LSA bicentennial talk to explore U-M during World War I, aftermath


In 1917, as the United States entered World War I, the University of Michigan campus was fraught with rising concerns about infringements on the academic freedom of university faculty.

At the same time, the university and its faculty’s intellectual, academic and humanitarian engagements were increasingly linked with international politics. These developments had profound consequences for the future of U-M and higher education in general.

LSA will look at this critical moment in university history in its third Bicentennial Theme Semester Symposium, “1917: Michigan’s Great War and Its Aftermath.”

The first symposium event, “Academic Freedom in Times of War,” is Friday and will consist of a panel discussion on academic freedom featuring U-M faculty members Howard Brick, Louis Evans Professor of History and professor of history; Joshua Miller, associate professor of English language and literature, and Judaic studies; and Melanie Tanielian, assistant professor of history, along with Julia E. Liss of Scripps College and Beshara Doumani of Brown University.

The symposium will center around the events of 1917, during which time the university dismissed German Department Chair Karl Eggert and four others who were alleged to be “notoriously and actively in sympathy with Germany, or with pacifist propaganda.” The discussion is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 1014 Tisch Hall.

The war also created for some faculty an urgency and an opportunity to understand the history and culture of the Near and Far East, a further step toward the university’s destiny to become a global research site tied to imperial and colonial policies in Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Middle East and elsewhere.

A second panel on Friday, “Michigan Knowledge in a World of Empires and Colonies,” will feature Allan Lumba, assistant professor of history at U-M and postdoctoral scholar in the Michigan Society of Fellows; Andrew Patrick of Tennessee State University, Robert Vitalis of the University of Pennsylvania, and Colleen Woods of the University of Maryland. It will take place at 1014 Tisch Hall from 2-4 p.m.

Other events associated with the 1917 symposium include a discussion with U-M faculty members Robert Bender, professor emeritus of molecular, cellular and developmental biology; ¬†Francis X. Blouin Jr., professor of history, and information; Terrence McDonald, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of history; Katie Rosenblatt, research fellow and adjunct lecturer in history; and Perrin Selcer, assistant professor of history and Program in the Environment. It is titled “Science and Reputation: Biology, Social Thought, and the Modern University.”

Panelists will discuss the evolving role of biology as a framework for understanding the human condition, the rise of the social sciences, and with the part that biology, social science, and religion have played in framing a “moral” environment for higher education and U-M specifically. It is planned for 4 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery, Room 100.

Additionally, Kevin Boyle of Northwestern University will give a lecture on how Michigan’s defining industry shaped the university called “Money Matters: Remaking U-M in the Auto Age,” from 4-6 p.m. March 13, also in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery, Room 100. Boyle received his Ph.D. from U-M and wrote the National Book Award-winning “Arc of Justice.”


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.