Crossing Borders - E.N. Thompson 2016-17 Season header image

Borders. These inky, winding lines divide our globe into 196 countries on seven continents, yet these somewhat arbitrary boundaries no longer bear the significance they once did. Each day millions of people cross borders to conduct business or seek adventure. Immigrants and refugees flood across borders in search of financial security and personal safety. Infectious diseases traverse borders, sneaky infiltrators that pay no heed to rules and regulations. Even the seemingly hard and fast lines defining American politics have blurred in the 2016 presidential election. The 2016-17 E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues, “Crossing Borders,” will explore the relevance of borders in our modern world—both how they define us and, increasingly, the ways in which we ignore them in the interest of commerce, education and personal freedom.

FREE and open to the public.
Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N 12th St, Lincoln, NE 68508
Printable version of schedule


SONIA NAZARIO Sept. 27 - 7:30 p.m.


DAVID BROOKS Oct. 4 - 7 p.m.

U.S. Election

SONIA SHAH Nov. 9 - 7 p.m.

Global Pandemics

David Brooks
David Brooks

DAVID BROOKS October 4, 2016 - 7 p.m.

U.S. Election | “It's Better Than It Looks: Election 2016”

Sponsored by NET – Nebraska’s PBS and NPR Stations, UNL Chancellor’s Office, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and Center for Civic Engagement

Pre-talk: 6:30 p.m., Steinhart Room, Lied Center by John Hibbing, UNL Professor of Political Science and Psychology

Watch a Video of this Talk

New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks has a unique gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times, and he does so with humor and insight. A regular analyst on PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered, he is a keen observer and commentator on politics and foreign affairs. His newest book, “The Road to Character,” tells the story of ten great lives that illustrate how character is developed and models how we can all strive to build rich inner lives.

Brooks currently teaches at Yale University. He holds honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University, and Occidental College, among others. He has worked at the Weekly Standard—joining the magazine at its inception and eventually servings as senior editor—and has been a writer and/or contributing editor at the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly.

Lecture Summary

Perhaps no journalist today is better than David Brooks at incisively—yet accessibly—analyzing culture and politics. As the 2016 presidential election approaches, he will provide context on the candidates and political process, in particular the surprising twists that were a hallmark of this election year.

Sonia Shah
Sonia Shah

SONIA SHAH November 9, 2016 - 7 p.m.

Global Pandemics | “Pandemic: From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond”

Sponsored by the UNL School of Biological Sciences, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity

Pre-talk: 6:30 p.m., Steinhart Room, Lied Center by Michele M. Bever, President, Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors; UNMC College of Public Health Adjunct Assoc. Professor; Executive Director, South Heartland District Health Department

Sonia Shah is an investigative science journalist and author of critically acclaimed and prize-winning books on science, human rights, and international politics. Her most recent book, “Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond,” was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Her critically acclaimed 2010 book, “The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years,” was based on five years of original reportage in Cameroon, Malawi, and Panama and was called a “tour-de-force” by the New York Times.

A former writing fellow of the Nation Institute and the Puffin Foundation, Shah’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and Foreign Affairs, and has been featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, CNN, Al Jazeera and BBC. Her TED talk on malaria has been viewed over 1,000,000 times, and Shah has lectured at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, MIT, Harvard, Yale, Brown and Georgetown. She served as the 2014 Ottaway Professor of Journalism at SUNY New Paltz and has been frequently supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and The Nation Investigative Fund. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism, philosophy, and neuroscience from Oberlin College.

Lecture Summary

Scientists agree that a pathogen is likely to cause a global pandemic in the near future. But which one? And how? Drawing on her own meticulous research, Sonia Shah will explore these questions by way of the tragic tale of cholera, one of history’s most disruptive and deadly pathogens. She will then turn her attention to the new pathogens that stalk humankind today, from Ebola, Zika, and avian influenza to drug-resistant superbugs.

Sonia Nazario
Sonia Nazario

SONIA NAZARIO September 27, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.

Immigration | “Enrique’s Journey and America's Immigration Dilemma”

Humanities Nebraska Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities

Sponsored by the Office of Academic Success & Intercultural Services

Watch Video of this Lecture

Pre-talk: 7:00 p.m., Steinhart Room, Lied Center by David Zaritzky Brown, Managing Partner, Brown Immigration Law

Sonia Nazario is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most challenging problems, including hunger, drug addiction, and immigration. She spent 20 years reporting about social issues for newspapers including the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Her best-selling book “Enrique’s Journey” relates the story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Originally published as a series in the Los Angeles Times, “Enrique’s Journey” has won more than a dozen prestigious journalism and book awards, including the Pulitzer, the George Polk Award for International Reporting, and the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. It is required reading at hundreds of universities and high schools across the country.

Nazario is a graduate of Williams College and has a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She began her career as the youngest writer to be hired by the Wall Street Journal, and has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business magazine and as a “trendsetter” by Hispanic Magazine. Her humanitarian efforts have led to her selection as the Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award recipient from the Advocates for Human Rights in 2015.

Lecture Summary

Enrique's mother, Lourdes, left him in Honduras when he was five years old. She could barely afford to feed him and his sister, much less send them to school. Twelve years later Enrique began his journey to find her, and in doing so became one of the thousands of children and teens who enter the U.S. illegally each year. In the opening lecture of the E.N. Thompson Forum’s “Crossing Borders” series, Sonia Nazario will explore America’s immigration dilemma vis a vis one boy’s story. Nazario will draw from her bestselling book, “Enrique’s Journey,” which was originally published in the Los Angeles Times; that series won a Pulitzer for feature writing. With 2016 marking the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes, Sonia Nazario will also add her own reflections on the Pulitzer’s place in American literary life and how winning a Pulitzer has affected her career as a journalist.

Lied Center for Performing Arts, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Cooper Foundation

Lectures are streamed online at http://enthompson.unl.edu/, and are available live on Lincoln cable TV digital channel #80 or #5, channel #71.16 or #71.14 without a cable box, UNL campus channel #4, and UNL KRNU radio 90.3 FM. All lectures are interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Pre-talk is delivered by an expert on the topic in the Steinhart Room 30 minutes before each Forum. 

The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is a cooperative project of the Cooper Foundation, Lied Center for Performing Arts, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It was established in 1988 with the purpose of bringing a diversity of viewpoints on international and public policy issues to the university and people of Nebraska to promote understanding and encourage debate.