McMaster Symposium 2007

Partnering for Sustainable Communities: The Work of Charity and Justice
April 11-12, 2007

The theme of the 2007 McMaster Symposium reflects the work of the McMaster Fellows and Scholars as well as those students, faculty, and staff involved in the McMaster Leadership Programs. During this two day event students, faculty, and staff will be celebrating, through their presentations, the work accomplished during the 2006-2007 academic year in locations around the globe and in the United States. This symposium serves as a forum for both our on campus and off campus communities to learn from each how partnering on the ground effectively and positively impacts humanity.

Keynote Speaker

Alex Kotlowitz, one of America’s most important nonfiction writers whose focus has been issues of poverty, race and children, will be the keynote speaker for the 2007 McMaster Symposium at Defiance College, April 11 and 12.

Kotlowitz is best known for his book, There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America. For this work, he received the Carl Sandburg Award, the Christopher Award, and the Helen B. Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. The best-selling book, which examines the lives of two brothers in a Chicago housing project, was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important books of the 20th Century. In the fall of 1993, it was adapted for television as an ABC Movie-of-the-Week starring Oprah Winfrey.

Kotlowitz's second book, The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death and America's Dilemma, examined the issue of race and the divide between two cities, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Michigan, through the mysterious death of a local teenager. Of this work, The New York Times wrote: "Of all the many books written about race in America in the past couple of years, none has been quite like The Other Side of the River... It is the difference between the two towns, one white, one black, that anchors this story, gives it its soul, and makes it important, essential even, for the rest of us to contemplate." The book received The Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Non-Fiction and the Great Lakes Booksellers Award for Non-Fiction.

Kotlowitz's most recent book, Never a City So Real, is a bit of a departure, a collection of contemporary stories from Chicago, his adopted hometown.

Between books, Kotlowitz has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and National Public Radio's "This American Life." Over the past three years, he has produced three collections of personal narratives for Chicago Public Radio and has served as a correspondent and writer for a "Frontline" documentary, "Let' Get Married." He is a writer-in-residence at Northwestern University and a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame as the Welch Chair in American Studies. He has also been a writer-in-residence at the University of Chicago.

Kotlowitz grew up in New York City and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. His first journalism job was with a small, alternative newsweekly in Lansing, Mich. After a year there, he freelanced for five years, producing for "The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour" and reporting for NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition." From 1984 to 1993, he was a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, writing on urban affairs and social policy.

His journalism honors include the George Foster Peabody Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the George Polk Award. He is the recipient of the John LaFarge Memorial Award for Interracial Justice given by New York's Catholic Interracial Council. He was the speaker at Defiance College's 2006 commencement ceremonies, during which he was presented the institution's Humanitarian Award.