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Winter Lecture Series, 2018: Imagining a Just World Order

Winter Lecture Series, 2018: Imagining a Just World Order

There has been much gloom and doom lately, stimulated by continuing terrorism, the resurgence of narrow nationalism, continuing economic inequalities, evident racism, global warming, and the displacement of refugees from conflicts and from inadequate economies. With our attention there, we sometimes overlook countervailing patterns such as the decline of war among great powers, increasing attempts to manage other forms of violence, greater tolerance for minorities (at least in parts of the world), greater international scientific cooperation, less global poverty, less hunger, lower child mortality, etc.  Have we over-emphasized the negatives? In the spirit of that question, we address what a just world might look like and the steps that might be taken to achieve it.  Within the limits of five lectures and a concluding panel, we have selected the following issues, paying special attention to progressive steps in each.

2/18/18.  Patrice McMahon, Political Science, University of Nebraska.  Seizing the moment: The actors and issues that are creating a more just and peaceful world.  Professor McMahon will discuss the role of international organizations such as the United Nations (and component parts like the WHO), the European Union, NATO and other organizations that try to bring principled order, or a rules based system, in world affairs.  She will mention the role that private organizations (e.g., Human Rights Watch, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) play in affecting world order.

2/25/18. Parks Coble, History, University of Nebraska. China’s Impact. Professor Coble will discuss how China arrived to its current position of prominence in world affairs, how it seeks to develop and exercise influence at present, and its goals for the future.

3/4/18.  Jordan Kuck, History, West Virginia Wesleyan College. Combating Extremism, Dehumanization, War, and Violence: Lessons from the Past for the Twenty-First Century. Professor Kuck will discuss past international and civil wars, terrorism, and violent instability with an eye toward extracting from that analysis those possibly-useful lessons that may mitigate future disasters.

3/11/18. Gus Hurwitz, University of Nebraska College of Law.  Managing Cyber Sensitivities.  Professor Hurwitz will discuss the problems that flow from our cyber existence. He will mention the potential for (and reality of) hacking, fake news, cyber war and attacks on civilian infrastructure.  He will note the role and level of effectiveness of domestic and international law in confronting these threats.

3/18/18. Don Wilhite: University of Nebraska Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources.  Sustainable development, environmental stressors and resilience. Professor Wilhite will discuss the challenge of achieving responsible economic growth in light of current and future environmental stressors, e.g., climate change, drought and water scarcity. Those stressors have implications for food security, national and regional conflicts, and environmental refugees.

3/25/18.  Concluding Panel.  With attention to costs and benefits, the panel will review the leading threats to world order and efforts to manage them. Details will follow.

The Annual Winter Lecture Series is free and open to the public. You are invited. All events are held from 7 to 9 PM on Sunday evenings at the Unitarian Church, 6300 A Street, Lincoln, NE. The Series is jointly sponsored by OLLI (The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and the Unitarian Church. The program is funded in part by Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.