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Free Lectures bring world views

A free Wednesday noontime lecture series begins today, bringing fresh world perspectives to the campus.

The lecturers in all but one program are visiting professors at summer session. The location of the lectures will be the Multicultural Center, although the location of the center itself will shift during the summer as renovation construction continues in Smith Memorial Center.

Today’s lecture brings Ernesto Herzberg of Puebla, Mexico, speaking on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In his view, trade between Mexico and the United States has increased tremendously in the eight years since NAFTA was launched. However, the majority of Mexicans feel they have gained little or nothing from such an agreement.

He sees the United States turning its focus on other matters after the Sept. 11 tragedies. As a consequence, such issues as a monetary union and free labor movement will have to wait for some time.

There will be six lectures in the series, running through Aug. 7. This summertime series of world-oriented talks has been presented here for at least 15 years, according to Steve Harmon, summer session coordinator.

“The series is designed to highlight our visiting international professors. We have a group of international visitors who come in each year to give our students at Portland State an opportunity to hear different international voices and viewpoints in different areas,” he said.

The series emphasizes such fields as economics and political science, although the topics cover a wide range. Each speaker chooses the topic. This year, Harmon said, the program brings special focus to Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. There are also scholars from northern and central Europe. The sessions include time for questions. Refreshments are served and the general public is welcome.

On Aug. 7, Gawdat Gabra, will speak on birds and animals in Coptic art. The Copts are an ancient branch of Christian Egyptians who incorporated heavy usage of birds and animals into their art.

Richard Wilson, of Yorkshire, U.K., who just returned from a visiting professor assignment in Turkey, will speak on July 10. His lecture is titled, “Little known England, a celebration in verse and pictures.” Wilson is a fiction prize winner and will include some of his own work.

Zhan Taianxiang will present “Changes in China in recent times” on July 17. Taianxiang teaches in the history department at Hangzhou University and travels and lectures widely at American universities.

July 24, Dimitar Dimitrov will examine Bulgaria in the post-Communist era, emphasizing geographic dimensions of the transition to a market economy. Dimitrov, of Sofia, Bulgaria, will diagnose the territorial and environmental problems presented by the transition.

A view from the West Indies on July 31 will bring Emmanuel Kwaku Senah of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He will apply linguistic analysis to contrasting concepts of slavery in the West Indies and the United States. One of Senah’s courses here at PSU covers Voodoo Hindu Islam in the Caribbean.

A total of 13 visiting international professors are teaching summer courses. Elizabeth Snyder, coordinator of the Haystack Summer Program in the Arts, assisted Harmon in scheduling the speaking series.