Evanston Northwestern Humanities Lecture Series


Co-presented by the Evanston Public Library and Kaplan Humanities Institute, Northwestern faculty share and discuss their research with the public in casual evening lectures at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston.

2016-2017 Lectures

poster for Nitasha Sharma's talk on Blacks in Hawai'iMarch 13, 2017 (Monday)
7:00 pm
"The Obama Effect? Reflections on the Experiences of Hawai’i's Black Residents"
Nitasha Sharma (Associate Professor, African American Studies, Asian American Studies and Performance Studies and Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence)

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As President Obama’s home state, Hawai'i has earned global recognition beyond its status as an island paradise. Yet what do Black residents say about their experiences in the islands? This talk speaks to a possible “Obama effect” that has led increasing numbers of African Americans from the U.S. continent to seek refuge in the Pacific, where they find a “respite” from racism. Yet the stories of Hawai’i-born and raised Black people reveal an underside to more sunny depictions.

poster for Jennifer Lackey's talk on prison educationFebruary 22, 2017 (Wednesday)
7:00 pm
"Captive Minds: The Necessity of Education Behind Bars”
Jennifer Lackey (Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy)

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"For the past year, I have been teaching college courses at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security men’s prison in a suburb of Chicago. All of my students have been convicted of at least one murder and nearly all of them are serving very lengthy sentences, yet they are among the most engaged and thoughtful students I have had in my 16 years of teaching at the college level. Drawing on this experience, along with research on the benefits of prison education, I will show why education, especially at the postsecondary level, should be provided in all prisons. Along every relevant dimension, prison education has been shown to be invaluable: it cuts recidivism rates dramatically, eases reentry through increased and improved employment opportunities, significantly reduces violence and disciplinary infractions within prisons, breaks down racial barriers among those who are incarcerated, and is highly cost effective. But perhaps most remarkable of all, it enables incarcerated men and women to create a community of inquiry, where curiosity, creativity, mentorship, and activism are prized."