‘Conversations’ series to be opened by Friedman

Some of the nation’s top scholars will gather at the University this academic year to have “Conversations” on such topics as: What kind of international borders will exist in the 21st century? What is the future of freedom? Who are “public intellectuals” and what purpose do they serve? Where did modern humans come from?

In recognition of the Sesquicentennial theme “Treasuring the Past, Shaping the Future,” Arts & Sciences is hosting a series of four “Conversations” among scholars whose disciplines range from anthropology and biology to law and women’s studies.

Thomas L. Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, best-selling author and foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, will participate in the first Conversation from 2-3:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in Graham Chapel.

Thomas Friedman
Thomas Friedman

Friedman also is presenting an Assembly Series lecture at 11 a.m. that day in the Athletic Complex.

Seyla Benhabib, the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University, and Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., will join Friedman and three Washington University faculty in Graham Chapel as they discuss “What Kind of International Borders Will Exist in the 21st Century?”

James V. Wertsch, Ph.D., the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences, will moderate the first Conversation, and Leila N. Sadat, J.D., professor of law, and Satadru Sen, Ph.D., assistant professor of history in Arts & Sciences, will round out the panel.

“The idea of Conversations is to gather some of the top minds in the country to reflect on key issues that will affect not only the future of the University and the community, but also the world,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences.

Friedman to speak for Assembly Series

By Kurt Mueller

Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, best-selling author and foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, will discuss “What Kind of International Borders Will Exist in the 21st Century?” for the Assembly Series at 11 a.m. Sept. 17 in the Athletic Complex.

Friedman’s lecture also is the Arts & Sciences Sesquicentennial Lecture.

He won Pulitzers in 1983 and 1988 for international reporting from Lebanon and Israel, respectively, and won again in 2002, this time for commentary.

He won the National Book Award for nonfiction for his book From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989), and his second book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, won the 2000 Overseas Press Club award for best nonfiction book on foreign policy. His latest book is Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After 9/11.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University in 1975 and a master of philosophy degree in modern Middle East studies from Oxford in 1978.

Friedman joined The New York Times in 1981 and served in several positions, including Beirut bureau chief, Israel bureau chief, chief economic correspondent in the Washington bureau and chief White House correspondent.

Since the Sept. 11. 2001, terrorist attacks, Friedman has become one of the most sought-after experts by the media. He recently returned from a trip to Iraq.

Assembly Series lectures are free and open to the public. Parking will be limited; go online to wupa.wustl.edu/assembly for overflow parking information.

For more information, call 935-4620.

“They will not be formal lectures, but more an opportunity for a mixture of scholars to discuss important questions that should lead to some exciting interactions.”

In selecting the first Conversations topic, Wertsch pointed out that international borders no longer control the flow of information, ideas, money or goods as they once did — suggesting that the nature of these borders may be changing.

“For some, this means that nation-states will disappear and their borders become irrelevant” said Wertsch, who also is director of the International and Area Studies Program and professor of education, both in Arts & Sciences. “Others see qualitatively new forms of borders emerging, borders such as those between civilizations or between rich and poor; still others assert that the current form and location of international borders will remain largely intact.

“This Conversation will focus on these issues and their implications for local and global relations in the century ahead.”

Iver Bernstein, Ph.D., professor of history, is one of the series organizers.

“Each Conversation is designed to explore an issue that one would hope is of enduring importance, say 25 or 50 years from now,” Bernstein said. “The tone will be informal, without prepared papers, just a moderator and a set of questions to focus the conversation. Each is designed to be easily understood by a lay or non-specialist audience.”

The other Conversations topics, which will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. in Graham Chapel, are: “The Future of Freedom” Nov. 13; “Public Intellectuals” Feb. 12; and “Modern Human Origins” March 26.

The Conversations are free and open to the public.

For more information, call 935-6820.