Dr. Joshua J. Lynch; Quayshawn Spencer, Ph.D.; Annette Prekker Levine, Ph.D.; and Francis X. Clooney, S.J., Ph.D., are the featured speakers during Niagara University’s annual October Speaker Series.

The opioid epidemic, an antiquated system that divides humans into five separate races, the resettlement of Holocaust survivors in the Americas, and interreligious learning are the featured topics during Niagara University’s October Speaker Series. The presentations, which begin at 5 p.m., are free and open to the public.

The 2023 series kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 11, with the Hughes Endowed Lectureship in the Health Sciences. Featured speaker Dr. Joshua J. Lynch, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, will explore the roots of the opioid epidemic, discuss the current local statistics, explain the ways that the epidemic is changing and why it is becoming more deadly, and give an overview of the innovative statewide electronic referral network known as New York MATTERS in his presentation, the “Changing Face of the Opioid Epidemic.” The presentation will be given in Dunleavy Hall, Room 127.

Dr. Lynch is a national leader in addiction medicine. He serves on the Erie County Opioid Epidemic Task Force, the New York State Buprenorphine Work Group, and is a medication assisted treatment specialist for the Erie County and New York State departments of health. He regularly lectures locally, nationally, and internationally on substance use disorder and effectively linking patients to care. He holds a certificate in business from Harvard Business School, a D.O. from LECOM, and a B.S. in psychology from SUNY at Buffalo.

The Niagara University Hughes Endowed Lectureship in the Health Sciences was established with an endowment created by the late Dr. John Hughes, an accomplished radiologist who graduated from Niagara University in 1967. The lectureship recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the health sciences or to healthcare and provides an academic forum to address topics of importance in contemporary healthcare.

The series continues on Friday, Oct. 13, with the Albert the Great Lecture, “Mapping Problems, Race Theorists, and Human Population Geneticists,” given by Quayshawn Spencer, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Spencer will explain a mapping system that is based upon an antiquated subdivision of humans into biological subpopulations and explore the implications of this identity thesis for race theorists and government-funded projects. The presentation will be given in Dunleavy Hall, Room 127.

Dr. Spencer’s research focuses on metaphysical problems in science, biology, and race, such as the appropriate way to define "natural kinds," whether there is any way to group organisms into biologically real subspecies, and whether any racial classification divides people into real biological groups. He is co-author of “What is Race? Four Philosophical Views,” and has published several articles in professional journals. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University, and a B.A. in chemistry and philosophy from Cornell University.

The Albert the Great Lecture is presented by the Niagara University philosophy department and named for Albertus Magnus, who is most famous for the influence he had as the instructor of St. Thomas Aquinas, the cornerstone of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Annette Prekker Levine, Ph.D., professor of world languages, literatures, and cultures, and director of Jewish studies at Ithaca College, will give the Global Contexts Lecture, “They Were a Family: Descendants of Holocaust Survivors and the Inheritance of Intergenerational Trauma.” Dr. Levine will share the delicate nature of truth telling and truth finding based on her interviews with descendants of Holocaust survivors in Brazil and Argentina and their journeys of survival and reinvention. The presentation will be given in Dunleavy Hall, Room 127.

Dr. Levine has published articles, translations, and book reviews primarily focused on trauma and memory in Latin America. She is the author of “Cry for Me, Argentina: The Performance of Trauma in the Short Narratives of Aída Bortnik, Griselda Gambaro, and Tununa Mercado,” and has published a co-edited volume of essays about the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, “Landscapes of Memory and Impunity in Jewish Argentina.” Her current ethnographic work is focused on the transmission of traumatic memory among second-generation Holocaust survivors in Argentina.

The Global Contexts Lecture is sponsored by Niagara University’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

The series wraps up on Thursday, Oct. 26, when Francis X. Clooney, S.J., Ph.D., professor of divinity and comparative theology at Harvard Divinity School presents the McNulty Lecture, “Hinduism and Me: A Catholic Priest’s 50 Years of Hindu Studies.” Father Clooney first visited India and Nepal 50 years ago, and since then has had an interest in Hindu studies, though remaining Catholic, a priest, and Jesuit. In this lecture, he will talk about what inspired this interest, what it has meant for him as a Catholic, and what light his experience might shed on interreligious learning and experience today. The presentation will be given in Glynn Hall Room 407.

Father Clooney is a leading figure globally in the developing field of comparative theology and has written on the Jesuit missionary tradition, particularly in India, on the early Jesuit pan-Asian discourse on reincarnation, and on the dynamics of dialogue and interreligious learning in the contemporary world. Recent books include “Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics: Why and How It Matters,” “Western Jesuit Scholars in India: Tracing Their Paths, Reassessing Their Goals,” and “St. Joseph in South India: Poetry, Mission and Theology in Costanzo Gioseffo Beschi's Tempavani.” He is currently finishing a memoir, “Priest and Scholar, Catholic and Hindu: A Love Story.”  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, an M.Div. from the Weston School of Theology, and a B.A. from Fordham University.

The McNulty Lecture Series, sponsored by Niagara University’s religious studies department, is devoted to questions of faith in the contemporary world, especially the topics of social justice and interreligious dialogue. The series was established by the late Rev. Thomas P. McGourty, C.M., a professor of religious studies at NU, in memory of his late aunt and uncle.

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