University of Minnesota Duluth

Alworth Institute Brown Bag Lecture Series

The International Brown Bag Series has been an integral part of the Alworth Institute's programming since its inception in 1987. In the fall of 2013, it was renamed the Martha B. Alwoth International Brown Bag Series. It provides the audience the opportunity to share in the international travel experiences of numerous individuals from the University, local, national and international communities. Many presentations are travelogues; some are reflections of the current issues confronting a country's people; others capture the cultural character of distant societies; but, each allows a unique insight into places many would never have the opportunity to visit.

The objectives of this series are to:

  • help fulfill the overall objectives of the Alworth Institute;
  • introduce students, staff and the wider community to interesting aspects of foreign culture, society and history;
  • raise awareness of political life and conditions in diverse parts of the world;
  • create opportunities for sharing insights developed during professional and leisure interest travel and other programs of study abroad;
  • create opportunities for visiting faculty to share relevant topics with the wider University;
  • involve students, staff and community members in exchanging ideas and reflecting on international and any related domestic policy issues.

To learn more about the renaming of the International Brown Bag Series click here.

Check back at the end of August for a list of the Fall 2014 Brown Bag Presentations

Spring 2014 Schedule

Sessions held Thursdays at 12:00 p.m. (noon) in the UMD Library 4th Floor Rotunda, unless noted otherwise.

January 30th

“Peloponnesus and the Cyclic Islands of Greece”
Presented by Jill & Koresh Lakhan, Local Duluthians & avid world travelers
The Lakhans traveled with sixteen other Duluthians to the Peloponnesus and the Cyclic Islands of Greece this past fall. Hear the Lakhan's discuss theirexploration of ancient archeological sites, seaside villages, and idyllic Islands.

February 6th

“Cuban Health Care and the U.S. Embargo”
Presented by Dr. John Dahl, Associate Professor of Biology, UMD
Dr. Dahl participated in a 10-day delegation of Americans to Cuba in the fall of 2013. The purpose of this delegation was for U.S. citizens to learn from innovations in the Cuban healthcare system and from everyday Cubans the effects of the 50-year economic embargo on Cuban society. During this delegation, Dr. Dahl was able to visit primary, secondary, and tertiary health care facilities, clinics practicing alternative medicine, a biotech institute, a school for children with special needs, a home for elderly Cubans, two farms practicing organic and sustainable farming, and an AIDS sanatorium. The information and images presented will highlight these visits, and an argument will be made that the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba is not only unethical but also counter-productive to U.S. interests.

February 13th

“New Zealand Adventures”
Presented by Dr. Kathryn Lenz, Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics, UMD
Dr. Lenz, along with her husband, spent their four month sabbaticals as visiting researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. During this time, their teenage daughter attended a large, ethnically diverse, all-girl's school in Auckland. As part of Dr. Lenz's professional work, she visited five New Zealand universities where she met with study-abroad administrators,and mathematics and statistics faculty, to learn about study-abroad opportunities for U.S. undergraduates and university (as well as secondary) education in New Zealand. Dr. Lenz will share their experiences and discuss New Zealand's culture, education system and natural world.

February 26th

“Higher Education in the U.K.”

Presented by John Ryan, University Secretary & Pro Vice Chancellor Students, University of Worcester, United Kingdom
John Ryan will share his perspective on changes in the higher education system in the UK given his work experience of over 35 years in university management and administration. He will also discuss the unique collaborativeopportunities between the University of Worcester and Duluth. (Co-sponsored by the UMD International Education Office)

March 6th

“Hiking the Annapurna Circuit: Nepal”
Presented by Jolane Sundstrom, UMD graduate in Fine Arts and Education
Jolane Sundstrom has taught in the Cloquet and Duluth Public School systems for the past 25 years. In 2012, she and her husband, John, made the long trek along the challenging Annapurna Circuit. This route presents many hazards, including cliffs, high altitudes, ice and snow, rivers, low temperatures, and minimal accommodations. Their presentation will offer outstanding photography, and touching and personal stories.

April 3rd

“My Sabbatical Journey”
Presented by Dr. Tineke Ritmeester, Associate Professor, UMD Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Dr. Ritmeester will report on her many adventures during the 2012-2013 academic year. She traveled to the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, the United Kingdom, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay. Her presentation will provide a mix of her experiences as a tourist, an academic, and a participant in several social movements.

April 10th

“Bienvenidos a mi México Hermoso”
Presented by Susana Pelayo-Woodward, Director of the UMD Office of Cultural Diversity
Susana Pelayo-Woodward was born in México and makes frequent trips back to her homeland. Her most recent trip was in the summer of 2013 when she visited Mexico City, Morelia and Queretaro with her family. She will share the highlights of her visit in order to dispel the image, held by many Americans that México is a dangerous place.

April 16th (*Wednesday*)

“Russia from an Intern's Perspective”
Presented by Steve Hendrickson, UMD Graduate
Steve Hendrickson is a 2012 UMD alum who lived and worked for 6 months as an intern at Liden & Denz Language Centre in St. Petersburg, Russia. In that time, he traveled to the surrounding cities of St. Petersburg, Veliky Novgorod, the ancient center of Russian civilization, to Duluth's sister city, Petrozavodsk and all the way up to the arctic port of Murmansk. He will report on his impressions of the culture and people he met, what its like to work within a Russian business and how others could possibly do the same.

April 17th

“My Jewish Journey”
Presented by Dr. Deborah Petersen-Perlman, Associate Professor of Communication, UMD
In October 2013, Dr. Petersen-Perlman, traveled to the Netherlands and Germany to explore a number of Holocaust and Jewish related sites. Among the focal points were the Anne Frank House, the small town of Elburg in northeastern Netherlands, as well as the New Synagogue and the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. Traveling on to Germany she visited a small Synagogue and cemetery in Schlusselfeld before heading to Weimar, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen. This was a very personal experience for Petersen-Perlman. Walking the paths of those whose lives were destroyed by the Nazis she offers a significant perspective on what their lived experiences must have been. (Co-sponsored by the Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee)

April 24th

“Midwestern Perspectives in Scandinavia”
Presented by Gabe Ernst, UMD Environmental Sustainability Major
Gabe Ernst will bring perspective and insight to a life-changing study abroad experience. He will examine the time he spent in the northern Swedish City of Umeå, named the European Capital of Culture for 2014. He will examine such cultural phenomena as the "North/South Cultural Contrast" and the societal effects of a more social Europe contrasted with the strong sense of U.S. individualism. Ernst chose Sweden because he wanted to experience the lifestyle of the some of the most outdoorsy people in the world – the Scandinavians.

Tuesday, April 29th

“Bergen, Norway: Collaborative Creativity in New Media”
Presented by Joellyn Rock and Rob Wittig, and student Dane Pedersen, UMD Art & Design faculty
Professor Rock and Wittig, and student Dane Pedersen, will share their experiences teaching and learning in Bergen, Norway in the summer of 2013. During their week in Bergen, students worked in teams developing a collaborative digital narrative for the web. The fiction was inspired by digital media art projects, electronic literature, games, surrealist exercises, and computer generated story elements. As students explored the landscape and culture of Bergen, their narratives evolved to integrate mapping, photography, illustration, video, graphic design and digital storytelling in their designs. They will discuss the unique, interdisciplinary creativity and research that were at the core of the collaboration.

May 1st

“Traveling the mountains and the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and Surrounding Areas”
Presented by Ron & Barb Anderson, world travelers and retired social workers
Ron and Barb Anderson will present a travelogue of their April 2013 visit to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Hercegovinia. They will take you to ancient sites, such as the walled city of Dubrovnik and the Diocletian Palace in Split, and discuss the history of the area, including the impact of the 1990s' war. In Sarajevo they will take you on a photo tour of the tunnel dug by the residents to get food and ammunition into their city during the recent war.

May 8th (*This will be held in Education 16, UMD*)

“The Beauties of Slovenia”
Presented by Irena Steblaj MA, Head of Danila Kumar International School Ljubljana, Slovenia
Slovenia is one of the most safe, diverse and beautiful countries in the world. It is the only country in the whole world that has "love" in its name, and when you see it and meet its friendly people, you, too may fall in love with Slovenia. Slovenia is a small country in the heart of Europe, nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. Its countryside is very diverse: there are plains near the Hungarian border, imposing mountains with beautiful glacier lakes in the Alps, there are gorgeous golden-hued farmland’s and the greenest forest covering most of the country, you can enjoy fabulous local food and wine in old medieval towns, picturesque villages, huts on mountain peaks or on the Adriatic coast.

Fall 2013 Schedule

September 19th

“A European Vacation: Can the Family that Travels Together, Stay Together?”

Presented by Dr. Cindy Christian, Director of the Alworth Institute
Dr. Christian traveled to Scotland, London, Paris and the Tyrolian region of Austria with her husband and daughter this past summer. They set out to have a grand adventure "together". However, though they know each other very well, their expectations did not match. They discovered very early on that they each were interested in seeing and doing different things. Christian will share photos of their travels in Edinburgh, London, Paris, Innsbruck, Kufstein and Munich, and explain how her family stayed together by NOT always staying together.

September 26th

“Morocco and Global Challenges”

Presented by Dr. Dennis Falk, Professor, UMD Department of Social Work and Alworth Institute Associate
Dr. Falk will examine how the North African country of Morocco is being affected by global challenges associated with "Seven Revolutions” originally described by Erik Peterson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. These revolutions relate to challenges in the areas of population, natural resources, technology, information, economies, conflict, and governance. The information and images presented will be based in part on Falk's visit to Morocco in January of 2013.

October 3rd

“Panpsychism's Quantum Burden: How I Went to India, What I Saw There, and the Ideas I Would Like to Share”

Presented by Dr. Jason Ford, Assistant Professor, UMD Department of Philosophy
The presentation “Fulbright India: Encountering a Culture” is being replaced by “Panpsychism’s Quantum Burden: Or, How I went to India, What I Saw There, and the Ideas I Would Like to Share” - Dr. Jason Ford, Associate Professor in the UMD Department of Philosophy, attended the conference, Towards a Science of Consciousness in March of 2013 at the Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra, India. He will discuss the sites he saw while in India and share his thoughts on a current philosophical debate.

October 10th

“Drugs, Guns, and US Policies in Mexico: Lessons from the Mexican Human Rights Organization Comité Cerezo”

Presented by Francisco Cerezo, Founder, Mexican Human Rights Organization, Comité Cerezo
Militarization, fueled by US military aid and War on Drugs, has led to increased violence, political repression, and human rights violations in Mexico. The 2001 arrest of three Cerezo brothers for student activism provides one powerful example; they were incarcerated in federal prison for over seven years where they were physically and psychologically tortured. Over 900 individuals have been detained or persecuted for political reasons since 2000. Family members and allies, including brother Francisco Cerezo, formed Comite Cerezo to fight for their liberation. Since the Cerezo brothers’ release, the Comité has continued to promote and defend human rights of victims of political repression and is active in a national campaign to protect human rights’ defenders. Cerezo, will discuss the work of this organization to end human rights’ abuses in Mexico. (Co-sponsored by the UMD Office of Cultural Diversity and Witness For Peace, Upper Midwest Region.)

October 17th

“Antarctica: The Last Continental Frontier”

Presented by Dr. John Goodge, UMD Professor of Geological Sciences
Dr. Goodge will give a presentation on scientific exploration in the deep interior of Antarctica, focusing on what we know and what we want to know about this ice-covered continent. The continental geology of Antarctica is intrinsically linked to supercontinent formation, resource distribution, stability of the ice sheets, and climate science. Embracing novel technologies promises to provide new views of the deep parts of the ice sheet, and to help us learn about Earth changes on a variety of timescales. John has led 11 scientific expeditions to Antarctica, and his research has been featured by The New York Times.

October 24th

“Birmingham (UK) to Tuscany and Back”

Presented by Dr. William Henderson, Alworth Institute’s International Associate
Dr. Henderson has traveled many times across Europe from the UK to Tuscany. In this photographic travelogue, he will discuss geographical and architectural aspects of places such as Arras, Isoire, Collioure, San Remo, Tuscany, Cannes, Nice and Dijon. He will also comment on wider European economic and political issues such as Italy under austerity.

October 31st

“Sri Lanka: Transition in the Tear Drop”

Presented by Jacob Petersen-Perlman, Ph.D. Candidate of Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University
Mr. Petersen-Perlman recently completed field research he conducted as part his internship at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He will discuss Sri Lanka’s current state of rapid reconstruction and development in light of its protracted civil war. He argues that the country’s future is uncertain, with an increasingly authoritarian government threatening its democracy.

November 11th

Special Presentation for International Education Week - "Art and Artists in Växjö, Stockholm and Oslo"

Presented by Dr. Alison Aune, UMD Professor of Art & Design and Cheryl Reitan, UMD Associate Director of External Affairs
Dr. Aune and Ms. Reitan will give an overview of Nordic artists to be featured during UMD's May 2014 Study Abroad Trip. Artists include: Bertil Vallien and Ullrica Hydman Vallien, Carl and Emma Milles, Estrid Ericson, Josef Frank, Siri Derkert, Edvard Munch(The Scream, Harriet Backer, Gustav Vigeland, and others. Trip features will be also presented including graphic designagencies, IKEA designers, studio workshops, accommodations, and travel.

November 14th

“Exploration of English Wind Band Music”

Presented by Dr. Mark Whitlock, Director of Bands in the UMD Department of Music
In April 2013, Dr. Whitlock was invited to adjudicate the National Concert Band Festival held at the Birmingham Conservatiore in Birmingham, England. This is the largest band festival in England and is attended by some of the most important band conductors and composers in the country. Whitlock will give an illustrated presentation about his trip to Birmingham and share what he has learned from interacting with the composers and conductors at the festival.

November 21st

“Echoes of Peace from Duluth to Iraq”

Presented by Trisha O’Keefe, Dr. Paula Pedersen, Wendy Ruhnke & Sara Thomsen, Members of the Duluth “Echoes of Peace Choir”
In March of 2013, the Echoes of Peace Choir from Duluth traveled to Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan as part of the city’s friendship exchange program. A delegation of 22 members of the choir performed in three different cities, including Halabja, the site of the 1988 poison gas attack by the Iraqi government. The mission of the choir and the Duluth Rania Friendship Exchange Project is to develop understanding through cultural and educational exchanges in the spirit of citizen diplomacy. Sara Thomsen, founder and artistic director of the Choir, along with the three other members will share their experiences of this visit to Rania.

December 5th

“Finland: First Impressions . . .”

Presented by Dr. Gesa Zinn, Associate Professor of German, UMD Foreign Languages and Literatures Department
From June 10 until August 16, 2013, Dr. Zinn taught German language and German Business courses for the International Business Program at Aalto University, Mikkeli Campus (the main campus is in Helsinki). It was her first time in Finland, and thus everything was new: the language (which luckily she didn't need to speak, since the program is taught in English), the Finnish educational system, daily life in a smaller town in Eastern Finland, excursions around the area and to Helsinki, outings and visits with locals, as well as the Finnish sauna culture. Her "first impressions" consist of unforgettable events experienced during her summer months living in this special and young Nordic country between Russia and Sweden.

If you are interested in proposing a topic for discussion, finding a qualified speaker, or co-sponsoring a lecture; check the suitability of the topic and the speaker against the objectives above and contact the Alworth Institute at or (218) 726-7493.

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