This month’s edition of Philosophers Café convenes from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 14) at Kavarna coffeehouse in downtown Green Bay. David Duquette, professor and associate dean at St. Norbert College, will help participants ponder the conflicts arising from the intersection of rights and freedoms. (Think of the Kentucky clerk controversy, or any number of current hot topics, to get some idea of the issues to address.) Duquette will look at the difference between positive rights and freedoms (entitlements “to”) and negative rights and freedoms (protections “from”). As always, the monthly sessions organized by the UW-Green Bay Philosophy faculty are free and open to the public.
Associate Prof. Christopher Martin of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies has been selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute to be held at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Titled “From Medieval to Modern: Philosophy from 1300-1700,” the event will bring together 20 philosophers representing expertise in the discipline’s Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern eras for the purpose of exploring the underlying continuities and their pedagogical implications for the traditional curriculum in philosophy. Martin hopes the Institute will provide valuable background for a book manuscript he hopes to begin next year on the platonic influences of Baruch “Bento” Spinoza, one of Western philosophy’s most influential thinkers.
The next Philosophers’ Café features UW-Green Bay professor and Philosophy program chair Christopher Martin leading what is sure to be an eclectic and electric discussion of the merits and demerits of “Anti-Realism in Science,” which posits that science has no business attempting to actually explain the world. The gathering takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. this Wednesday (March 4) in the upstairs back room at Titletown Brewing, 200 Dousman Street. Martin offers the following explanation of his talk:
“When Isaac Newton discovered the mathematical equations that define gravity he admitted, upfront, that while the numbers worked, he was at a complete loss to explain what gravity itself was. The wild success of his predictions courted what Einstein would later call “spooky action at a distance,” the possibility for spatially discontinuous entities to affect one-another instantaneously. Does the predictive success of Newton’s theory qualify it as good science, or ought it also to explain why the world acts this way? Is the aim of science only to predict future events, or do we expect it to additionally explain the machinery of the world? Does the phenomenal success of quantum physics justify believing that unobserved electrons are actual entities, or should we regard unobservables only as useful fictions of successful theories?”
As always, Philosophers Café gatherings are free and open to all. Please note: The previously scheduled David Helpap Café on “Regulation” has been postponed.
Chair Christopher Martin of the UW-Green Bay Philosophy faculty invites one and all to take part in an interdisciplinary discussion at 7 p.m. this Wednesday (Feb. 4) for the monthly meeting of The Philosophers’ Café, this time at St. Brendan’s Inn in downtown Green Bay. The topic is “Water Scarcity,” with Prof. Kevin Fermanich of NAS serving as guest speaker. The event’s organizers promise that Fermanich will “quench our intellectual thirst” as he addresses the often overlooked issue of diminishing quantity, quality and access to fresh water. “Join us as we drink in the optimism of fresh water’s future or drown in the sorrows of its demise.” Free and open to all. Read more.
Halvorsen ’92 acts locally, Bhojwani ’90 works in developing nations.
On a late-summer day, fellow UW-Green Bay graduates and lifelong friends Noel Halvorsen and Haresh Bhojwani agreed to meet on campus.
There was the usual catching up on each other’s families and reminiscing about good times shared as roommates 25 years ago in the old student apartments.
They also talked about their professional careers and challenges. It’s something they do at least a few times a year, using each other as trusted sounding boards. Though Halvorsen and Bhojwani arrived at UW-Green Bay in the late 1980s with vastly different backgrounds, pursued entirely different majors and now often find themselves on different continents, they tend to see things the same way.
“When we met, Haresh had been all over the world, and I had never been anywhere,” recalls Halvorsen, a Sheboygan native who now lives in Green Bay, “but we were almost surprised to find out that we had very similar world views.”
Then and now, they tend to believe that good public policy requires good data, that even relatively small adjustments can bring maximum benefit, and that organized and dedicated people can make change happen.
Halvorsen, a 1992 graduate in Urban and Regional studies, is well-respected locally as longtime executive director of NeighborWorks, a not-for-profit housing and community development agency based in Green Bay. NeighborWorks promotes neighborhood revitalization and home ownership through counseling, education, loan programs and new investment.
Daily, he applies lessons learned at UW-Green Bay and in previous jobs with the city of Green Bay and Brown County. His first five years after graduation he was a planning specialist with the city and then spent three years as land information officer, managing land records and GIS activities, for the county.
Halvorsen says his approach to his work is not all that different from Bhojwani’s, whose involvement in economic development projects takes him from South Asia to Africa to Latin America.
“We learned a lot at UWGB about how to look at the world,” Halvorsen says, mentioning the liberal arts emphasis, the breadth and scope of the problem solving and the ample opportunities for students to lead and create. “Those were the experiences that made a great difference.”
Bhojwani, a ’90 graduate in English, is based in the New York City area as deputy director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University.
He racks up frequent flyer miles establishing partnerships with governments and international development organizations to help at-risk societies be pre-emptive and proactive. The time to respond to a massive crop failure in Ethiopia, for example, is not afterward when children are starving, but when it’s apparent that crucial early rains aren’t going to materialize. A relatively small financial intervention up front, then, can tide people over and keep a farm family from eating their seed stock or selling their oxen… which would all but guarantee a larger, multi-year failure.
Bhojwani came to Green Bay from prep school in the United Kingdom. After graduation, he taught English in Spain and worked in a peasant cooperative in El Salvador during that nation’s transition from civil war to peace. He came back to earn a law degree at Marquette and create the first legal services for the indigent in Milwaukee, working with long-term immigration detainees and human rights victims. From 1999 to 2005, he worked with indigenous communities, NGOs, the private sector, and government agencies on economic development programs in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil.
Bhojwani naturally points to UW-Green Bay English faculty including Tom Churchill and E. Michael Thron as early influences, and Halvorsen cites Urban and Regional’s Ray Hutchison, Ron Baba and Marcelo Cruz, but they don’t stop there. They mention Orville Clark in philosophy, Martin Greenberg in international relations, geographer Bill Laatsch, linguist Don Larmouth, academic dean George Rupp… and several others.
Professors were academic mentors and also, often, friends.
“Bill Laatsch was such a knowledgeable and talented professor,” Halvorsen recalls. “Then, one of my first weekends on campus, I see him dressed as a giant mouse (for the annual Cheese Classic). Things like that did so much to make you comfortable here.”
Bjohwani remembers open poetry readings and other activities that offered students a chance to test their ideas among not only faculty and staff but also peers. Students learned from one another.
“I think it was a particular advantage at UWGB that not every student was the same age, 18 or 20, straight out of high school,” he says. “There was so many returning adults… people who had worked in a paper mill for 15 years, perhaps raised children, and then gone back to school to look at something different or to pump up their skills. They added so much to the experience.”
The two men learned from each other, of course, and continue to do so as proud alumni a quarter century later.
“It’s amazing how similar the issues are that we face,” Bhojwani says. “I’ll go to Noel for advice and he’ll do the same. Whether it’s in Wisconsin or on the other side of the world, it’s about making the right choices, or sometimes a small investment at just the right time.”
It was a busy summer for Prof. Derek Jeffreys, who traveled in August to Chile as part of a partnership UW-Green Bay has developed with the Universidad del Desarrollo. Jeffreys, Humanistic Studies (Philosophy and Religion), presented ethics lectures and seminars at the University, and met with various scholars there. He also visited the El Manzano Prison, meeting with inmates and staff (Log readers may recall this area of scholarship; Jeffreys’ most recent book is titled “Spirituality in Dark Places: The Ethics of Solitary Confinement”). In addition, Jeffreys delivered a TED Talk at Concepción that focused on his experiences teaching at the Green Bay Correctional Institution. See the video.
It’s time, once again, to grab a chair and a treat and enjoy a fascinating Philosophers’ Cafe conversation, this year on a new night. The series kicks off Wednesday (Sept. 3), from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Titletown Brewing Company in downtown Green Bay. Award-winning professor Clif Ganyard of Humanistic Studies and History will lead a talk about the “surprising overlap of history and science fiction.” Science fiction itself has a history, and the examination of past histories of the future can reveal much about past values. Historians now write science fiction, as well, in the form of alternate histories, asking “what if…?” questions.
The Philosophers Café is organized by the UW-Green Bay Philosophy Department and supported by Humanistic Studies, with sessions free and open to all. The best source for additional info is the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GBPhilosophersCafe.
The quintessential Renaissance man now has a permanent home at an institution known for embodying his interdisciplinary ideals.
UW-Green Bay officially unveiled its new statue of Leonardo da Vinci May 14 with a ceremony, concert and reception on campus. A gift of the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, the 550-pound bust now resides in the Lenfestey Courtyard of Mary Ann Cofrin Hall.
Campus and community members joined Paolo Del Bianco, who started the foundation that is named for his father, in dedicating the statue as a tribute to international education and partnership. The businessman and philanthropist from Florence, Italy, received an honorary doctorate from UW-Green Bay in 2007, and has partnered with UW-Green Bay Profs. Sarah Meredith Livingston and Ray Hutchison, among others, to foster international exchange. UW-Green Bay was the first U.S. university to connect with the Del Bianco foundation, and is the only stateside institution receiving a da Vinci bust — one of just five to be donated worldwide — from the foundation.
“I would like to express my gratitude in this important moment,” Del Bianco said, moments after the statue was unveiled. “(I want) to thank your university because we have had an opportunity to learn a lot from you and from the opportunity you have given your students to arrive in Florence and to share with us a common experience. … With your efforts, you have given power and ideas to the foundation.”
UW-Green Bay is grateful for the cooperation and relationship with Del Bianco, his family and the foundation, added Chancellor Tom Harden. He also praised the role of Len and Dotty Seidl, who donated the marble pedestal for the statue, as well as the city of Green Bay and Mayor Jim Schmitt, who was on hand for the festivities.
“We also understand that we represent two great cities, Florence and Green Bay, and we’re both very aware that it’s from our families, from our communities that a lot of greatness comes,” Harden said. “And my new friend, my new brother Paolo and I will pledge to keep this cooperation and collaboration going.”
A program in the MAC Hall Winter Garden preceded da Vinci’s debut, featuring UW-Green Bay Provost Julia Wallace as emcee. Harden and Director of International Education Brent Blahnik offered brief remarks, as did Nancy Loberger, representing Rotary District 6220. UW-Green Bay Prof. Derek Jeffreys, who speaks Italian and has organized student travel courses to Florence, read Giacomo Leopardi’s poem “The Infinite” in Italian and English, delighting attendees before the group migrated outside for the big reveal.
After the statue’s unveiling — and plenty of photo ops — the group took una passeggiata (a walk) to the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Attendees enjoyed an Italian-themed concert featuring UW-Green Bay faculty, students and alumni, as well as members of the Club ItaloAmericano of Green Bay, before a reception closed out the evening — but by no means the partnership.
“Thanks a lot to all of you, from our deep part of our hearts,” Del Bianco said. “Thank you very much to the mayor and thanks a lot to the chancellor. I think we have a serious plan for future activity together. It is a pleasure to work with all of you.”
Chancellor Thomas K. Harden has selected four individuals to receive UW-Green Bay’s highest community honor, the Chancellor’s Award, at May 2014 commencement in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the institution. They are Mike Kline, Janet and Charlie Lieb, and Larry L. Weyers.
The awards will be made early in the program during the commencement ceremony that will begin at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday (May 17) at the Kress Events Center on campus.
• Mike Kline is a 1988 graduate of UW-Green Bay who has served his alma mater and community for three decades as employee, volunteer and advocate. Chancellor Harden says he wanted to honor Kline, the first active employee in school history to receive the Chancellor’s Award, for his tireless energy and “absolute devotion to this University and to our students. He is a wonderful ambassador and recruiter for UW-Green Bay.”
Kline was a returning adult student when then-athletics director Dan Spielmann hired him as part-time coach of the Phoenix men’s and women’s cross country teams in 1987. Kline stayed on as coach after graduating with a triple major in Human Development, Psychology and Philosophy. This fall’s Phoenix cross country squad will be his 28th.
In 1999, Kline accepted additional duties as academics coordinator for all Phoenix teams. Supervising study tables, monitoring grades and counseling and cajoling those who need it, he’s helped the program achieve 30 consecutive semesters of cumulative grade point averages above 3.0, winning the respect of faculty and staff as well as other NCAA Division I programs.
• Janet and Charlie Lieb have been dedicated, hands-on difference makers for UW-Green Bay’s signature Phuture Phoenix program. The initiative encourages local fifth-graders by providing campus tours and follow-up programming, pairing them with college-age mentors, and motivating them to graduate from high school and pursue higher education. The Liebs were among the first community volunteers to sign on in support.
They continue to be dedicated volunteers, both during the annual Phuture Phoenix tour days on campus and in the offshoots and start-ups that have extended the program into area middle and high schools. Additionally, the Liebs endowed the Janet and Charles Lieb Phuture Phoenix Scholarship, which provides assistance for UW-Green Bay students who participated in the program as children.
Both Janet, a 1993 UW-Green Bay grad, and Charlie, longtime president of PDQ Manufacturing, Inc., and chairman of the Green Bay Packers Foundation committee, are active in support of a number of non-profits and community causes, including UW-Green Bay Athletics, but they make Phuture Phoenix a priority.
• Larry L. Weyers has distinguished himself as a strong supporter of UW-Green Bay and its students, whether as private citizen, generous community advocate or influential corporate executive.
When Weyers was CEO and president of Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and, later, Integrys Energy Group, the regional utility WPS was among the first companies to earn the UW Regents’ Partnership Award for its work with UW-Green Bay. Weyers and WPS helped power University initiatives including the construction of Mary Ann Cofrin Hall as a national showcase for energy-efficient technology. WPS organized an annual “Solar Olympics” for local high schools and sponsored a solar research station on campus, and supported faculty and student research.
Weyers and his wife, Lois, have been active philanthropists, as well. From the Phuture Phoenix pre-college program to the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, their interests have spanned a range of University activities and offerings. The couple made a major pledge in support of the revitalization of the Weidner Center and the objective of increasing the number of both local and touring productions. Larry Weyers has volunteered his time to assist major capital fundraising for the University.
Profs. Chris Martin (Philosophy/Humanistic Studies) and David Voelker (History/Humanistic Studies) recently completed a two-day Land Ethic Leaders workshop at the Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo. The workshop promoted an “Observe, Participate, Reflect” model for generating reflective discussions about ecological issues. Martin and Voelker attended together as part of a course-development collaboration. See more information about the workshop and other program offerings of the Aldo Leopold Foundation.