The Dean’s Lecture Series takes faculty expertise and knowledge from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences into the community in an ongoing effort to foster closer connections, share intriguing and timely information, and inspire conversation.

Why Do We Have Public Schools?

Dr. Johann Neem, Chair and Professor, Department of History

Fall 2017

At a time when state and national policy makers are debating the future of public education, Professor Neem draws on his new book, Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America, to examine the contested visions that led Americans to develop public schools in the first place. By returning to our roots, perhaps we can seek guidance about how to reform our schools for the future.

Dr. Judith M.S. Pine, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Spring 2017

In the presentation, Professor Pine will explore the consequences of the widespread claim that children in poverty struggle in school because they are exposed to fewer words in their homes. Often falling under the heading of the “word gap” or “language gap”, these claims have been reported in the national press and have become the basis for programs aimed at reducing equity in K-12 education. Professor Pine will argue that the word gap claim is at best an oversimplification of a serious situation, misrecognizing crucial elements of the problem. However, this myth fits well into an existing structure of ideas shared by many of those with influence in education and in government. Solutions based on “language gap” theory may, by playing into a shared set of stereotypes, reinforce rather than reduce the inequity experienced by poor children in the K-12 school.

Dr. Bidisha Biswas, Professor, Department of Political Science

Winter 2017

Bidisha Biswas presents perspectives from her recent, co-authored book Indian Immigrant Women and Work: The American Experience. The book challenges dominant narratives about women immigrants to the United States, which portray women as being either dependent migrants following the path chosen by men, or victims of desperation, forced into the migrant path due to economic pressures. Biswas’s research looks at the experiences of Indian women who have chosen their own migratory pathways in the U.S. Based on historical research and interviews with about thirty women, the book widens our understanding of immigration, race, class, and gender by focusing on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of independent, high-skilled women immigrants.

Dr. Todd Donovan, Professor, Department of Political Science

Fall 2017

Donald Trump has been cast as an 'outsider,' populist, anti-establishment figure. His victory in the 2016 Republican primaries, his campaign style, and his rhetoric surprised many political observers. This discussion considers how, or if, Trump's campaigns and the 2016 elections represent a fundamental change in the Republican Party, the American electorate, and American politics.

Todd Donovan is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He is co-author or co-editor of several books on elections and representation, and is past president of the Pacific Northwest Political Science Association. His research areas include public opinion, elections, electoral rules, representation, and direct democracy. He studies elections in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and has worked as an expert witness on election matters in state and federal courts in Alaska, California, Montana, Tennessee, and Washington.

"A Critical Evaluation of the Fine-Tuning Argument for the Existence of God"

Dr. Hud Hudson, Professor of Philosophy at Western Washington University

The fine-tuning argument for the existence of God has been generating a great deal of attention over recent years. In this talk, Dr. Hudson will sketch one of the more promising versions of that argument, explaining and motivating its various premises. He will then briefly note several potential critiques of that line of reasoning, and finally he will examine in some depth one underexplored criticism, which (in his judgment) is a powerful obstacle to the success of the argument.

Nesting Boxes: American Communes and the Liberal Arts

Presented by Dr. Holly Folk, Associate Professor of Liberal Studies at Western Washington University

February 29th is the historic birthday of Mother Ann Lee, founder of the United Society of Believer’s in Christ’s Second Appearing. In the mid-19th century, more than 4000 people lived in 19 Shaker settlements. Today that number has fallen to three living members, who are sustained in worship by a community of supporters. Though commonly remembered for their contributions to American music, architecture, and furniture design, the Shakers proposed radical alternatives for how to be human. Developed over time, the Shaker “Order” became a system for regimenting the physical body, personal conduct, and social interaction. Come learn a bit about the Shakers and efforts to preserve their history, and that of other planned societies. The talk will discuss the inter-disciplinarity of communal studies, and the practical lessons communes offer for the humanities and general education.

The Lives of Veterans after Military Service: A Portrait of the Last 75 Years

Presented by Dr. Jay Teachman, Professor of Sociology at Western Washington University

Currently more than 21 million veterans live in the United States, which equates to about 10 percent of the population age 17 and older. These veterans have served during times of peace and during times of war, but they have all dedicated a portion of their lives to the service of their country. A growing body of literature has begun to outline the consequences of military service for the lives of veterans, yet our knowledge remains fragmented. In particular, it is difficult to understand the scope of effects of military service and how these effects may have changed over time.

"Pledging Allegiance, the Ku Klux Klan, and Religous Freedom in Bellingham in the 1920s"

Presented by Dr. Kevin Leonard, Professor of History at Western Washington University

In September 1925, a Bellingham judge removed 9-year-old Russell Tremain from the custody of his parents, who had refused to send their son to school. John W. Tremain and his wife, Ethel Tremain, insisted that the mandatory flag salute was incompatible with their religious beliefs. Even as local community leaders condemned John and Ethel Tremain, they struggled with the presence of the Ku Klux Klan in Whatcom County. In his presentation, Leonard will explore the tensions between religious freedom and patriotic nativism that were evident in Bellingham in the 1920s.

Born to Run? Biomechanical Factors of Running Injuries

Presented by Dr. Jun San Juan, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, Physical Education, Health & Recreation Department

Running is becoming an increasingly popular activity with participation noted at all age levels. The increase in both participation and increased frequency of training can lead to significantly increased exposure to running-related injuries, most notably in the lower extremities. In his presentation, Jun San Juan will discuss multiple factors that can contribute to running-related injuries.


Concussion in the Young Athlete: Considerations for Safe Return-to-Play and Return-to-Learn

Presented by Dr. Michael Fraas, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Washington University

Concussion in sports has gained a great deal of attention in the media. Should athletes, parents, and educators be concerned about the safety of young athletes? This presentation will explain the impact of concussion, and highlight ways to effectively treat concussion symptoms and safely return athletes to competition and the classroom.

Presented by Sheila Webb, Associate Professor of Journalism at Western Washington University.