November 8, 2013


Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 pm,
Trustee's Room (Upper Convocation Center)
On Thursday, November 14 at 7 p.m. in the Trustees Room of the Myers Convocation Center, students from the Ashland University Foreign Language and Art departments present "Sensing Literature from Latin American and the Caribbean," a collaborative work with the College of Arts and Sciences' Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean.  The event will present an assemblage of literary masterpieces and original digital images. This contemporary interpretation of literature and art will take the audience on a journey of Latin America, its history and its quest for cultural identity and freedom. 

The University students are the guides at this event which will travel through the literature of the region, along with its geography and history, as well as cultural, political and social struggles.  For five centuries literature has been one of the main instruments for Latin Americans to construct and express their identities, to share their political views, fight different types of repression and conceive alternative orders.  Through their own interpretations of these literary works, students will invite us to explore and reflect on these issues, and motivate views that consider the complexities of the history and current realities of the region.
Students have created assemblages of bilingual readings of literary texts and original digital images.  By listening to the readings in their original language, the audience will experience the sound, rhythm and other features that interpellate us through our senses and not our intellect. English versions of the texts will involve spectators in the realities and issues addressed by the original authors, while visual creations will connect the audience with contemporary views of cultural products created in other historical moments and contexts. Alejo Carpentier, from Cuba, Oswald de Andrade from Brazil, and Gloria AnzaldĂșa, from the United States, are some of the authors included in this literary/artistic event.



October 23, 2013

Upcoming Symposium Events to Highlight Environment, Peace and Justice in Latin America

Three upcoming events in this year’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean highlight Environment, Peace and Justice in Latin America.

On Wednesday October 30th at 7 pm in Ronk Lecture Hall, COE, sisters Pat and Kathy Floerke of the Center for Development in Central America (CDCA) will present Justice in Motion: Responding to Changing Needs with Nicaragua’s Poor.  The presentation is co-sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence and the Department of Foreign Languages.

On Monday November 4th at 7 pm in the Trustees’ Room, Upper Convocation Center, OK International Executive Director Perry Gottesfeld will present The Contribution of U.S. Foreign Investment to Environmental Pollution and Health Impacts.  This presentation is co-sponsored by that Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

On Thursday November 7th at 7:30 pm in Ronk Lecture Hall, COE, Dr. Geoffrey Dabelko, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University will present Environment, Peace and Security: Lessons from Latin America.  This presentation is part of the Environmental Lecture Series and is co-hosted by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.

Environment, Peace, and Security: Lessons from Latin America

The second event in this year’s Environmental Lecture Series will be a presentation by Geoffrey Dabelko from Ohio University.  That will be Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 pm in the Ronk Lecture Hall, COE.  This event is being co-hosted by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.

Dr. Geoffrey D. Dabelko, Ohio University
Dr. Geoffrey D. Dabelko is Professor and Director of Environmental Studies at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University in Athens, OH. From 1997-2012, he served as director of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP), a nonpartisan policy forum on environment, population, and security issues at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.   Dabelko continues to work as a senior advisor to the Wilson Center where he helps facilitate dialogue among policymakers, practitioners, and scholars grappling with the complex connections that link environment, health, population, conflict, and security.   Dabelko is also a member of the United Nations Environment Programme's Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. 

Dabelko is co-editor of the 2002 book Environmental Peacemaking, that describes how environmental degradation can catalyze conflict and violence.  On the other hand, cooperation between adversaries with shared environmental concerns can open up pathways to peace and security, by “enhancing trust, establishing habits of cooperation, lengthening the time horizons of decision makers, forging cooperative trans-societal linkages, and creating shared regional norms and identities.”  Dabelko’s most recent research focuses on climate change and security linkages as well as environmental pathways to confidence building and peacemaking, with a special emphasis on management of fresh water resources.   He is a lead author for the 5th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II Chapter 12 on Human Security.  He also teaches courses on global environmental politics, environmental leadership, climate change, and environmental peacebuilding.    

This year’s Environmental Lecture Series explores “Environmental and Human Health in Latin America,” with perspectives from experts in human ecology, policy, and scientific study related to specific environmental issues.

The Contribution of U.S. Foreign Investment to Environmental Pollution and Health Impacts

with Perry Gottesfeld of OK International

Monday, November 4th at 7:00 pm, Trustee's Room (Upper Convocation Center)

Perry Gottesfeld
The Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences' Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean is pleased to host Perry Gottesfeld, Executive Director of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International).

Co-sponsored by the Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Mr. Gottesfeld will speak on Monday, November 4th at 7 p.m. in the Trustee’s Room located in the Upper Convocation Center. 
U.S. corporate investment in industrial facilities is often welcomed by countries looking to expand markets, modernize antiquated facilities, create jobs, and improve productivity.  However, such investments are often followed by disappointment as companies continue to operate polluting plants that draw the attention of local regulators. These companies also come under criticism at home for not meeting U.S. standards for emissions and occupational health and safety protections.  This talk will explore two case studies outlining U.S. investments in Peru and Mexico that are resulting in significant environmental and public health impacts.

Perry Gottesfeld has been actively involved in the environmental health field since 1984. He obtained his Masters of Public Health in Biomedical and Environmental Health Sciences from UC Berkeley, and in 1988 started Occupational Knowledge, Inc., to offer training and consulting services in the environmental field. In this capacity, Mr. Gottesfeld has conducted environmental audits, training and consulting services to businesses, non-profit organizations, government and universities on hazardous materials and solid waste management issues. In 1999, Gottesfeld founded OK International to address environmental health in developing countries. OK International is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public health through innovative strategies to reduce exposures to industrial pollutants. The organization seeks to address inequities in environmental standards between developed and developing countries by working in partnership with industry, government and non-governmental organizations. The organization's web site may be found at


October 18, 2013

Justice in Motion: Responding to Changing Needs with Nicaragua's Poor

with sisters Pat and Kathy Floerke

Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., Ronk Lecture Hall (Schar)

The Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences' Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean will host Pat and Kathy Floerke from the Center for Development in Central America (CDCA) which is the Nicaraguan project of the non-profit, faith-based organization Jubilee House Community (JHC).

Co-sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence and the Department of Foreign Languages, the two sisters will offer a public presentation about their work on Wednesday, October 30, 7 p.m., in the Ronk Lecture Hall located in the Schar College of Education. They will also sell handicrafts in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 29 and 30, with proceeds supporting CDCA and their projects.

Working in Nicaragua since 1994, the CDCA seeks to respond to human needs created by poverty in the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere. The organization works in partnership with communities and cooperatives to facilitate empowerment enabling them to find their own solutions to the problems they identify and to connect them with resources to solve their problems. They focus on working towards freedom from poverty, helping communities become self-sufficient, sustainable, democratic entities, specifically in the areas of:    
  • Sustainable economic development which provides financing and access to capital for businesses such as a cotton gin, a carpentry workshop, a concrete construction materials plant,and a security cooperative, as well as several microenterprises.    
  • Sustainable organic agriculture offering aid and organizational support to approximately 3,000 farmers growing organic sesame, cotton, coffee and peanuts.    
  • Appropriate technology use which is implemented in proper context whether it is installing solar dehydrating latrines at a rural school, designing a clinic to encourage natural air flow, or using rocking chairs propped up with paving stones for rural dental exam chairs.    
  • Education which is fundamental to ultimately change the lives for Nicaraguans. Not only for the farmers, businesses, and in public health, there is also a goal to educate people in countries with money and power through offering volunteer experiences, hosting delegations and presentations on three annual speaking tours.    
  • Health care to treat people who need medical care, provide dental care, and offer education and support for healthier lives.
Pat and Kathy joined the JHC in 1987. Pat is a licensed clinical social worker who dedicates much of her time to counseling families, especially women and children, at the clinic. Additionally, She runs the Vision Clinic one day a week, checking eyes and handing out donated glasses to patients. Kathy bears the brunt of the unsung work of the CDCA as the bookkeeper, administrator, bill-payer, bank runner and liaison with the Nicaraguan government. She wades through miles of bureaucratic paperwork to make sure it is accurate, and permission is granted to bring donated medicines and other goods into the country.  The web site for the CDCA is at

October 12, 2013

US Ambassador Addresses International Adoption Issues

Ambassador Jacobs addressing questions from AU students and faculty
US Ambassador Susan Jacobs, and a member of her staff, Kathy Sacco, arrived in Ashland on October 1 as part of the College of Arts and Sciences Symposium, Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean. During her evening presentation she shared about the importance of intercountry parental-child abduction and adoption treaties for providing a framework for resolving international adoption and abduction issues. Specific cases were discussed, for example what led to Russia banning American citizens from adopting its orphaned children. Ambassador Jacobs also educated the audience about career opportunities in the Department of State in international relations where there are many opportunities to work to help children, or with an international organization that works on children's issues. She emphasized that the Department of State is looking for young men and women to work with them on these issues. Audience members had many questions.

The following day, they met with two classes of Social Work students. Kathy Sacco, whose master's degree is in Social Work, shared how a major in Social Work can lead to a career with the Federal government and be used to help children internationally. Ambassador Jacobs shared her experiences as a woman in the Department of State. Finally, the two met with Ashbrook and Political Science students and, in addition to previous topics, she shared stories about her work as an ambassador in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Ambassador arrived in Ashland the first day of the government shutdown and after returning to Washington DC was informed that further travel was cancelled due to the shutdown. She said she rarely visits a college campus as she typically speaks with foreign diplomats, government officials and agencies and she enjoyed meeting with college students. We were fortunate that her planned visit could actually take place.

September 24, 2013


Ambassador Susan Jacobs congratulates a child at an adopted children’s naturalization ceremony. 
The Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences' Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean is proud to present a program with Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for the U.S. Department of State's Office of Children's Issues. In addition to meeting with various groups of University students to discuss international student travel, Department of State internship and employment opportunities as well as her experiences as a woman in the Department of State, Ambassador Jacobs will address international children's issues at a public evening program on Tuesday, October 1, 7 p.m. in the Faculty Room of the Myers Convocation Center. This event is free and open to the public.

While encouraging extensive audience participation, Jacobs' evening program will focus on topics including child abduction across borders and international adoption. As Special Advisor for International Children’s Issues, she actively engages with foreign government officials to protect the welfare and interests of children. She travels around the world leading meetings with foreign representatives to discuss ways to further promote The Hague Adoption and Abduction Conventions, and assist signatory countries to meet their responsibilities on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction under the conventions. In relation to the Symposium's focus on Latin American, these countries are the most common destination of reported parental abductions, for example, the Sean Goldman case that threatened U.S. Brazil relations.
Ambassador Jacobs meets with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.
As one of the first women at the U.S. Department of State to serve as as a foreign ambassador, Ambassador Jacobs was a Senior Policy Advisor in the Bureau of Consular Affairs and previously served as the Bureau’s liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. From 2000-2003 she was the United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. From April 1998 to October 2000 she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Issues in the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs. Ambassador Jacobs joined the Foreign Service in 1974. Her early assignments included tours as vice consul in Caracas, deputy consul general in Tel Aviv, refugee officer in New Delhi, office director in the State Department's Citizens Emergency Center, and special assistant to the Ambassador in San Salvador.

In 1990 she returned to Washington, DC where she served as an office director in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs and then as a Legislative Management Officer in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs. In 1994 she was senior policy advisor to the Commission on Immigration Reform, and from 1995 to 1997 she was the U.S. Consul General in Bucharest. A high point of her Bucharest tour was serving as the coordinator for the July, 1996 visit of First Lady Hillary Clinton. In 1997 she attended the Senior Seminar, a nine-month advanced professional development program designed for senior foreign policy officials in the United States Government.

Ambassador Jacobs graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she was a Regents Scholar, and later studied at Georgetown University Law School and the George Washington University. She has received numerous awards, including the Department of State's Meritorious Honor Award, its Superior Honor Award; and the Community Achievement Award in New Delhi.

Night Train to Bolina and "Inside the Season" pre-show talk

The kickoff event for the Ashland University 2013-2014 Theatre season is the play Night Train to Bolina by 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz.  Night Train to Bolina is the story of two children, Mateo and Clara, who rely on each other and their imaginations to help them flee a violent world.  Written in a masterful magic realist style, that is beautiful, moving and powerful, Night Train to Bolina shows us the strength and resilience of youth in the most difficult of circumstances. Showings will be September 26th, 27th, 28th,  October 3rd, 4th, 5th  at 7:30 p.m. and September 29th at 2:00 p.m. in the Studio Theatre.  
The Department of Theatre and the College of Arts and Sciences is sponsoring an “Inside the Season” pre-show talk as part of the Symposium Against Indifference: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean. Led by Fabio Polanco, associate professor of theatre and director of the drama “Night Train to Bolina,” the event is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, on the Hugo Young Theatre stage prior to that evening’s performance. The public is invited to the pre-show talk even if they don't have tickets for that evening’s performance. John and Karen Godt, founders of the Hope for Honduran Children Foundation, will add real-life experiences to the presentation as they discuss their organization’s work.

The pre-show talks are offered to give audience members the inside story as they learn more about the production and its creators, while also hosting guest presenters in connection with the show’s theme. Since “Night Train to Bolina” and this year’s Symposium both focus on Latin America, this first presentation of “Inside the Season” will examine the effect of civil unrest and violence on children in these areas from the playwright’s efforts in developing the script to the work of John and Karen Godt’s foundation.

Karen Godt at the Flor Azul Boys Community in Honduras.

The Hope for Honduran Children Foundation, based in Cleveland, Ohio, was established to help provide a nurturing environment for children ravaged by conditions of extreme poverty in Central America. In addition to supporting them with food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education, their ultimate goal is to instill the desire and provide the necessary tools for these children to become self-sufficient, caring, and responsible adults. Literature about the organization will be available at all performances and donations will be accepted on their behalf. For more information, the organization's Web site is at

For more information about Ashland University Theatre visit or call the Box Office at 419.289.5125.

September 9, 2013

Drug-Trafficking and Deforestation in Central America

The first event in this year’s Environmental Lecture Series will be a presentation by Kendra McSweeney from Ohio State University.  That will be Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 pm in the Ronk Lecture Hall, COE.

Kendra McSweeney interviewing the oldest living Tawahka woman, Honduras (photo credit: K. McSweeney)
Dr. McSweeney is a geographer specializing in the relationship between people and forests.  She has conducted research for 20 years in Honduras, where she has tracked the resilience of forest-dependent native communities to climate-related and other exogenous shocks, including drug trafficking. She has also studied the links between demographic change and struggles around territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  At Ohio State, she teaches courses on Latin America, fieldwork, research and professionalization, demography, and environment. 

“… There has been relatively little attention…to the ways in which narco-trafficking is transforming the Central American countryside. In fact, the flow of drugs through remote, biodiverse regions is having a profound and devastating effect on the region's forests; Guatemala and Honduras now have some of the world's highest deforestation rates. Narco-trafficking is also contributing to the massive displacement and impoverishment of indigenous peoples and peasant smallholders across the region. Drawing from long-term research in eastern Honduras (a major trafficking hub), this talk will detail just how drug trafficking has this effect, and will review the ways in which these dynamics are profoundly linked to the ways in which the U.S. chooses to wage its 'war on drugs.' "

View of deforestation from boat, as seen by two young Tawahka women, Honduras (photo credit: K. McSweeney)

This year’s Environmental Lecture Series explores “Environmental and Human Health in Latin America,” with perspectives from experts in human ecology, policy, and scientific study related to specific environmental issues.

September 5, 2013

“Our Culture is Not for Sale”: Maya Spirituality and the December 21st, 2012 Predictions in a Global Context

Presenter:  Dr. Elizabeth Bell

September 18, 2013     7:00 pm

Ronk Lecture Hall

Elizabeth Bell is a Senior Lecturer at The Ohio State University, where she received her doctorate in 2012, specializing in Latin American literatures and cultures with a minor in Folklore Studies. She has worked with the Kaqchikel-Maya population in Guatemala since 2006 and studies the post-war resurgence of traditional Maya spiritual practices. She has published several articles based on her research and is currently revising her book manuscript for publication.

In 2009, this young researcher received a Fulbright grant to carry out fieldwork in Guatemala, focusing on the spiritual practices of Kaqchikel-Maya communities. “These communities make part of a society with increasing religious plurality, economic and ethnic inequality, drug-related violence and the legacy of military violence and discrimination.  They face ongoing lack of recognition and voicelessness in a society that values them only insofar as their culture can be appropriated for a growing tourism industry”.  One of the cultural objects colonized through this industry and the media around the world is the Maya calendar and time predictions, which constitute clear demonstrations of ancient and sophisticated systems of knowledge. In her talk, Bell will discuss the attempts of the Mayas to decolonize their systems of knowledge, focusing on the infamous 2012 “doomsday” predictions. She will share with us examples from her fieldwork before and after 2012.  We will see how, when unable to achieve social and political representation and recognition in this highly stratified postcolonial society, the Maya population negotiates meaning and achieves legitimacy by using the very tool which sets them apart: their culture.

August 14, 2013

Living On One Dollar

The kickoff event for the 2013-2014 College of Arts and Sciences Symposium Against Indifference will be a presentation by Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple, the executive directors and two of the co-founders of Living On One Dollar, on Wednesday, September 4 at 7pm in the Hugo Young Theatre.  

During summer vacation from college, Chris and Zach, both economics majors, set out to live on just $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala. Armed with only a video camera, they battled hunger, parasites and extreme financial stress. While there are no easy answers, their neighbors gave them resilient hope that there are effective ways to make a difference.

Living On One not only creates awareness of poverty, but provides opportunities for our generation to fight poverty effectively and build the skills necessary to innovate solutions. It currently focuses on supporting carefully evaluated microfinance organizations that provide simple, reliable and flexible financial services to the extreme poor.

Join Chris and Zach as they speak about their experience creating the award winning documentary and social action campaign, Living on One Dollar.

A trailer of the documentary is available here:
For additional information on Living On One Dollar, see

Symposium Against Indifference 2013-14: Engaging Latin America and the Caribbean