Steward Speakers Series brings Hollywood to Indianapolis

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

Two acclaimed TV and film personalities are headed to Indianapolis to take the podium as guest speakers for the 2014-15 Steward Speakers Series.

Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey

The Steward Speakers Series presents award-winning actress Viola Davis and popular talk show and game show host Steve Harvey as keynote speakers for the lecture series that seeks to enhance the community by providing opportunities to engage with America’s best leaders and brightest luminaries.

Davis, currently starring in the ABC hit “How to Get Away With Murder,” is the featured speaker for the March 2 talk. Harvey, who has found success as an actor, writer and producer, as well as TV host, will headline the April 20 lecture.

Activities during both evenings include dinner from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by a lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the second-floor ballroom at the Marriott Downtown, 350 S. Maryland St.

During the March 2 lecture, Davis will discuss her career and how overcoming adversities and preconceived restrictions have all contributed to reinforcing her abilities as an artist and to her becoming a stronger woman.

The Tony Award-winning actress was thrust into the spotlight after her Oscar-nominated portrayal of Aibileen Clark in “The Help,” a big-screen drama about the struggles of black housekeepers working for white families in 1960s Mississippi.

In addition to hosting his TV shows, Harvey is a fashion entrepreneur and bestselling author. The 2012 box office hit, “Think Like a Man,” was adapted from Harvey’s No. 1 book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.”

While he is known as a funny man, Harvey’s serious side shows in his longtime dedication to philanthropy. His current projects include The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, a camp that shares insights and manhood skills with teenage boys who are without fathers.

Tickets for each dinner and the following lecture are $100 per person. They can be purchased online.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is a title sponsor for the Steward Speakers 2014-2015 season that opened with Nov. 20 and Feb. 9 events featuring Michael Eric Dyson and T.J. Holmes as guest speakers.

The Steward Speakers Series provides continuous education and awareness to Indianapolis residents interested in empowerment topics. The program allows the community to dialogue on important issues of the day with celebrities, leaders and experts in particular fields.

Jürgen Overhoff, “On Benjamin Franklin, Clemens Vonnegut, and other Transatlantic Travelers: Why German-American Educational History Matters”

Juergen OverhoffMarch 10, 2015 | 12:00-2:00
IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, IUPUI Library, UL 4115P
755 W Michigan St.
Free tickets below

Contemporary education ideals in the United States and Germany are the product of a set of key values propagated in the age of enlightenment: self-responsibility and autonomy of the citizen, religious toleration, individual rights of freedom and a broad general education available to all people as a sign of their human dignity. This lecture examines the genesis and development of these ideals through the multifaceted interrelationships between German and American pedagogues, school founders, and educational theorists from the colonial period up to the 21st century. This common history helps us understand the shared values of a transatlantic community committed to common educational ideals in theory and practice.

Dr. Jürgen Overhoff is Professor of the History of Education in the Institute of Educational Sciences at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Co-sponsored by the Center for German-American Educational History (CGAEH), University of Münster, the IUPUI American Studies Program, the Max Kade Center at IUPUI, and the IUPUI German Department.

Lecture: Jacob Darwin Hamblin, “Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism”

Jacob HamblinApril 1, 2015 | 6:00-7:30
PrintText; 652 East 52nd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46205
Free tickets available below

When most Americans think of environmentalism, they think of the political left, of vegans dressed in organic-hemp fabric, lofting protest signs. In reality, writes Jacob Darwin Hamblin, the movement–and its dire predictions–owe more to the Pentagon than the counterculture. In Arming Mother Nature, Hamblin argues that military planning for World War III created “catastrophic environmentalism”: the idea that human activity might cause global natural disasters. This awareness, Hamblin shows, emerged out of dark ambitions, as governments poured funds into environmental science after World War II, searching for ways to harness natural processes–to kill millions of people. Proposals included the use of nuclear weapons to create artificial tsunamis or melt the ice caps to drown coastal cities; setting fire to vast expanses of vegetation; and changing local climates. Oxford botanists advised British generals on how to destroy enemy crops during the war in Malaya; American scientists attempted to alter the weather in Vietnam. This work raised questions that went beyond the goal of weaponizing nature. By the 1980s, the C.I.A. was studying the likely effects of global warming on Soviet harvests. Driven initially by strategic imperatives, Cold War scientists learned to think globally and to grasp humanity’s power to alter the environment. Arming Mother Nature changes our understanding of the history of the Cold War and the birth of modern environmental science.

Dr. Jacob Darwin Hamblin is Associate Professor of History of Science, Technology, and Environmental History at Oregon State University. His most recent publication is Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism, published by Oxford University Press in 2013. He has also published Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, published by Rutgers University Press in 2008, and Oceanographers and the Cold War, published by University of Washington Press in 2005. Dr. Hamblin’s current work explores the promotion of nuclear-related science and technology so-called developing countries, blending the histories of science, environment, and international relations.

Co-sponsored by Earth Charter Indiana, PrintText, and NUVO.

Bessie House-Soremekun reveals “The Africa the World Seldom Sees”

Bessie House-Soremekun

Bessie House-Soremekun

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun analyzes the production of knowledge about African Societies by interrogating the multifarious stereotypical images of Africa often presented by network television, radio, popular media, movies and novels. These images often encapsulate static narratives and encoded messages that diminish Africa’s historical and contemporary contributions to the world. In many cases, Africa is still projected as a static “other” that has not embraced change and development. Dr. House-Soremekun compares these interpretations to earlier conceptualizations of African people and their cultures which were depicted by the Europeans during the era of imperialism and colonialism. She also probes the various ways in which peoples of the African Diaspora are continually affected by these images and are marginalized in the era of globalization when modern technologies daily project these images to many countries of the world.  This lecture supplements “The Africa the World Seldom Sees” Art Exhibition, which is on display at the IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery in February 2015.

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun is the Director of Africana Studies, Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies, Public Scholar in African American Studies, Civic Engagement, and Entrepreneurship, and the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  She has published 6 books and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters.

February 19, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
IUPUI Library, Room UL 4115P

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“Selling Yoga” traces growing popularity of modern yoga from its counterculture roots

Dr. Andrea Jain

Andrea Jain, “Selling Yoga” Author

In the popular imagination of yoga practice today, gone are the visions of bearded, stoic old men seeking a transcendent state detached from ordinary, everyday life. Instead, most envision a room of spandex-clad, perspiring, toned women perched atop yoga mats in the pursuit of fit, beautiful bodies.

The popular “modern postural yoga” systems now practiced in urban settings around the globe represent a late 20th century break from premodern and early modern yoga systems that were usually tied to a particular all-encompassing ideology, philosophy, or worldview, according to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor Andrea R. Jain.

In her new book, “Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture,” the IUPUI professor examines the growing global popularity of modern yoga, which previously had been viewed as countercultural and oftentimes scandalous.

“Yoga underwent popularization when certain yoga entrepreneurs (more traditionally known as gurus) became strategic participants in the global marketplace and succeeded in selling yoga by successfully creating an intersection of yoga brands and dominant trends of consumer culture,” said Jain, assistant professor of religious studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Unlike premodern and early modern yoga systems, popularized yoga is not prescribed as an all-encompassing worldview or system of practice, but as one among many components of personal development that can provide increased physical beauty, fitness, and flexibility, along with such benefits as decreased stress. In other words, popularized yoga is often combined with various non-related worldviews and practices.

Fueling its popularization has been yoga’s intersections with the rising transnational consumer culture and its basic tenant that individuals can and should pick and choose practices, beliefs, and commodities that fit their own lifestyle preferences, Jain said.

Practitioners of contemporary popularized yoga see its products and services as a road to self-development in line with mainstream social values such as the dominant health and fitness paradigms.

However, Jain argues that yoga systems cannot be reduced to mere commodities—that yoga can, in fact, serve religious purposes even in its popularized varieties, and as such provides an avenue for studying ways in which religious systems adjust to contemporary consumer culture.

“Yoga is merely a case study. Even evangelical Christianity has succeeded in part by creating an intersection with consumer culture . . . evangelical pastors, for example, advocate for the importance of individuals choosing particular exercise or physical fitness regimens based on lifestyle preferences, therefore reflecting dominant themes in our consumer culture,” Jain said.

Modern yoga systems are no less authentic than premodern ones, since all yoga systems are ultimately specific to their particular social contexts, according to the professor.

“There never was a single, homogenous yoga tradition. Yoga has always been in transition as it moved across social contexts,” Jain said.

Published by Oxford University Press, “Selling Yoga,” is now available in paperback, hardback and as an ebook.

David Craig, “Obamacare and American Values”

David CraigFebruary 4, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
Free tickets available below

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been criticized as socialist and revolutionary and its individual mandate as un-American. Prof. Craig’s new book, Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy, reports the lessons he learned during a three-year interview study at Catholic and Jewish hospitals. In fact the Affordable Care Act largely conserves the shared values built into U.S. health care through many decades of public policy and the mission-driven operations of religious health care organizations.

Dr. David M. Craig is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI. He completed Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy while serving as the Thomas H. Lake Scholar in Religion and Philanthropy in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He writes on economic, environmental, and health care ethics.