May 23, 2019  

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Local, National, International Issues to be Featured Topics of 2017-18 University Forum Series

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“Saving the Enlightenment, One Speaker at a Time” is the theme for this year’s University Forum at The University of Southern Mississippi, featuring speakers and performers addressing issues that make up our nation’s ongoing discourse.

University Forum’s fall 2017 programs will examine the legacy of slavery, immigration and the intersection of politics and public policy, including the following:

*Author James McBride and the Good Lord Bird Band will launch the University Forum series Tuesday, Sept. 5 with their talk/musical presentation “The Good Lord Bird: Faith and American Slavery.” McBride, a National Book Award winner, blends music and lecture in his presentations on his work about the nation’s painful legacy regarding slavery from his book The Good Lord Bird, a New York Times bestseller and recipient of the 2013 National Book Award. This program will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus.

*On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a professor at Princeton University, will share his perspective on being an undocumented immigrant in America in his presentation, titled “Undocumented,” while also discussing the role immigrants have played in building America. Peralta’s family came to the U.S. in 1989 from the Dominican Republic. After the family’s temporary visa expired, his father returned to the Dominican Republic, but the rest of the family remained in New York where his mother raised him as they moved from one homeless shelter to another until he enrolled as a student at Princeton. Peralta’s presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium.

*Yuval Levin will present “Our Fractured Republic,” Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Thad Cochran Center Ballrooms on the Hattiesburg campus. A renowned conservative intellectual, Levin is the founding editor of National Affairs, contributing editor at the National Review and author of The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism. His University Forum presentation will focus on the relationship between political philosophy and public policy.

University Forum’s spring 2018 schedule includes Harvard University astronomer and diversity advocate Josh Asher Johnson, who will present ‘Discovering our Scientific Potential Feb. 20 in Bennett Auditorium; the annual Armstrong-Branch Lecture Feb. 27 in Bennett Auditorium, featuring Wil Haygood, journalist and bestselling author of The Butler; Mississippi native Angie Thomas, a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction, who will present “The Hate U Give: Finding Your Activism” March 6 in Bennett Auditorium; and “Reporting Sex Trafficking, Genocide & Other Truths of the World” presented by Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof April 10 in Bennett Auditorium.

“The University Forum is one of the oldest and most distinguished speaker series in Mississippi,” said Dr. Andrew Haley, associate professor of history and director of University Forum. “Along with this year’s Armstrong-Branch Lecture, the 2017-18 Forum features some of the finest writers, thinkers, and performers in the series’ history.” 

Since 1974, University Forum has been the premier speaker series at Southern Mississippi. Sponsored by the Southern Miss Honors College with support from the Office of the President, University Forum has brought some of the most respected and innovative cultural, scientific, and artistic voices in the world to Southern Miss. Past speakers have included Stephen J. Gould; Gloria Steinem, Bryan Stevenson, Russell Means, Lilly Ledbetter, Susan Sontag, G. Gordon Liddy, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Ehrenreich, E.O. Wilson, Art Spiegelman, Antonin Scalia, Carl Bernstein, and Sebastian Junger.

Admission to University Forum is free; members of the campus community and public are invited. For more information about University Forum, email or call the USM Honors College at 601.266.4533.