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Anne Wallen
University Honors Program
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KU hosting 2013 Phi Beta Kappa 2013-14 Visiting Scholar

Thu, 11/21/2013

LAWRENCE — Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Visiting Scholar Program has offered undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America’s most distinguished scholars. This week, the University of Kansas is hosting 2013-14 Visiting Scholar Alexander J. Field, the Michel and Mary Orradre Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University.

As part of his visit, Field will present, “A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Spencer Museum of Art. A question-and-answer session and reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Honors Program, the departments of Economics and History, and the Office of First-Year Experience. The lecture’s focus on the Great Depression corresponds with the time period of the 2013-14 KU Common Book, “The Worst Hard Time,” by author Timothy Egan.

The purpose of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.  The 13 men and women participating during 2013-2014 will visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, spending two days on each campus and taking full part in the academic life of the institution.

KU is the home of the Alpha Chapter of Kansas of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Kansas Alpha was founded in 1890 as the oldest chapter west of the Mississippi and only the 31st chapter in the nation. Founding members included Francis Huntington Snow, one of KU’s original three faculty members and the university’s fifth chancellor.

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society. It has chapters at 283 institutions and more than a half-million members throughout the country.  Its mission is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression.



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Lauded race and class historian becomes KU Foundation Professor David Roediger’s award-winning research and writing has already transformed how historians view the growth of social freedoms in America though the intersection of race, class, ethnicity, and labor. Now Roediger, as KU’s first Foundation Distinguished Professor of History (http://bit.ly/1AbAqYw), will continue to break new ground in those fields as he leads KU’s departments of American Studies and History. Roediger likes to study historical flash points — where one particular change brings a cascade of wider cultural changes. His latest book, “Seizing Freedom, Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All,” makes the point that as slaves began freeing themselves across the South during the Civil War, their emancipation inspired and ignited other cultural movements for freedom — such as the women’s movement for suffrage and the labor movement for better working conditions and an eight-hour day. Understanding the individual stories of average people who wanted to make their lives better, including slaves or factory workers, is important to understanding the wider political movements and elections, Roediger said. “It's tempting to think that all the important political questions have been decided,” he said, “but actually people are constantly thinking about what freedom would mean for them.”


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