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NMSU College of Arts and Sciences announces colloquium series for spring

New Mexico State University College of Arts and Sciences announces the lineup of six separate speakers for the spring semester Colloquium Series. With it, comes a new variety of topics including torture and democracy, discussion of preservation of artifacts on the moon, and even saving orangutans and Indonesian rain forests, to name a few.


A planning committee in conjunction with NMSU's College of Arts and Sciences, Southwest Border and Cultures Institute, the college research center and departments within the college brings speakers to campus to address a variety of topics. A few minor adjustments were made to this semester's schedule making it slightly different from past semesters, according to history department head and chairman of the committee Jeffrey Brown.

This semester the committee decided to include speakers from the NMSU campus as well as off campus. "We've also included topics in science because we wanted to expand the colloquium series to include presentations from all of the disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences," Brown said. In the past two years, the colloquium has run it has included topics specific to arts, fine arts and humanities and featured speakers from off-campus.

The first speaker will be Dwight Pitcaithley, NMSU professor of history, on Monday, Feb. 23 from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at Science Hall 107 at the Las Cruces campus. The presentation called "Slavery, Secession and the U.S. Constitution" is a by-product of research Pitcaithley is doing to analyze the secession movement of 1860 to 1861.

Pitcaithley's main research interests include public history, historic interpretation, the Civil War and the Western United States. He is a retired chief historian of the National Park Service (NPS) and has taught at NMSU since 2005. He serves on the editorial board of "The Journal of American History" and the board of directors of the New Mexico Humanities Council.

"As chief historian of the National Park Service, I was repeatedly called upon to talk about the role slavery did or did not play in the secession of eleven states by June of 1861," Pitcaithley said. Upon his retirement from the NPS in 2005, he decided to closely examine the record of Congressional debates and the record found in the eleven state secession convention journals.

"In addition to the arguments by the elected political officials on the subject, I found dozens of proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution to solve the 'problem' then facing the nation. Every one of these proposals was designed to protect the institution of slavery throughout the U.S." His premise, in the book he is writing is that if we want to understand the secession movement, we need to look at the solutions that were presented.

Pitcaithley quotes Robert Penn Warren, an American poet and novelist who wrote in 1960, "Slavery looms up mountainously and cannot be talked away." This presentation will address just how the future of slavery dominated political debate in the winter of 1860 to 1861.

Each semester, the colloquium planning committee selects a panel of speakers on a variety of topics they consider relevant to the areas of concentration in the College of Arts and Sciences. Speakers will deliver their lectures on a topic pertaining to the college followed by a question and answer period for each. These lectures are free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required to attend.
The spring colloquium schedule is:

?Feb. 23 - Dwight Pitcaithley, Department of History, New Mexico State University, "Slavery, Secession and the U.S. Constitution" 4 p.m. Science Hall 107
?March 2 - John Conroy, author, "Torture and its Constituency: Lessons from Chicago" 4 p.m. Science Hall 107
?March 9 - Beth O'Leary, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, New Mexico State University, "Archaeology in Space: One Giant Leap for Historic Preservation" 4 p.m. Science Hall 107
?March 30 - Birute Galdikas, Simon Fraser University, "Pongo in Peril: Saving the Orangutans and Rain Forest of Indonesia" 4 p.m. Hardman Hall 106
?April 13 - Michele Nishiguchi, Department of Biology, New Mexico State University, "Life Beyond the Crypts: Symbiosis and the Bobtail Squid" 4 p.m. Science Hall 107
?April 20 - Donald Saari, University of California at Irvine, "Mathematics and Voting" 4 p.m. Science Hall 107

Daniella De Luca
Feb. 10, 2009