Mary Coleman, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, reflects on the 2013 Lesley University Conversation Series.
The first Conversation in the 2013 Lesley University Conversation Series was on the 2012 presidential election and featured David Gergen. In the audience there were over a hundred and fifty undergraduate students; many of them were first-time voters. Gergen demonstrated the arc of progress the nation has made in achieving greater levels of inclusion and focused on how demographic shifts are remaking American politics and reshaping contenders for the nation’s highest office. In thanking senior Political Science major James Florentine for a thoughtful introduction, Gergen commented on his belief in this generation’s capacity to address big global questions. Conversations permit space for thoughtful debate, inquiry and the direct interrogation of ideas and ideals offered by the best thinkers of our time. Andrew Solomon was the second Conversations Series lecturer. His lecture was integral to the University’s pioneering Child Homelessness Initiative (CHI) and followed the sweep of Gergen’s lecture in that Solomon encouraged being more inclusive—indeed more loving—of human difference. A senior Child Studies and Elementary Education major, Leanna Balloffet, set the stage with a brilliant and poised introduction of Solomon, in which she urged the packed audience to live with passion and embrace those who appear to face long odds. Solomon electrified the audience with renderings of families and how they summoned extraordinary love and courage, especially when their children were born with a diagnosed disability and/or when they behaved in ways that suggested they were different—and very far from the tree. When I was very young, I often heard my parents posit that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. In Far from the Tree Solomon reminds us that, on occasion, it does, and we must summon a capacity to love and find joyful meaning in our children and our parental obligations.John Francis, an environmentalist, was the final speaker in the 2013 Conversations Series. According to the United States Coast Guard, 6.18 million barrels of oil spilled between 1967 and 2007. In 1971 John Francis witnessed an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. He got caught up in debates about the spill and began asking himself and others, “Who was liable and what might have been done to avoid the spill”? The debates were discouraging. He subsequently took a vow of silence and did not speak to others for seventeen years. He also stopped using an automobile—that lasted for twenty-two years. Thereafter, he sailed the Caribbean and walked the length of South America. A few years ago, he committed himself to a formal exploration of land resources and earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On March 5th, Francis discussed his ecological journey and contemporary environmental challenges. The Conversation is integral to Lesley University’s commitment to a sustainable planet and to environmental science as a field of vibrant engagement and community service for students and interdisciplinary faculty alike.
Mary ColemanDean, College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
Deborah D. Wright
Director of the Center for the Adult Learner, Assistant Professor of Administration / Management
Professor of History
Undergraduate Study Abroad
Foreign Languages at Lesley
News from 29 Mellen
Child Homelessness Initiative
College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
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