has released two albums, Earth Tones (2002) and World Domination (2006); written and produced two plays Steal Away (2001) and Batteries in the Killing Machine (2005). Throughout Carlton’s career he has worked as a lead convener with Voices from the Cultural Battlefront: Organizing for Cultural Equity, an ongoing 20+ year international conversation about the role of art and culture in the struggle for human rights; a panelist and facilitator with the Center for Civic Participation Arts & Democracy Project helping to present conversations in more than six cities. 

  • Headshot of Professor Lyrical“Rapping with the Professor: The process of self-betterment and redefining your own identity”
    Professor Lyrical
    Monday, February 8, 2016

    As an award winning rapper and full-time teaching professor of mathematics, Professor Lyrical will discuss (via rapping live and doing spoken-word poetry) how he has taken two seemingly very different career choices and blended them into one unique career for himself. Lyrical will explain how he uses the positive aspects of Hip Hop culture to empower himself and his students to advocate for socioeconomic change, while providing tangible examples of how others can do the same.

    Professor Lyrical holds a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He also has completed the academic coursework for his Doctorate in Higher Education at Northeastern University, and he successfully defended his thesis on "Increasing STEM Degree Attainment among Underrepresented Populations" in 2015. Professor Lyrical's album and book, both titled "PUT ‘EM ALL TO SHAME," are physically packaged together into what Lyrical calls "the world's first albook." 

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    Headshot of Curtiss Reed“Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future”
    Curtiss Reed, Jr.
    Monday, February 29, 2016

    Reed will chronicle how his organization is leading the nation’s most rural and least racially diverse state to become the epicenter of inclusive and equitable thought and practice in the United States through its Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future initiative. Vermont Partnership recently completed year eleven of the anticipated 40-year initiative. 

    Reed serves as executive director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity. He has spent his life fighting to create institutional and governmental structures that recognize, value, support, nurture, and provide justice for those individuals outside the insular realities of the majority. His journey began as a child in St. Louis fighting Jim Crow racism, followed by two decades of social and economic justice work in international arenas. For the past 14 years, his work has focused on Vermont. Throughout he has tried to be humble, gracious, compassionate, and skillful in the use of inquiry as a subversive activity.

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    Yes Men on city street holding newspapers“Making Meaningful Mischief”
    The Yes Men
    Monday, March 29, 2016

    The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two guys who couldn’t hold down a job until they became representatives of Exxon, Halliburton, Dow Chemical, and the U.S. federal government. As the Yes Men, they use humor, truth and lunacy to bring media attention to the crimes of their unwilling employers.

    Armed with nothing but quick wits and thrift store suits, the Yes Men impersonate big-time corporate criminals to draw attention to their crimes against humanity and the environment. Their outrageous satirical interventions at business events, on the internet, television, and in the streets form the basis of two award-winning feature documentaries, The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix the World. Their latest feature documentary, The Yes Men Are Revolting, adds to their hit list some of the biggest climate criminals. Their work has been shown in the Whitney Biennial, among other venues, and has received numerous awards. Bichlbaum and Bonnano are the founders of the Yes Lab and the Action Switchboard, an online platform for generating real-life direct actions in the service of social movements.

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    Brian Young with husky dog in foreground and mountains in background“The Boreal Forest in a Time of Change”
    Dr. Brian Young
    Monday, April 11, 2016

    The boreal forest is the world’s largest biome and is currently undergoing major transformations due to climate change. All aspects of boreal forest ecosystem function are likely to be affected. Using the Alaskan boreal forest as a model, Dr. Brian Young will discuss the changes in the forest due to these rising temperatures in terms of production, diversity, wildfires, and insect outbreaks. He will present scenarios on what the future may hold for the region.

    Dr. Young realized his love of science while receiving his B.S. in Biology at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.  He became a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, working with villagers on natural resource management. He next worked as a high school science teacher in Colorado, Egypt, and Alaska. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, he earned an M.S. in Biology, with a focus on the chemical defense compounds of aspen trees, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resource and Sustainability, focusing on the diversity of boreal forests. Recent projects include investigating post-harvest reforestation dynamics, reshaping reforestation guidelines with the Alaska Division of Forestry, and revitalizing archival forest inventory data with the U.S. Forest Service.

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  • Shura Wallin stands outdoors on stage smiling at camera and shrugging, arms upraised"Walk to the Borders"
    Shura Wallin
    September 14, 2015

    Shura Wallin is co-founder of the humanitarian group the Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans. The Samaritans assist migrants deported from the U.S. and Shura helps to secure medical assistance and, in some cases, the assistance of the Mexican Consulate. Guided in part by the Buddhist principles of kindness and non-attachment, Wallin remains deeply focused on the core mission of the Samaritans––saving lives in the desert, one at a time. This talk was presented in association with Sandglass Theater’s Puppets in the Green Mountains festival (theme: “Walking to the Borders”) and included a pre-talk performance of La Femme Blanche.

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    The four members of Flatline Poetry smile at cameraFlatline Poetry
    September 29, 2015  

    Flatline Poetry is a group of four poets who seek to "create a new heartbeat" with every performance and workshop. Since their formation in 2013, Flatline has taken the Boston poetry community by storm. The group won the 2013 Poetry Award for Best Poetry Group and was featured at Wheelock College’s 2014 Half-Year Program. The poets of Flatline Poetry write on topics of identity, family, love, loss, and social justice. With a diverse set of skills and backgrounds, the members of Flatline present challenging poetry and innovative workshops that foster dialogues where all voices are valued. Flatline Poetry includes Landmark College alumna Lissa Piercy.

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    Dr. Jenn McCollum in profile holding pen to mouth and looking thoughtful

    "Sexing the Zombie: The Changing Body of a Timeless Global Fixation"
    Dr. Jenn McCollum
    October 26, 2015

    “Sexing the Zombie” briefly historicizes the trope of zombies in the arts (literature, fine arts, film, etc.) to show the overlooked but important role of zombies for complicating contemporary discussions about body politics and gender/sexuality issues. The zombie has a rich history that can be traced to cultural representations dating back at least to its religious beginnings in Samaria, Egypt, and Israel. In addition to religious manifestations, incidents such as dancing mania can explain why zombie currency has maintained its value through hundreds of thousands of years of human history. Reaching briefly back into the rich history of zombies in literature shows that the zombie motif is not new; it is, in fact, ancient. Its incarnation through history is interesting and the stakes are high, especially in dissecting our Westernized perception of femininity and masculinity. Dr. Jenn McCollum was an Assistant Professor of English at Landmark College.

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    Jennifer Allaway headshot with tropical fish wallpaper in background

    "Sexism and Whiteness in Gaming: Beyond the Boys’ Club"
    Jennifer Allaway
    November 9, 2015

    Jennifer Allaway has studied the prevalence of sexist practices in the game industry, and how that impacts game content. She considers herself an avid gamer, an advocate for social justice, and a social researcher of this industry. This presentation was based on year-long study on the prevalence of sexist practices in the game industry, and whether that affected game content. This groundbreaking study has been presented at the GDC 2014, PAX Prime 2014, and Indie Game Con 2014, with articles published in Gamasutra and Jezebel. She has recently done narrative design work for Wadjet Eye's Shardlight, launch date TBA.

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  • Headshot of Howard Frank Mosher with arms crossed in front of bright yellow background"An Evening on The Great Northern Express"
    Howard Frank Mosher
    April 13, 2015, at Next Stage in Putney, Vermont

    Howard Frank Mosher read from his most recent book, The Great Northern Express, and spoke of his journey as a writer. The author of ten novels and a travel memoir, Mosher was born in the Catskill Mountains in 1942 and has lived in Vermont’s fabled Northeast Kingdom since 1964. He has won many awards for his fiction, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the American Civil Liberties Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the New England Book Award and, most recently, the 2011 New England Independent Booksellers Association's President's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. Four of his ten novels— Northern Borders, Disappearances, A Stranger in the Kingdom, and Where the Rivers Flow North—have been made into acclaimed feature movies by Vermont independent filmmaker Jay Craven.

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    Headshot of Tim Brookes"Disappearing Alphabets and the Future of the Written Word"
    Tim Brookes
    March 30, 2015

    Writer/carver/painter Tim Brookes offered a remarkable and thought-provoking perspective on the future of the written word by looking at thirteen forms of writing from all over the world that are in danger of extinction. He displayed a sample of each script, leading a discussion on how technology helps define the nature of communication, and showed how the story of a culture can be seen in its writing—even if that writing is (as in these examples) beautiful, bizarre, utterly unfamiliar, and disappearing. Tim Brookes is a Vermont Humanities Council Speaker and works at Champlain College as an Assistant Professor and Director of the Professional Writing Program. He holds a master of arts from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and he is the author of 13 books including the historical Guitar: An American Life (2005). 

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    Headshot of Dorothea Brauer"Queering Education"
    Dorothea Brauer
    March 2, 2015

    This presentation argued for the need to "queer" existing notions about education in order to keep education relevant in the midst of collapsing social structures and unprecedented cynicism about traditional notions of authority and leadership. Brauer shared her own definition and vision of "queering education" and engaged the audience in pursuing provocative questions in search of possibilities. Dot Brauer is an educator and administrator. She has worked at the University of Vermont since 1992 and directed the LGBTQA Center there since 2001. Brauer holds a master's degree in Psychology and is currently working on a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

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    Headshot of Peter Murdoch in snow wearing winter hat and coat"Re-inventing Thoreau: Evolving Science to Support a Sustainable Future"
    Peter Murdoch
    February 23, 2015

    Peter Murdoch spoke about the role of integrated science to help us predict the impact of climate policy and change so that we may move toward global sustainability. The complexity of global climate change requires sophisticated, cross-referenced measurements and monitoring. Challenges in the science community such as building effective collaborations, integrating data across science disciplines to understand the complex ecosystem responses to climate change, and solving the shortage of long-term observational data may impact how well science can test or support climate policies if and when they are enacted. Nevertheless, we are starting to quantify what Thoreau was trying to tell us—that our intuition about our world is worth listening to and that all is inter-connected and inter-dependent. Peter Murdoch is a Research Hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey agency in Troy, New York. He has studied the environment for over thirty years, specializing in the effects of acid rain on aquatic systems. Murdoch is the author of more than 100 reports and publications on the environment.

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  • Headshot of Temple Grandin"Different Kinds of Minds"
    Temple Grandin
    September 4, 2014

    Dr. Temple Grandin discussed the diverse ways that people think. Grandin is a cultural icon for neurodiversity, best known for her work in animal science and autism advocacy. Grandin was diagnosed with autism in 1949 at the age of two, before autism was a household term. Growing up at a time when schools understood little about autism, Grandin benefited from a family who supported her education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s and doctoral degrees in animal science. In addition to working in animal science, Grandin advocates for society to cultivate the strengths of “differently-abled” minds. In 2010 Grandin was named a hero in the Time 100 for her influence in modern life, and her story was featured in the critically-acclaimed 2010 HBO film Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes. In her roles as a professor, author, and scientist specializing in the humane treatment of animals, Grandin has earned over 70 professional honors since 1984. Awards range from the 1995 Industry Advancement Award of the American Meat Institute to the 2007 Autism Society of America’s Founder’s Award. A pioneering thinker and prolific writer, Grandin holds honorary doctorates from research universities including Duke, Carnegie Mellon, and McGill. Grandin's visit was co-sponsored by McDonald's Corporation, with special thanks to Todd Bacon, U.S. vice president, quality systems. 

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    Headshot of Brad Fay"The Next Social Marketing Revolution"
    Brad Fay
    October 6, 2014

    Author and word of mouth (WOM) marketing expert Brad Fay shared fresh ideas on the link between marketing and the social side of human behavior. WOM refers to consumer buzz about products and services, and Fay’s research suggests that 90% of consumer talk happens offline. Fay is the Chief Operating Officer of the Keller Fay Group, an award-winning word of mouth research and consulting company—he is also the son of late Professor Emeritus Robert Sargent Fay, an integral member of the Landmark College English Department for 10 years. In addition to serving as the COO of Keller Fay, Brad Fay is the co-author with Ed Keller of The Face-to-Face Book, named 2013 Best Book in Marketing by the American Marketing Association. Fay is the chairperson of the Board of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the industry’s official trade association. 

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    Headshot of Andrew Stein

    "The King of Beasts in the 21st Century: Conserving the African Lion in Botswana"
    Dr. Andrew Stein
    October 27, 2014

    Dr. Andrew Stein, assistant professor of natural sciences at Landmark College, discussed a research project on human-lion conflict in Botswana. He talked about efforts to save lions range-wide as well as the project he designed with a Ph.D. student in Botswana. Stein came to work with lions in Africa during a study abroad course in Kenya for Wildlife Management that put him on a path towards studying wildlife conservation. He attended UMass Amherst for his M.Sc., studying incidental capture and mortality of endangered sturgeon before spending eight years in Africa working on large carnivores living in South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Botswana. He finished his Ph.D. at UMass Amherst, studying the ecology and conservation of leopards on Namibian farmlands. Stein’s recent projects include coordinating graduate research for the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, where he oversaw students studying the interactions of lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs. He has since organized field training courses with the Smithsonian Institution and worked with African governments to do national surveys. 

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    Headshot of Cauleen Smith"Craft, Research, and Improvisation"
    Cauleen Smith
    November 10, 2014

    Interdisciplinary filmmaker Cauleen Smith spoke about her projects commissioned for galleries and public spaces, loosely inspired by Sun Ra and the psychogeography of several American cities. Sun Ra (1914-1993) was a jazz composer, musician, and pioneer of afrofuturism, the artistic movement exploring African experience through fantasy and science fiction. Psychogeography refers to the effect of place on human emotions and mindsets. Cauleen Smith’s films, objects, and installations have been featured in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum of Harlem, Houston Contemporary Art Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, Sand Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, Yerba Buena Center for Art. Smith’s solo shows have been featured at venues including The Kitchen in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Schlaulager Laurenz Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, and Threewalls in Chicago. She is the recipient of grants and awards including the Rockefeller Media Arts Award, Chicago 3Arts Grant, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Smith earned an MFA from UCLA. She currently lives in Chicago while teaching with the Vermont College of Fine Art MFA program.

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  • Headshot of Dan Miller"When Religion is Politics: “Political Religion” and the Changing Structure of the Social"
    Dan Miller
    February 10, 2014

    Daniel Miller explored the significance of the emergence of “political religion” -- that is, social groups of global significance who define their political identities in explicitly religious terms -- for Western social and political thought. Mr. Miller is a religion and philosophy professor at Landmark College. This talk was co-sponsored by Windham World Affairs Council. 

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    Sanjukta Ghost speaking"Of Burqas and Bikinis: Afghani Women and the War on Terror"
    Sanjukta Ghosh
    March 3, 2014

    Focusing on how media constructions of Afghani women were used to mobilize war, Sanjukta Ghosh argued that the rhetoric of the media and their cultural icons were reminiscent of that used by Victorian feminists. Sanjukta Ghosh teaches media and women’s studies at Castleton State College in Vermont. This presentation was co-sponsored by Windham World Affairs Council and the Vermont Humanities Council.


    Headshot of Virginia Prescott at microphone"Listening Beneath the Noise"
    Virginia Prescott
    March 31, 2014

    Evolutionary biologists attribute the success of our species in part to ritualized storytelling, which reinforced unity and safety among early humans. Virginia Prescott used examples from a career in broadcasting to talk about how active listening can change personal and communal dynamics. Ms. Prescott is host of Word of Mouth, NHPR’s daily conversation about emerging trends, new ideas and stories from viral and pop culture. This talk was co-sponsored by Next Stage Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing Putney’s cultural and economic village center. 

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    Headshot of Thomas Moore"Your Mission in Life: Care of Body, Soul, Spirit and World"
    Thomas Moore
    April 14, 2014

    Thomas Moore, author of "Care of the Soul," talked about the distinction between being spiritual and being soulful, encouraging us to cultivate both, living from the depths of the heart, pursuing our own destinies with our gifts and limitations. Thomas Moore has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist practicing archetypal therapy with a spiritual dimension. His books appear in over twenty-five languages. For fifteen years he has taught psychiatrists and worked closely with medical schools, hospices, and hospitals. He also speaks often at Jung societies. He has a Ph.D. in Religion from Syracuse University, an honorary doctorate from Lesley University and the Einstein Humanitarian Award from Yeshiva University. 

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  • Janice Perry leaning back and gesturing with hands

    "Not Just Another Pretty Face: a Retrospective"
    Janice Perry
    September 16, 2013

    Performance artist and activist Janice Perry took us through her vibrant collection of social criticism and political satire—from Marilyn Monroe through a few Gulf Wars, High Fashion, Erotica, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mapplethorpe’s naked men and Arts Censorship. Janice began touring in 1981 with her groundbreaking solo performances. Her work has been adapted for television, radio and print in the USA and Europe NPR, PBS, BBC 2, Channel 4, BBC Radio 3, WDR.

    Headshot of Mansour Farhang"The Struggle for Democracy in the Arab World: Cultural Impediments to Pluralism"
    Mansour Farhang
    October 7, 2013

    The contentious political developments following the promise of “Arab Spring” have compelled the peoples of the region to face the fact that obstacles to pluralist democracy cannot be reduced to the fall of autocratic rulers. There is a growing recognition among both native and international observers that traditional cultures in nations without democratic experience can put complex obstacles on the road to the creation of an inclusive and tolerant political order. 

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    Headshot of Bill McKibben"Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist"
    Bill McKibben
    October 22, 2013

    Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him "the planet's best green journalist" and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was "probably the country's most important environmentalist." Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, he holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges, including the Universities of Massachusetts and Maine, the State University of New York, and Whittier and Colgate Colleges. In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

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    Image of Dave Cole looking to one side and downward"Craft and Craftsmanship in Contemporary Art"
    Dave Cole
    November 11, 2013

    Dave Cole's artwork is characterized by an interest in politics, patriotism, nostalgia, and masculinity. He lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island. Through mixing conceptual craft and assemblage, Cole's work attempts to embed subversive meaning and political message into his material and process. Cole reconstitutes found and ready-made objects such as discharged bullets and casings and eviscerated flag fragments, as well as fabricated materials such as cast lead and knitted metal fiber. His subject matter often draws from symbols of nostalgia, childhood, and more recently, poetry and landscape.

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  • Headshot of Fritz Engstrom"At the Movies with Dr. Engstrom: Living with Someone with a Mental Disorder"
    Dr. Fritz Engstrom
    February 2014

    Watching movies is a great way to spend the time – and to learn!! We will view scenes from popular films (About A Boy, The Last Picture Show, Lone Star, A Beautiful Mind, and others) to think about what it is like to live with someone with a mental disorder, such as depression. Brief, well-chosen scenes are captivating and fun, and provoke spirited discussion.

    Fritz Engstrom, MD, is the Chief Medical Officer of The Brattleboro Retreat, and has been using film clips to teach principles of psychiatry for over 25 years. 

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    Headshot of Peter Eden"Life in the Post-Genome Era"
    Dr. Peter Eden
    March 2013

    What is a genome and how does it make us human? How do we differ from other mammals and all life forms when it comes to our genetic basis?  How does genetic inheritance and epigenetics play a role in our physical and mental make-up (i.e. genotypes and phenotypes)? How can we use technology to identify and understand human genomics in a way that informs and protects all humans, in terms of health, behavior and our right to privacy? Dr. Peter Eden is president of Landmark College. 

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    Headshot of Ken Miller

    "Time to Abandon Darwin? Evolution in a Molecular Age"
    Dr. Kenneth Miller
    April 2013

    More than a century and a half after the publication of On the Origin of Species, evolution remains a contentious and divisive issue in the United States. In an age of molecular biology, when whole genomes can be sequenced and analyzed, many continue to ask if Darwin's ideas are valid. As we will see, genomic biology is not only consistent with evolution, but provides a rich new dimension in which the diversity of life can be studied and understood. 

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    Headshot of Ned Olmsted

    "Maps and a Sense of Wonder in the Digital Age"
    Ned Olmsted
    April 2013

    As our culture moves away from more traditional map reading (and map making) skills, and we grow increasingly dependent upon digital-based networks of navigation – in contrast to finding our way by information obtained through close observation and actual, studied experience – we may be losing our capacity for profound wonderment when encountering real landscapes, new or familiar, and are in danger of reducing discovery to merely expedient and arbitrary virtual procedures. If this phenomenon indeed is true, should we be concerned? 

    Ned Olmsted is a professor of English at Landmark College. 

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  • Headshot of Woden Teachout"Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism"
    Dr. Woden Teachout
    September 2012

    The story of the American flag is the story of a nation in search of itself; this talk explores that colorful history as a lens to examine the political uses of patriotism. Author of the newly published Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism, Dr. Woden Teachout examines how the flag has been captured and claimed by a wide range of our fellow citizens to promote their versions of the American dream, and we will use these stories as a means to explore the changing notions of what it means to be a patriot. 

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    Members of Sandglass Theater pose with puppets

    "Black Birds of Bialystok"
    Sandglass Theater
    October 2012

    Puppets in the Green Mountains brings world-class puppetry to Southern Vermont, often presenting shows in very non-traditional settings. Black Birds of Bialystok is a collaboration between two puppet theaters: Bialystok Puppet Theater in Poland, and Sandglass Theater in the USA. It is a piece about Poland’s difficult relationship to its Jews, in the period from 1906 to 1968.  In a larger sense, it is a piece about everyone’s relationship to history, about how events that happened before we were born are still part of our personal story.  This panel will cover the creation and development of this piece. 

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    Headshot of Robert Meeropol

    "Red to Green: Political Panic from McCarthyism to Eco-Terrorism"
    Robert Meeropol
    October 2012

    Robert Meeropol (born Robert Rosenberg in 1947) is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. When Robert was six years old, his parents were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage. With his brother, he sued the FBI and CIA under the Freedom of Information Act, winning the release of 300,000 previously secret documents pertaining to his parents' case. Robert published his memoir, An Execution in the Family: One Son’s Journey in 2003, and along with his brother Michael, co-authored We Are Your Sons: The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1975).  In his talk comparing the “Red Scare” of the 1950s and the “Green Scare” of today, Robert examined the fear of communism in the 20th century, the contemporary treatment of environmental and animal activism as so-called eco-terrorism, and the U.S. government's persistent persecution of individuals deemed a political threat. 

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    Headshot of Ellen McCulloch-Lovell"A Conversation with Ellen McCulloch-Lovell"
    Ellen McCulloch-Lovell: 
    November 2012

    Currently the President of Marlboro College, Ellen McCulloch-Lovell spent seven years in the Clinton administration from 1994 to 2001, serving as executive director of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, deputy chief of staff to the first lady, and deputy assistant to the president and advisor to the first lady on the Millennium Project. In her role on the Millennium Project, she spearheaded national campaigns in historic preservation and in educational, cultural and environmental programs. 

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