Past Season: 2011-2012

Thursday, September 29.  ”Untouchability and Human Rights: Fighting Poverty and the Caste System in India” with Colby Oak Fellow, Fatima Burnad.  India’s caste system was officially ‘eradicated’ in 1950, and yet it continues to undermine the economic well-being and human dignity of thousands of people – especially the Dalit or “untouchables.” Colby’s 2011 Oak Fellow, Fatima Burnad, will focus on the efforts being made by one organization in India to defend the human rights of the country’s most oppressed peoples.
Thursday, October 20.  ”Global Family Literacy” with Dr. Jane Hale (Waterville Public Library, 4th floor reading room).  Professor Hale, Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University, will present her literacy projects to develop and distribute beautiful picture books for very young children to homes in Lesotho, Boston, and Haiti. She will speak particularly about the need for children to see themselves and hear their family language in early reading experiences.
Tuesday, December 6, at 7 p.m.  Mekong: Exploring the Mother of Watersscreening with filmmaker Hutch Brown (Railroad Square Cinema; Admission $6.00 or free with student ID; no advanced registration required).  Local peoples call it ‘Mae Nam Khong’ which means ‘Kong, Mother of Waters.’  The Mekong Basin, is one of the worlds most diverse natural and cultural environments. Until this film, significant portions of the rivers mainstream had not been navigated, explored, or filmed at ground level. Exploring the Mother of Waters uses the historic first full exploration of the river by Mick O’Shea from its source in Tibet to the South China Sea, as a medium through which to expose the natural and cultural wonders of the region and some of the more pressing issues that threaten it’s future.  Dam builders in China are in the process of constructing a series of mega dams that will flood around 13% of the Mekong’s entire length and forever compromise the ‘Mother of Waters’ ability to deliver the water, silt and fisheries upon which millions of people and a myriad of environments depend.
Wednesday, December 7.  ”Mekong River Hydro Dams” with Hutch Brown. Hutch was cameraman and still photographer for the historic first complete exploration and navigation of the Mekong River.  In addition to the thrill of the adventure, Hutch gained an awareness of the Mekong Cascade hydropower scheme and the environmental and social impact on the area.  This adventure was the basis for the film, Mekong: Exploring the Mother of Waters, co-directed by Australian Mick O’Shea and native Waterville explorer Brian Eustis.
Wednesday, January 18. “Is This Brazil For Real?” with Dr. Patrice Franko. There is an old saying that “Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be.”  Is this dictum finally proving wrong? Has Brazil entered a new period of its history — one of sustainable, more equitable growth? How will Brazil wield its growing economic power on the global stage? If the last decade was the China decade, will the next be defined by Brazil? Patrice is the Grossman Professor of Economics at Colby College and a Mid-Maine Global Forum board member.
Wednesday, February 1. “Patterns of Consensus in the New Middle East: The Post Arab Spring Predicament” with Prof. Shelley Deane (Wateville Public Library, 4th floor reading room). Shelley Deane received her PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and is an Assistant Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, specializing in the Middle East and Northern Ireland.  Shelley studies the way in which some conflicts mend and end and others are protracted and long lasting.  Shelley has studied in Israel and Palestine, Belfast and Beirut, Dubai and Dublin in an attempt to discover patterns and mechanisms that help regulate if not remedy conflicts.  Shelley is working on a book looking at the negotiating mechanisms of Waterville’s own Senator George Mitchell in North Ireland and with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Shelley will provide a post-Arab Spring update, focused on patterns of consensus in the New Middle East.
 Tuesday, March 6. “Protests, Petroleum and Putinism: The New Politics of Russia” with Prof. Laura Henry.   After the political uncertainty and wild capitalism of the 1900s, Russia’s government under the leadership of Vladimir Putin attempted to create a new social contract, which traded steady economic growth and improved standards of living for political quiescence on the part of citizens. Are we now witnessing the fraying of this broad consensus? In response to voter fraud in Russia’s December 2011 parliamentary elections, thousands of Russian citizens came out to protest, with some yelling “Russia without Putin.” Are we witnessing an Arab Spring, Russian style? Does Russia now have an internet-savvy emerging middle class that will force another effort at democratization? What do these protests mean for Putin and Russia as a whole? This talk will examine these questions and consider the sources of political change and stability in contemporary Russia.
Wednesday, April 4. Transitions in the Two Koreas: What’s Ahead on the Korean Peninsula with Bradley O. Babson.  2012 is shaping up to be an important year on the Korean Peninsula.  Not only is North Korea working through an earlier than expected leadership transition, but April is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of the Founding Father Kim Il Sung, and there are high expectations internally of signs that North Korea has what it takes to become a “strong and prosperous nation.” At the same time, South Korea is back on the global stage, hosting the second Nuclear Summit after successfully hosting the G-20 in 2010, while preparing for provincial elections in April and Presidential elections in December that are likely to bring less conservative political leadership. The US is now back in the nuclear negotiations and food aid business, which affects our relations with both Koreas, despite the overhang of an election year. And China, which has become an increasingly dominant player, is also preparing for a leadership change in 2012. This talk will assess the dynamics of change at work on the Korean Peninsula in 2012 and the prospects for significant new developments in the months ahead.
Thursday, April 12.  Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched an Obsessive Quest to Save the Oceans with Capt. Charles Moore (12:30 at Messalonskee HS and 4:00 at Colby College). Listen to a podcast of the event at Colby College.  Oceanographic Research Vessel Captain Charles Moore wasn’t doing research in the middle of the North Pacific ocean in 1997. He was on a return voyage from Hawaii after testing a new mast in the Transpacific Yacht Race, when he was becalmed in the doldrums and began to notice scraps of trash floating by every time he came on deck, mostly broken down bits of former things. His now famous discovery led Captain Moore to become a scientist-activist investigating what others had passed over — the plastic “confetti” created from our floating plastic discards by ultraviolet sunlight and the turbulent waters of a salty sea. In his presentations and new book, Plastic Ocean, Moore chronicles his scientific investigations of our ocean’s plastic load aboard ORV Alguita. An acclaimed speaker and international authority, Moore explains in vivid detail his first-hand experience of the alarming consequences millions of tons of our persistent plastic waste is having on the marine environment, and ultimately, on us.
Monday, May 14. Seeds of Peace with Tim Wilson, Senior International Advisor and Director, Maine Seeds of Peace Program (cosponsored with Waterville Rotary Club). Founded in 1993 by journalist John Wallach, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to inspiring and equipping new generations of leaders from regions of conflict with the relationships, understanding and skills needed to advance lasting peace.  Over the last 20 years, Seeds of Peace has intensified its impact, dramatically increasing the number of participants, represented nations, and programs.  From 46 American, Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian teenagers in 1993, they have expanded their programming to include young leaders (“Seeds”) from across the Middle East, South Asia, Cyprus and the Balkans.  Their leadership network now encompasses nearly 5,000 Seeds.  Currently, they are actively working in the Middle East, South Asia, and the United States.
Wednesday, August 8. Will The Euro Survive? A Perspective on the European Sovereign Debt Crisis with Edwin M. Truman, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics. Over the past two years, the European sovereign debt crises have been the single greatest drag on economic recovery not only in Europe but also in the United States and the rest of the world. In his remarks, Edwin M.Truman will trace the origins of the crises against the background of sixty years of European economic integration, the resulting incomplete economic and monetary union in Europe, and the birth of the euro 13 years ago. The causes of the specific euro-area country crises are many and differ across countries, but collectively they pose an existential threat to the euro and to the future of the European integration project. Will the project move forward and, if so, in what form? Or will Europe break apart and with what consequences for the global economy and financial system? What are the social implications for people in Europe and the U.S.? He will not have definitive answers on August 8, but hopes to clarify the issues and assess prospects.
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