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Set High Expectations - And Exceed Them!

Spring 2012

Schemel Forum participants observe a recent University for a Day presentation.

The Schemel Forum is one of the University’s newest offerings – an academic program that evolved from one man’s desire to study Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” and grew organically into an annual array of intellectual and cultural offerings. These include University for a Day, short courses in a variety of fields, a World Affairs Briefings seminar series, and occasional concerts and cultural tours. The forum is resplendent with ideas, literary treasures, philosophical perspectives and historical investigations, providing the campus and community insights into the complexities of the

21st century globalized world. Most of all, it affords people in the region the opportunity to experience the joy of learning together.

The Schemel Forum was founded in July 2006 through generous gifts to the Rev. George Schemel, S.J., Fund. Friends of the late Fr. Schemel created the fund in his loving memory in order to support cultural enrichment and education in the community. The forum’s aim is to provide a gateway to the realm of ideas – an opportunity for people of all ages to explore the intellectual and cultural wonders of the world. Schemel members make new friends and discover new dimensions of old ones. Most importantly, through the forum, the University offers the community one of its most valuable assets – its faculty members and the wealth of knowledge they possess – and occasions to engage with internationally acclaimed experts in the arts, humanities and current affairs.

In the five years of its existence, Schemel has grown both in size and reputation, attracting middle school teachers, doctors, lawyers, religious and civic leaders. People of all ages come together to return to their liberal arts studies or to discover them after reaching proficiencies in other areas – business, sciences and the like.

The recipe for the program’s success has several ingredients, but predominantly we are a forum grounded in the search for excellence. We believe in setting high standards, developing high expectations – and then exceeding both. We aim to have engaging and engaged experts, whether from our own campus or elsewhere. Although our programs are not for credit, Schemel students are expected to read for courses and take part in discussions; in turn, students expect from us a range of intellectual and cultural experiences that refresh and enlighten them. Faculty members expect to enjoy teaching seasoned learners and doers; the University expects to find new admirers and friends – carving out a new area of service to the community, and it does. If we were to have a motto, it would be, “Set high expectations – and exceed them!”

A semester does not go by without ample and varied arts experiences. To mention a few, we have had lectures on Picasso and Michelangelo, Toni Morrison’s “A Mercy” and the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson; courses on Greek and Roman classics, James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” Shakespeare on film, Jane Austen, American ethnic literature, the Federalist papers, and the philosophy of happiness; and an interdisciplinary session on politics and prose. We have sponsored concert artists from the United States, China, Israel and Zimbabwe and bus trips to New York and Philadelphia to view important art exhibitions.

We believe that through the arts and humanities we broaden the horizons of local residents and in doing so raise the cultural bar in the region. Universities are among our most important institutions. And if they are to thrive, they must make a significant contribution not only to the lives of their students, but to the life of the community.

“It provides an exciting forum for faculty to share their research, expertise and educational mission and, at the same time, helps those in the larger community interested in lifelong learning to find each other and to gain a deeper sense of their own role in fostering the intellectual, cultural and social growth of their communities,” says Denise Fulbrook, an adjunct literature faculty member at Scranton, who has taught several Schemel Forum courses. “The Schemel Forum serves as a vital reminder that a university’s mission is not only to educate, but to learn from the rich experiences of the community of citizens that surrounds and supports it.”

Clement Price, Ph.D., professor of African American history and founding director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University– Newark, who spoke at the University for a Day in October 2010, seconds Fulbrook’s sentiments.

“What you have mounted at The University of Scranton is nothing short of the gold standard for community engagement, lifelong intellectual work and fellowship,” says Dr. Price. “I plan to take up the idea of mounting a Rutgers version of University for a Day in the next academic year with my colleagues.”

We are not satisfied. We hope to bring more people into the Schemel fold – to learn together about the rapidly changing world that is ours. We cannot afford the luxury of ignorance or indifference in this information age. We need to know about yesterday and today – so that we can make a better tomorrow for all the world’s people.

Past University for a Day Lectures

In fall 2011, the Schemel Forum’s University for a Day included lectures on the following topics by University and visiting faculty members:

Akhil Amar, J.D., Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, presented “America’s Unwritten Constitution,” proposing that the U.S. Constitution only begins to map out the fundamental rules that govern modern Americans. Dr. Amar answered the question, “Once we decide to venture beyond it, how do we start and where do we stop?”

Joseph Kraus, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English and Theatre at The University of Scranton, presented “Framing Roth.” His lecture traced the career of the prolific author Philip Roth from his early days as the “bad boy” of American Jewish literature to his stature today as one of America’s most distinguished authors.

“Globalization: Its Challenges and Opportunities for an Interdependent World” was presented by David Grewal, Ph.D., J.D., Associate Professor at Yale Law School and author of “Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization.” Dr. Grewal explored how globalization changes the stakes of today’s most important struggles: for environmental protection, international security and cultural understanding. He asked, “Can globalization be remade, or is it a ‘one-size-fits-all’ process?”

Kathryn S. Meier, Ph.D., Assistant professor of History at The University of Scranton, delivered the forum’s final lecture, “Environmental Justice for the 21st Century.” Dr. Meier looked to the period when slavery was largely eradicated in our society to understand how sustainability and human justice have gone hand in hand in America and in the world.

Recent World Affairs Briefings

This year’s World Affairs program included the following seminars:

Small Change: Why Business Won’t Change the World. Michael Edwards, writer, activist and Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos

Can We Feed the Planet Without Destroying It? Our Global Challenge. Tim Searchinger, Research Scholar and Lecturer, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Three Major Pandemics: Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/Aids: An Overview from an African Perspective. William A Takang, M.D., practicing physician and consultant from Cameroon, Hubert Humphrey Fellowship alumnus, research scholar, New York University School of Medicine

Back to the Future: FDR’s Four Freedoms Go Global. Allida Black, executive editor of the fdr4freedoms Digital Initiative and Research Professor of History and International Affairs, The George Washington University

The Greening of Democracy? The Arab Spring and its Outcomes. Elzbieta Matynia, director, Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, The New School Offering the Community Cultural Activities

Recently, the Schemel Forum has presented a series of cultural activities to the greater Scranton area community. The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum sponsored a trip to Newark, N.J., visiting the Newark Art Museum and touring the city’s historic sites with Clement Price, Ph.D., Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers University–Newark. It also sponsored a trip to the Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y., the site of the first presidential library built in the United States, and Storm King Sculpture Park in Mountainville, N.Y., an open air museum that has extended the concept of a “sculpture garden” to become a sculpture landscape.

The Schemel Forum also reaches out to the community by joining forces as a programming partner with other community cultural and educational agents. This past summer it partnered with Pages & Places @ Anthology Bookstore to present three programs:

Marcellus Shale: Two Citizens Speak Out, Bill Tersteeg, professor emeritus at Keystone College, and  Gretchen Ludders, Tunkhannock Watershed Coalition

What Makes Classical Music Classical? Themes and Variations, Mark Woodyatt, one of the region’s most gifted and virtuosic violinists

Profile of a School that Works, Jennifer Niles, founding principal of one of the most successful charter schools in the country, the E. L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.

To learn more, visit

President Obama Appoints Myers to Post in Administration

In November 2011, the president of the United States announced the appointment of Sondra Myers, senior fellow for international, civic and cultural projects and director of the Schemel Forum at The University of Scranton, to serve on the Commission on Presidential Scholars. The commission of approximately 20 individuals appointed by the President selects and honors the nation’s Presidential Scholars.

President Barack Obama said in a statement announcing his appointments to the commission, “I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have agreed to join this administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

Individuals serving on the Commission on Presidential Scholars are selected from across the country, representing the fields of education, medicine, law, social services, business and other professions. The commissioners are charged with selecting high school students to be honored as Presidential Scholars from a pool of approximately 3,000 candidates who demonstrate exceptional accomplishments in academics, the arts and public service.

Myers is the author of numerous books, including “The New Rwanda: Prosperity and the Public Good” (2008). She co-edited “The Pluralist Paradigm: Democracy and Religion in the 21st Century” (2006) and “The Interdependence Handbook” (2004). She is the editor of “The Democracy Reader” (2002) and the “Democracy is a Discussion” handbooks.

As director of the University’s Schemel Forum, Myers develops and presents a program of participatory learning experiences for the community, involving the study and discussion of classical texts and current policies, from the arts, history and philosophy to technology and theology. The forum features fall and spring semester offerings of courses, a World Affair Luncheon Series, performances and special events.

Previously, Myers served as a senior associate at the University of Maryland’s Democracy Collaborative and the Rapoport Democracy Fellow at the Walt Whitman Center at Rutgers University. She served as special assistant to the chairman for partnerships at the National Endowment for the Humanities and was cultural advisor to Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Myers is a past chair of the Federation of State Humanities Councils and was appointed by President Carter to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts in 1980.


Sondra Myers
Senior Fellow for International, Civic and Cultural Projects and Director of the Schemel Forum