By Zach Powers '10
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, WASH. (Jan. 19, 2016)- Scholars and thought leaders from a broad range of disciplines will gather at Pacific Lutheran University on February 25-26 to explore the concept of “resilience” during the seventh biennial Wang Center Symposium.
Officially titled The Countenance of Hope: Towards an Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Understanding of Resilience, the international symposium will offer two days and evenings of keynote and panel presentations. Through presentations by professionals, authors, academics and hands-on practitioners, the international symposium is designed to stimulate serious thinking on a single global challenge. All sessions are free and open to the public. Online registration is encouraged before Feb. 19.
Event organizers say the topic was selected in the wake of current events both domestic and abroad.
“The theme of resilience and hope is timely for a variety of reasons,” Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Anthropology Ami V. Shah said.
“The world is in the midst of several massive movements and transitions, from multiple refugee crises to the long-term effects of conflict to the consistent struggle for education and equality — these are all issues that 2015 highlighted in dramatic ways,” Shah said. “As we begin 2016, it seems to be a good moment for reflection, study, and the building of productive and creative ways forward.”
A collaborative effort of PLU’s departments of Environmental Studies, Philosophy and Global Studies as well as the Wang Center for Global Education, the two-day conference will be keynoted by award-winning scholar, anti-globalization author and environmental activist Vandana Shiva.
Other notable speakers include Shane Lopez, a Gallup Senior Scientist and advocate for psychological reform of America’s education system; Juan Villoro, arguably Mexico’s most important living author and political commentator; Enrique Lomnitz, an internationally-recognized leader in water management and sustainability; and Adia Benton, a medical anthropologist and global health researcher who examines resilience in post-epidemic contexts.
Symposium speakers will be traveling to PLU from as far away as Delhi, India (Shiva), Mexico City (Lomnitz and Villoro) and Oslo, Norway (Grete Brochmann). Others are industry and thought leaders from the U.S. and Seattle-Tacoma region, including representatives from a variety of international disaster-relief agencies, Lincoln High School teacher and PLU alumnus Joshua Cushman, Nisqually Indian Tribe Community Garden Program Supervisor Caitlin Krenn and Freedom Education Project Puget Sound Executive Director Tanya Erzen.
The wide assortment of disciplines and vocations represented by symposium speakers are crucial to an expansive examination of the event’s theme of resilience and represent the foundational mission of the conference, Shah said.
“We hope to demonstrate the connection between the local and global issues, recognizing that the world is interconnected and thus we can’t examine one place in a vacuum, without context,” she said.
The symposium will attempt to answer a wide range of questions about the qualities and constitution of resilience, including: What intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors contribute to resilience? Are there cultural, social, economic and environmental factors that can contribute to, or impede, the efforts of the most vulnerable to overcome adversity? Can resilience be “built” or “learned”? How helpful is it to develop resilience-based policies?
The symposium’s theme is also related to an ongoing spotlight series at PLU titled “Roots of Resilience.” The series, which spans the 2015-16 academic calendar, includes a wide variety of speakers, artistic performances and interactive community exercises.
More information about the 2016 Wang Center Symposium can be found at plu.edu/hope.