posted September 26, 2005

Change in CIS Opening Keynote Speaker

The Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College has announced a change in speaker for the event's opening keynote address on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Francis Bok, an escaped Sudanese slave who is an activist with the American Anti-Slavery Group, will present the opening keynote on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Bok has been scheduled in place of Dr. Haruun Ruun, who is executive director of the New Sudan Council of Churches and a Reformed Church in America world mission program associate. After arriving in the U.S. late last week, Ruun was called by the Sudanese government to return home and take part in the formation of a national unity effort to restore peace in Sudan. The college hopes to have him come to campus in 2006 to speak.

The college's annual Critical Issues Symposium provides an intensive look at a single topic. This year's symposium, which runs Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 27-28, is examining "From Auschwitz to Darfur: Genocide in the Global Village," and will feature two keynote addresses, three blocks of concurrent focus and departmental sessions, and a concluding worship service.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

In 1986, Bok was abducted at age seven during an Arab slave raid on his village in southern Sudan, witnessing adults and children brutalized and killed all around him. He spent the next 10 years as a slave to a northern Sudanese family, until escaping.

He has since dedicated his life to speaking out on behalf of those who are still in

bondage. He has spoken on college campuses across the country, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, been profiled on the front page of the "Wall Street Journal" and on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition," and even met with President Bush. His autobiography, "Escape from Slavery," was released by St. Martin's Press and recently won the Suze Orman Award for Best New Author.

The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) is America's leading human rights group dedicated to abolishing modern-day slavery worldwide. Since its founding in 1994, the AASG has helped free more than 800,000 slaves, spotlighted and defended the work of local abolitionist activists worldwide, brought modern-day slavery into the international agenda, and launched an anti-slavery Web portal that updates and mobilizes 45,000 activists each month.

The presentations on Wednesday, Sept. 28, will open at 9 a.m. with the keynote address "Never Again? Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding in a Genocidal World" in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The speaker will be Dr. James Waller, who is the Edward B. Lindaman Chair and Professor of Psychology at Whitworth College.

Waller has taught courses on intergroup relations, prejudice and genocide studies for 20 years. He is a widely recognized scholar in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies, and his publications include the book "Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killings." A study tour that he developed, "Prejudice Across America," was named by President Clinton's Initiative on Race as one of America's "Promising Practices for Racial Reconciliation" and led Waller to write the books "Face to Face: The Changing State of Racism Across America" and "Prejudice Across America."

A variety of concurrent presentations will take place at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

The 10:30 a.m. sessions will include "Never Again? Continued Discussion," with morning keynote speaker Dr. James Waller; "The Reformed Church in America's Response to Genocide," by Deb Braaksma, supervisor for the RCA for mission programs in Africa; "Refugees and Immigrants in West Michigan: Trends, Successes and Challenges of Integration," by Papa N'Jai, who is refugee services director with Catholic Human Development Outreach; and

"Describing Genocide in Rwanda," by David Rawson, former U.S. ambassador to Rwanda.

The 1 p.m. sessions will include "Twisted Cross: Were the Nazis Christians?," by Dr. Doris Bergen, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame; "With Their Own Words," a panel discussion featuring survivors of genocide, including Socheth Na from Cambodia, Deng Dominic Majok from Sudan, and Christopher Sinankwa from Burundi and Rwanda, with Paulette Chaponniere, associate professor of nursing at Hope, serving as moderator; "Fifteen Ways to Respond," led by Hope faculty members Dr. Fred Johnson, assistant professor of history, and Amanda Barton, assistant professor of nursing; and "When and How? Teaching Critical Social Issues to Children through Literature," by children's author Ruth Vander Zee.

The 2:15 p.m. sessions are sponsored by a variety of academic departments, and include "Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing," by James Waller; "History, Historians and the Problem of Evil," by Doris Bergen; "Understanding Genocide: Can it Happen Here?"; "Dealing 'Diplomatically' with Genocide," by David Rawson; "Reconciliation in the Aftermath of War," by Deb Braaksma; and "Arguing for Genocide in Nazi Germany," by Randy Bytwerk of the communication arts and sciences faculty at Calvin College.

Additional details concerning the three blocks of sessions, including locations, will be available in the printed program distributed during the symposium, and may also be found through the college's Web site, www.hope.edu/cis/

There will be a concluding chapel service on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 3:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Deb Braaksma will be the worship leader.

Activities scheduled in conjunction with the symposium include the exhibition "Ryan Spencer Reed Photographs: The Sudan Project," which features images taken in Sudan. Reed will deliver a guest lecture in advance of the symposium, speaking on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 1 p.m. in the gallery of the De Pree Art Center. The exhibition will run in the gallery Monday-Friday, Sept. 26-30. The gallery will be open on Monday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free.

The college also scheduled the film "Hotel Rwanda" and an address by Paul Rusesabagina, whose story is told in the film, in advance of the symposium. The film ran from Sept. 10 through Sept. 13, with Rusesabagina's talk presented on Sept. 14.

The college's Critical Issues Symposium, first held in 1980, was established to stimulate serious thinking about current issues, and to provide a forum in which the Holland community, students and faculty may all engage in discussion with experts. The college cancels classes for a day to provide an opportunity for the event.

Past topics have included "The Middle East," "World Hunger," "The Family," "Energy," "Civil Rights," "The Quest for Justice: Christian Voices," "Lifeboat Earth: Decisions for Tomorrow," "The Columbus Legacy, 1492-1992," "Race and Social Change in America," "What Future is in our Genes: Freedom from Disease, Good Investment, Manufactured Humans?," "Sport and American Life," "Feminism and Faith: Implications for Life," "Gold Rush and Ghost Towns: Living with the Internet," "Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes," "Putting Science in Its Place: Discovery and Responsibility," and "Race and Opportunity: Echoes of Brown v. Board of Education."