USAO Hosts Liberal Arts Symposium, Pulitzer Winning Author April 10

Thursday, March 22, 2007


CHICKASHA – In keeping with its liberal arts tradition, the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma is hosting Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Jared Diamond on April 10. The headlining speaker is one of several state and national guests planned for the daylong symposium focused on liberal arts in higher education.

To prepare the campus and Chickasha communities for Diamond’s presentation, the University is screening a free showing of the National Geographic documentary, “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” March 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Davis Hall 124.

Based on Diamond’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, the PBS video presents Diamond’s theories on the major differences between technological societies and those that are still primitive. The video will be presented in three one-hour segments with intermissions and free refreshments.

“Dr. Diamond is an internationally recognized scholar who uses an interdisciplinary approach in his research,” said Dr. Darryel Reigh, professor of chemistry. “He represents the broad liberal arts perspective that we at USAO attempt to give our students as a backdrop to experience our culture. It is a privilege to bring a writer and scholar with Dr. Diamond's credentials to USAO and to the State of Oklahoma.”

As part of the Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium, Diamond will address students, faculty, staff and community members in a public forum on April 10 about past civilizations and implications for current and future ones.

A 6 p.m. dinner and reception featuring Diamond is available by reservation for $25.

Beginning at 8 p.m., Diamond will address the public in the Te Ata Memorial Auditorium. His lecture topic, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” comes from his latest book with the same title. Tickets for the lecture are $10.

Reservations for both April 10 events are due April 3. Tickets may be purchased in the USAO Business Office or by phone at (405) 574-1213. An official brochure on the symposium’s events may be downloaded at

Diamond is expected to speak about the trends and factors involved with the success and failure of societies. He surmises that if environmental problems helped pave the way to destruction, modern scholars can learn how to avoid similar collapses in current societies.

Beginning at 2 p.m., USAO students will present research findings on the second floor of Davis Hall. From 3-4:30 p.m., the public is invited to a free public liberal arts forum in the Davis Hall Amphitheater featuring guest speakers from across the state and nation.

Dr. David D. Brown, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville and initiator of what is now the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, will speak on liberal arts as a national resource. Dr. Phil Moss, vice chancellor for academic affairs for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, will present, “Liberal Education in the State System: Oklahoma’s Commitment.”

Oklahoma College for Women graduate Dr. Jeane Porter Hester (1951) is known internationally as a leukemia expert and as one of the developers of the Blood Cell Separator. She will speak about her personal experience with a liberal arts education. Jim Tolbert, owner of Oklahoma City-based Full Circle Bookstore, plans to talk about the liberal arts as a pivotal component of Oklahoma’s future knowledge-based economy.

The forum will be moderated by Dr. Jennifer Long, chair of interdisciplinary studies and associate professor of economics.

The study of why civilizations rise and fall is not uncharted territory for Diamond. His latest book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” explores ruined societies, such as Easter Island, the Anasazi and Viking colonies of Greenland and what led to their demise.

A professor of geography at UCLA, Diamond is the recipient of multiple awards, including the MacArthur Foundation genius grant, the conservation medals of the Zoological Society of San Diego, the Carr Medal and Japan’s international Cosmos Prize.

In 1999, Diamond received the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton, the highest civilian award in science, for his research and discoveries in evolutionary biology. Two years later, he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his contributions to the field of conservation biology.

He also was featured on a PBS special, “Great Minds of Science: Evolution.” 

Diamond earned a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard.

In his book, “Globalization: For Better or For Worse,” Diamond addresses the impact of Sept. 11, 2001, on the psyche of the American public. Specifically, Diamond spotlights the new American awareness of global contact and its unpredictable nature, such as AIDS, terrorism, illegal immigration and diabetes epidemics. Diamond asserts that remote societies can no longer collapse without influencing the rest of the world.

His other bestselling books include “The Third Chimpanzee” and “Why is Sex Fun?”