On Thursday, Sept. 27, author and activist Paul Loeb will give a free public keynote address at 10:30 a.m. in Carver Physical Education Center (3500 5th Ave., Rock Island). Loeb's lecture is the centerpiece of the first of three symposia days Augustana College leaders are planning for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Loeb has spent more than 30 years researching and writing about citizen responsibility and empowerment—asking what makes some people choose lives of social commitment, while others abstain.
About his lecture at Augustana, Loeb said, "I hope the students will gain a sense of their ability to act and create change. That their actions joined with others, really can help shape history, so long as they're willing to take the risk of trying and then keeping on despite the inevitable setbacks and frustrations."
Known for motivating others, Loeb explained he draws his inspiration from the people whose stories he tells, saying, "Some I've had the privilege to know and to consider my friends. Others I've just read about or read their words." Loeb continued, "But either way, they create what Nelson Mandela calls 'the multiplication of courage,' where one person inspires another and it continues from there."
Loeb's writings have appeared in numerous newspapers and journals, including The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today. His first book, Nuclear Culture, examines the daily life of atomic weapons workers in Handford, Wash. Hope In Hard Times portrays ordinary Americans involved in grassroots peace activism. With Soul of a Citizen, he aims to inspire citizen activists. In 2010, St. Martin's Press released an updated edition of Soul of a Citizen, which now has 130,000 copies in print between two editions.
Loeb lectures regularly and has spoken at over 400 colleges and universities around the country, including Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Yale, Cornell and Duke. He created and coordinated Campus Compact's 2008 Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort which helped engage three million college students. He's running the project again for 2012 and is committed to promoting civic engagement in higher education.
What will he say to Augustana students about the upcoming election? "I'll ask them to get involved however they can.
"There may not be a close Presidential race in Illinois this year, but in Iowa the race is neck and neck." Loeb shared, "I remember when I volunteered in my state of Washington, got three voters out on Election Day, and my candidate won by 134 votes after three recounts. You bet I felt my actions had made a difference!"
He said, "I'll talk about how students and citizens in general can make their voices heard and actions count in a time when we're told neither matter."
Loeb's visit is supported by The Institute for Leadership and Service and The Stanley Erikson Lectureship in Public Affairs.