A Preview of the Symposium Against Indifference: Liberty and Responsibility

Alayna Ross

The 10th Biennial College of Arts & Sciences Symposium Against Indifference will focus on the theme of Liberty and Responsibility with its series of events beginning on Sept. 18.

The College of Arts and Sciences at Ashland University presented the first Symposium Against Indifference in 2001. This event is a biennial series of lectures, discussion panels and more that seek to promote knowledge and conversation regarding various human concerns.

The theme for this year’s event, Liberty and Responsibility, was motivated by the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and the appeal and ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment that had once banned liquor in the United States.

The first event in the multifaceted series, titled “Demon Rum: A Spirited Discussion of Alcohol” is presented by Dr. John Moser, professor of history, and Dr. Louis Mancha, associate professor of philosophy.

This lecture addresses the social change that came with the prohibition of the manufacture, sale or transport of all intoxicating liquors under the Eighteenth Amendment.

Moser believes that this specific presentation is fitting for the theme surrounding the symposium of liberty and responsibility.

“The assumption, traditionally, had been that we are free to choose what we drink, but we are expected to be responsible for our choices,” Moser said. “To this day, if we choose to drink, we are exercising liberty, but at the same time, we ought to act responsibly.”

The second scheduled event under the Symposium Against Indifference is a film screening of “Paris to Pittsburgh,” followed by a discussion panel. The screening is set to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium.

“Paris to Pittsburgh” is a National Geographic documentary directed by Sidney Beaumont and Michael Bonfiglio. This film brings to light the individuals who are battling the threats of climate change in their own communities in response to the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The following event will be the production of “An Enemy of the People” by Arthur Miller and adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s play, presented by the Ashland University Theatre Department. The performances will be Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 2 p.m in the Hugo Young Theatre.

“An Enemy of the People” is produced in conjunction with The Arthur Miller Society’s Thirteenth Conference, which is to be held at AU on Oct. 18-20.

The Arthur Miller Society is a collection of scholars that aim to advance the study of Arthur Miller, promote the production of his plays and foster a continued interest in Miller’s work.

Dr. Theresa Durbin-Ames, associate professor of theatre and director of “An Enemy of the People,” spent the summer of 2018 reading a myriad of plays written by Arthur Miller before choosing this particular play for the AU Theatre Department and the Arthur Miller Society.

“I landed on ‘An Enemy of the People’ because it was a Miller connection and the idea that the play was originally written by Henrik Ibsen in the 1880s and then Miller revived it and adapted it himself in 1950, but it is the issues of fighting for the truth and being willing to stand for what is right,” Durbin-Ames said. “It struck me for all the relevant issues that our students should think about.”

The play follows the happenings in a small Norwegian town that has just begun to win fame and wealth through its medicinal spring waters. When a doctor discovers the waters are poisoned, he tries to warn his town, but the press won’t report his findings; and the city officials refuse to give him a hearing.

After deciding on “An Enemy of the People,” Durbin-Ames wanted to host a corresponding event.

“I liked the interdisciplinary nature of it and it struck me right away that I wanted to do a panel that goes with this,” Durbin-Ames said.

On Monday, Oct. 14 “A Panel Discussion” featuring Dr. Margaret Cogar, Dr. John Moser, Dr. Rebecca Schmeller and Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer will be held at 7 p.m. in the Hugo Young Theatre.

This discussion panel will offer different viewpoints from the disciplines of journalism, history, business and chemistry. The panel will seek to discuss questions relative to “An Enemy of the People,” as well as recent headlines and world events.

Dr. Rebecca Schmeller, an associate professor of business, will speak on liberty and freedom from a business standpoint as it relates to the production.

“Liberty and responsibility is a big part of what we teach in the college of business,” Schmeller said. “With any liberty comes responsibility and that is why the play is such a perfect encapsulation of that conflict.

Retrieved from Amazon
Randolph Roth, who will speak on Wednesday, Oct. 16, is the author of “American Homicide and Child Murder in America”.

Dr. Jeffery Weidenhamer, a professor of chemistry, will discuss how the pollution depicted in the play relates to current issues in the United States.

“I am an analytical chemist, I teach in the environmental science program, so the play ‘An Enemy of the People’ deals with a problem with environmental pollution and even though it was written so long ago, there are a lot of current applications of that,” Weidenhamer said.

Next in the series, Randolph Roth will be speaking on the subject of “Inequality and Quality of Life: A Global View” on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Trustees Room within the Myers Convocation Center.

Roth is the author of “American Homicide and Child Murder in America”. In this lecture, Roth will present his findings on the causes and consequences of inequality, globally and within societies and why inequality had risen so rapidly since 1980 in the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia, but not in the rest of the affluent world.

The following event will be “Sangre Mia/Blood of Mine”, presented by Juan Armando Rojas Joo and Jennifer Rathbun on Monday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium.

The title of the anthology “Sangre mía / Blood of Mine Poetry of Border Violence, Gender and Identity in Ciudad Juárez,” pays homage to writer, social activist and media blogger, Susana Chavéz.

Chavéz was best known for coining the phrase “Ni una muerta más” used in the social campaigns against femicide in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The editors of the anthology Sangre mía / Blood of Mine, Rojas Joo and Rathbun, will share Susana’s message of peace in their presentation and reading from this bilingual collection of fifty-three poets whose verses denounce violence committed against women along the U.S. Mexico border region of Ciudad Juárez El Paso, TX.

The Symposium Against Indifference will come to a close with a screening of “Dawnland” and a discussion to follow on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium.

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“Dawnland” tells the story of the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first in the U.S. to address Native issues.

“Dawnland” tells the story of the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first in the U.S. to address Native issues. For over two years, native and non-native commissioners traveled across Maine to witness the impact of the state’s child welfare practices on Wabanaki families.

For more information regarding The Symposium Against Indifference, the public may visit cas-symposium.blogspot.com or contact Tricia Applegate, the coordinator of CAS communication, at 419-289-5950. For those interested in attending a performance of “An Enemy of the People,” visit Ashland.edu/Tickets or call 419-289-5125.