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Belmont Celebrates Annual Humanities Symposium Sept. 21 – Oct. 1

Belmont University is hosting its 11th annual Humanities Symposium this month, featuring author Stephen L. Carter as the keynote speaker. Carter, a law professor at Yale University, has helped to shape the national debate on issues including religion in politics and culture and is author of 12 books.

Centered on the theme “Civility and its Discontents,” the 2012 Humanities Symposium will occur Sept. 24 through Oct. 1 and parallels the 2011-12 university theme of “E Pluribus Unum: Dialogue in the Digital Age.” The Humanities Symposium seeks to stimulate intellectual conversation through its 33 events, which together will engage in a week-long conversation about civility from many perspectives including technology, democracy, culture and education.

“As we struggle to find a healthy balance between community and individual rights, Americans have experienced new forms of public discourse which thrive on the language of discord and distortion. Through visiting lecturers, interactive projects and a service learning project we hope to act as a model of talking through difference in support of the common good,” said English Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty for the College of Arts & Sciences David Curtis, who is co-chairing the symposium.

The symposium culminates at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Curb Event Center with Carter, author of this year’s common book, Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, delivering the First Year Seminar Lecture. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for almost 30 years on courses such as law and religion, intellectual property, contracts, professional responsibility, lying and secrets, and the ethics of warfare. He has received eight honorary degrees and published five novels, in addition to dozens of articles in law reviews, and many op-ed columns in the nation’s leading newspapers. He appears frequently on radio and television.

Born in Washington, D.C., Carter was educated in the public schools of Washington, New York City and Ithaca, New York. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford in 1976, graduating with Honors and Distinction. In 1979, he received his law degree from Yale, where he was a Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson, III, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Other featured speakers for the 2012 Humanities Symposium include authors Keith Montesano and Traci Brimhall, Kurdish political activist Remziya Suleyman, attorney and Peabody College administrator Kent M. Weeks and Duquesne University Philosophy Professor Fred Evans. Carter, Suleyman, Evans and Troy University philosophy professor Clifford Lee will participate in a panel at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 in Beaman A&B.

Other events feature poets, farmers, lawyers, Belmont faculty and students as presenters, as well as participatory events including a writing contest and workshop and a student-conducted presidential debate.  All events are free and open to the public. For more information and to view the full program of events, visit www.belmont.edu/cas/humanities_symposium.

This year the Humanities Symposium also includes a community service project with Hands on Nashville for Belmont students and employees to practice the theme of civility.

“We thought that we should think of a community service project as a way for Belmont to show its civility,” said Associate Professor of English Cynthia Cox. “I think this is a great chance for faculty, staff and students to get to know each other. Hands on Nashville day is something Belmont has participated in the past, and this is a great opportunity to have a great time while contributing to the Nashville community.”

Opportunities include working at Second Harvest Food Bank, helping the homeless at Room in the Inn and gardening at a the Richland Urban Farm or Hands on Nashville Urban Farm  from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 29. Click here for information on how to enroll as a volunteer.

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