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September 9 – Kathleen Smythe

Kathleen Smythe


One aspect of spirituality is recognizing that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves; some refer to this as transcendence. One way to find transcendence is in the long sweep of human history. A long view of humanity, starting eight million years or so ago, allows us to see ourselves as heirs to a marvelous and messy process of evolution, a process that has molded us both biologically and culturally. We will look at some of these characteristics as a part of our spiritual journey.

Kathleen Smythe received her Ph.D. in African History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Fipa Families: Reproduction and Catholic Evangelization in Nkansi, Ufipa, 1880-1960 (2006) and articles in a variety of academic journals. Her study of Africa and her experiences there lead her to the fields of economic development, sustainability, and globalization, as she sought to understand for herself and then explain to her students the dynamics—historical and current—that have brought global apartheid and ecological devastation to Africa. Much of her teaching and research currently focus on these issues, including a book manuscript derived from her teaching, Why We Need African History, that explores ideas and institutions that are long-lived and might broaden our economic, political, and social responses to the aforementioned crises.

Music: Gerri Friedberg
Service Leader: Meg Vermillion