News And Events

English Speaking Union’s 2017 - 2018 Season

Published with permission of the The Pilot Newspaper, Southern Pines, NC

What do spaceflight, archaeology, climate change, World War I, Napoleon, the internet, and U.S. foreign policy have in common?

They will all be featured among presentations occurring this season at the Sandhills Branch of the English-Speaking Union (E-SU) dinner meetings. The E-SU is an organization dedicated to education, scholarship, and understanding.

Christopher A. Jones

Dr. Christopher Jones, who works at NASA's Langley Research Center, in Hampton, Va., will be the featured speaker Wednesday, Oct. 11. His topic is "It's More Than Rocket Science: The Challenges of Spaceflight and Their Extraordinary Solutions."

Jones' current work includes strategic analysis of space technology investments, applications of in-space assembly to Mars exploration and mission design for an earth science satellite.

This talk introduces some of the reasons, from physics to economics, why spaceflight has been and remains a challenging endeavor. Jones holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering both a master's degree and a doctorate in aerospace engineering.

Mark Schneider

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Mark Schneider, of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, presents "Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe."

Schneider "becomes" Napoleon and discusses the man, mostly known as a general, who spread the ideas of the French Revolution across Europe.

Mark Schneider was born and raised in the small town of Setauket, N.Y., on Long Island. After high school, he moved to Virginia where he attended Christopher Newport University and received a bachelor's degree in history. Schneider then joined the U.S. Army, where he served as a cavalry scout performing armored reconnaissance for the 1st Armored Division in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany and the United States.

Upon completion of his tour of active duty, he started working for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1997. While at Colonial Williamsburg, Schneider has performed as a variety of different characters ranging from Mark Antony, James Madison, Benedict Arnold, Le Comte de Rochambeau and many others. Schneider is now in the Nation Builder program where he performs as the Marquis de Lafayette. He also portrays Napoleon Bonaparte internationally.

Jodi Magness

Dr. Jodi Magness, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, will talk about the new discoveries made in the ancient synagogues at Hugog in Israel's Galilee on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Magness has participated on 20 different excavations in Israel and Greece, including co-directing the 1995 excavations in the Roman siege works at Masada. From 2003-2007 she co-directed excavations in the late Roman fort at Yotvata, Israel.

Since 2011, Magness has been directing excavations in the ancient village of Huqoq in Israel's Galilee. The excavations have brought to light the remains of a monumental late Roman (fifth century) synagogue building that is paved with stunning and unique mosaics, including depictions of the biblical hero Samson, and the first non-biblical story ever discovered decorating an ancient synagogue. In her slide- illustrated lecture, Magness describes these exciting finds, including the discoveries made in last summer's season.

Magness, current president of the Archaeological Institute of America, is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and received her doctorate in classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a senior endowed chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teach ing Excellence in Early Judaism.

Magness has authored and co-authored 10 books, won awards for many of them, and has published dozens of articles in journals and edited volumes.

She has also consulted for and appeared in the National Geographic series, "The Story of God," with Morgan Freeman, which aired in spring 2016.

Michael Haltzel

"Contours of U.S. Foreign Policy 2018" will be the topic for Dr. Michael Haltzel on Wednesday, Jan. 10.

America's role in the world is at an important crossroad. After nearly two
decades of U.S. involvement in war in Afghanistan, 15 years in the Middle East, a slow brewing, dangerous conflict with North Korea, and huge challenges elsewhere, a clear assessment of American interests and ideals in foreign policy is a top priority.

Haltzel is currently Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Haltzel served as staff director for European Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to U.S. Vice President (then Sen.) Joseph Biden, and earlier as chief of the European division of the Library of Congress, director of West European Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and deputy director of the Aspen Institute Berlin.

Haltzel, who earned his doctorate in history at Harvard and has authored or edited 10 books, writes a blog for the Huffington Post. He is the recipient of state decorations from seven European countries.

Dan Swartwood

Dan Swartwood, president of the Society for the Policing of Cyperspace," will talk about "Safeguarding Yourself from the Dark Side of the Internet."

After giving a short overview of the history of cybercrime, Swartwood will discuss the current practices of the "bad guys," and the ways you can safeguard your data files, financial accounts, and identity protection. Looking into the future, a discussion on what we can expect from both the "White Hats and the Black Hats" will be explored, and being protected in a connected world will be highlighted.

Following a career as an U.S. Army Military Intelligence officer, Dan successfully managed global data protection programs in four Fortune 1000 companies and the third largest private company in America. He has created, implemented and managed global privacy, IP protection, security investigations and data protection programs for over two decades.

In 2011, he became a senior fellow with the Ponemon Institute, a leading data protection research group. A highlight of his career was the opportunity to conduct an independent operations security review of the White House for the Inspector General of the U.S. Secret Service. Swartwood earned a master's degree in strategic intelligence at the Defense Intelligence College.

Dennis Dimick

Dr. Dennis Dimick a journalist with National Geographic and former executive editor of Environment, will talk about "The Big View: Climate Change in the Human Age" Wednesday, March 14.

National Geographic has been documenting the effects of climate change and its many contributing factors, and reporting on scientists' projections of potential future trends.

Dimick has overseen this coverage and reporting, working side by side with senior writers, photographers, scientists, and research teams as they gather and analyze the data. He has a unique gift for distilling this vast information into a manageable narrative, and has shared it with a wide range of public and corporate audiences worldwide.

Dimick has been the National Geographic picture and environment editor for more than 35 years. He is co-founder of Eyes on Earth, inspiring a new generation of environmental photographers. He is also recipient of the 2013 Charles M. Sprague award for service to photojournalism.

John Milton Cooper Jr.

John Milton Cooper Jr., an historian and Wilson scholar will discuss "Land of His Mother and His Fathers: Woodrow Wilson and Great Britain in World War I" Wednesday, April 4.

With a mother born in England and all his grandparents born under the Union Jack, Woodrow Wilson could not escape being an Anglophile. At the beginning of World War I, he confessed to the British ambassador his affection for that country and hope that the Allies would win. Two and a half years later, he brought the United States into the war on Britain's side. But between those times, Anglo-American relations followed a tortuous and often painful path, complicated by Wilson's growing disillusionment with Britain and horror at the carnage of the war, which made the president a reluctant, doubtful interventionist. Also complicating relations was the shadowy, devious part played by Wilson's advisor Colonel Edward M. House. How all this came out as it did is the story to be told.

Cooper earned an undergraduate degree at Princeton University and both master's and a doctorate from Columbia University. He has written six books and his 2009 book, "Woodrow Wilson, A Biography,"
was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

In addition to the program meetings, E-SU sponsors a student-of-the-month program in Moore County high schools , a national Shakespeare competition in Moore County high schools, and a middle school debate competition across Moore County middle schools.

All E-SU program meetings are held at the Pinehurst Country Club and are limited to members of E-SU and their guests. Individuals interested in learning more about membership should contact Carol Conover, membership chairwoman, at (610) 337-2726 or


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