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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

The December Dilemma: Non-Christians and the Culture of Christmas

Deepak Sarma, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University
Friday January 27, 2012
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

What are non-Christians to do when the December season means being bombarded with Christian creedal cheer? Is one obligated to “Have a Merry Christmas” or “Enjoy the Holidays” or at least spend a lot of money on gifts, even though one is a member of another, non-Christian, tradition, a tradition that neither celebrates the birth of Christ nor, in some cases, even has significant “Holy Days” in December? And does one have any other choice but to acquiesce to the pressure to conform given that one’s supposedly secular work world and secular civil society has, for all intents and purposes, has organized its calendar by it? Professor Sarma will initiate conversation about these and related matters concerning the complexities of being non-Christian in a society’s whose public life is dominated by Christianity.

Very best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

*New Information: How to Park and Avoid Winter Weather. See Parking section below.

About Our Guest...

Professor Sarma received his BA in Religious Studies from Reed College in 1991 and then attended the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. After spending several years in India doing research for his doctoral thesis, Sarma graduated with a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religions in 1998. Sarma taught in a number of places before joining Case in 2004. Sarma has published two books on the Madhva School of Indian Philosophy (An Introduction to Madhva Vedanta, and Epistemologies and the Limitations of Philosophical Inquiry: Doctrine in Madhva Vedanta) as well as a reader in Hinduism (Hinduism: A Reader). In addition he continues to publish articles on method and theory in the study of religion, Hinduism, and Indian Philosophy. Sarma's Reader in Indian Philosophy is currently in process with Columbia University Press.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convene each Friday when classes are in session in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. If you get off the elevators, turn right, pass the first bank of tables, and turn right again. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

February 3: Taxing Fracking: If Ohio Will Have a New Energy Boom, Shouldn’t It Have New Energy Taxes? Wendy Patton, Senior Project Director, Policy Matters Ohio

February 10: Can We Legislate Ourselves Thinner? Jessica Berg, Professor of Law and Biomedical Ethics

February 17: Is Childhood Obesity a New Form of Child Abuse? David Crampton, Associate Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Science

Februayr 24: Telling the Players Without a Scorecard: China's Leadership Transition. Paul Schroeder, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science

March 2: Does the Fire Department Have a Hose? The IMF and World Bank in the Financial Crisis. Kathryn C. Lavelle, Ellen and Dixon Long Associate Professor of Political Science

March 9: Germany and the European Union. Ken Ledford, Associate Professor of History

March 16: Spring Break - No Discussion

March 23: TBA

March 30: Just Do It or Just Say No? The Politics of Sex Education. Mark Carl Rom, Associate Professor of Government and Public Policy, Georgetown University

April 6: TBA

April 13: Russia’s Presidential Election. Andrew Barnes, Associate Professor of Political Science, Kent State University

April 20: TBA

April 27: TBA
January 23, 2012

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Upcoming Events

Elsa Leichter’s Second Chance: Interruptions and Continuities in a Refugee Social Worker’s Transatlantic Career

Barbara Reiterer, Doctoral Fellow in Residence, German Historical Institute and Ph.D. candidate, University of Minnesota, February 8, 2012, 4:30-6 pm, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS), Room 320 a,b,c, 11235 Bellflower Road, Cleveland OH. Sponsored by the The Max Kade Center for German Studies and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

During World War II, American social work provided a professional refuge for Jewish women exiles. Through an exploration of the life and work of Elsa Leichter (1905-1997), a refugee social worker from Vienna who came to the United States on the eve of World War II, this presentation informs our understanding of refugee resettlement and gender. Leichter received a degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University and went on to work for the Jewish Family Service in New York City, where she earned distinction in the field of family therapy. Starting in the 1970s, she traveled to Europe to give lectures and workshops, thus contributing to the transatlantic circulation of knowledge in the applied social sciences.

Even though a cursory glance at Leichter’s biography may yield a neat and smooth narrative, in reality interruptions complicated her life. In fact, after twelve years as a social worker for the Vienna city municipality, she had to start over upon arriving in the United States, since her Austrian training and experience was non-transferrable to her new context. It was in Cleveland where she received her “big second chance,” as she repeatedly said. This talk traces the complex, often difficult, but eventually very successful professional trajectory of an Austrian refugee social worker in the Unites States, for which her time at CWRU played a central role. Leichter’s story informs the larger history of Austrian and American social work in the mid-twentieth century, and it deepens our understanding of the experiences of Jewish women exiles in the United States.

The Evolution and Future of Global Climate Change Institutions

Alexander Thompson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, Tuesday March 6, 2012, 4:30-6pm, Room 309, Clark Hall, Case Western Reserve University. Free and Open to the Public. Sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies at Case Western Reserve University with the generous support of Ms. Eloise Briskin.

January 2012







































About the Friday Lunch Newsletter

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