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WESeminars
Voices of Liberal Learning

Rekindle your connection to Wesleyan and the outstanding scholarship and teaching that occur every day on campus by attending one or more of the many WESeminars planned for the weekend.

Stimulating, interactive, and often inspiring, WESeminars capture the academic excellence that is a hallmark of the Wesleyan liberal learning experience. Plan on 60–90 minutes of total engagement with presenters who are passionate about their topics, and attendees who value vibrant intellectual exchange as much as you do. But hurry, space is limited, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

WESeminars are offered from Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening. You may also check the online Reunion & Commencement schedule for information about WESeminar times and locations. This schedule is subject to change. Final WESeminar offerings and locations will be available at Registration (Usdan University Center).  

Due to the state fire code, the University is prohibited from offering festival seating for patrons in any of its spaces and we are not able to “seat” standing room patrons on the floors or aisles. In trying to maximize seating in university venues, we have worked with the Fire Marshal and have reviewed all available classrooms and auditoriums in order to utilize spaces that will best accommodate the estimated attendance and support the technology requirements for each WESeminar.

Voices of Liberal Learning

A History of Wesleyan Presidents

WESeminar 1: How have past presidents shaped Wesleyan? What were their backgrounds and their visions? How did they handle trying times on campus? What did they do for fun? Join university archivists for a historical look at Wesleyan’s 16 presidents. Then, test your knowledge—or guessing prowess—with the Wesleyan Presidential Trivia Quiz.

Presenters: Valerie Gillispie, assistant university archivist; Suzy Taraba ’77, university archivist and head of special collections

Voices of Liberal Learning

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Rethinking the Civil Rights Movement

WESeminar 2: Join Professor Donaldson for an exploration of how the history of the civil rights movement is commonly taught to lay audiences. Using video footage and primary documents, he will also present revisionist approaches to civil rights history, consider alternative means of interpretation, and investigate largely unknown events and personalities from the period.

Presenter: Bobby Donaldson ’93, assistant professor of history and African American studies, University of South Carolina, teaches courses in United States history, and African American intellectual and cultural studies, with an emphasis on the American South; he is a former Wesleyan Trustee.

Voices of Liberal Learning

Across and Down Encore!

WESeminar 3: Resharpen your pencils and wits for yet another hands-on session cram course to help you finish most any crossword puzzle The New York Times hurls at you.  Strategies and tips will be demonstrated by solving a favorite crossword edited by Will Shortz. The session promises another surprise:  the Wesleyan premiere of Wordploy! a “mockumentary” based on the award-winning 2006 movie Wordplay about the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.  It’s a hoot!

Presenter: Ed Stein ’60 is a veteran puzzle solver and occasional puzzle constructor for The New York Times, Newsday, and others. He has taught puzzle-solving courses in adult education, classes at senior centers and nursing homes, and has conducted “Day of Discovery” sessions on crossword puzzles for Elderhostel. Ed also produced Wordploy!

Voices of Liberal Learning

Connecticut River Expedition - SOLD OUT

WESeminar 4: Rain or shine, board the RiverQuest, specially reserved for our four-hour Connecticut River excursion exploring one of the “Seven Sisters,” a hill formed by metamorphosed sediments deposited in an ocean which has long since disappeared. Follow a beautiful creek bordered by wetlands. Osprey may fly overhead, but watch out for Swancilla. Dock and discover Selden Island, which is composed of rocks 600 million years old. Transportation from campus will be provided to and from the boat launch. The overall trip takes approximately four hours. This trip has reached capacity and we are unable to accept new registrations.  If you reserved a space in advance, registrants will depart on Friday, May 23, at 11 a.m., from the Exley Science Center, 265 Church Street.

Presenters: Jelle deBoer, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Sciences Emeritus; Joel Labella, department of earth and environmental sciences

Tickets: $15 per person; to register, contact Kathy Macko at kmacko@wesleyan.edu or call (860) 685-2737.

Voices of Liberal Learning

Guardians of the ’92: The History of Second Stage

WESeminar 5: Founded in the fall of 1973, Second Stage, Wesleyan’s student-run theater production team, has helped to sponsor more than 600 individual performances. Funded by The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA), with strong ties to the Theater Department, Second Stage provides a variety of services to student directors, choreographers, technicians and performers who would otherwise not have access to necessary resources. Second Stage staff members are also responsible for the maintenance of the Patricelli ’92 Theater—formerly Rich Hall, Wesleyan’s original library. Join us as we look at Wesleyan through the eyes of its vibrant student performance community, and as we explore the rich history of Second Stage, the organization that has made student productions at Wesleyan possible for the past 35 years.

Presenters: Jacqueline Chapman ’08, whose senior thesis for the College of Letters documents the history of Second Stage: Suzy Taraba ’77, university archivist and head of special collections, and a College of Letters graduate

Voices of Liberal Learning

Challenges to the Open University

WESeminar 6: On September 24, 2007 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke on the campus of Columbia University at the invitation of the School of International and Public Affairs. His appearance stirred protests and debate at the university and beyond. Critics faulted the school for providing the speaker a platform and for legitimating his dangerous policies of threat and hate. Join an alumnus at the center of this controversy and other higher education insiders for a discussion about challenges to the open university and to the free exchange of ideas in the academy.

Moderator: John Finn, professor of government, teaches courses on constitutional law, civil liberties, and jurisprudence, and was a 1994 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Presenters: John H. Coatsworth ’63, dean, School of International and Public Affairs, and professor of international and public affairs and of history, Columbia University; Barbara M. Jones, Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian, Wesleyan University, and secretary, FAIFE (Freedom of Information and Freedom of Expression) Committee, of the International Federation of Library Associations, as well as author of Intellectual Freedom in Academic Libraries, to be published in 2008. Robert Weisbuch ’68, P ’09, president, Drew University

Voices of Liberal Learning

A Life in Science

WESeminar 7: In 1963 Dr. George Allen left Wesleyan with a BA in chemistry and a passion for science. Medical school, a National Institute of Health neurochemistry fellowship, and neurosurgical residency leading to a PhD followed. His interest in science was matched only by his curiosity and gift for invention, which led him to complete important research related to the prevention of strokes, and to develop new tools and technologies widely used today, resulting in a portfolio of more than 100 patents. His inventions include a brain mapping system, resulting in new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, obsessive compulsive disorder, and the hope of improved treatment of illnesses such as depression and addiction. Join Dr. Allen as he reflects on the most important things he learned at Wesleyan and in his career, and offers his best advice for students today.

Presenter: George S. Allen ’63, MD, William F. Meacham Professor and chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Voices of Liberal Learning

Wesleyan and the Sundance Connection

WESeminar 8: In 1981 Robert Redford gathered a group of friends in the mountains of Utah to create a program to support new voices in American film. Looking for a natural setting away from the pressures of the marketplace, he believed the Park City, Utah countryside would allow emerging artists to take creative risks and develop films true to their own, unique vision. Since those early days, Sundance has become recognized internationally as a resource for thousands of independent filmmakers, theater, and music artists. Join alumni filmmakers and producers who have premiered films at this prestigious festival for a conversation about the significance of the Sundance Film Festival.

Moderator: Jeanine D. Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, and chair of the Film Studies Department, is a 1996 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and author whose most recent book, The Star Machine, was released in 2007.

Presenters: Matthew Greenfield ’90, vice president of production, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Wesleyan trustee; Peter Saraf ’88, film producer and president of Big Beach, an independent film financing and production company based in New York, whose past films include Little Miss Sunshine, Everything Is Illuminated, Adaptation, The Truth About Charlie, Ulee’s Gold, Mandela, and The Agronomist; others tba

Voices of Liberal Learning

Ghost Vaudevillians on the Summerland Circuit: Selections from a Theater Department Honors Project

WESeminar 9: In the 1920s, amidst the suffering and grief experienced across America as a result of the first World War, the Spiritualist religious movement offered hope to those in mourning that they might be able to reconnect with their lost loved ones. Soon world-famous illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini, following the death of his beloved mother, found himself asking: “Do spirits return?” Ghost Vaudevillians on the Summerland Circuit collages the story of Houdini’s investigation and eventual persecution of Spiritualism—a crusade that eventually found him crossing paths with author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a mysterious Spiritualist medium from Boston. Ghost Vaudevillians was originally presented in the Patricelli ’92 Theater as a part of Kieran Kredell’s theater department honors thesis. Join us for a performance of selections from the production, followed by a Q&A with the cast, director, and design team.

Presenters: Kieran Kredell ’08, director; Gedney Barclay ’09, stage manager; Sean Chin ’09, Annie Paladino ’09, Emma Sherr-Ziarko ’11, Henry Thornhill ’11, Emily Vallilo ’09, and Benjamin Vigus ’11, cast; Ian Agoos ’10, set design; Matthew Bush ’09, lighting design; Silvie Deutsch ’09, costume design

Voices of Liberal Learning

Dance of Life: Javanese Puppet Theater

WESeminar 10: The shadow-puppet play (Wayang Kulit) is a key component of Javanese performing arts, combining theater, dance, music, and storytelling. The performance features two-dimensional leather puppets with delicate carvings and exquisite hand painting, which express subtle distinctions of character and mood. Presiding over the play, the dhalang (master puppeteer) is seated in the center-front of the screen, where he moves the puppets and narrates, giving voice to the puppets and bringing them to life. He signals musicians and punctuates puppet movements by striking metal plates hung in a wooden box. The Gamelan orchestra, consisting predominantly of gongs and metallophones, provides accompaniment and moves to the foreground when the story is suspended. The Wayang Kulit is important to the Javanese people as a ceremony, linking the past and present, and the sacred and the secular, but is also wonderful entertainment. Join Sumarsam for an introduction to the art of Javanese puppetry, followed by a demonstration of a scene drawn from a Wayang performance.

Presenters: I. M. Harjito, artist-in-residence, music department; Sumarsam, adjunct professor, music department; members of the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble

Voices of Liberal Learning

Muslims in a Post 9/11 America: Perceptions and Realities

WESeminar 11: Since 9/11 conflicting images of Muslims have been featured in our national media, some flattering, others not, but all affecting our perceptions and social and political decision making in the United States. Join our panelists for a discussion about the challenges of being Muslim in post 9/11 America and the struggle that continues to test American pluralism today.

Presenters: Peter Gottschalk, associate professor of religion and coauthor of Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy; Imam Sohaib Sultan, Wesleyan’s Muslim chaplain and the author of books about the Qur’an; others tba

Voices of Liberal Learning

Turbulent Times for the Nation’s Workers

WESeminar 12: Even before the American economy began slumping toward recession, things were surprisingly tough for many of the nation’s 145 million workers. During the economic expansion that began in 2001, corporate profits soared and so did worker productivity, but employee wages languished and health and pension benefits grew worse. With many software jobs going to India, globalization and offshoring have undermined job security for millions of workers. One result of these trends is that entry-level wages for new college graduates are below where they were seven years ago. Low-wage workers are struggling to remain afloat, immigrant workers are facing new challenges, and unions are struggling to organize more workers and elect a worker-friendly president to reverse these trends. On the positive side, some companies continue to treat their workers generously and some unionization drives have improved the lives of thousands of workers. Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the work lives of modern-day Americans and a discussion about what we may see in the future.

Moderator: Dan Haar '81, editor, The Hartford Courant

Presenters: Steven Greenhouse ’73 P ’08, labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times and author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Workers; Kirk Adams ’73, executive director of the healthcare division of the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.); Jonathan Cutler, associate professor of sociology and a 2005 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and author of Labor’s Time: Shorter Hours, the UAW, and the Struggle for American Unionism

Voices of Liberal Learning

The Long March: An Environmental Agenda for the Next Decade

WESeminar 13: Conversations about the environment have changed through recent decades: issues have become more complex and new priorities have emerged. Join an ecologist from the environmental heyday of the 1960s and an academic whose research has focused on the preservation of precious resources. They will be joined by students actively involved in Wesleyan’s Environmental Organizers Network who have worked on sustainability initiatives at Wesleyan and secured President Roth’s signature on the Climate Commitment. This panel of dedicated environmentalists will discuss where we have come from, where we need to go, and how we are going to marshal the students of Wesleyan and citizens of the nation to get there.

Moderator: Barry Chernoff, Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies and director of the environmental studies certificate program

Presenters: Suki Hoagland ’78, consulting associate professor of the interdisciplinary graduate program in environment and resources, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; Izaak Orlansky ’08, member of Wesleyan’s Environmental Organizers Network (EON); Paul Spitzer ’68, lifelong ecologist and educator who is currently completing his first book A World of Familiars

Voices of Liberal Learning

Building a Business that Benefits Society

WESeminar 14: In 2000, Jonathan Bush and business associates entered the world of healthcare by introducing a family-friendly birthing center in Southern California, with a model they hoped to replicate in other cities. But, very quickly they realized the difficulty of assessing profitability, because of the challenges of processing medical claims and collecting money from insurance companies quickly. With this insight and the belief that other medical practices had to be facing the same challenges, Bush and colleagues began talking about developing software for medical practices that would simplify medical claim preparation, capturing the millions of rules of insurance companies, improving accuracy, and shortening the time it took for doctors to be paid. And with that, Athenahealth was born. Meet these visionary business leaders for an honest talk about moving on from a failed company to becoming a “plucky provider” of health and billing information to America’s physicians—finding their professional niche in a business that benefits society.

Introduction: Richard Adelstein professor Economics and a 1993 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Moderator: Christopher Arndt ’92, principal, Select Equity Group, Inc., New York City

Presenters: Athenahealth colleagues: Jonathan Bush ’93, president and CEO; Carl Byers ’93, chief financial officer; John Lewis ’94, senior associate

Voices of Liberal Learning

Blowing Minds and Harmonicas with David “Harp” Feldman

WESeminar 15: Although cognitive science has fascinated David Feldman since his Judd Hall days, you will never catch him lecturing an audience on the importance of re-routing neural impulses from the hypothalamus to the left prefrontal cortex. Instead, he’ll give every WESeminar attendee a brand new, Wes-customized MojoTM harmonica, and guarantee that they’ll play a blues tune within three minutes, while engaging in an eminently entertaining, incredibly interactive, and potentially life-changing musical odyssey through that mysterious and often mutinous entity known as the human mind.

Presenter: David Feldman ’73, P’10, a corporate speaker and professional musician who has taught more than a million people to play the blues harp, and the author of the best-sellers The Three Minute Mediator and Three Minutes to Blues, Rock, and Folk Harmonica, travels extensively teaching organizations to work more cooperatively, more creatively, and with less stress. His clients range from Ben & Jerry’s to the FBI, and he holds the undisputed world’s record—2,569—for Most-People-Taught-to-Play-Harmonica-at-One-Time.

Voices of Liberal Learning

The Birth of Service-Learning at Wesleyan: 10 Years of the Community Research Seminar

WESeminar 16: When the Class of 1998 arrived on campus a little more than a decade ago, service-learning did not exist at Wesleyan. But, thanks to a few members of the class of ’98 and faculty members, the concept of service-learning was turned into reality. It began with one course, Sociology 316: The Community Research Seminar, which has since established strong roots. Thirty-six research projects have been completed to date by students taking the seminar, resulting in findings that offer tremendous benefits to our local communities. In addition, the program has given rise to the creation of 25 other service-learning courses across the disciplines, allowing dozens of faculty and hundreds of Wesleyan students to participate in this mode of community-based learning. The formation of the Center for Community Partnerships can also be tied to the service-learning venture. Join faculty and students who have been key participants in this initiative for a discussion about the impact and future of service-learning at Wesleyan.

Please join us immediately afterwards for a reception celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Community Research Seminar and the 5th anniversary of the Center for Community Partnerships.

Presenters: Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and founding director of the Service-Learning Center; Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and current director of the Service-Learning Center; Nina Barrett ’03; Claudia Grace Lesser ’08

Voices of Liberal Learning

From Junior Varsity Soccer to Literary, Uh, Stardom: Writers Steve Almond ’88 and Rob Wilder ’88

WESeminar 17: An informal discussion about the not-so-incredibly glamorous literary life, led by two extremely irresponsible humorists who also happen to have been JV soccer teammates at Wesleyan. Aspiring writers, new mothers and fathers, and anyone with a sense of humor are encouraged to attend.

Introduction: Anne Greene, adjunct professor of English and director of writing programs, a 2006 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference

Presenters: Steve Almond ’88, author of five books, including My Life in Heavy Metal and, most recently, the essay collection Not that You Asked, lives outside Boston with his wife and baby daughter Josephine; Rob Wilder ’88, author of the essay collections, Daddy Needs a Drink and Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge, who has written for Newsweek, Details, and Parenting, is raising two kids with his wife, while working as a high-school English teacher in Santa Fe.

Voices of Liberal Learning

Music and Modernism in the Graphic Arts, 1860–1910

WESeminar 18: Utopian ideal or fin-de-siècle decadence? In this gallery conversation, Yonatan Malin and Katherine Kuenzli explore the convergence of music, poetry, and the visual arts in the late 19th-century. The speakers will highlight works in the exhibition, including Henri Fantin-Latour’s homage to Richard Wagner and Max Klinger’s illustrated score of songs by Johannes Brahms. Drawn from the Davison Art Center Collection and Special Collections, Olin Library, the exhibition also includes works by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Odilon Redon, and others.

Introduction: Clare Rogan, curator, Davison Art Center

Presenters: Katherine Kuenzli, assistant professor of art and art history, has published articles on 19th-century modernism in the visual arts; Yonatan Malin, assistant professor of music, has written on music and text in the 19th-century Lied (German art song).

Voices of Liberal Learning

The Economy: Up, Down, Sideways, or All of the Above

WESeminar 19: The health of the economy—in the U.S. and around the world—has recently taken center stage as unusual events have rocked the global financial system. Are we in a recession or are we simply observing the effects that declining confidence has on actual economic performance, and vice versa? What are the implications for the “man in the street”—should s/he be worried, calm or indifferent? Our distinguished team of economists will present their views and solicit audience comments. And, in typical Wesleyan fashion, they expect absolutely no agreement to emerge, but believe everyone will leave with a good sense of the issues and challenges.

Moderator: Jonathan Spector ’78, chief executive officer, The Conference Board, and former Wesleyan trustee

Presenters: Lael Brainard ’83, Wesleyan trustee and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute (a nonpartisan group that analyzes emerging public policy problems), who worked during the Clinton administration on the National Economic Council and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Thomas Kannam, vice president and chief investment officer, Wesleyan University. John Lipsky ’68, P’08, first deputy managing director, International Monetary Fund

Voices of Liberal Learning

From Corporate America to the Outer Reaches of the Third World: Working for the Greater Good

WESeminar 20: Organizations today recognize that they operate in a global economy and have the power to affect—positively or negatively—the communities in which they operate. Increasingly, they are using their resources to uplift people in impoverished communities and to extend professional opportunities to traditionally disenfranchised groups. But for these efforts to be sustained, they must be aligned with organizations’ business strategies and ultimately help both communities as well as the supporting organizations’ bottom lines. Meet alumni who are insuring the socially responsible behavior of a major corporation, providing Internet access in remote third-world villages, and advising on foreign policy in the United States Senate, for a conversation about doing work that is for the greater good.

Moderator: Michael Sciola, director of Wesleyan's Career Resource Center

Presenters: Marcus Chung ’98, senior manager, Social Responsibility, Gap Inc., multinational specialty apparel company operating some of the world’s most well-known brands; Amir Hasson ’98, CEO, United Villages, a company that provides Internet access to villagers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; Sarah Margon ’98, foreign policy advisor/legislative assistant to Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), formerly a policy advisor with Oxfam America, an international emergency relief and development organization

Voices of Liberal Learning

Akiva Goldsman: The Liberal Arts Tradition in a Hollywood Career

WESeminar 21: Join this Oscar-winning screenwriter for his thoughts about how a liberal arts background prepared him for his work in film, producing a divers and powerful collection of movies that includes A Beautiful Mind, I Robot, The Davinci Code, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Batman Forever.

Introduction: Jeanine D. Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, and chair of the Film Studies Department, is a 1996 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and author whose most recent book, The Star Machine, was released in 2007

Presenter: Akiva Goldsman '83 film producer and award-winning screenwriter who has been called "the industry gold standard in script adaptations"

Voices of Liberal Learning

The Greening of South Bronx

WESeminar 22: “Green collar jobs” are something politicians are talking about in 2008, but Majora Carter has been pioneering green-collar job training and placement for years, in one of the most unlikely places—the South Bronx. Long infamous for the decay, crime, and political powerlessness that resulted in one of the country’s worst environmental justice dilemmas, the South Bronx is now a model for revitalization. Join this nationally recognized environmental grassroots advocate for a conversation about the link between poverty and the dirty energy economy, and find out how a city in decline can become a leader in forging a cleaner and greener economy.

Presenter: Majora Carter ’88, executive director, Sustainable South Bronx, and 2005 MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellowship recipient

Voices of Liberal Learning

Non-Stop News and Information: Golden Era or Age of Decline?

WESeminar 23: Much has been said about the fate of print journalism and traditional broadcast news in an age of blogs and fast-moving Web reports. Corporate owners of media outlets are struggling to maintain revenues and relevance, in part by joining a revolution in 24-hour delivery. Underneath questions about the changing role of media is a deeper issue: What’s happening to the quality of information available to readers and viewers? Is the gradual demise of large, multi-topic metropolitan news staffs—which filter and present the news—an inevitable result? Is the rise of a million new voices crowding out thoughtful analysis? Join our panelists for a lively discussion about the changing face of news and information, which is shifting politics, business, and culture.

Moderator: Paul Janensch P’93, associate professor of journalism, Quinnipiac University, who has been a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 30 years and comments on news media issues for WNPR Connecticut Public Radio

Presenters: Dina Kaplan ’93, cofounder and COO of blip.tv, the Internet television network focused on the best independently produced TV shows on the Web, who previously worked as an on-air reporter for local NBC affiliates and producer at MTV News; Barbara Roessner ’75, managing editor, The Hartford Courant; John Rose ’78, senior partner and managing director who heads the media practice for Boston Consulting Group

Voices of Liberal Learning

Contemporary African/Modern Dance Techniques

WESeminar 24: Join us for an introductory level workshop that draws on a diversity of approaches to dance and the moving body, including West African, Afro-Caribbean, African American, and contemporary modern techniques. Steeped in the rich cultural context of the African Diaspora, we will explore both traditional and original movement that emphasizes our relationship to our community, the music, and our inner experience. This high-energy movement class assumes no previous dance experience and is open to all who are willing to move. Comfortable clothing is recommended.

Presenter: Nicole Stanton, associate professor of dance who studied West African dance in Senegal, West Africa, and contemporary dance technique at the Center for New Dance Development in Arnhem, Holland

Voices of Liberal Learning

Carlos Falchi: The Power of the Purse

WESeminar 25: Carlos Falchi is unrivaled in the world of luxury handbags. With a colorful, rule-breaking design approach, he has survived in this highly competitive industry for 37 years, creating high-end bags for icons such as Mick Jagger, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Susan Sarandon, Tina Turner, Cher, and Madonna. Falchi has also worked with some of the biggest names in clothing design, producing accessories to complement the runway creations of Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Yves St. Laurent, and Bill Blass. His signature bags are renowned for their exotic skins, fine leathers, and unique shapes, and are carried in premier stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf-Goodman. Join this award winning designer for a glimpse into the world of high-end accessory design. Find out how he found his way into this industry and managed to thrive, progressing from independent designer to internationally acclaimed trendsetter.

Presenter: Carlos Falchi P’08, designer who has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Accessories Council of America in 2004, and in 2007 from the Independent Handbag Designers of America, and has had designs placed in the permanent collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Voices of Liberal Learning

Andrea Ray: Désire

WESeminar 26: On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the student uprisings in Paris in May 1968, which is the focus of the Zilkha Gallery exhibition Désire by Andrea Ray, this seminar will examine questions raised by the artist in her three-part installation. Could, for example, the Paris model of social and political agency be employed in this country at a time when deepening crisis is coupled with fear and apathy? Why, for example, are college campuses relatively quiet at a time when this country faces severe crises in multiple arenas? Replicating French writer and activist Marguerite Duras’ dinner table conversations among intellectuals and artists, this program will take place within the exhibition, specifically within The Gift, a sculptural installation, consisting of a dinner table, embedded with speakers, chairs and a “conceptual soup.”

Presenters: Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions, Zilkha Gallery, and adjunct lecturer in art history who organized a chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) when she was a freshman in college; Ashley Casale ’10, the student who completed a 3,000-mile March for Peace across America in 2007

Voices of Liberal Learning

An Hour with Blue Man Group Co-Founder Chris Wink ’83

WESeminar 27: Chris Wink and friends Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton were working in the late 1980s as Manhattan caterers when they began playing with the Blue Man concept by performing on the streets and in bars as three bald and blue characters. These performances led to a date at La MaMa’s Experimental Theater Club and a New York Times review calling them “a deliriously antic blend of music, painting, and clowning.” A commission for a full-length show followed, along with prestigious awards for excellence in off-Broadway theatre, and concert dates that would take them around the world.

Join Chris Wink as he “goes below the blue goo” to tell us how he found his way from Wesleyan to becoming one of the creative minds behind Blue Man Group. He will discuss some of Blue Man Group’s latest projects, including the development of a new elementary school called The Blue Man Creativity Center.

Presenter: Chris Wink ’83. co-founder of Blue Man Group, a multimedia performance that features three bald and blue characters who lead the audience through a playfully comedic show that is filled with percussive music, pop culture references, and sophisticated lighting

Voices of Liberal Learning

Zimbabwe: The Slide From Democracy

WESeminar 28: Zimbabwe's economy is arguably the worst in the world.  Its annual inflation rate is roaring towards 100, 580% per year, rendering the incomes of many skilled workers worthless and causing them to flee to neighboring countries.  The unemployment rate is at 80% and the economy has shrunk by 35% since 2004.  The World Food Programme has predicted that over 4.1 million Zimbabweans, a third of the population, will be in need of food in 2008.  Many outsiders wonder how this has all come to be in a country that gained its independence from the British in 1980 and installed its first black leader Robert Mugabe.  Join a native Zimbabwean for his perspective on living and working in the country and what he sees as the barriers to democracy in Zimbabwe.

Introduction: Richard Elphick, professor of history and 2001 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Presenters: Pilot Dube P'08, has lived in Zimbabwe all his life, working for the Zimbabwe government from 1980-1985 and for the last 15 years as a financial manager/director of a small financial consulting company; he is a member of the Democratic party of Zimbabwe and has worked to education Zimbabweans about the need to change the country's constitution