Federal judge to kick off lecture series

This year’s Southern Oregon University campus theme will begin with a bang as Judge John E. Jones III gives two lectures this coming week on what happens when science, politics, and religion meet in a court of law.

Jones was appointed a federal judge by former President George W. Bush, and presided over the landmark 2006 Pennsylvania court case Kitzmiller v. Dover, where he ruled that teaching the theory of intelligent design in public classrooms violated the separation of church and state.

His decision angered many conservative pundits, and was branded as an “activist judge” by his former supporters, most of whom were conservative and evangelical.

He will be talking about the history of the intelligent design argument in the courtroom, as well as the judiciary’s role in government.

Jones’ lectures are the first in the “Civility” series, a sequence of five lectures throughout the term that discuss different aspects of this year’s campus theme of civility.

Now in its third year, the campus theme is gradually becoming an SOU tradition.

“The campus theme is an intellectual hub on SOU’s campus where students, faculty, staff and our local community come together and explore a common theme or issue or question that matters to us all,” said Prakash Chenjeri, an SOU philosophy professor and the event’s co-director.

Jones’ first lecture, “From Scopes to Kitzmiller – Civility and Incivility at the Intersection of Science, Religion, and the Law,” will be held in the Music Recital Hall of the Music Building on Oct. 13, at 7 p.m.

His second lecture, “Judicial Opinions and Civil Discourse: Is it Judicial Activism or Simply a Decision I Don’t Like?” will be held in the Rogue River Room of the Stevenson Union on Oct. 14, at 4 p.m.

Three other lectures are also scheduled for Fall term: “Fostering Civility in Youth,” a panel discussion on Oct. 27, that will address civility in youth, “Difficult Dialogues: Cultivating Civility and Mutual Understanding at Home and Abroad,” a lecture on Nov. 3 that will look at efforts to help students listen and learn from those who they have been conditioned to distrust, and “Civility, Democracy and Conflict,” a panel discussion on Nov. 17, that will examine the relationships between civility, democracy, and conflict in American discourse.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

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