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Fall lectures at Illinois to cover topics from Plato to nuclear weapons

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor
217-333-2894; cdchambe@illinois.edu

Released 8/29/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Immigration, Islam, nukes, Plato, and Asian science and technology will be among the topics this fall in lectures and discussions sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois.

Most of the fall lectures are part of the CAS MillerComm series, begun in 1973 and supported with funds from the George A. Miller Endowment and several co-sponsoring campus units. The MillerComm lectures provide a forum for discourse on topics spanning the university’s many disciplines.

Also part of the fall program will be lectures by two prominent Illinois faculty members: Susan W. Kieffer, a CAS professor of geology and of physics, who will give the CAS Annual Lecture on the subject of earth research, and Frederick Hoxie, a Swanlund professor of history and of law, who will give a Chancellor’s CAS Special Lecture on the birth of federal Indian law.

All CAS talks are free and open to the public.

The first lecture of the fall semester will be Sept. 5 and is titled “Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of the Religious Law of Islam.” The speaker will be Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. An-Na’im will argue that the Shari’a, usually translated as “Islamic Law,” cannot by its nature be implemented or enforced by the state, and that to be a Muslim by conviction one needs to live under a secular state. His MillerComm talk begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.

Subsequent lectures:

• Sept. 10, “Building a Knowledge-Based Economy Pyramid,” by Philip Yeo, special adviser for economic development for the prime minister of Singapore. Yeo will discuss Singapore’s investments in science and technology, along with other developments, and the opportunities available there for U.S. scientists, universities and business firms. His talk, part of a new “CAS Initiative on Science and Technology in the Pacific Century,” begins at 4 p.m. in Rooms 612 and 614 in the Gatehouse Building at the Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana.

• Sept. 13, “Love and Beauty in Plato’s ‘Symposium’: ‘Only in the Contemplation of Beauty Is Human Life Worth Living,’ ” by Alexander Nehamas, the Carpenter Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. Nehamas will discuss how Socrates’ speech on love (eros) in Plato’s “Symposium” provides a contemporary understanding of beauty and its importance as a value in life. His MillerComm lecture, which also serves as the keynote for a conference on Plato’s “Timaeus,” begins at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• Sept. 18, “The University of Illinois in Asia,” a panel discussion with U. of I. Chancellor Richard Herman and Vice Chancellor for Research Chip Zukoski. The administrators will discuss university initiatives in Asia related to the region’s growing strength in science and technology, including the benefits and potential pitfalls of such engagement, and the vision for future initiatives. The discussion, also part of the “CAS Initiative on Science and Technology in the Pacific Century,” begins at 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the Beckman Institute, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana. The moderator will be Thomas Ulen, a U. of I. Swanlund professor of law.

• Sept. 25, “Researching the Earth: Living it, Loving it and Sharing it,” the CAS Annual Lecture, given by Kieffer, who is also a Charles R. Walgreen University Chair. Kieffer will take the audience on an exploration of Earth and beyond, including Old Faithful, Mount St. Helens and geysers in the furthest reaches of the solar system, and a look at the elements that nurture creativity and careers in scientific research. Her lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana. Before and after will be showings of “Journey Toward the Center of the Earth!” a 20-minute film featuring footage from a special ice-insulated camera lowered into Old Faithful.

• Oct. 9, “Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz,” by Jan Gross, a Krouse Family Visiting Scholar at Illinois and a professor of history at Princeton University. Gross will address the politics and memory of anti-Jewish violence in Poland after the Holocaust, including Polish-Jewish relations and the ways in which Polish society has attempted to confront and master its past. His MillerComm talk begins at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

• Oct. 11, “Understanding America’s Immigration ‘Crisis,’ ” by Douglas Massey, a professor of sociology at Princeton University. Massey will discuss the contradictory policies of the United States in its relations with Mexico over the last two decades, and will outline the costs of that self-deception for both countries and the people who move between them. His MillerComm talk, linked to a future CAS initiative on immigration, begins at 4 p.m.in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.

• Oct. 11, “Lessons From Superconductivity,” by Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin. Weinberg will explore the common thread between the broken symmetry found in superconductivity and the origin of mass in particle physics. His MillerComm talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.

• Oct. 16, “The First Indian Lawyer and the Birth of Federal Indian Law,” a Chancellor’s CAS Special Lecture, given by Hoxie. He will tell the story of James McDonald, a Choctaw Indian enlisted by his chief to defend the tribe’s homeland from the advances of a group of frontier politicians in the early 1800s, and whose legal arguments formed the basis for a doctrine of indigenous rights within American law. Hoxie’s lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

• Nov. 1, “Nukes in a Globalizing World,” by Pervez Hoodbhoy, a professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan. Hoodbhoy, who also is a documentary filmmaker, political commentator and activist, will discuss the complex interaction between globalization and the development of nuclear technology, touching on the collapse of nonproliferation treaties, the pursuit of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran, and the specter of nuclear terrorism. His talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.

• Nov. 8, a lecture, not yet titled, by Clyde Prestowitz, the president of the Economic Strategy Institute. His talk, also part of the “CAS Initiative on Science and Technology in the Pacific Century,” begins at 4 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.

• Nov. 8, “African Popular Cinema, Pentecostalism, and the ‘Powers of Darkness’: Contested Discourses on ‘Tradition’ in Ghana,” by Birgit Meyer, a professor in the Research Centre Religion and Society at the University of Amsterdam. Meyer will explore the appeal and influence of movie videos produced in Ghana and Nigeria in the late 1980s, and which quickly spread throughout Africa, on the theme of a war between the Christian god and the  “powers of darkness” embodied by indigenous priests, magic, and witchcraft. Her MillerComm lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.

Those interested in attending CAS lectures should note that occasionally a lecture must be canceled or rescheduled, and lectures may be added later in the semester. For additional information, or to confirm details prior to a lecture, check the events link on the CAS Web site.

To receive notification on individual events, phone 217-333-6729 or e-mail cas@illinois.edu; indicate your preference for postal mail or e-mail.

Also check the Web site for audio podcasts and streaming video of many CAS presentations, which are generally posted one to two weeks after the event.