Peru State established the Distinguished Speaker Series in fall 2010 as part of our commitment to student engagement and success. The intent of the Series is to bring diverse, nationally and internationally recognized speakers to southeast Nebraska to enrich the educational experience of our students while also providing our surrounding communities opportunities to engage in interesting and relevant topics.

2019-20 Speakers

David Thoreson: "From Nebraska to the Arctic Ocean: Exploring and Documenting Change at the Ends of the Earth"
David Thoreson standing on a boat, holding the camera he uses to take pictures

Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center

With his many extreme polar adventures and Midwestern roots, photographer, sailor and explorer David Thoreson will be a unique, and entertaining, speaker at Peru State College. Thoreson grew up in a small Iowa town, learned to sail and love the water as a boy in the Iowa Great Lakes area where he became an environmental advocate. David graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha where he was also a scholarship athlete playing football. Thoreson will share how these early experiences led to a life of exploration and discovery at the far reaches of the globe while sailing over 70,000 miles around the planet. David is the first American in history to sail the Arctic Ocean’s Northwest Passage in both directions. David also completed a 28,000-mile circumnavigation of the North and South American continents on a research sailboat working with NASA, NOAA and universities in two hemispheres. Thoreson provides an eye-witness account of the climate change impacts to sensitive polar and ocean systems, affecting our environment worldwide.  Thoreson's presentation combines stunning visuals and storytelling about the interconnectivity amongst people, land and water, both at the local and global levels. David is an author of numerous articles and books. His stories were recently collected in his pictorial memoir, OVER THE HORIZON: Exploring the Edges of a Changing Planet. Thoreson is an Explorers Club Fellow and participant in the World Science Festival, Nobel Peace Prize Forums, TEDx and United Nations Oceans Conference.

Beverly Gooden: "Why I Stayed: The Complexity of Domestic Violence"
Beverly Gooden wearing a fuschia pink dress with a gold necklace

Monday, March 2, 2020 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center

"Why I Stayed" is a revolutionary speech by Beverly Gooden, renown social activist and creator of the #WhyIStayed hashtag and global movement. In this radical talk, Gooden challenges the question “Why did he/she stay?” and reveals how the current way we interact with survivors is a house of cards. From faulty blame attribution, to designating only men as abusers, it’s easy to overlook the sheer volume of domestic violence when the issue has historically been framed as “them” and not “us”. That’s why, as Beverly argues, domestic violence is a community issue. Victims of violence can be women and men, LGBTQ and heterosexual, or even children. Victims of violence may have fought back, or remained silent. There is no perfect victim and no specific type of abuser. Beverly discusses her personal domestic violence story, reveals the most important questions to ask victims, and outlines how we all can help. A lecture about intimacy, compassion, and equality, Beverly invites the audience to look beyond the surface and into the complexities of domestic violence.

All events are open to the public and free of charge.

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About the Series

Speakers are encouraged to connect with the community in a variety of ways during their visits through classroom discussions, guest lectures, meet and greet receptions, and a keynote address. Previous guests include former skinhead Frank Meeink, civil rights leader and Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi, Bawa (Cameroon, Africa) Health Initiative co-founded Dr. Dennis Richardson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Sonia Nazario, and consumer advocate and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

For additional information or questions, please contact Dr. Timothy Borchers, Vice President for Academic Affairs.