Dr. Carlos Colorado announces lecture series and Spring Institutes

Graduate Studies

Carlos ColoradoWhat is The Axworthy Distinguished Lecture Series on Social Justice and the Public Good?

We have some great lectureships on campus, including the Bonnycastle and Laird Lectures. These two series engage important topics for our university community, including the life of cities and topics in the natural and human sciences. The Axworthy Distinguished Lectureship will be an exciting complement to both of these lecture series.

The Axworthy Lectureship is an annual lecture series that addresses issues of social justice and the public good from a broad range of interdisciplinary perspectives. As an example of this interdisciplinarity, our first speaker is a scholar of religion and race, while our second is a leading primatologist that engages pressing environmental issues. My hope is that we can attract a wide range of community members to attend these lectures, both to experience the lectures and to participate in the important discussions that will surely emanate from the talks themselves.

Which speakers are you bringing in this year?

Through the Axworthy Lecture Series, our goal is to bring in front-ranking scholars, researchers and public intellectuals to the University of Winnipeg—the sorts of leading voices that can speak with real authority on the social justice issues we face as a community. We are pretty thrilled with our lineup so far!

Our speaker for the current academic year is Dr. Cornel West. He is Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union in New York and has previously held positions at many prestigious universities, including Princeton, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris. His research contributions to critical race theory have been deeply influential, and his recent work on religion in the public sphere has garnered much attention. He is an impressive, prodigious scholar. Alongside this more traditional scholarly contribution, Dr. West has distinguished himself as one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. He is a regular on shows like The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and often appears as a panelist on CNN, BBC, Fox News, and Al Jazeera. He even starred in The Matrix Trilogy and collaborated on a spoken word album with Prince!

Next year’s speaker really needs no introduction. Dr. Jane Goodall, the preeminent primatologist, serves as a UN Messenger of Peace. Her work  at the Gombe Reserve in Tanzania remains some of the most foundational research into the way we understand primates. Through the Jane Goodall Institute, she has done incredibly important work on behalf of the animal world and the environment. 

How did you choose these speakers? Was there a nomination process?

Speakers were nominated by a committee populated by Dr. Axworthy and a number of faculty and staff members who have research and teaching interests in social justice.

Can you talk about your role with Graduate Studies?

I serve as the UW Chair of the Joint Masters Program in Religion and also represent the program on the Graduate Senate Committee. Like a number of my colleagues in the JMP in Religion, I teach and supervise students in the area of religion and modernity, especially religion and secularism. As you might imagine, this lecture series has caused much excitement amongst our students. I am sure that many graduate students in other UW programs will also find this initiative to be highly relevant to their research and programs of study.

Are you going to be hosting any Spring Institutes again this year?

Yes. Axworthy Lectures will take place in conjunction with Institutes delivered by CLASS—a group of University of Winnipeg researchers engaging in topics related to the liberal arts and secular society. The Institutes are a great vehicle for UW faculty to share their research with students in a seminar setting. Our group organized our first Spring Institute in 2014, which was entitled “Is Canada Secular?” and featured the CBC’s Chantal Hebert. I will teach an Institute this spring entitled "Public Religion in a Secular World”. Students will enjoy guest lectures by Cornel West, Etienne Gaboury and Wab Kinew, as well as some fantastic faculty members from across the Faculty of Arts. More details can be found on the CLASS website.

We are shifting gears a little after that and offering an Institute in the fall, taught by Dr Jason Hannan. Unlike the intensive Spring Institutes, this one will run for the full fall term. The topic of that Fall Institute is “Humanity, Animality, Secularity” and will revolve around Dr. Goodall’s visit.

Anything else you’d like to add?

As you know, this lecture series has been established to honour Dr. Lloyd Axworthy. And in line with his own commitment to policies and practices of accessibility, the Axworthy Lectureship will be open to the public and tickets will be free. To achieve this high degree of accessibility, we must rely on community support. We’ve received some generous gifts to get the initiative off the ground and I think we’re off to a great start. However, our goal is to build an endowment so this lecture series can continue for the long-term. We very much welcome donations in order to make the Axworthy Lectureship sustainable as a free and open event. Any gifts can be made through the University of Winnipeg Foundation.

Read more of our Faculty and Staff Features >