2004-2005 Convocation: Common Good

Digital archives of convocation speakers are available through the Olin Library.

About the 2004-05 Theme: For the Common Good

Each of us has a purpose. Raise a family. Earn a living. Share your values. Worship your God. Make a difference in the world.

As one lives a thoughtful life, questions of conscience and balance arise. Are we as individuals responsible for making sure there is enough food in the world? What are we supposed to do to make sure nations, cities, villages and people are not left behind by technology and economic development? Must each of us act to make sure human rights are safeguarded, even in places we may never see and for people we will never know?

These questions are at the heart of the 2004-05 Theme Year, “For the Common Good: Private Interest and Global Citizenship.” Speakers this year will focus on poverty, wealth, productivity and the distribution of each in a global society. The theme echoes topics discussed as part of Drury’s core curriculum, Global Perspectives 21. While the issues are large, the impact is personal. The answers come from within.

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information about speakers, changes to the speaker schedule and other information, please visit http://commongood.drury.edu or contact Theme Year Director R. Robin Miller, Ph.D. at (417) 873-7891 or rmiller@drury.edu.

Driving Public Discussions
Ralph Nader

August 26, 2004

Drury University's Clara Thompson Hall was jam-packed on the evening of August 26, as consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader addressed a mixed audience of students, faculty, staff and public. Drury provided an overflow facility in the Olin Library with a real-time video link to the event.

Before appearing behind the podium, Nader gave a brief press conference in an adjacent building. Local news media were present to pose questions to Nader prior to his convocation speech.

A calm but emphatic speaker, Nader implored this year's freshmen to make the most of their time in college and make a stand for what they believe. Nader gave his own version of his rise to prominency, recalling his early campaigns against automobile manufacturers. Peppering his talk with facts and statistics, Nader also included humor, garnering several laughs from the audience. Meanwhile, outside was a small gathering of people standing around a vintage Corvair (an early target of Nader's safety campaigning) displaying signs reading "Not Again Ralph" and "Talk - Don't Run".

Mr. Nader spoke for just under two hours, then took questions from the audience. One of the first questions he fielded was asked by Dr. John E. Moore Jr, President of Drury University. Moore observed that Nader had pointed out a lot of what was wrong with America during his speech, and wondered if Nader ever stressed the positive aspects of American society and politics. Mr. Nader's response was that, yes, he certainly did, and went on to cite examples of where he tries to give both sides of the issues at hand.

Fall Concert
Chamber Orchestra of the Ozarks

August 28, 2004

In a lift to the spirit and an education for the soul, Drury’s ensemble-in-residence, the Chamber Orchestra of the Ozarks, presented a concert of Mozart’s Symphony no. 41 (Jupiter) and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. This first concert of the orchestra’s 2004-05 season featured violin soloist Rossitza Jekova-Goza.

Founders Day: Many Ways to Serve
John Simmons

September 23, 2004

John Simmons lives to serve, and he’s found lots of ways to do it. One of the first Peace Corps volunteers, he served in Tunisia, then spent time in Vietnam, the Middle East and East Africa. He returned to the Ozarks in 1969, where he led Drury’s art and architecture department until 1983. His most recent work includes founding the Eden Heritage Foundation, which serves the elderly in Missouri.

History for the People, Action for the Future
Howard Zinn

October 7, 2004

Howard Zinn is one of the world’s most famous historians, best known for his People’s History of the United States, which recounts history from the perspectives of workers and commoners instead of the usual views of the powerful elite. In the last two decades, Zinn’s socialist analysis of America has become a standard text at universities across the U.S., including Drury. These days, Zinn focuses on national and global issues of social inequity such as global trade, and urges us all to accept our responsibility as citizens to understand the issues and vote.

The Rough Path to Worldwide Success
Jack Shewmaker

October 21, 2004

Clear-minded and direct, Jack Shewmaker knows that the best successes are those which lift up many lives. From humble beginnings in the town of Buffalo, Mo., Shewmaker joined Sam Walton early in the history of Wal-Mart. As Wal-Mart’s chief financial officer, vice chairman, chief operating officer and eventually president, he was instrumental in guiding the company to its position as the world’s largest retailer. Doing so required not just understanding current global markets, but where they were heading and how to make the most of them. Since retiring from Wal-Mart, Shewmaker has kept up on international economic trends through his work as a business consultant to companies around the world. Shewmaker has been a member of Drury’s board of trustees since 1984.

Justice is Never a Lost Cause
Winona LaDuke

November 4, 2004

Since addressing the United Nations at age 18 on the rights of American Indians, Winona LaDuke has been one of America’s strongest voices against racism, social injustice and environmental abuse of wild lands, topics she addressed during her Drury visit. LaDuke has expressed her views through storytelling, writing, activism and politics, including campaigns as the Green Party candidate for vice president in 1996 and 2000.

A Failure of Action
Michael Barnett

January 27, 2005

While Rwandans killed each other by the thousands in 1993 and 1994, the United Nations stood by. Does it share the blame for the genocide? Michael Barnett, part of the U.S mission to the U.N. during that time, says yes, even as he reveals the careful ethical decisions behind the U.N.’s inaction. Barnett, the Harold Stassen Chair of International Relations at the University of Minnesota, says the world’s reaction to the Rwandan genocide is a lesson in our responsibilities during a humanitarian crisis

Disposable People: The New Slavery
Kevin Bales

February 17, 2005

From charcoal makers in Brazil to cocoa harvesters in the Ivory Coast and beyond, an estimated 27 million people around the world are slaves today. In agriculture, mining, manufacturing and other industries, the Earth’s population boom, especially in developing nations, has made human life cheap, and slavery profitable. Kevin Bales, Ph.D. is director of Free the Slaves, an international agency dedicated to revealing and ending modern slavery. His most recent work examines human trafficking into the Unites States. Following Bales’ talk, there will be a screening and discussion of the Emmy and Peabody-award-winning documentary Slavery: A Global Investigation, which was based on Bales’ book Disposable People: Slavery in the New Economy.

Nickel and Dimed to Death
Barbara Ehrenreich

February 24, 2005

Waitress, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, Wal-Mart clerk: not the usual pedigree of a best-selling author, but all jobs held by Barbara Ehrenreich as she tried to understand how so many Americans make a living in low-wage jobs. The result of her three years on the edge of poverty was Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America, a best-selling look at the intense physical, financial and emotional struggles many Americans face.

Expelling Toxins
Susana Almanza

March 3, 2005

In 1931, the government of Austin, Texas, zoned the city for segregation. Minorities and the poor were forced to share East Austin with much of the city’s industry. Homes, shopping centers and schools are built on soil contaminated with toxic waste, or sit downwind of noxious vapors. In a heroic reworking of zoning laws (and governmental culture), Susana Almanza has started East Austin on the way to a healthier future. She co-founded a community action group named PODER, which means “power” in Spanish and is also an acronym for People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources. The group convinced Austin officials to re-zone large tracts of industrial land now used for homes. PODER continues to work in the community to relocate factories and power plants.

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place
Saundra Weddle

March 17, 2005

In Renaissance Florence, it was said that “if you tell me who you have married I can tell you who you are.” The implication was that your spouse's status communicated volumes about your own status and, by extension, your family’s. In the same way, it might have been said that “if you tell me where you are I can tell you who you are,” since status and identity were linked to an individual’s location within Florentine architecture and the urban realm. Saundra Weddle, Ph.D., assistant professor of architecture, explores how architecture and city design reflected gender roles, and how those roles are still evident in modern cities.

Religion for the Rest of Us
Teresa Hornsby

March 31, 2005

How would you define religion? Going to church? Working in the community? Helping the poor? What about laughing, bathing, killing, making love? Teresa Hornsby, Ph.D. assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Drury, talks about how religion is connected to everything we do.

Urban Transformations
Maurice Cox

April 14, 2005

Our community revolves around its public and private spaces, yet often architects — the experts in such spaces — are left out of the dialogue that charts community growth and development. Maurice Cox, a faculty member at the University of Virginia, blends community service, activism and design in his work. As a member of the Charlottesville, Va. City Council and as the city’s mayor, he has worked to replace zoning laws that threaten lower-income neighborhoods with a long-range plan for sustainable development across the city.

A Journey to Justice and Peace
Jim Wallis

April 28, 2005

Jim Wallis is a founder of Sojourners, a Christian ministry with a mission to “integrate spiritual renewal and social justice.” The group’s projects include Sojourner Magazine, which Wallis edits, and other resources to address faith, politics and culture from a biblical perspective.