NCSML Forum: Participating in Democracy – Havel@80

NCSML Forum: Participating in Democracy /
Saturday April 2, 2016

10:30 am – 6:00 pm /
A public exchange of ideas on how we shape democracy, inspired by Václav Havel, one of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Political Prisoners,” and a freedom fighter celebrated the world over.

In association with HAVEL@80 a year-long celebration of Havel’s 80th birthday, and part of the Czech Studies Workshop, an annual meeting of scholars from across the U.S. and abroad who are studying Czech and Slovak history and culture.

Schedule of Events
10:30 am – Havel Roundtable
As part of the worldwide commemoration of Václav Havel’s eightieth birthday, Moderator Kimberly Elman Zarecor, Ph.D., will lead panelists David S. Danaher, Ph.D.,author of Reading Václav Havel, and Kieran Williams, Ph.D., author of a forthcoming biography of Václav Havel, in a discussion of Havel’s legacy. Major themes will include democracy and engaged citizenship as well as an approach to reading Havel that highlights this legacy. For Havel, democracy was far more than the periodic opportunity to vote in elections. Democracy was to be performed by citizens who share values that underlie their democratic system and give it strength and unity. This philosophy is one way to reconcile Havel’s various faces – as absurdist playwright, as dissident activist and essayist, and as post-1989 president.

12:00 pm – Lunch & Learn Panel Discussion
The Ongoing Process of Democracy: Insights from East Central Europe and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election The Czech and Slovak Republics, along with neighboring Poland and Hungary, have been seen for many years as the post-
communist countries that made the most successful transition to democratic rule. Yet recent years have given pause to this assessment. This roundtable uses the panelists’ insights to explore lessons from East Central Europe that might be relevant for evaluating U.S. democracy at a time when the 2016 election has brought forth a dramatically different style of politics and new suggestions of how to achieve effective and accountable government, as well as national unity. Boxed lunches are available for pre-order during the online registration process.

Panelists include Krista Hegburg, Ph.D., Program Officer in the University Programs Division of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Owen V. Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Journalism and History at Indiana University; Jonathan Larson, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa; Deborah Michaels, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education at Grinnell College; Tomáš Vrba, Ph.D., currently President of the Board of Directors of the Forum 2000 Foundation and chair of the Board at Theater Archa in Prague. See for detailed speaker biographies.

1:30 pm – Guided gallery tour of Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968-1989
Join us for a tour led by Dr. Tomáš Vrba.

2:30 pm – Popcorn and Politics
Engage in thematic roundtable conversations facilitated by Czech Studies Workshop scholars and enjoy popcorn from The Great American Popcorn Company. Historical and contemporary topics related to politics will be covered. It is sure to be a lively conversation!

4:00 pm – Keynote Presentation (Free to the public, RSVPs encouraged)
The Courage to Take Responsibility: Havel’s Legacy as an Inspiration for Others, Dr. Tomáš Vrba. From playwright and critical commentator to leader of the democratic opposition – and eventually a revered statesman, Vaclav Havel is celebrated as one of the most important figures of the 20th century. In his keynote, Dr. Tomáš Vrba, who worked alongside Havel for the Charter 77 and for Samizdat publishing, will explore the tremendous impact of Havel’s artistic and political contributions from the 1960s – 1990s from a personal perspective. Havel intuitively understood that freedom and democracy need to be defended again and again, and should not be taken for granted. Every simple attempt to forward civil society takes courage–courage to overcome fear and to actively participate in shaping political outcomes. Followed by a birthday cake reception (free).

*All events are free with admission unless otherwise marked. Admission for members and students is free. Please register by March 25, 2016 at