International activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee inspired an audience Wednesday, February 15, at UIndy’s Ransburg Auditorium with the story of how women in her native Liberia banded together across ethnic and religious lines to end a long civil war and depose a cruel dictator. Her part in helping to oust the former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, was featured in the award-winning documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. “We had no idea what advocacy or activism was,” said the author of Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War. “I’m shocked that I managed to survive my own life.” Gbowee spoke, joked, and took questions for more than an hour at the event, presented by UIndy’s International Relations program in cooperation with the Sagamore Institute.Asked what stance the U.S. and its citizens should take toward the developing nations of Africa, she said well-meaning foreigners often fall short in their aid efforts because they fail to understand the culture in which they are working. “If you want to solve a community’s problems, ask them,” she said. “It must be on the terms of the community. Don’t come in with ‘We know it all.’” Those eager to make the world a better place should start by addressing the needs in their own communities, she said: “It’s easy to go outside to purge your conscience.” One of Gbowee’s major concerns in western Africa is the education of young women. While introducing her to the stage, UIndy President Beverley Pitts announced that UIndy will offer a two-semester scholarship for a Liberian student to study in Indianapolis.
Hamilton examines American foreign policy
Hoosier statesman Lee Hamilton appeared on campus to discuss the United States’ role in world affairs during a March 1 presentation at the University of Indianapolis. Called a “great Indiana legislator, diplomat, and scholar” by UIndy president Beverley Pitts, Hamilton spoke about “American Foreign Policy After Iraq and Afghanistan” in the 2012 installment of UIndy’s annual Jerry and Carol Israel Lecture in Public Policy. Hamilton represented Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1999, becoming a key figure on issues of foreign policy, intelligence, and national security. He spent the next decade as president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He also cochaired the bipartisan Iraq Study Group in 2006 and served as vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission. He now serves as director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, which he founded in 1999. The nonpartisan institution provides resources and programs to educate citizens on how representative government works and how they can take active roles in the process. Hamilton has written two books on the subject, How Congress Works and Why You Should Care and Strengthening Congress. He is a graduate of DePauw University and Indiana University law school and also a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The annual Jerry and Carol Israel Lecture in Public Policy recognizes the contributions to education made by the former University president and his wife. Jerry Israel served as a history professor and administrator at several colleges before leading UIndy (1998–2005). Carol Israel is a longtime teacher, administrator, and education consultant.
Lugar: Arab Spring shows power of youth
The “Arab Spring” democracy movement in the Middle East is an example of how young people are driving new political trends across the globe, Senator Richard Lugar told many of Indiana’s most promising young leaders on December 10 at UIndy.“It is a spirit that has infected the world,” Indiana’s senior senator said during his keynote address to the hundreds of standout high school juniors assembled for the 35th annual Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders. “It’s a new day in terms of heightening possibilities.” Taking questions from the assembled students for 40 minutes, Lugar was asked to pick his favorite economist.
“Economic advisers are plentiful in Washington,” he said, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. He noted that anyone trying to predict economic trends seems to have “a 50/50 average at best.” The annual symposium is presented by the University’s Richard G. Lugar Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders.
Enders says to tap into our ‘inner King’
Civic leader and UIndy trustee Murvin Enders ’81 encouraged students to pursue lives of activism and service in his keynote speech during the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in January. “I believe there is an inner King in all of us,” he said. “To better our lives and the lives of others, we must tap into that inner King.” Enders, who earned his MBA from UIndy, is a former utility executive now serving as executive director of 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, a nonprofit youth mentoring organization, as well as a board member for other organizations. In his remarks, “Not Just a Dream,” he spoke of his childhood in the segregrated South and the inspiration he drew from the civil rights movement. “What is your dream?” he asked the Ransburg Auditorium audience. “What actions will you take? What will will you do to ensure that it is not just a dream?” Prior to the public event, Enders was honored for his community service efforts with induction into UIndy’s Sankofa Circle of Civic Leaders.
Iraq veteran discusses his poetry
Soldier-poet Brian Turner spoke on campus February 28 as a guest of the University of Indianapolis Kellogg Writers Series.
Turner is an Army veteran whose debut book of poems, Here, Bullet, was inspired by his experiences as an infantry team leader in Iraq. The collection was a New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection and won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the 2006 Pen Center USA “Best in the West” award, and the 2007 Poets’ Prize, among other honors. His second collection of poems, 2010’s Phantom Noise, explores issues faced by returning veterans and their communities. The book was among the contenders for the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize in Poetry. The Allen & Helen Kellogg Writers Series brings writers of distinction to campus for classroom discussions and free public readings.