Controversial ideas part of lecture

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

All people-yes, even those in South Dakota-have a responsibility to learn and know about the outside world, according to Stephen Kinzer, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times and newest Harding Distinguished Lecture series guest.

“Stephen Kinzer is an internationally known journalist with many years of experience as a reporter for the New York Times,” Associate Professor Thomas Stenvig said. “His broad experience has given him unique insights into patterns of regime change and how governments are overthrown.”

Kinzer was the New York Times Bureau Chief and foreign correspondent in Manaqua, Berlin and Istanbul. He has reported from more than 50 countries on five continents for both the New York Times and The Boston Globe.

The Harding Distinguished Lecture Series and the South Dakota Council on World Affairs are sponsoring Kinzer’s lecture. According to Harriet Swedlund, the executive director of the Council on World Affairs, Kinzer was selected from a list of speakers identified by the World Affairs Councils of America as uniquely qualified to talk about world affairs issues.

“The committee was attracted by his experiences as New York Times Bureau Chief in Istanbul, Turkey, Germany and Nicaragua and by the titles of several books he has written,” she said.

Kinzer will speak in the Larson Concert Hall in the Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Nov. 8. The topic Kinzer will be speaking about is also the title of his book, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. The book outlines the history of 14 regime changes and preemptive wars from Queen Liliuokalani’s overthrow in Hawaii at the turn of the 19th century to the ousting of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

While the focus of his talk will be about the book, Kinzer will not be limited to that topic. He will also present his views on why it is important for all Americans to visit and learn more about other countries and to learn from history, according to Swedlund.

“I fear there is a mindset taking hold in the United States that holds that history is no longer relevant to us,” Kinzer said. “I think there’s a great deal we have to learn from our past, and it can be very instructive for use as we try to understand our present and future.”

“There’s a dangerous disconnect about the U.S. role in the world that people need to bear in mind,” Kinzer continued. “The United States is hugely powerful, and the decisions that we take can have enormous effects on the outside world and on our own future.”

“Kinzer’s ideas are controversial,” Stenvig said. He encourages students to attend in order to hear and analyze Kinzer’s views about political change. Then the students can decide if they agree or disagree. Another reason to attend, Stenvig said, is the event is free.

“His visit to SDSU is in keeping with the Harding Lecture purpose to bring speakers to campus to explore important topics of the day,” Stenvig said.

“I think students should attend because it is an opportunity to hear the perspective of a man with extensive experience as a journalist ? and will provide new ideas for critical thinking about the volatile world in which we live,” Swedlund said. “Stepping outside one’s narrow discipline and comfort level makes a student well rounded, opens the door for discussion with peers [and] provides new ideas to share in the classroom.”

There will be a question and answer session at the conclusion of the lecture, at which time the audience can ask about any aspect of his work. There will also be an informal question and answer discussion on Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Jackrabbit Room (Room 103) in The Union. Everyone is invited to come and leave as schedules permit and may bring their own lunch.

Stenvig said that SDSU is fortunate that speakers of this caliber come to campus several times a year to give free public lectures. Planning is underway for more speakers during the academic year.

For more information on the event, email Tom Stenvig at [email protected] or Harriet Swedlund at [email protected].