CORVALLIS - A lecture series examining the widening gap in America between the rich and the poor will begin on Thursday, Oct. 3, at Oregon State University.

The "Ideas Matter" lecture series is sponsored by OSU's Department of Philosophy. Topics in the series all center around the theme of economic inequality, with speakers examining wealth and poverty as it relates to race, gender, politics, religion, justice and foreign policy.

First up is a panel discussion on Oct. 3 called "The Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor," featuring faculty members from a variety of disciplines, including political science, philosophy, economics and women's studies. Free and open to the public, the panel discussion will begin at 4 p.m. in OSU's Memorial Union Room 208.

Several nationally recognized speakers will lecture later this term.

Howard Zinn, author of "A People's History of the United States" and a professor of political science from Boston University, will speak Oct. 24 on "Economic Justice in the United States."

Tommy Lott, a philosophy professor from the University of St. Louis, will speak on "Poverty, Race, Class and the University" on Oct. 31. He is on the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Black Experience.

Carl Upchurch, director of the National Council for Urban Peace and Justice of Columbus, Ohio, will speak about poverty and violence on Nov. 4. Upchurch, who is known in part for negotiating a truce between the street gangs the Crips and the Bloods, recently released his autobiography, "Convicted in the Womb: One Man's Journey from Prison to Peacemaker."

Statisticians say the wealthiest 20 percent of people in the world account for 82.7 percent of the world's income. The disparity in the United States also is prominent, with the richest 1 percent of all Americans owning about 50 percent of the wealth, according to William Uzgalis, an associate professor of philosophy at OSU.

"Most students have no idea about the economic inequality in America," Uzgalis said. "They think they'll go out after graduation and find a level playing field, and they get extremely upset when I tell them that may not be the case. They think if you are good and work hard, you'll get rich. And if you are lazy and not virtuous, you'll be poor. They get their eyes opened."

The entire lecture series schedule follows:

Oct. 3 Panel Discussion: "The Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor," featuring Manuel Pacheco, Dylan Sandor, Susan Prock and Richard Clinton, OSU; and Doug Clark, Linn-Benton Community College, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Oct. 10 Workshop: "What is Fair? John Rawls and Distributive Justice," by Kathleen D. Moore, chair of the OSU Department of Philosophy, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Oct. 17 Lecture: "Peasants, Prophets, and Kings: Poverty and Wealth in the Bible," by Marcus Borg, the Hundere Professor of Religion and Culture at OSU, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Oct. 24 Lecture: "Economic Justice in the United States," by Howard Zinn, author and professor of political science at Boston University, 8 p.m., Milam Auditorium.

Oct. 31 Lecture: "Poverty, Race, Class and the University," by Tommy Lott, professor of philosophy, St. Louis University, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Nov. 7 Reading: "Voices of the Poor in Literature," readings by OSU students and faculty, 4 p.m., Milam Auditorium.

Nov. 11 Panel Discussion: "Women Living in Poverty," featuring women from the mid-Willamette Valley, moderated by Susan Prock, director of the OSU Women's Center, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Nov. 14 Lecture: "The New World Order and the Erosion of Democracy," by Manuel Pacheco, Department of Philosophy, OSU, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Nov. 15 Reading: "SOS Reading," featuring area writers in a benefit for hunger relief, 7:30 p.m., Majestic Theater, downtown Corvallis.

Nov. 21 Student Debate: "Do Wealthy Nations Have a Moral Obligation to Help the World's Poor?", featuring students enrolled in an OSU philosophy course, Ideas Matter, 4 p.m., Memorial Union 208.

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Bill Uzgalis, 541-737-5650