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Academics

Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture Series

The Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture and Scholar in Residence program was established in 2002 through a generous gift from alumnus Vernon L. Pack, a 1950 graduate of the University. A distinguished lecturer visits campus to address important current issues that will allow the Otterbein community to reflect on ethical, spiritual and social issues. In alternate years, an esteemed scholar is invited to campus to reside for up to one academic year in order to provide an educational enrichment experience for Otterbein students.

Language and Identity across Time and Space

Vernon Pack Convocation, March 16, 2015 at 6:00pm in Cowan Hall
Professor Bonny Norton, University of British Columbia

Consider the times we think about who we are or talk about our identity.  What does it mean when we describe ourselves with expressions, such as, “That’s just the way I am,” or “That’s the real me (or not the real me)?”  Do we have a single identity that defines the “core” of who we are, and/or do we have multiple identities that change over time?  How does being part of a digital world influence who we are? And what does our identity have to do with our learning?  The Vernon Pack lecture will address questions about identity and its relationship to learning, engaging us in the consideration of alternative theories of identity and the implications they have for educational change, not only in North America, but in Africa and beyond.  Pack lecturer, Professor Bonny Norton, will focus on the field of language learning and teaching, which has been central to her research for over two decades.  Likewise, she will discuss her theory of “investment,” which offers a sociological alternative to the psychological construct of “motivation,” arguing that a highly motivated student may nevertheless not be invested in classroom practices if such practices are racist, sexist, or homophobic.  Of particular interest is the way digital innovations are reshaping identities across time and space. Check out Professor Norton’s website and attend the lecture, joining the conversation at Otterbein!

Biography of Professor Bonny Norton
Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the turbulent apartheid years, Bonny Norton learnt at an early age the complex relationship between language, power, and identity. As a reporter for the University of Witwatersrand student newspaper, she investigated and documented the draconian language policies and practices of the state, which perpetuated huge educational and social inequities in the divided country. Now a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, her passion for social justice and the role of language education in social change has fuelled her extensive body of research across the globe, including southern and eastern Africa, south Asia, and North America. Her research is centrally concerned with the promotion of multilingual literacy, and is informed by her seminal work on identity and language learning, described in her 2010 AERA award as “changing the face of second language research.” Her highly cited book, Identity and Language Learning (2000/2013) has introduced novel conceptions of identity to the field of language education, and her work has been the subject of journal special issues in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Previous Lectures

2002 - Doris Kerns Goodwin, acclaimed historian and Pulitzer Prize in history winner for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.

2004 - Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN's international affairs program Fareed Zakaria GPS.

2005 - Alan Lightman, noted physicist and critically acclaimed author of Einstein's Dreams.

2008 - Ed Begley, Jr., actor and environmentalist.

2010 – Dee Dee Myers, White House press secretary under President Clinton from 1993-1994, political analyst and commentator, and author of Why Women Should Rule the World. Myers is an expert on the issues facing women in Washington and in leadership positions of all kinds.

2012 – Dr. Steven Pinker, Harvard University professor, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has been listed on TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in The World” and Foreign Policy magazine's list of “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals.”

2014 - Sir Salman Rushdie, one of the most celebrated authors of our time. He penned a handful of classic novels, influenced a generation of writers, and received a Queen’s Knighthood for “services to literature.” He stands as both a pop culture icon and one of the most thought-provoking proponents for free speech today. His novels include Midnight's Children, The Satanic VersesThe Moor's Last SighThe Ground Beneath Her Feet and The Enchantress of Florence.

Distinguished Scholars in Residence

2003 - Dr. Valentine Moghadam, a professor born in Iran, who conducts research regarding development, social change, and gender in the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan.

2005- Lois Raimondo, an internationally-known photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist nominee for her work on the New York City Mitchell Lama housing project for New York Newsday.

2007 - Wande Abimbola, President of the International Congress of Orisa Tradition and Culture, and world-renowned expert on Ifa, a West African sacred divinatory and literary system.

2009 - Dr. Richard Alley, an acclaimed geologist who conducts research on environmental issues including abrupt climate changes, glaciers, ice sheet collapse and sea level change. 

2011 - Harrell Fletcher, renowned visual and conceptual artist and recipient of the 2005 Alpert Award in Visual Arts.

2013 - Dr. Robert Fefferman, acclaimed mathematician in the field of harmonic analysis and its applications to elliptic partial differential equations and its relationship to probability theory. 

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