University of Dubuque

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Ripley Smith to Speak at Wendt Center for Character Education Fall Lecture

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Posted Oct 2, 2013

On Monday, October 14, the University of Dubuque’s Wendt Center for Character Education’s will host a lecture by professor and activist, L. Ripley Smith (C’97).  The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center.  The event is free and open to the public.

Smith’s lecture is titled God's Heart and Our Part in the Lives of Displaced Persons.  Current figures suggest that there are more than 45 million displaced people around the world - an 18 year high. What is our responsibility with respect to the refugee, the asylum seeker, the internally displaced, and the undocumented alien? Research suggests that we can have a dramatic impact on these “strangers in our land.”

“Dr. Smith, a communication scholar, also has a heart for ministry.  His work with refugees in the Twin Cities has enabled him to both learn from them, and share his expertise in communication,” notes Dr. Annalee R. Ward, director of the Wendt Center for Character Education. 

L. Ripley Smith, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota) is professor of international and media communication at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences on the subjects of intercultural social support networks, refugee resettlement, cross-cultural partnership development, and the role of trust in post-conflict regions. His recent research has explored identity reconstruction among KaRen and Somali refugee populations and partnership criteria in German and American NGOs.

A Fellow in the International Academy of Intercultural Research, Smith is the author of book chapters and journal articles appearing in Organizational Trust (Cambridge University Press), The Handbook of Ethno-political Conflict (Springer Press), The International Journal of Intercultural Relations, the International and Intercultural Communication Annual, The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, the International Journal of Communication, andthe Arizona Communication Association Journal.  He currently serves as the Chair of the board of directors for World Relief, Minnesota, a non-profit refugee resettlement agency.

The Wendt Character Initiative was established in 2004 at the University of Dubuque by the endowed Lester and Michael Lester Wendt Character Initiative Fund.  The Initiative operates under the care of the Wendt Center for Character Education.  This Initiative promotes a campus culture that nurtures the formation of excellent moral character, and that encourages all members of the community to live lives of purpose. The work of the Wendt Character Initiative is centered in the University’s Mission and values, a commitment to its Reformed Christian identity, and a sense of creative vocation in faithful response to the Creator.  This Initiative is part of the total educational experience of all University of Dubuque students through curricular and co-curricular programs.  Faculty and staff also participate in the Initiative through special programs during the school year.