Dean’s Lecture Series

The Dean's lecture series is designed to encourage and promote dialogue around four strategic pillars: sustainability, diversity, internationalization, and academic excellence.

Past Events


The Transformative Dr. Martin Luther King and the Inconvenient Hero

Presented as part of the 2015 Critical Diversity Studies Forum entitled "Stones of Hope: Non-violent Activism Built on Legacy and Imagination".

The talk by Mr. Danny Glover, actor, film director and political activist, outlined King’s growth as a civil rights leader and imagined that if King were alive today he’d be a voice in everything from global warming to the Black Lives Matter movement. Drawing from his own experiences as an artist and activist, Mr. Glover both challenged and inspired USF and local community members to, in Dr. King's words, "let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California" and "from every state and every city," to change the world from here.

An Evening With Nicaraguan Poet Ernesto Cardenal

Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal studied under Thomas Merton at the Trappist Monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky, and was later ordained priest in his hometown of Granada. He founded the peasant community of Solentiname, in Lake Managua, a unique space for art and contemplation where his famous poetry book El Evangelio de Solentiname ("The Gospel of Solentiname") was written. A constant voice for the rights of the most marginalized, he participated in the Sandinista Revolution that toppled the Somoza dictatorship and was named Nicaragua’s Minister of Culture. Described as "the most important living poet in Latin America,” Cardenal is the author of more than thirty books, and recipient of all major Latin American literary prizes and awards. His reading, in celebration of his 90th birthday and a life of poetry and activism, will be in Spanish with English translation.


Let's Have a Think About Data Visualization Thinking

Andy Kirk: Presented as part of the Data Visualization Speaker Series.

In this talk, Andy explored the breadth and depth of thinking in data visualization. He took a horizontal look at the many different skill sets, attributes and disciplines that make up the craft of visualization designer, focusing on the distinct scientific and artistic sensibilities. Taking a vertical view, Andy then dove in to the depths and nuances of one particular perspective of data-driven design thinking.

Andy Kirk is a UK-based freelance data visualization specialist and editor of He offers design consultancy and delivers training workshops around the world. He has published a book on the visualization design process and is now working on a second title. He is also a visiting lecturer at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and a part-time researcher at the University of Leeds, UK.

Twenty Years Later: Commemorating the Rwandan Genocide

Consolee Nishimew

A powerful conversation about Consolee Nishimew's experience during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against Tutsis. Following the lecture, Consolee signed copies of her memoir, Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor's Story of Pain, Resilience, and Hope.

Guides to the Fourth Dimension: Edwin Abbott, Madeline L'Engle, and Salvador Dali with Thomas Banchoff

What does the fourth dimension mean to artists like Salvador Dali and writers like Edwin Abbott and Madeleine L'Engle? Thomas Banchoff talked about how his interactive computer graphics make it possible for us to explore shapes that extend our imaginations into the fourth dimension.


The Moral Imagination: When Art and Soul Meet Education and Politics, a Lecture by John Paul Lederach

John Paul Lederach is a Professor of Practice for International Peacebuilding with the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He works as a practitioner-scholar, providing facilitation, mediation and training/education, with extensive experience at national and community levels in North and Latin America, Africa, Southeast and Central Asia.

John Paul Lederach is widely known for the development of culturally appropriate approaches to conflict transformation and the design and implementation of strategic approaches to peacebuilding his approach has focused on innovations for building constructive change in settings experiencing extensive violence and deep rooted-conflict. Author of 20 books and manuals, including:

  • When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys through the Soundscape of Healing and Reconciliation (Queensland University Press and Oxford University Press)
  • Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (US Institute of Peace Press)
  • The Little Book of Conflict Transformation (Good Books)
  • The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace (Oxford University Press)

The Four-Dimensional Geometry and Theology of Salvador Dali

Thomas Banchoff

Throughout his career, Salvador Dali was fascinated by mathematics and science, and he incorporated many geometric ideas and symbols into his paintings, especially his religious paintings. Where did he get his ideas and how did he carry them out? Professor Thomas Banchoff, from Brown University, personally worked with Salvador Dali in the 70s and 80s. The presentation featured images and stories from ten years of conversations with Dali, about the Fourth Dimension, impossible perspectives, catastrophe theory, art history and medieval philosophy. The talk was illustrated by computer-generated images and animations.

Thomas Banchoff teaches a First Year Seminar in Exploring the Fourth Dimension as a visiting professor in the mathematics department from Brown University where he has taught since 1967. He was an undergraduate at Notre Dame and a graduate student at Berkeley. He has held visiting positions at Harvard, the University of Amsterdam, UCLA, Georgia, Yale, Stanford, and the Berlin Mathematical School. He is the author of Beyond the Third Dimension for the Scientific American Library, and three other books as well as over one hundred research and expository articles in geometry.

How to Win a Trifecta: Economic Growth, Increased Social Equity and Environmental Protection

Raul Deju

We live in a world where public policy seems to be driven either by a philosophy that focuses on a national goal to create abundant and cheap sources of efficient and sustainable energy or, in contrast, a philosophy based on the complete preservation of the environment. While not oversimplifying the issues or ignoring contrasting opinions, Dr Deju provided a healthy alternative to this dualistic approach. He made a compelling case for the proposition that the most challenging global issues surrounding sources of energy and the environment will require collaborative problem solving skills by a variety of divergent stakeholders. At the same time, once a series of environmental issues are resolved, these stakeholders—social activists, environmentalists, and business-related interests, to name just three—will all benefit, and will all be drawn into a more transparent alliance in the process. The presentation aimed at anyone anxious to participate in the debate between growth and preservation and between growth and social equity that will undoubtedly impact this and all future generations.


Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective

Scott Crow

Scott Crow is a community organizer, writer, strategist and speaker who advocates the philosophy and practices of anarchism for social, environmental, and economic aims. His latest book Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective (PM Press, November 2011) weaves together his personal evolution as a political organizer with his experiences as co-founder of a relief effort in post-Katrina New Orleans called the Common Ground Collective. In the absence of local government, FEMA, and the Red Cross, this unusual volunteer organization, based on ‘solidarity not charity,’ built medical clinics, set up food and water distribution, and created community gardens. They also resisted home demolitions, white militias, police brutality and FEMA incompetence side by side with the people of New Orleans.

Black Faces, White Spaces: African Americans and the Great Outdoors

Carolyn Finney

Carolyn Finney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley. As a professor she explores how difference, identity, representation, and power play a significant role in determining how people negotiate their daily lives in relation to the environment. Although Carolyn pursed an acting career for eleven years, a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a bachelor's and master's in international development. She recently completed her PhD in geography at Clark University in Massachusetts and is a Canon National Parks Science Scholarship recipient. Working with other individuals, community groups, and environmental organizations, her research seeks to broaden our understanding of African Americans and environment interactions. As a Fulbright fellow, she has also researched the impacts of tourism and modernization on Nepalese women and the environment. In 2005/06, she was a Newhouse/Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in Environmental Studies and Humanities.

Along with public speaking and consulting, she serves on a number of national boards and committees including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Center for Whole Communities. Carolyn was particularly honored to serve as a commissioner on the Second Century National Parks Commission this past year along with Sandra Day O’Connor, Sylvia Earle, John Fahey of National Geographic Magazine and other distinguished individuals. She has recently been appointed by Secretary Salazar to continue that work on the National Parks Advisory Board. She has written a number of essays – her most recent entitled, “Child’s Play: Finding the Green in the In-between” will be in the upcoming Companions in Wonder: Reflections on Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together by Steve Kellert and Julie Dunlap. Carolyn’s first book manuscript, Black Faces, White Spaces: African Americans and the Great Outdoors, is forthcoming (UNC Press).

Just Sustainabilities: Re-Imagining (E)quality, Living Within Limits

Julian Agyeman

Julian Agyeman is Professor and Chair of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, Boston-Medford, USA. He is originator of the concept of ‘just sustainabilities,’ the integration of social/spatial justice and sustainability, defined as “the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems”. He is co-founder, and co-editor of the international journal 'Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability'. His expertise and research interests critically explore aspects of the complex and embedded relations between humans and the environment, whether mediated by institutions or social movement organizations, and the effects of this on public policy and planning processes and outcomes, particularly in relation to notions of justice and equity.

With over 150 publications, his books include Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (MIT Press 2003); Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice (NYU Press 2005); The New Countryside? Ethnicity, Nation and Exclusion in Contemporary Rural Britain (The Policy Press 2009); Speaking for Ourselves. Environmental Justice in Canada (The University of British Columbia Press 2009); Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Former Soviet Union (MIT Press 2009); Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices (MIT Press 2011) and Cultivating Food Justice : Race, Class and Sustainability (MIT Press 2011).

He is series editor of Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice (Zed Books). He is a fellow of the UK Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA), a member of the Board of Massachusetts Audubon Society and Second Nature, and is on the Editorial Boards of Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy and the Australian Journal of Environmental Education.