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Lecture: ‘Arabic/Islamic Origins of Renaissance’

Thursday, January 22, 2009JOHNSON CITY – “Arabic and Islamic Origins of the Italian Renaissance” is the topic of a free public lecture at East Tennessee State University by Dr. Graham Leonard, who has specialized in the Middle East since 1950, next Tuesday (Jan. 27) at 7 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium.

This lecture is part of a series presented by Leonard, who holds the 2008-09 Wayne G. Basler Chair of Excellence for the Integration of the Arts, Rhetoric and Science at ETSU.

Leonard, a Kingsport native whose family has resided in Northeast Tennessee since 1760, earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Tennessee and studied at various other institutions before earning a Ph.D. in education at Harvard University, with emphasis in linguistics, psychology and Arabic. He spent a year at Oxford University as a Harvard postdoctoral Traveling Fellow.

He spent over 35 years in the Middle East as an educator, and has also worked in administrating and consulting. He was a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) adviser on teacher education for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). He also worked in Jerusalem as management officer of the Program for Assistance to the Palestinian People through the United Nations Development Program. In addition, he traveled to Iraq for three weeks in 2005 with Christian Peacemaker Teams, then spent five weeks as an “embedded journalist” with the National Guard 2/278th “Tennessee Peacemakers.”

As the Basler Chairholder, Leonard is teaching two spring semester courses – “Origins of the Problems in the Middle East” and “Modernizing Education vs. Westernizing Schooling in the Middle East” – and is available to speak to area civic groups, churches and other organizations in addition to teaching.

Created in 1994, the Basler Chair honors a longtime member of the ETSU Foundation who is a strong advocate of numerous university programs. His commitment to the liberal arts was instilled by his music-teacher mother, and his father, who taught industrial arts. The Chair of Excellence brings various scholars to ETSU to broaden opportunities for students and the general public in the arts, humanities and science. The Basler Chair illustrates the unity of knowledge while bridging gaps among disciplines.

For more information or special assistance for those with disabilities, call the ETSU Department of History at (423) 439-4222. To arrange speaking engagements, call Leonard at 439-4284.


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