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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Polarization to Conversation: What to do when Values Collide
Fall 2014 Friday Forum Lecture Series

All lectures are on Fridays at 12:00pm in Lazter Hall, University YMCA.  

When the University YMCA was offered funding last year on the condition that we disassociate ourselves with an organization that had publicly called for marriage equality, we paused.  We didn’t accept the money, but we also didn’t take a public stance on marriage equality. The Fall 2014 Friday Forum lecture series, Polarization to Conversation: What to do when Values Collide, is the Y’s response to situations like ours where held identities and beliefs collide, presenting situations where society has to choose one value over another.  We ask each of our presenters to break that binary and join us in using dialogue to explore alternative paths that navigate the complexity of our individual and collective beliefs and identities. 

Friday Forum is a weekly lectures series held in the fall and spring semesters that strives to raise awareness about national and international trends and events.

Fall 2014 Schedule:

Friday September 12, 2014
Ricardo Diaz and David Theis : “The Decision on Rejecting the CCHD Funds: Social Justice vs. Inclusivity”
University YMCA Board of Governors members Ricardo Diaz and David Theis will lead a discussion that explains what led to the decision to reject the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Funds from the Catholic Church. They will talk about the overarching issue of social justice vs. inclusivity and the complexity of the decision.

Friday September 19, 2014
Fr. Roy Bourgeois: “Conscience, Justice, and Equality ”
Fr. Roy Bourgeois is a former Catholic priest who was removed from his position by the church for attending the ordination of a woman and speaking in favor of women’s ordination. He will talk about his experience leading him to follow his conscience, from his call to priesthood, to battling the injustices of the School of Americas, to the support for ordination of women to the Catholic Priesthood.

Friday September 26, 2014
Dave Stovall: “Charter Schools:  Race, Variance and Neoliberal Corporate Education Reform”
Over the past 20 years, the proliferation of charter schools remains contested as viable educational reform.  In many communities this has resulted in the siphoning of students from neighborhood public schools into charters, under the guise of academic achievement. Ironically, this has not resulted in educational improvements for communities that have been ravaged by years of symbolic state violence in the form of disinvestment, destabilization and disenfranchisement.  In the attempt to highlight the contested space of Charter Schools, Stovall places the advent of charters in the lineage of educational "experiments" in the aforementioned communities.

Friday October 3, 2014
Daphne Wysham: “Addressing the climate crisis while tackling income inequality and unsustainable growth”
If we accept leading climate scientists such as NASA's James Hansen's prognosis, we have passed the point of safe concentrations of carbon dioxide emissions in the Earth's atmosphere. In a 2008 paper, Hansen claimed that 350 ppm CO2 equivalent is the target we should be shooting for by the end of the century, if not sooner. Our current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is above 400 ppm. The costs of climate change are now growing so large, in 2012, U.S. taxpayers outspent private insurers three to one to pay for the costs of climate change, more than taxpayers spent on education and transportation.

While U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab for climate damages, income inequality remains at a record divide. Data from tax returns shows that between 1976 and 2007, the top 1 percent of households pre-tax income went from 8.9 percent to 23.5 percent. This level of income inequality, research shows, endangers our society, on a variety of fronts. The only other year since 1913 that the wealthy had claimed such a large share of national income was in 1928, when the top 1 percent's share was 23.9 percent. The following year, the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. After peaking again in 2007, the U.S. stock market crashed in 2008, leading to what some are now calling the “Great Recession.” 

Although GDP was useless in predicting the Great Recession of 2007, our economy remains fixated on growth in GDP as the correct barometer of economic health. Having not learned from our mistakes, many fear we may make them again, with far more severe consequences. Furthermore, to ecological economists, a focus on GDP growth is anathema to sustainability. 
Given the urgency of the climate crisis, how do we move our nation back from the precipice of widening income inequality while avoiding climate catastrophe? How do we create jobs for the jobless while avoiding unsustainable growth? 

Four states in the U.S. are beginning to wrestle with these issues in new and potentially transformative ways. Wysham will share more about tools that can be used to tackle these crises while deepening democracy at the local level.

Friday October 10, 2014
Adrienne Spires: "Race, Gender, and the Fight to End Sexual and Structural Violence."
As identified in the work of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, "within the mainstream anti-violence movement in the U.S., women of color who survive sexual or domestic abuse are often told that they must pit themselves against their communities, often stereotyped as violent, to begin the healing process. Communities of color, meanwhile, often advocate that women keep silent about the sexual and domestic violence in order to maintain a united front against racism.Therefore we must adopt anti-violence strategies that are mindful of the larger structures of violence that shape the world we live in. That is, strategies designed to combat violence within communities (sexual/domestic violence) must be linked to strategies that combat violence directed against communities (i.e. police brutality, prisons, racism, economic exploitation, etc)." In this lecture, we will explore the complex linkages between sexual and structural violence in order to advocate for an end to violence in all forms.

Friday October 17, 2014
Robin Wilson: “Embracing Compromise:  Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty.”
The question of same-sex marriage has divided influential thought leaders on the “right.” Some, like Ryan Anderson, argue “those who defend — and live out — the truth about marriage should redouble their efforts to witness to the truth about marriage while there is still time to steer clear of that chaos.” In essence, they urge opponents to continue to advance the “conjugal view of marriage” in an effort to defeat legislative (and perhaps judicial) efforts to recognize same-sex marriage. Others, like Rod Dreher, contend that there is “a consensus emerging on the right that the most important goal at this stage is not to stop gay marriage entirely but to secure as much liberty as possible for dissenting religious and social conservatives while there is still time.” Even if the courts do not definitively decide the question in the next few years, those who oppose same-sex marriage on the merits face a closing window of opportunity for securing religious freedom. Given the political and judicial momentum of same-sex marriage, it is far wiser to focus on the still-achievable goal of muting the impact of marriage equality on religious freedom, before that window closes, than to continue to oppose it outright.

Friday October 24, 2014
Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky: Living Restoratively in a Punitive World
Dr. Mikhail will talk about his experiences and thoughts about restorative justice in a variety of contexts, including families, schools, and the criminal justice system. 
Friday October 31, 2014
Janet Mock: Challenging Gender Norms: A Conversation with Janet Mock
Janet Mock is a trans woman, writer, and transgender right activist who will be joining us in a moderated discussion about gender norms and transgender issues facing our society today.  

SPONSORED BY: Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program, Campus Honors Program, Office of The Provost, Department of African American Studies, Chapel of St. John the Divine, La Casa Cultural Latina, Channing-Murray Foundation, Wesley Foundation, Wesley United Methodist Church, McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, Asian American Cultural Center, Urbana-Champaign Friends Meeting Peace Meeting Committee, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, First Mennonite Church, School of Art and Design, Office of Public Engagement, Counseling Center, Educational Psychology. Paid for by SORF and The Student Cultural Programming Fee.


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