Wittenberg Series gears up for season 37

The 37th season of the Wittenberg Series will include 10 lectures, convocations and programs, including a performance by Step Afrika!
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The 37th season of the Wittenberg Series will include 10 lectures, convocations and programs, including a performance by Step Afrika!

There’s a way to discover the mysteries of unseen planets and biotech enhancement, learn about the year civilization collapsed, be inspired by someone who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and laugh at the antics of one of the country’s legendary comedy troupes.

The admission price is also reasonable: free. That’s the mission of the Wittenberg Series, now in its 37th season.

The series, aimed at bringing boldness in thinking pursuits and education will present 10 lectures, convocations and programs beginning Tuesday, Aug. 27 and running monthly through March 2020. Most events will be on the Wittenberg campus and one at the John Legend Theater.

“We’re very excited about this season working with all of these guests,” said Wittenberg Series coordinator Lisa Watson.

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The series will begin at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27 in Weaver Chapel with the opening convocation “The Roads Home” by new campus provost Michelle Mattson.

Watson is enthused about the two arts programs. The first is Step Afrika! on Oct. 21 at the campus HPER Center.

Watson found the group highly recommended and will perform costumed tribal dances as well as in jeans and T-shirts. A Wittenberg dance class will be part of the presentation.

The Second City has produced some of the biggest names in comedy over the last 50 years: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler for starters. Local audiences may catch a future comedy superstar during “The Best of Second City” on Feb. 13 at the John Legend Theater.

The group performed here in 2014 to acclaim and this will bring a selection of classic comedy sketches.

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The audience’s imagination will travel beyond the stars for “Prospects for Unseen Planets Beyond Neptune,” the IBM Endowed Lecture in the Sciences with Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona on Sept. 26 in Bayley Auditorium. She’s helped identify bodies and planets previously unknown beyond our own galaxy.

“The Series likes to bridge academics with the broad community access to broaden our interest,” said Rick Incorvati, a member of the faculty programming committee.

The Sauer Symposium on Oct. 4 in Bayley Auditorium will present a theological subject with science for “Posthuman or Perfected Human? Biotech Enhancement and the History of Redemption” led by Gilbert Meilaender of Valparaiso University.

New York Times op-ed columnist, journalist, author and frequent television news guest Charles Blow will cover a variety of topics at the Koppenhaver Literary Lecture on Feb. 27 in Weaver Chapel.

Blow will take on politics, race, hazing and struggles in his personal lifestyle. Watson said this lecture will especially appeal to those interested in current events and journalism students.

Rounding out the Series is the Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History on March 30 in Bayley Auditorium. Eric Cline of George Washington University will present “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed” from his book about a turning point in human history.

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Cline is a veteran of National Geographic Channel shows and documentaries and will have a tie into archeology.

“Holding Fast to Dreams; A 50-Year Experiment in American Higher Education will be the MLK Jr. Convocation on Jan. 20 at Weaver Chapel with Freeman Hrabowski.

As a youth, Hrabowski was jailed marching for Civil Rights in Alabama in 1963 and was determined to use education as a tool. He’s the president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and influential in getting kids excited about STEM and has been featured on “60 Minutes” and in Time Magazine.

Other annual fixtures of the series will include the Festival Choral Eucharist for Reformation with the Rev. Dr. William Gafkjen leading on Oct 27 and Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas on Dec. 6, both in Weaver Chapel.

The Series will not have a Leventhal Lecture this season, but it may return in the future. Watson is excited about the 37th season lineup and the experience for the community.

“I don’t know anything about the ninth planet but I want to learn about it. I hope others will come and learn some new things,” she said.

For more information about the series, go to https://www.wittenberg.edu/about-wittenberg/art/wittenberg-series

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