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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

February 27, 2008

PEW RELIGION STUDY FINDINGS NOT SURPRISING – Bill Leonard, dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest, is available to talk about the findings in the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey released this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  Leonard says that people who teach American religion have seen these trends over the past 20 years. He says one of the most interesting findings is the declining numbers of Protestants.  Leonard says the rise of non-affiliated individuals in America, “people who may consider themselves believers but not belongers, who have a personal religious orientation but choose not to participate in institutional religion,” may be the result of the growth of megachurches. “It may be at the expense of smaller churches in their regions; like the loss of Mom and Pop retail stores when Wal-Mart arrives in a community.”

Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

DEVELOPMENT EXPERT TO SPEAK ON FOREIGN-AID POLICIES —William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University, co-director of NYU’s Development Research Institute and a visiting fellow with the Brookings Institution, will address the question, “Can Foreign Aid End World Poverty?” in a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in Carswell Hall’s Annenberg Forum.  The event is free and open to the public.  Easterly, widely regarded as one of the foremost development economists in the world, is the author of “The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good,” which was included on lists of the best books of 2006 in The Economist, The Washington Post and the Financial Times.  He is published often in scholarly journals and the mainstream press and is a critic of conventional, large-scale government aid programs that he says lack sufficient accountability and incentives to succeed.

Contact:  Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.

WAKE ‘N SHAKE DANCE MARATHON TO BENEFIT CANCER FUND — More than 600 students will try to stay on their feet for 12 hours (noon to midnight) on March 1 in Wake Forest’s annual dance marathon.   The event will be held in Reynolds Gymnasium and will feature live bands, musical performances from Wake Forest student groups and the Bouncing Bulldogs jump rope team.  Throughout the day, dancers will be inspired by speeches from cancer survivors.   Wake Forest President and his wife, Julie, will visit Wake ‘N Shake to encourage the dancers.  Coach Jim Grobe and members of the WFU Football Team will also stop by. Last year’s event raised $21,000 for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund.  All of the funds were donated to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Contact:  Cheryl Walker, or (336) 758-6073

NEW FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM HELPS STUDENTS GO TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES — James Beshara, a senior economics major at Wake Forest University, with the help of Sylvain Boko, Zachary T. Smith Associate Professor of Economics at Wake Forest, has launched the Dvelo Fund, a fellowship program designed to give students an opportunity to study development issues in the underdeveloped countries. Fellowships up to $4,000 are available to undergraduate students who plan to travel to developing countries to conduct firsthand research or to participate personally in development programs.  Beshara got the idea for the program after what he calls “a life-changing” trip to Africa with Boko during the summer of 2007.  They were able to raise funds privately to launch the fund and have obtained nonprofit status to facilitate accepting tax-deductible contributions from other sources.

Contact:  Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.

FAITH AND FEMINISM — The Sixth Annual Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest will explore “Interfaith Feminisms” March 4 and 5 in Brendle Recital Hall. This year’s series assembles an interfaith group of female scholars of religion to debate and discuss issues ranging from Islamic, Jewish and Christian feminism to race and gender theology. The theme of “Interfaith Feminisms” promises a fresh look at some provocative questions and new perspectives on the impact of religion in the 21st century. This year’s lectures cover topics such as interfaith dialogue, the role of the modern Islamic woman, gender issues in the Quran, and Biblical scholarship and the rise of racism.  The series founder, Phyllis Trible, will open and close the lecture series, and will be available for interviews.

Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

THE BIBLE AND HIV — Musa W. Dube, associate professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana, will give a free lecture March 6 at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel titled “Go tla Siama, O tla Fola: Doing Biblical Studies in an HIV& AIDS Context." "Go tla Siama,” means it will be okay; while "o tla fola," means you will be healed. These two phrases have become popular expressions amid the intensity of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa. Dube worked with the World Council of Churches, serving as a HIV/AIDS and theological consultant for churches and theological institutions of Africa. Her role was to train theological lecturers and church leaders to mainstream HIV/AIDS and gender issues in their programs. Dube has edited two books on HIV/AIDS curriculum,Methods of Integrating HIV/AIDS in Theological Programs” andAfrica Praying: A Handbook of HIV/AIDS Sensitive Sermons and Liturgy.”

Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

PROFESSOR TAKES STAND ‘AGAINST HAPPINESS’ Eric G. Wilson, professor of English at Wake Forest, is available to discuss his new book, “Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy,” which has generated strong interest nationwide and abroad since its publication last month by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.  Book reviews and/or author interviews have appeared in Newsweek, Publishers Weekly, The Economist, on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” in the New York Post, the Raleigh News & Observer, the Winnipeg Free Press and the Vancouver Sun.  “We are eradicating a major cultural force, the muse behind much art and poetry and music.  We are annihilating melancholia,” Wilson wrote in an essay based on his book that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 18.  Wilson looks back to the 1819 “Ode to Melancholy” by John Keats and finds literary precedent for his concern that American culture’s overemphasis on happiness and the increasing tendency to “cure” mild depression or even “the blues” through pharmaceutical means will breed a blandness and complacency with the status quo that is antithetical to creativity and ultimately to true joy.

Contact:  Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238.

WAKE FOREST TO HOST CONFERENCE ON INTEGRATING VALUES AND WORK – Columnist David Brooks and former congressman Lee Hamilton are among a group of distinguished authorities who will speak at a two-day conference titled, “Why Work? Business, Professions and the Common Good,” at Wake Forest University March 27-28.  The conference, part of the university’s 2007-2008 Voices of Our Time speaker series, will bring together experts from the fields of business, education, government, law, medicine and religion to discuss the key challenges faced in professional life today.  For the complete conference schedule, visit

Contact:  Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5238

WAKE ALTERNATIVE BREAK – Each spring, many Wake Forest students opt to spend their spring break on a service-related trip.  For this year’s spring break, March 8 – 16, eight students will travel to Hilton Head Island, S.C., to assist the Humane Society, while 17 students will assist with the continuing clean-up and reconstruction efforts in New Orleans.  In addition, a group of 10 sociology students who took last summer’s course “Social Stratification in the American Deep South” designed a service trip through Wake Alternative Break to return to Stephens, Ark., where they plan to work in the local high school with teenagers interested in attending college.  In the past, students have volunteered in rural South Dakota, Oklahoma, Florida, and South Carolina, as well as in urban settings such as Washington D.C., New Orleans, Charleston and Boston.  Past trips involved tutoring with HeadStart, participating in an environmental clean-up, working with City Year, serving in homeless shelters and helping with hurricane relief efforts. 

Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-4393

WAKE FOREST'S BABCOCK SCHOOL STUDENTS, FACULTY HEAD BACK TO NICARAGUA FOR SPRING BREAK — A group of 16 students and at least two faculty members from Wake Forest University and the Babcock Graduate School of Management will share their skills with Nicaraguan business owners while learning about business outside the classroom during spring break.  The March 7-14 trip will be the fourth made by Babcock students in a little more than a year as part of the school’s ongoing Project Nicaragua.  The students plan to host two, two-day business seminars for small- to medium-sized businesses in and around Managua and spend a day visiting several small–business owners.

Contact:  Lisa Snedeker at or (336) 758-3615

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