WFU starts 2003-2004 theme year dedicated to dialogue, civil discourse

Fostering Dialogue logoThe theme “Fostering Dialogue: Civil Discourse in an Academic Community” will set the tone for the upcoming 2003-2004 academic year as Wake Forest University hosts a number of events, lectures and performances designed to explore how free people with passionate interests and beliefs can communicate openly without turning dialogue into discord. A majority of the theme year events are free and open to the public.

The year begins quickly for the 14 students in award-winning filmmaker Brett Ingram’s communication seminar “Dialogue and Documentary.” The students, who start class Aug. 28, will work in pairs to produce seven video documentaries that explore the theme fostering dialogue.

While the students are working on their projects and learning the intricacies of producing non-fiction works on film or video, Ingram and his production crew will turn their own cameras on the students as part of a project commissioned by the theme year committee. The resulting video documentary will record the students’ encounter with the process of fostering dialogue on multiple levels, from their interactions with community agencies and university programs to their interactions with one another in creating their documentaries. The documentary will be shown at the end of the academic year.

In addition to production of the video documentaries, the theme year will include a Moroccan film and discussion series, an Asian film festival, a student dialogue program with senior university administrators, spoken word forums, a lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, a Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner Day on University Plaza (Quad), and several other lectures, musical performances and activities.

“The theme is a call to the Wake Forest community to recognize the university as a place where the free exchange of ideas is celebrated,” said Claire Hammond, professor of economics and co-chair of the year’s planning committee. “Free speech, open debate and civil discourse are needed now more than ever. We owe it to our students to teach them and show them how to express their ideas and how to listen, criticize and evaluate the ideas of others.”

On Sept. 11, the departments of mathematics, economics and political science are sponsoring two lectures by Steven Brams, author of the book “The Win-Win Solution” and professor of politics at New York University. Brams, a game theory expert, will lecture on several topics, including alternative methods of electing a president and fair division of property as it relates to dispute resolution. One of the lectures, an evening event, will be free and open to the public. Time and location to be announced.

Also in September, four senior university administrators will take part in a student dialogue program that culminates with a campus-wide “agora” on Magnolia Court. The agora, which is the traditional marketplace of the Greeks, will serve as a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas between students and administrators. Thomas K. Hearn Jr., university president; William C. Gordon, university provost; Sandra Boyette, vice president for University Advancement; and Paul Escott, dean of the College, have agreed to participate in the event.

The American Brass Quintet’s Oct. 10 performance of “Storm in the Land: Music of the 26th N.C. Regimental Band” includes a theme year-sponsored, pre-concert talk titled “Music of the Civil War – Can We Talk” by Nola Knouse, director of the Moravian Music Foundation. The 8 p.m. performance is part of the 2003-2004 Secrest Artists Series. The event is open to the public and tickets are available through the Secrest office by calling 336-758-5757. The event will be held in Brendle Recital Hall in the Scales Fine Arts Center.

On Nov. 5, a 7:30 p.m. lecture by photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher helps kick-off her exhibit, “Drinking from the Same Well: Jewish and Muslim Co-existence in Morocco,” at the university’s Museum of Anthropology. The exhibit opens Nov. 7 and runs through Feb. 14. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

The all-day “Native American Sovereignty: An Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Symposium” will take place at Wake Forest Nov. 6. The symposium follows the National Indian Education Association meeting, which is being held in Greensboro Nov. 1 through 5. The event is free and open to the public.

From Nov. 10 through 15, internationally-known performance artist Tim Miller will be in residence in the theatre and dance department at Wake Forest. Miller, who is perhaps best known for his role as one of the “NEA Four” in 1990, successfully sued the National Endowment for the Arts for censorship after a grant he received was revoked. He is the author of two books, “Shirts & Skin” and “Body Blows,” and has taught performance in the theater department at the University of California, Los Angeles since 1990. During the weeklong residency at Wake Forest, he will conduct readings, visit classes, perform and hold workshops.

On Nov. 13, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner will visit campus to deliver a free, public lecture at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel. Kushner will also speak to a class in the theatre department, and his play “Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27 and Oct. 1 – 4 in the Scales Fine Arts Center’s MainStage Theater. An additional show will be performed at 2 p.m. Oct. 5. Kushner’s lecture and visit are sponsored by the theme year committee, the theatre department and the journalism program.

The second “Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols” is scheduled for Dec. 2, and will be held in conjunction with the theme year. The one-hour church service is free and open to the public, and features Scripture lessons and hymns. On Jan. 29, Tim Wise, senior advisor at the Race Relations Institute of Fisk University in Nashville, will give a free, public lecture at Wake Forest on diversification efforts on college campuses.

Two free, public film series are planned for the theme year, including an Asian Film Festival and a Moroccan film and discussion series titled “Gender, Identity & Social Change in Moroccan Film.” The Asian Film Festival features a series of four films shown during the year at Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, and the Moroccan film series includes six films in the fall that will be shown in Pugh Auditorium in Benson University Center. Both film series include lectures from guest speakers.

The theme year will conclude in the spring of 2004 with two Irish symposiums scheduled to coincide with the annual Wake Forest University Press Irish Festival. The symposiums, “Opposing Views and Common Ground: Examining the Road to Peace in Ireland” and “Dialogue through Poetry,” bring to campus several noted Irish historical and literary scholars to discuss the path ahead for the peace process in Ireland. The events are scheduled to take place between March 15 and 19.

A celebration on University Plaza (Quad) is planned for the end of the academic year that draws on London’s tradition of allowing speakers to express their views in a public forum. The Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner Day will give participants a chance to climb up on a soapbox and express their views about a number of topics.

The events listed are only a sampling of the events that will take place during the academic year at Wake Forest. A full schedule of events and additional information about the upcoming theme year is located on the Wake Forest University Web site at

“Fostering Dialogue: Civil Discourse in an Academic Community” is the first of two theme years to be funded through a $1.9 million grant from the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis. The grant, awarded to Wake Forest in 2001, is also being used to support a center for vocational exploration for undergraduate students for five years at Wake Forest. The Pro Humanitate Center opened in 2002 and offers programs designed to encourage students to explore the nature of vocation as they consider possible careers, including the ministry.

Categories: Community, Events, Speakers, University Announcement