Humanities Institute

Difficult Dialogues Public Forums

DD ForumGoing In, Getting Out: Race and Incarceration in the U.S.

Our Fall 2017 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum, "Going In, Getting Out: Race and Incarceration in the U.S.," will be held on the evening of Monday, October 30, 2017. Following the screening of Ava DuVernary's 13th will be a panel discussion and Q&A featuring a Criminal Justice Organizer from Grassroots Leadership and UT faculty. Grassroots Leadership is a non-profit organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.

This Difficult dialogues Public Forum is sponsored by the Humanities Institute. 

Spring 2017 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum with Creativity for PeaceEnvisioning Peace Through Dialogue: A Conversation Among Young Israeli and Palestinian Women

Spring 2017 Public Forum with Creativity for Peace

On February 13, 2017, this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum will feature Creativity for Peace, a non-profit organization that is a leader in training young Israeli and Palestinian women to be peacemakers in their communities. The panel will feature four young women leaders affiliated with Creativity for Peace and Dottie Indyke, the organization's Executive Director. Panelists will discuss how they facilitate dialogue to promote equality and peace.

Our Spring 2017 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum with Creativity for Peace on "Envisioning Peace Through Dialogue: A Conversation Among Israeli and Palestinian Women" is sponsored in part by the Kidd Centennial Lectureship.


Rita Charon Poster"What Is A Caring Society?"

Fall 2016 Public Forum with Rita Charon

Held on September 19, 2016, this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum featured a panel with Dr. Rita Charon, Professor of Medicine and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, as well as our 2016-2017 Cline Visiting Professor; Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin; and, Simone Talma Flowers, Executive Director at Interfaith Action of Central Texas. The panel was moderated by Barbara Jones, Professor and Associate Dean for Health Affairs School of Social Work. The forum was attended by roughly 140 faculty, students, and community members.

Our Fall 2016 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum on "What Is A Caring Society?" was sponsored by the Kidd Centennial Lectureship.


Veterans, Community, and CampusVeterans, Community, and Campus

Spring 2016 Public Forum

Held on March 8, 2016, this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum was led by four panelists, Dr. Max Rayneard of the Telling Project, Ivan Vazquez, Student Veteran Adviser in the Office of the Dean of Students, Dan Hamilton, President of the Student Veteran Association, and Kimberly Burris, Vice President of the Student Veteran Association. The panel discussion was moderated by Christine Leche, editor of Outside the Wire: American Soldiers' Voices from Aghanistan

Our Spring 2016 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum on Veterans, Community, and Campus was sponsored by the Barron Ulmer Kidd Centennial Lectureship.


The Future of Water in TexasThe Future of Water in Texas

Spring 2015 Public Forum

Held on February 24, 2015, this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum was led by Dr. Andrew Sansom, Research Professor of Geography and Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, and Dr. Katherine Lieberknecht, Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin and a Fellow with the school's Center for Sustainable Development. The discussion was moderated by Jim Walker, Director of Sustainability at the Office of Sustainability at the University of Texas at Austin.  

Roughly 70 particpants, including students, community members, and current and former UT Faculty, attended the event. 

Our Spring 2015 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum on the Future of Water in Texas was sponsored by the Barron Ulmer Kidd Centennial Lectureship.


 Pandemics PosterPandemics and Human Rights

Fall 2014 Public Forum

Held on November 5, 2014, this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum was led by Dr. Jeffrey Spike, former Director of the Campus-Wide Ethics Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, and Janet Pichette, Chief Epidemiolgist at the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Office. The discussion and Q&A was moderated by Dr. Shannon Cavanagh, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. The panel addressed questions such as the social, economic, environmental, and ecological conditions that foster pandemics; the use of quarantines and travel bans to contain diseases; access to experimental treatments; health care workers and the "duty to treat" during pandemics.

Roughly 78 faculty, students, and community members attended this panel, sponroed by the Barron Ulmer Kidd Centennial Lectureship.


Spring 2014 Forum

Human Trafficking, Forced Labor, and Our Consumer Choices

Spring 2014 Public Forum

Held on February 18, 2014, this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum was led by three panelists, Dr. Bruce Kellison, Associate Director of the Bureau of Business Research at the IC2 Institute, Shelton Green, founder of Good & Fair Clothing Company, and Salumita Mora, formerly a case worker at the Refugee Services of Texas. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Noel Busch-Armendariz, Professor in the School of Social Work and Director of the Institute on Domestic Violece and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin. This discussion on labor trafficking focused on the effects of consumerism. The roughly 100 attendees made up of faculty, students, and community members participated in an exercise to analyze the consequences of their consumer choices.

Our Spring 2014 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum was sponsored by the Barron Ulmer Kidd Centennial Lectureship.


Immigration, Education, and the DREAM ActImmigration, Education, and the DREAM Act: Fall 2013 Public Forum

On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, the Humanities Institute hosted a discussion on current immigration policy in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the social consequences of the U.S. Congress's failure to pass the DREAM Act. Panelists were Robert Crosnoe, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, Barbara Hines, Adjunct Professor at the UT School of Law, and Marco Malagon, President of the North Texas Dream Team.


Spring 2013 ForumThe Future of Global Education: Spring 2013 Public Forum

On Wednesday, February 13, 2013, the Humanities Institute hosted a discussion on the relationships that arise when educational aspirations and opportunities move into the global context. Panelists were Richard Handler, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia and Nancy Abelmann, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, EUI, and the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Fall 2012 ForumSurveillance, Space, and the Public: Fall 2012 Public Forum

On Monday, November 11, The Humanities Institute held a discussion that highlighted issues of art as critical engagement; linking historical modes of surveillance used to monitor people of color to contemporary practices; and the use of creative engagement with surveillance tactics to form community.
Panelists were Simone Bowne, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, Micha Cárdenas, at the time a Los Angeles based artist, scholar, and activist, and Ernesto Yerena, artist and activist.


Spring 2012 ForumWhat Is Fair? What Is Just?: Spring 2012 Public Forum

On Monday, April 2, The Humanities Institute held a discussion with scholars and community activists working on the issues of the accessibility and cost of education and health care.
Panelists were Dana Cloud, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Deliana García, Director of International Research and Development at the Migrant Clinicians Network in Austin, Texas, Robert Hummer, Howard Odum Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Laurie Posner, Senior Education Associate at the Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio, Texas.


Fall 2011 ForumMuslim Americans in Dialogue Since 9/11: Fall 2011 Public Forum

On October 18, 2011, Difficult Dialogues held a discussion that highlighted the diverse perspectives of Muslim Americans. The public forum gave audience members the opportunity to actively engage with the panelists as they explored the variety of ways Muslims in the United States respond to government policies, media portrayals, and public perceptions of their religion and their communities after 9/11. The forum was moderated by Dr. Maria Curtis, University of Houston Clear Lake. Respondents include Mustafaa Carroll, Council on American Islamic Relations, Houston; Dr. Güner Arslan, Institute of Interfaith Dialog, Austin; and, Dr. Faegheh Shirazi, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin.


Lawrence WrightSpring 2011 Public Forum

Held on March 29, 2011, this Difficult Dialogues forum featured author, screenwriter, and playwright, Lawrence Wright, who shared his experiences as a journalist in the Middle East. A Q&A session and a reception followed the event. Lawrence Wright was the 2011 Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities.


N. SchiesariFall 2010 Public Forum

This Difficult Dialogues Public Forum featured a screening and discussion of Tattooed Under Fire, with filmmaker, Nancy Schiesari and psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Stephen Sonnenberg. Filmed in a tattoo parlor in Killeen, Texas, Tattooed Under Fire records the experience of soldiers deploying to and returning from Iraq, as they describe why they chose thetattoos that are inked onto their bodies. UT professor, Nancy Schiesari directed the film and participated in the discussion. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Stephen Sonnenberg, BaylorCollege of Medicine, served as a commentator. He says the film "is a powerful representation of what soldiers experience in war, and how hey attempt to make meaning out of their traumatic experiences." During the Fall 2010 semester, Sonnenberg also moderated a community course on "Helping Our Teenagers Think About Violence and Peace."


Spring 2010 ForumThe Worried and the Worrisome: Spring 2010 Public Forum

During this Difficult Dialogues Public Forum, Dr. Jessica Fields of San Francisco State University lectured on the "The Worried and the Worrisome: Sex Ed Policy and Practice in the Contemporary United States" led by Dr. Jessica Fields, Professor of Sociology at San Francisco State University.


Suzanne SerrifMany Voices, Many Stories: Fall 2009 Public Forum

On October 22, 2009, Dr. Suzanne Seriff, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, led a discussion on her talk "Many Voices, Many Stories: Dialogues About Immigration in a Public Museum." Dr. Seriff also curated the traveling exhibit "Forgotten Gateway: Coming to American through Galveston Island."


Dr. Robert O'NeilScience, Religion, and Academic Freedom: Spring 2009 Public Forum

Our April 2009 forum was led by Dr. Robert O'Neil, Visiting Professor of Law from 2008-2009 at the University of Texas at Austin, Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, and Director of the Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues Initiative. The respondents included Dr. Daniel Bolnick, Dr. John Bugbee, Dr. Ann Cvetkovich, and Dr. Denné Reed, all at the University of Texas at Austin.