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Diversity Lecture Series

The Diversity Lecture Series is intended to give insight and understanding of multicultural issues to the West Michigan Community. The series is designed to introduce an essential component of education in helping audiences consider perspectives other than their own, encouraging civil debate, broadening the basis for critical thought and promoting cultural understanding.

Past speaker videos

More about the Diversity Lecture Series...

All lectures begin at 7:00 pm at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI.  For more information, please call (616) 234-3390.

  • Free and open to all
  • On-campus parking $3.00 (with discount pass)
  • ASL interpreted
  • Book signing will follow authors' lectures

 

2013-2014 Diversity Lecture Series XIX Schedule

JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS

October 2, 2013

Journalist, Documentarian

Immigration: Not Legal, Not Leaving

A journalist for over a decade writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country, Jose Antonio Vargas’ learned his green card was a fake at age 16.  He knew he must hide this fact to avoid deportation. His journalism career flourished, yet the fear never ceased.  “This deceit never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught.” Vargas exposed his story in an essay, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” for the New York Times Magazine. Today Vargas runs Define American, a non-profit organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration.

 

EMILY BAZELON

October 23, 2013

Author, Editor

Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and

Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

Emily Bazelon is a senior editor at Slate, and a New York Times Magazine contributing writer.  Her investigative journalism, compelling storytelling and extensive legal knowledge, makes her a leading authority on bullying in the cyber age: what constitutes bullying? What are the roles of personality traits, such as “grit,” character, and empathy, to overcome childhood trauma and find social success? What do recent cases of bullying tell us about how the issue has changed over the years?  How are people using technologies—mobile phones, social media, texting—to both spread and combat bullying? Her book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, has won widespread acclaim.
 

JOHN ELDER ROBISON

November 13, 2013

Author, Educator

 Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

John Robison grew up with Asperger's Syndrome during a time when few knew what to make of it. With no idea how to pass for normal, and undiagnosed until the age of 40, he nevertheless lived a full life. Robison offers a darkly humorous glimpse of Asperger's as a difference, not a disability.  In his memoir, Robison recounts his idiosyncratic life with details of overcoming enormous odds: from an anti-social child to a successful father now running a multi-million dollar car specialty shop and his own photography business. Robison currently is an adjunct professor at Elms College in Massachusetts and is involved in autism research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre.

 

MICHELE NORRIS

March 12, 2014

Author, Correspondent

Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race

Michele Norris is currently a host and special correspondent for NPR.  Norris served as co-host of NPR's newsmagazine All Things ConsideredNorris relates how intended to write a book about America’s hidden conversations about race but discovered much had been hidden from her by her family.  Her parents kept the stories of racial injustice and pain to themselves because they wanted their children “to soar”.  She found that her father had been shot in the leg after returning from service in WWII by white police officers.  Her mother had worked for years as an itinerant Aunt Jemima traveling to small towns demonstrating pancake mixes.  Norris suggests that silence has some rewards and many costs.  She seeks to uncover and encourage real conversation around family and race.

 

REZA ASLAN

April 16, 2014 (Rescheduled from Feb. 12, 2014)

Author, Commentator

Youth Revolt: The Future of the Middle East

 Reza Aslan addresses the topics of Islam, the Middle East, and Muslim Americans with authority, wit, and an infectious optimism. He speaks for a young generation of Muslims—socially conscious, politically active, and technologically savvy.  A new generation of young people clamoring for their rights and freedoms, with a vision that represents their values, not the values of  a ruling elite of previous generations.  Author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, Aslan reveals the nature of these historic societal changes. He unravels the complexities of the new Middle East and shows us what the future holds for this oft-misunderstood part of the world.  Aslan is President and CEO of Aslan Media Inc.

 

All lectures begin at 7:00 pm at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI. For more information, please call (616) 234-3390.

  • Free and open to all
  • On-campus parking $3.00 (with discount pass)
  • ASL interpreted
  • Book signing will follow authors' lectures