Timely Discussions & Big Ideas

“Ideas, symbols, historical forces—these are the stock in trade of a university. Universities can help us think through the issues that arise when we consider our shared past and its meaning or its legacy today,” said Provost Joe Urgo, as he introduced the two-day symposium, Zebulon B. Vance Reconsidered.

Elizabeth O. ColtonIn another timely talk, veteran diplomat and journalist Elizabeth O. Colton shared her insider view of world affairs and the news media, speaking to more than 200 people in her World Affairs Council lecture at OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in September.

Judge Yvonne Mims EvansIn October, Judge Yvonne Mims Evans was the keynote speaker when Darin Waters, assistant professor of history, convened the fourth annual African Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia Conference, which was expanded to include the annual State of Black Asheville presentation.

David BlightAnd while debate continues over Asheville’s Vance Monument and Confederate monuments all over the nation, the Department of History teamed with the Vance Birthplace State Historic Site to present a two-day symposium with keynote by Yale University historian David Blight about Zebulon Vance, his life and legacy, and in a broader sense, how history is recalled and commemorated.

As UNC Asheville’s 90th anniversary year continues, look for more “big idea” events, beginning on January 18, when Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, speaks on campus. And if you’re planning a trip to New York City on Earth Day or shortly after, visit Times Square, where Mel Chin and UNC Asheville students will offer a look at rising sea levels from a new perspective.