WWU’s Fairhaven College Announces Spring World Issues Forum Slate

Grounded in social and environmental justice and human rights, the Spring World Issues Forum lecture series, organized by Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, will focus on topics such as nationalism, immigration, and political ideologies.

The forums, now in their 15th year, are free and open to the campus community and general public. The forums are held from noon to 1:20 p.m. every Wednesday in the Fairhaven Auditorium, unless otherwise noted below.


Wednesday, April 5  

Theravada Buddhist Nationalism: Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand

Presenter: Charles Keyes, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington

Topic: Fundamental to the teaching of the Buddha is the recognition that although it should be the goal of his followers to seek ultimate transcendence of the world, following the path to Nirvana has to take place within the world. This has meant that Buddhists from the very beginning of the religion have had to engage rather than shun politics, and these politics are shaped by the societies Buddhists live in.

In this talk, Charles Keyes, professor emeritus of anthropology and international studies at the University of Washington, will discuss some of the recent political controversies involving Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, with particular focus on incidents that have involved Buddhists promoting violence against non-Buddhists. Since the early 1960s, Keyes has carried out extensive research primarily in Thailand, but also in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar/Burma and southern China. His research has focused on religious practice in Buddhist societies, ethnicity and national cultures, transformation of rural society, and political culture.

Wednesday, April 12

Fairhaven’s Adventure Learning Grant Program

Presenters: Mikhaila Thornton, Kathryn Durning, Becca Pelham, 2015 Adventure Learning Grant recipients

Topic: Thornton, Durning, and Pelham have returned from their travels and are ready to share their experiences! They were the three 2014 recipients of the Adventure Learning Grant, a $20,000 grant given to three Fairhaven students every year for the purpose of studying abroad for a minimum of 10 months.

Wednesday, April 19

Why History Matters: Race and National Identity

Presenter: Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor, University of Virginia

Topic: Onuf will reflect on the importance of history in the era of partisan political polarization and "fake news."  Through better understanding the past's complexity we can discover who we have been, who we are, and who we are becoming.  Thomas Jefferson has served as a particularly controversial--and therefore particularly important--touchstone in the ongoing construction of American national identity.

Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He was trained as a Colonial American historian at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Jack P. Greene.  He is an expert in the history of the American founding era and the early republic, with particular interest in democracy, federalism, political economy, geopolitics, and race.  His most recent work focuses on the political thought of Thomas Jefferson.

Wednesday, April 26

Stoning, Women's Rights, and Western Attitudes in Northern Nigeria: The Infamous Case of Amina Lawal

Presenter: Sarah Eltantawi, assistant professor, Evergreen State College

Topic: Through an analysis of the stoning trial for committing adultery of Amina Lawal, a peasant woman from Northern Nigeria, Eltantawi will analyze the history and present tense symbolic value of sharia in Northern Nigerian society, paying special attention to the theological history of stoning in Islam and the role of gender and the western reaction to Amina Lawal’s case.

Eltantawi is a scholar of Islam. She is member of the faculty in Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies at the Evergreen State College in Olympia and a research scholar at the Middle East Center of the University of Washington.  She earned her doctorate in the Study of Religion in 2012 from Harvard University, where she was the Jennifer W. Oppenheimer Fellow and Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has academic fellowships at Brandeis University, UC Berkeley, and at the Forum Transregionalle at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin as well as the Freie Universität in Berlin. 

Wednesday, May 3

Migrants, Refugees, and Citizens: Some Hard Questions for Immigration Policy

Presenter: Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law, UCLA

Topic: Immigration has been one of the most contentious issues of our time, not just in the United States, but throughout the world.  Anyone who ventures into this thicket needs to think about some hard questions.  First, are immigrants’ rights a type of civil rights, human rights, or some other approach to justice and fairness?  Second, how have mass migrations of people fleeing war, the breakdown of civil society, or environmental degradation challenged traditional perspectives on immigration?  Third, is it possible or desirable to think about immigration without a path to citizenship?  And fourth, how should economic inequality inside the United States or any other destination country influence immigration policy?  I will discuss why these questions are so hard, how they are tied to each other, and why they are unavoidable if there is any common ground to be found on immigration issues.

Hiroshi Motomura is the Susan Westerberg Prager professor of law at the UCLA School of Law.  He is the author of two award-winning books: “Immigration Outside the Law,” and “Americans in Waiting,” and the co-author of two law-school casebooks, one on immigration and citizenship, and the other on refugees and asylum.  He is a founding director of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Law Center.  He has received several teaching awards, including the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014, and was one of just 26 law professors nationwide profiled in What the Best Law Teachers Do.

Wednesday, May 10

On Rastafari Political Theology

Presenter: Neil Roberts, associate professor, Williams College

In his talk, Roberts will build upon his recent work and teaching on Rastafari, freedom and politics. The emergence of Rastafari in the 20th century marked a distinct phase in the theory and practice of political agency. From its heretical roots in Jamaica, Garveyism, Ethiopianism, and Pan-Africanism, Rastafari has evolved from a Caribbean theological movement to an international political actor. The talk will investigate the political theory of Rastafari in order to develop intellectual resources for theorizing the concept of agency in contemporary Africana thought and political theory.

Roberts is associate professor of Africana Studies, political theory, and the philosophy of religion at Williams College. His present writings deal with the intersections of Caribbean, Continental, and North American political theory with respect to theorizing the concepts of freedom and agency. He is the author of award-winning “Freedom as Marronage” (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and the collaborative work Journeys in Caribbean Thought. Roberts is currently completing A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass for the University Press of Kentucky. He is President of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.

Wednesday, May 17

Immigration and Women Employment: Outlook from Madagascar

Presenter: Estelle Antilahy has been working for Non-Governmental Organizations since 1999, committed to improve far-to-reach populations livelihoods. Since 2015, she works as independent consultant and has since embraced various topics of economic development in Madagascar. She will present and analyze issues regarding low-skilled immigrants, mainly women from Madagascar, a study she has endeavored for International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2016.

Wednesday, May 24

Media in Armed Conflicts

Presenter: Olivier Ndikumana, graduate student, University of Washington

Topic: Ndikumana is a professionally trained journalist from Rwanda. After witnessing numerous murders and wide-spread humanitarian chaos during the Rwandan genocide, he committed himself to helping rebuild Rwanda, which was nearly destroyed by the genocide and the anger which characterized the post-genocide period. In support of peace and reconciliation, he assisted and led several journalistic investigations of issues related to the genocide and associated armed conflicts in the DRC, including the use of child soldiers in rebel militias. He also participated in and documented initiatives to foster peace, security, and political development, including unity and reconciliation efforts. These included the Transitional Justice and Gacaca-Traditional Court movement in Rwanda.

For more information on the Spring World Issues Forums, contact Cloie Chapman, Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies staff coordinator, at (360) 650-6680 or cloie.chapman@wwu.edu.