UD announces fall ’15 series speakers

By: Cassidy Colarik – Staff Writer

The University of Dayton Speaker Series Committee selected Ellen Gustafson and Eric Liu to present for next fall’s series.

Gustafson’s background will connect with students interested in social movements. Eric Liu’s presentation will address the topic of citizenship and the significance of civic duties.

The speakers’ topics will coincide with the committee’s goal: to begin and continue conversations, Kathy Webb, committee chair of the Speaker Series, said.

“These are world-class speakers and role models that students can attend right on campus for free,” Webb said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students to open their minds to new ideas, perspectives, as well as explore and think about modern day contemporary issues in a little bit more depth.”

Gustafson is a sustainable food system advocate, according to her official website. She is most recognized for founding 30 Project and co-founding FEED Projects.

Gustafson’s social movement for food system change began in 2007, when she partnered with Lauren Bush to develop the FEED Projects. Together, they designed the “FEED 1 Bag,” a reversible burlap organic cotton bag. A set donation is included in the cost of each FEED bag and enables a child in school to be fed for a year. According to FEED’s website, the social business has provided nearly 87 million meals globally through The World Food Programme and Feeding America.

Gustafson’s passion for food system change continued with her development of 30 Project in 2010, a nonprofit with the purpose of exploring the connection between obesity and starvation rates.

“I was firmly convinced that if more conferences and organizations and talks were focused on ‘obesity + hunger = one global food issue,’ we could get the right people talking about the right ways to rebuild a food system that addresses both problems,” Gustafson wrote on her website.

Since the development of this organization, she has been encouraged by the progress of esteemed organizations like The World Economic Forum and The World Food Prize, in creating programming focused on holistic change.

“The tide has shifted and today more people who work on hunger and obesity are connected and working together,” Gustafson said. “In many ways, one of the key goals of the 30 Project -to be a part of changing the conversation – has been accomplished.”

Eric Liu is changing the topic of the social justice conversation to citizenship. He is the founder and CEO of Citizen University, which endorses and teaches the art of great citizenship through an assortment of national programs, according to his official webpage. In 2014, he launched the program the Aspen Institute Program on American Identity to expand on this topic and put it into action.

“In this time of severe inequality and demographic flux in America, we have to develop a new story of ‘us,’” Liu said, according to an Aspen Institute press release. “By bringing together voices and leaders from across the aisle and the country, we can discover solutions to spread the values, systems and skills of powerful citizenship across the U.S.”

Additionally, Liu wrote numerous books, including the novel “The Gardens of Democracy,” which presents a 21st century way of envisioning citizenship, the economy and the role of government.

He also co-authored the book “Imagination First,” in which he explores ways to unlock imagination in the fields of education, business and the arts.

“Liu’s books about democracy and what all citizens need to do in terms of the community goes hand in hand with the University’s motto: to learn, lead and serve,” Webb said. “I believe that his comments about citizenship will be very on target with UD’s outlook.”

Ellen Gustafson’s talk will take place Tuesday, October 25, at 7 p.m. in the KU ballroom. Eric Liu’s talk will take place Thursday, November 12, at 7 p.m. in the KU ballroom. Book signings will follow both talks. Seats are first come, first serve.