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ECU seminars promote dialogue on the humanities

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Feb. 25, 2009)   —   A new program seeks to foster fellowship and collaboration among East Carolina University faculty members working in the humanities.

Sponsored by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies, “Downtown Dialogues on the Humanities” brings together ECU scholars from history, literature, languages, music, art, philosophy, religion and related fields to talk about their research in a relaxed setting.

“We feel that the humanities play an important role in fostering the intellectual community of a university,” said Purifación Martínez, associate professor of Hispanic Studies at ECU and one of the series’ organizers. “Our main objective is to create a community of researchers within the humanities.”

Martínez said organizers modeled Downtown Dialogues after another successful ECU seminar series, “Science At Starlight,” which showcases faculty research in the sciences.

Downtown Dialogues will be held twice a semester. An advisory board selects the speakers for each event, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines.  “This way, people get to know each other and they get the opportunity to discuss their interests,” Martínez said.

The first discussion will be held Tuesday, March 24, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Starlight Café in Greenville. The topic is, “The Humanities in the Modern United States: Building Bridges from Research to Real Life.”

Speakers will be Jelena Bogdanociv (Architectural History), Nicholas Georgalis (Philosophy), Joyce Irene Middleton (English) and Mary Nyangweso Wangila (Religious Studies). Opening remarks will be made by Peter Green, Whichard Distinguished Visiting Professor, and Gerald Prokopowicz (History).

Panel members will discuss the value of humanities to society, Martínez said. “We have given them a set of questions to think about, such as, ‘Is it true there is a dichotomy between humanities and science?’ ‘What kind of questions does your research answer, and why are those questions important to society,’” she said.  

All faculty members are welcome to attend and participate in the dialogue over complimentary refreshments and hors d’oeuvres.

Martínez said faculty members already have responded positively to the new series. “We have received enormous interest,” she said. People are already asking, ‘How do I RSVP?’ Obviously, there is a need for this type of gathering.”
 
The second discussion will be held April 21, and will be titled, “Money, Markets and Migration.” For more information about the seminar series, to propose future topics and presenters or to RSVP for the March 24 event, visit http://www.ecu.edu/downtown.