The Paul A. Olson Seminars in Great Plains Studies offer an opportunity for interested scholars, students, and members of the community to come together to examine various topics related to the Great Plains. The seminars, offered monthly during the academic year, are free and open to the public. If you need an accommodation, please call 402-472-3964. Seminars are at 3:30 p.m. at the Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St.
T. Lindsay Baker - Sept. 18, 2014
Professor, W.K. Gordon Endowed Chair of Southwestern History, Director, W.K. Gordon Center for the Industrial History of Texas Coordinator, Public History Graduate Program, Tarleton State University
"How the Wind Did Human Work on the Farm" -- Green energy has become a popular topic among Great Plains people as fuel prices have risen, but for decades people in the region used the renewable power of the wind to do part of their physical work. Baker will speak about how Plains residents pumped water, ground grain, sawed firewood, ran machine shops, and generated their own electricity using the free power of the wind. Audio from Baker's talk >
Bernard Flaman - Oct. 22, 2014
Conservation architect, member of the Saskatchewan Association of Architects and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
"Architecture at a Crossroads" -- "Architecture of Saskatchewan, A Visual Journey" was conceived as an informational and educational document to engage a public audience rather than as a highly critical text on the state of architecture in the northern reaches of the Great Plains. The lecture is an opportunity for the author, Bernard Flaman, to relate the experience of creating the book from the perspective of a design, art history and practice background and to engage in a more critical discussion on the nature of a printed book and the state of architectural design in the digital age. Flaman will expand on projects illustrated in the book and share thoughts on a possible future for Great Plains architecture and the small and medium sized cities that populate the region. Flaman is the winner of the 2014 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize for his work, "Architecture of Saskatchewan, 1930-2011."
Panel: Local Food on the Great Plains - Nov. 12, 2014
A panel of players in the local food scene will talk about where the movement is going and what challenges the Great Plains faces as the movement continues to grow.
Speakers will be accompanied by several local food producers who will sample food items. Panel at 3:30 p.m. at the Great Plains Art Museum at 1155 Q St. All lectures are free and open to the public.
Previous Olson lectures
Miguel Carranza - March 19, 2014
Potholes and Sinkholes on the Road to Immigration Reform
Professor of Latina/Latino Studies & Sociology, Director, Latina/Latino Studies Program, University of Missouri-Kansas City
"The arrival of 'newcomers' from other countries has happened since the earliest days of settling the United States. These newcomers – immigrants – have come to flee persecution and poverty in their own countries in hopes of making something of themselves and something for their families. Immigrants have frequently had the challenge of entering the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder and having to prove their worth in order to achieve the 'American Dream' and become an integral part of our society.
My presentation focuses on how the climate has changed over time for immigrants and their perceived value to our society. This climate has an impact, not only on our national borders and shores but throughout the U.S., including the Midwest and Great Plains regions. Furthermore, the factors that influence this environmental shift have a great deal to do with any success in achieving immigration reform."
Derek Hoff - Feb. 26, 2014
A Prophet without Honor?: Malthus on the Great Plains
History department, Kansas State University, author of The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in U.S. History (University of Chicago Press, 2012), and, with John Fliter, Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, the Contract Clause, and the Great Depression (University Press of Kansas, 2012).
From late nineteenth-century Bonanza farming to President Roosevelt's assurances to Great Plains farmers that they could "Maintain Themselves on the Land" (despite his administration's other efforts to retire "submarginal" farmland and relocate farmers) to the uproar over the Buffalo Commons proposal, Great Plains residents and boosters have often welcomed and promoted population growth in particular locales. And yet the pessimistic ideas of British pastor Thomas Malthus -- who famously argued at the turn of the nineteenth century that population growth would eventually overwhelm natural resources -- have resonated to a surprising degree on the Great Plains. This lecture offers a first draft of the history of population thought in the region.
Press release >
Timothy Schaffert - Jan. 15, 2014
Summer Souvenirs and "The Swan Gondola": Reinventing the World's Fair
The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898 (Omaha's World's Fair) consisted of palaces and gardens and also a midway of dirt roads and collapsible shacks, reflecting the split personality of Omaha. Schaffert will speak about the Expo and his book at this lecture.
Leon Higley - Nov. 20, 2013
Climate Change and the Insects of the Great Plains
Insect ecologist, professor, School of Natural Resources, UNL
Prof. Higley spoke on the effects of climate change on native insects and how those changes can change the landscape.
Recording of the talk
William Farr - Oct. 16, 2013
Emeritus Professor, History, University of Montana, senior fellow and founding director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
As winner of the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize for his book "Blackfoot Redemption: A Blood Indian's Story of Murder, Confinement, and Imperfect Justice," Farr spoke about his task writing it and how the themes translate to modern day Native American issues.
Allan McCutcheon - March 6, 2013
Welcome to the Elections from the Inside: Exit Polls and Election Projections for the Great Plains
UNL professor, Survey Research & Methodology/Gallup, Statistics, Sociology, Mathematics
Priscilla Grew - Feb. 20, 2013
Engaging Lifelong Learners in Natural History: The Land-Grant Mission of the University of Nebraska State Museum
Director, University of Nebraska State Museum
Tom Lynch and Susan Maher - Jan. 16, 2013
Artifacts and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley
Associate professor of English at UNL and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth