Cultural Network

James E. Smith Midwest Conference


In 1964, twenty-one foreign delegates visited the campus of Kearney State College (KSC) with the objective to “awaken and properly channel the interest of our future leaders in education in education in the search for an understanding of the issues facing the peoples of the world.” the conference was developed by a student/faculty committee representing all the campus departments.  It continued annually for twelve years bringing over 200 diplomates from 100 different nations and discussing the cultural similarities and differences.

After a twelve-year hiatus the conference was revived in 1988 and expanded to reflect the new global economy and draw attention to the problems of interdependence and enhancing international awareness.  Topics have included: Water and Survival: from the Platte to the Nile; The Global Economy: Promises and Perils of an Uncertain Frontier; Technology and Power: the Global Outcomes of New Media.

2022 Conference  For Better or Worse: Crossing the Line

Various lines connect us and divide us in our individual lives, national divisions, and international conflicts.  All the crossing of “Lines” have consequences that we find in territorial conflicts, religious differences, and compromises and collaborations.  2022 Keynote speaker was Pulitzer Prize Winning author Sonia Nazario investigates the dilemmas of children migrants from Mexico.  Also speakers discussed research on removal of Indigenous children in U.S., and topics involving the timely Ukraine-Russia conflict climate change across the globe.

Special attention was given to role that artists play in collaborations among nations through three curated art exhibition in the Walker Gallery at University of Nebraska at Kearney. “Crossing the Line: The work of six immigrant artists in the United States; A portfolio from Wroclaw, Poland; Prints from Ukraine. One example artist is  Printmaker Christopher Nowicki originally from U.S. and now resides in Wroclaw, Poland.  He teaches at Eugenusza Gepperta Academy of Fine Art, curates exhibits of printmakers around the world, and exhibits his own mezzotints and prints in Europe, China, India, Japan, U.K. and the U.S. In addition his collaborations with Alaskan artists demonstrates his continued attempt to bring artists together across the world.

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