WMU News

Latvia lectures examine history, culture, conflict

Jan. 15, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Architecture, art, history and music are the focal points of a series of weekend seminars exploring life in Latvia, the tiny European nation WMU faculty and students will visit this spring.

"Latvia: Traditions and Transitions," a seminar series that is free and open to the public, begins at 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18 in Room 3004 of Kohrman Hall, with Dr. Janis Penikis, professor emeritus of political science from Indiana University, South Bend, discussing the country's early history. A classical music performance by Verana Dambrans, professor emerita of music from Capital University Conservatory of Music, will follow at 7:30 p.m. in WMU's Dalton Center Recital Hall.

At 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, Penikis will discuss Latvian independence between 1918 and 1939. In the afternoon, guest presenters Liena Kougars, a local Kalamazoo weaver, and Juris Dambrans, architect and former instructor at Columbus State Community College and Ohio State University, will examine Latvian weaving and architectural traditions.

Two additional weekend presentations will be offered in February and March and are sponsored by the WMU College of Education, the Lee Honors College, and the departments of Family and Consumer Sciences, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Geography, History, Political Science and Sociology as well as the Study Abroad and Women's Studies programs and the Diether H. Haenicke Institute for International and Area Studies.

The Feb. 1 seminar features a 3:15 p.m. lecture by Dr. Andrejs Plakans, professor of European history at Iowa State University, on Latvia during World War II and the period from 1940 to 1991 when the country was ruled by Russia. The Feb. 2 event examines Latvia since 1991, focusing on national and citizenship issues, food and nutrition policy, education, family life and the future of Latvia. Speakers include Dr. John Norman, WMU professor of history; Dr. Liga Ruperte, a Grand Rapids psychologist; and Dr. Maijia Petersons, WMU professor of family and consumer sciences. Petersons is leading the spring study tour and recently returned from a sabbatical in Latvia.

The final weekend event includes a Friday, March 15 presentation by Dr. Agate Nesaule, author of the Latvian memoir "A Woman in Amber" at 5:15 p.m. On Saturday, Nesaule will discuss the trauma of war and exile while guest lecturer Dr. Janis Grants, Kalamazoo psychologist, addresses multicultural life in the United States. All events are in Kohrman Hall.

The seminar series precedes "Passage to Latvia," the WMU study tour scheduled for May 23-June 4. Participation in the 13-day trip to Latvia is open to faculty, staff, students and the community at large. Costs are $2,745 for WMU students not seeking class credit; $3,045 for WMU students seeking credit; and $3,370 for non-students. The first payment deadline is Feb. 15.

For more information about the seminars, contact Petersons at (269) 387-3710 or <maija.petersons@wmich.edu>. Learn details about the tour through the Study Abroad Web site at <www.wmich.edu/studyabroad>.

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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