Brown Bag Lecture Series

The International Brown Bag Series has been an integral part of the Alworth Institute's programming since its inception in 1987. In the fall of 2013, it was renamed the Martha B. Alworth International Brown Bag Series. It provides the audience the opportunity to share in the international travel experiences of numerous individuals from the University, local, national and international communities. Many presentations are travelogues; some are reflections of the current issues confronting a country's people; others capture the cultural character of distant societies; but, each allows a unique insight into places many would never have the opportunity to visit.

The objectives of this series are to:

  • help fulfill the overall objectives of the Alworth Institute;
  • introduce students, staff and the wider community to interesting aspects of foreign culture, society and history;
  • raise awareness of political life and conditions in diverse parts of the world;
  • create opportunities for sharing insights developed during professional and leisure interest travel and other programs of study abroad;
  • create opportunities for visiting faculty to share relevant topics with the wider University;
  • involve students, staff and community members in exchanging ideas and reflecting on international and any related domestic policy issues.

To learn more about the renaming of the International Brown Bag Series.

If you are interested in proposing a topic for discussion, finding a qualified speaker, or co-sponsoring a lecture; check the suitability of the topic and the speaker against the objectives above and contact the Alworth Institute at [email protected] or (218) 726-7753.

Spring 2021 Schedule

Thursday, February 18 - 12:00 p.m. (CST) – Nationalism and the Separatist Movement in Catalonia, Spain - Presented by Dr. Jennifer Brady, UMD Associate Professor of Spanish, and Head, Department of World Languages and Cultures - Dr. Brady will explore the 21st-century separatist movement in Catalonia, Spain. This movement, which has roots dating back to the mid-19th century with the birth of Catalan nationalism, culminated with an infamous referendum vote in 2017 in favor of the creation of Catalonia as an autonomous nation-state. Participants will learn more about the vote, the fall out, and the long-term prospects for the separatist movement in Catalonia. Register at

Thursday, February 25 – 12:00 p.m. (CST)  - Birding in Vietnam - Presented by Dr. John Hatcher, Associate Professor, UMD Communication Department and Heather-Marie Bloom, Naturalist, Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, and founder, Rising Phoenix Community Farm - While visiting Vietnam as a Fulbright scholar, John Hatcher and his partner, Heather-Marie Bloom, were able to explore the countryside in search of unique birds. Learn about their travels and meet a few of the fascinating people and birds they encountered along the way. Register at 

Thursday, March 18 - 12:00 p.m. (CDT) - Contemporary Debates Surrounding Holocaust Memorials and Museums in Eastern Europe - Presented by Dr. Natalie Belsky, Assistant Professor, UMD History program, and Dr. Deborah Petersen-Perlman, Associate Professor & Associate Department Head, UMD Communication Department - The speakers will examine recent controversies over Holocaust museums and memorials in Eastern Europe and what these debates have to tell us about how these societies are grappling with complicated and fraught pasts. They will also discuss how this topic will be integrated into their virtual class offered in May 2021 and the study abroad trip planned for 2022. - Both speakers are members of the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee which is a cosponsor of this presentation. Register at

Thursday, March 25 - 12:00 p.m. (CDT) - The Cuban Model: Leading the Global Healthcare Fight Against the Pandemic - Presented by Justin Jiménez, Cuba Program Co-director, Witness of Peace Solidarity Collective - Jiménez, will discuss the Cuban response to and global healthcare fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuban healthcare professionals have been working throughout the world in an integrated and life-saving health response on all levels: the grassroots, state, regional, international, preventative, curative and bio-pharmaceutical. He will examine Cuba’s resilient people-centered approach to healthcare. Cosponsored by the UMD Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Register at

Thursday, April 8 - 12:00 p.m. (CDT) - NOWRUZ: The Iranian Celebration of a New Day - Presented by Cindy M. Christian, Director of the Alworth Institute, and Shireen Golban, UMD Student in the Swenson College of Science and Engineering  - Christian will share features of the Iranian New Year celebration which is celebrated on the first day of spring. She will discuss the history and symbolism of the celebration as well as some facts about Iran that many may not be aware of. This presentation is version of a special lecture she gave in the spring of 2015. Register at

Thursday, April 15 - 12:00 p.m. - Exploring Lima and the Sacred Valley Pre-pandemic - 
Presented by Dr. Maureen Tobin-Stanley, Professor of Spanish Studies, UMD Department of World Languages and Cultures, and Thomas Stanley, Senior Attorney, St. Louis County - The speakers will present a photographic travel journal of their travels in March 2020 in Lima, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. They will share their journey of hiking, gastronomy and art. They will also discuss the experience of traveling in Peru and then home as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Register at