Sense of place explored at February's Thursday Forum

Extra: Lonnie Zingula, Associate Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8613 or

2014-01-23 15:06:47 - General

The opening Thursday Forum series of 2014 will explore how human beings create and sustain meaningful places, and how social changes may affect our relationships to places in the future.

Joan and Abbott Lipsky Professor of Political Science Bruce Nesmith will begin Feb. 6 by looking at what it means for people to have a sense of place: what makes places interesting, how places affect our feelings, and how individuals and groups come to feel attached to places. The second session will focus on sacred spaces. Nesmith will talk about pilgrimages and shrines, as well as how religious people try to create a sense of the sacred in houses of worship, retreat centers, etc.

Third, attendees will look at how events of the past contribute to our present sense of place. The field of historic preservation attempts to maintain authentic connections to the past, struggling as it does with forces of entropy as well as local economic development. This session will draw heavily on experience in Cedar Rapids.

The series concludes by speculating about the future of places. Recent years have seen profound changes in the ways in which people relate to places, including economic globalization, the Internet, and concerns about climate change. Nesmith will explore whether the global economy has led to "placelessness;" efforts of cities and regions to market themselves in order to lure businesses and tourists; and the New Urbanism movement in urban design that tries to recreate intimate feelings of community.

Thursday Forum lectures are held in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins with coffee and pastries from 8:45-9:15 a.m., followed by the class until 11:30 a.m. A luncheon is offered at the conclusion of each series.

The courses are open to all adults. The cost is $30 for a four-week course paid on the first day, or $12 per week. The closing luncheons cost an additional $8. Thursday Forum gift certificates are available. For more information about the Coe College Thursday Forum lecture series, call (319) 399-8619.

Thursday Forum schedule:

  • "A Sense of Place" - Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27.
  • "Hollywood's Vietnam War" - March 6, 13, 20, 27.
  • "Quantum Century" - April 3, 10, 17, 24.