The 2018-19 Liberal Arts Talks Series


Professors in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI will discuss their sabbatical projects throughout the 2018-19 school year. Topics include the politics of spirituality, public art and monuments in civic life, and environmentalism and climate change. The Liberal Arts Talks series allows for students, faculty and staff, and the Indianapolis community to not only learn what projects are being undertaken in the School of Liberal Arts and to learn from a professor’s research experience, but also to see how far reaching the liberal arts are as a tool that can used to solve social issues, work alongside technology, answer historical questions, and understand the world and communities we live in.

The series is free and open to the public. The lectures will take place from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (unless noted otherwise) in the Campus Center.

Visitor parking is available for a fee in the Vermont Street Garage.

For more information email


Upcoming Liberal Arts Talks




Previous Liberal Arts Talks

Women Athletes, Violence, and Abuse: Individual and Organizational Responses and Their Impact
Pam Laucella, Journalism and Public Relations
Thursday, April 11, 2019
4:00-5:00 pm
CE 307
Former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar abused 350-plus women, including members of the 2012 Olympics’ “Fierce Five.”  The Indianapolis Star broke the scandal in 2016, and outrage increased in 2018 with survivors’ statements in two Michigan courtrooms. This research investigates the scandal’s media coverage to elucidate the intersecting worlds of sex abuse, sport, and society, and the media’s role in communicating survivors’ stories.
Gendered Uprising: Oil Politics and Environmental Justice in the Niger Delta of Nigeria
Obioma Nnaemeka, World Languages and Cultures
Mar 27, 2019
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 305
The study investigates female collective action for environmental justice and socio-economic change in the oil-rich Delta region of southern Nigeria. Women’s grievances against transnational oil companies—ranging from ecological degradation and environmental pollution to unemployment and lack of corporate responsibility—are explored. The study also focuses on the specific strategies used for protest and their effectiveness.
Digging Deeper into 19th Century Central Indiana: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of the Bethel Cemetery
Jeremy Wilson, Anthropology
Mar 21, 2019
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 307
In 2018, the IUPUI Department of Anthropology partnered with industry leaders to undertake one of the largest applied anthropological research projects ever in Indiana. This work, involving the detection, exhumation and analysis of over 500 individuals from the Bethel Cemetery, provided a unique opportunity to identify and reconstruct the lives and lifeways of early Hoosier pioneers, as well as later inhabitants that experienced industrialization, urbanization, and key moments in the state and nation's history.
Public Art, Monuments, and Civic Life
Modupe Labode, History
Feb 28, 2019
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 307
In 2011, a nonprofit agency responded to protest and cancelled artist Fred Wilson’s project to create a work of public art for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The proposed work, E Pluribus Unum, referenced the figure of an African American man on the Indiana Soldiers and Soldiers Monument. This case is a point of departure to consider the role of public art, monuments, race, and history in civic life.
The Green Challenge Deepens: Environmentalism in the Age of Climate Change
John McCormick, Political Science
Feb 27, 2019
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 305
John McCormick revisits his 1995 book The Global Environmental Movement to examine the ways in which environmentalism has evolved in the era of climate change, globalization, the internet, nationalism, and the rise of China. He asks how these five developments have altered the definition of environmental problems, how they have shaped the international response to those problems, and how the relationship between science, economics, trade and technology has exacerbated or addressed environmental change. 
American Spirituality Today
Brian Steensland, Sociology
Feb 6, 2019
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 305
Contemporary interest in spirituality is on the rise. Yet scholars actually have fairly limited information about what “spirituality” means to ordinary Americans or what types of practices are associated with it. Based on a recent national study, this talk will discuss the meanings people associate with spirituality (we find seven different types), the social profile of the people holding each meaning, and the theistic and non-theistic practices people engage in. 
A Language Support Needs Analysis of International Law Students
Catherine Beck, English
Jan 31, 2109
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 307
This project took a fresh look at the language support needs of international students enrolled in several programs at the IU McKinney School of Law to determine whether the current Legal English courses are meeting all the stakeholders’ needs. The project was timed to inform a reevaluation of the current Memorandum of Agreement between the law school and the School of Liberal Arts.
Peace, Love, Yoga: The Politics of Global Spirituality
Andrea Jain, Religious Studies
Dec 6, 2018
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 405
Given the global rise of the “spiritual but not religious,” how should we think about spirituality’s relationship to larger social, economic, and political forces? Although often imagined as countercultural or “alternative,” the subversive gestures of spiritual commodities, from yoga pants to health foods, function as superficial points of resistance to the reigning order of late capitalism.
From Secret Technophobe to ??? - A Rookie’s Reflections on Online Teaching
Audrey Gertz, World Languages and Culture,
Nov 30, 2018
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 405
This past spring semester I offered the course Spanish for Business online.  During that time, I learned a lot about online teaching and made the typical rookie mistakes. My own attitude toward technology is ambivalent.  I will review that experience, along with what I have learned since then, and explore what factors influence how we feel about technology, how we use it, and how it impacts our teaching.
Are Public Universities Corrupt?
Peter Rangazas, Economics
Oct 25, 2018
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 307
Three major economic problems surfaced in the United States during the last quarter of the 20th century and will continue to worsen during this century: unsustainable fiscal policies, slowing economic growth, and widening wage inequality. All three problems are closely intertwined with education policy.  The behavior of public higher education institutions, in particular, is doing the nation more harm than good.
Dialogue and Civility: Have We Forgotten How to Talk With Each Other?
Elizabeth Goering, Communication Studies
Oct 10, 2018
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 307
The ability to communicate effectively across ideological, religious, and cultural divides is arguably more important in our world today than ever before.  This study explores the communication that promotes and/or hinders effective intercultural communication by analyzing naturally-occurring dialogue among Intercultural Theology and Euroculture MA students at Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany.
Democracy without Sovereignty in Somaliland
Scott Pegg, Political Science
Oct 3, 2018
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
CE 305
Like Abkhazia and Northern Cyprus, Somaliland demonstrates that democracy is possible without recognized sovereignty. Yet, Somaliland’s democracy juxtaposes striking successes with recurrent and persistent problems. This presentation evaluates the state of democracy in Somaliland and highlights key challenges Somaliland faces as it seeks to further consolidate its democracy without sovereignty.


About the Liberal Arts Talks series

This series was established to provide a venue for sharing research completed by Liberal Arts faculty while on sabbatical leaves. It is a sampling of the diverse work and excellence of our faculty and an opportunity to come together for an hour of intellectual exploration with students, alumni, faculty, staff, retirees, and friends from the community.