Stearns Opens Semiannual History Lecture Series

As the semester is in full swing, so are the different activities of the EMU campus, including the Albert N. Keim History Lecture series. The intentions of the lecture series as stated by Mary Sprunger, head of the History Department, “are to benefit our history majors and minors by exposing them to different scholars doing different kinds of history. The plan is to bring in one noted historian or political scientist per semester, with relevance to courses being taught at the time, to visit a class and give a public lecture.” The whole lecture series is named after Albert K. Keim, an attendee of Eastern Mennonite College, history professor at Eastern Mennonite University from 1965 to 2000, Academic Dean from 1977 to 1984, and retiree starting in 2000.

Keim grew up on an Old Order Amish farm where he completed his education through eighth grade In 1956 he went to Europe to work for two years with a program called PAX that was developed by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). PAX was for young men of the Quaker, Brethren, and Mennonite faith who didn’t believe in fighting in wars. Starting on April 6, 1951, MCC started sending these young men over to places like Bolivia, Greece, Paraguay, and Algeria to build houses for refugees of the war. After working in Europe, Keim got his B.A. in History from Eastern Mennonite University (1963), his M.A. in History from University of Virginia (1965), and finally his Ph. D. in History from Ohio State University (1971). He also helped found EMU’s Cross-Cultural program and led the first trip to Europe in the 1972-1973 academic year.

While at EMU one of Keim’s goals was to establish a lecture series in the history department, but this goal was never met due to a lack of funding. Now, however, a fund has been established to honor Keim by sponsoring the series. The first speaker of the series, Peter N. Stearns, was a professor of history and provost at George Mason University.

“Stearns was a pioneer in the relatively new field of world history and I have been using his textbook in Global Past since I started teaching it in 2001. I’m thrilled that he agreed to speak in Global Past II, where he will talk about why it is crucial to understand the position of Europe around 1500 relative to the other regions of the world,” said Sprunger.

Stearns’ opening lecture was entitled “Changes in Obedience and Children’s Emotion: From Traditional to Modern in 19th Century America.” He has also written numerous books on many different scholastic topics. His most recent book was “Satisfaction Not Guaranteed: Dilemmas of Progress in Modern Society,” published in 2012. He is also the founder of the Journal of Social History.

“We are really hoping our history majors will take advantage of this new opportunity to gain exposure to a variety of interesting speakers and topics,” said Sprunger. “As one of my graduate professors used to say, attending such a lecture is a quick way to absorb an article or book. The speaker summarizes the important bits and in an hour you are familiar with a new perspective and story.” Look for the next installment in the Albert N. Keim History Lecture Series next semester.

-Devon Fore, Opinion Editor


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