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The Florida Humanities Series is our gift to the community.

In 2007, The Florida Humanities Council an independent, non-profit organization that serves as our state's affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, funded a special program at The Emerson Center to provide free, public programs that explore Florida's history, folklore, environment, literature, music, and art. Today, relying solely on community support, The Emerson Center continues to offer these informative programs for our neighbors.

Now, you can download an informative flier describing the 2011-2012 Florida Humanities Series.

Join us in saying special thanks to Marine Bank & Trust, our sponsor for the 2011-2012 Florida Humanities Series.

The capacity of the Emerson Center is more than 800. For our Florida Humanities series, free admission will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis. There will be a selection of V.I.P. seats reserved for season ticket holders of the "Celebrated Speakers Series," Florida Humanities Series Sponsors, and Friends of the Emerson Center. The Emerson Center is handicapped-accessible and is conveniently located at 1590 27th Avenue, on the SE corner of 16th Street and 27th Avenue in Vero Beach. For more information, contact 778-5249.

Once again in 2011-2012, The Emerson Center at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Vero Beach will present the Florida Humanities Series - our gift to the community. Six acclaimed speakers will be presented at the Center between October 2011 and April 2012, with all presentations relating to Florida history, nature, culture, and issues. Admission to each is complimentary and all performances will begin at 7 p.m.

Coming up next on the Florida Humanities Series stage....


Here are the Humanities Series events
which appeared this season.

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has passed.

October 27, 2011, 7pm
Paul Dosal, Ph.D.
Historian, Florida's Hispanic Heritage


Paul Dosal is Professor of Latin American History at the University of South Florida, specializing in the modern history of Cuba and the Caribbean region. He is the author of four books, including Comandante Che, a study of the military career of the legendary Latin American revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, and Doing Business with the Dictators, a history of the infamous United Fruit Company in Guatemala in the early 20th century.

He will speak on "Florida’s Hispanic Heritage: Commemorating 500 Years of Florida’s Connections with Latin America and the Caribbean."

Born and raised in Tampa, he is a fourth-generation descendant of Cuban immigrants who settled in Ybor City in 1889. A graduate of Hillsborough High School in Tampa, he earned his B.A. in International Politics at St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He received his M.A. in Latin American Studies and Ph.D. in History at Tulane University in New Orleans. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of South Florida, he taught for nine years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Interestingly, Dosal also serves as Vice Provost for Student Success and Professor of History at the University of South Florida. In that position, he is responsible for enrollment planning and management, Undergraduate Admissions, the University Registrar, and Financial Aid. He also directs the student success initiative, a university-wide movement to raise retention and graduation rates, boost student satisfaction, minimize financial indebtedness, and prepare all students for success in their careers or graduate and professional schools.

From 2007 to July, 2010, he served as the Executive Director of ENLACE FLORIDA, a statewide network funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to promote college readiness, access, and success for underrepresented students through non-partisan research, communication, advocacy, and support. He is also the Principal Investigator of the College Goal Sunday project and the KnowHow2Go campaign in Florida, both funded by Lumina Foundation for Education as part of a national effort to raise the percentage of Americans with high quality postsecondary degrees from 39% to 60% by 2025.


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has passed.

December 8, 2011, 7pm
The Ashley Gang
Florida Folk Musicians


The Ashley Gang has been performing together for more than a decade. In the hectic music world, that's no small feat. The gang members are scattered up and down the east coast of Florida from Jacksonville to Sebastian. Learn more about this unique group at their website.

Known for their soaring harmonies, thought-provoking lyrics and witty repartee on stage, the band consists of Al Scortino, Paul Garfinkel, Michelle Lowe, Norm McDonald, Kay Garfinkel, and Bob Bronar. Al and Paul, both award-winning song writers, keep the band stocked in fresh material, Michelle plays bass and sings harmonies, Norm sings and plays accordion and assorted kitchen utensils, Kay plays flute and djembe, and Bob plays guitar and mandolin. They have individually and as a band recorded six CDs, the latest "A Girl in Oklahoma".

The band plays regularly at most of Florida's folk and music festivals, and was voted among the top ten favorites by the folk DJs at the annual North American Folk Alliance Conference. Several of their tunes have been featured on various compilation discs and covered by other artists around the state.

Appearing at The Emerson Center, their concert is entitled "Telling Tall Tales, Having Fun: With Florida Songs and Stories."


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has passed.

January 26, 2012, 7pm
Cynthia Barnett
Reporter & Editor
Florida's Water Supply


Cynthia Barnett, an award-winning reporter and editor at newspapers and magazines for twenty-five years, will speak on "Blue is the New Green: Water Sustainability and the Future of Florida."

She is senior writer at Florida Trend magazine, where she covers investigative, environmental, public policy and business stories. Her numerous awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi prize for investigative magazine reporting; a gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards; and eight Green Eyeshades, which recognize outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states.

Ms. Barnett earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master's in American history with a specialization in environmental history, both from the University of Florida. In 2004, she was awarded a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, where she spent a year studying freshwater supply.

Her first book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., published in 2007 by the University of Michigan Press, was named by The St. Petersburg Times as one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read. "In the days before the Internet," the Times said in a review, "books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ River of Grass were groundbreaking calls to action that made citizens and politicians take notice. Mirage is such a book."

Her second book, Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis, will be available from Beacon Press in September 2011.


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has passed.

February 16, 2012, 7pm
Dennis J. Stanford, Ph.D.
Smithsonian Institution's authority on earliest settlers in America


World famous archaeologist and curator Dr. Dennis J. Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution will speak for our Humanities Series AT 7pm on February 16, 2012. (Arrive early to review a lobby display of fossils and other exhibits.)

Dr. Stanford is Curator of North and South American Paleolithic, Asian Paleolithic and Western United States archaeological collections, Director of the Smithsonian’s Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program and Head of the Division of Archaeology. His speech will describe his theory and work that challenges stories of how the Americas were populated. Dr. Stanford’s presentation replaces the originally scheduled Dr. Alex Steptick who for personal reasons is unable to attend.

Dr. Stanford’s theory posits that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. He will present archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, and persuasively link Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago. His latest book, Across Atlantic Ice, co-authored with Bruce Bradley, will be published during February. Dr. Stanford and Smithsonian staff evaluated the engraved bone found in Vero Beach by James Kennedy and corroborated its ancient age in the June 2011 Journal of Archaeological Science.

Download a flyer with complete information about about this event.


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has passed.

March 22, 2012, 7pm
Seth Bramson
Florida Railroad Authority


Seth Bramson is nationally known as America’s foremost authority on the history of transportation to, from and within Florida. He is one of only two people in the country who bears the official title of company historian with an American railroad and his book, Speedway to Sunshine: the Story of the Florida East Coast Railway is the official history of that famous line.

His topic for the evening will be, "The Florida East Coast Railway: For More Than 110 Years America's Speedway To Sunshine."

He is the senior collector of Florida East Coast Railway, Florida transportation memorabilia, Miami memorabilia and Floridiana in America; and his FEC Railway and Florida transportation memorabilia collections are the largest in the world: they are larger than the state museum’s collection and larger than the Flagler Museum’s collection. The founder and current president of the Miami Memorabilia Collectors Club, his collections of Miami memorabilia and Floridiana are the largest in private hands in the country.

A graduate of Cornell University’s famed School of Hotel Administration, he holds master's degrees from St. Thomas University and Florida International University, both in Miami.

He is Adjunct Professor of History at Barry University, Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University’s Lifelong Learning Institute and he is Historian in Residence at both Barry and FIU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

The author of 22 books on South Florida local and Florida transportation history, he is the single most published South Florida history book author in the country, with 16 of his 22 books dealing directly with the villages, towns, cities, counties and people of the Southeast Florida Gold Coast.

He is a consultant to the transportation, hospitality and health care industries and is a sought-after speaker and presenter. He is nationally known in the railroad industry as “Mister F.E.C.” and his four books on that railroad are considered the authoritative references on the history of the line.


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has passed

April 19, 2012, 7pm
Carrie Sue Ayvar
Storyteller and Commentator on Florida Latin Experiences


Growing up surrounded by stories, Carrie Sue learned early about the power of the oral tradition and its capacity for healing, inspiration, education, and entertainment. When Carrie Sue discovered that there were others out there who had not heard even the classic stories -- read a few maybe, but not experienced the rich oral practice of storytelling -- she knew she had found her calling.

Growing up a descendant of Eastern European Jews in Pittsburgh, PA, Carrie Sue never knew a life without stories. Her grandparents passed down Old World tales as her father reminisced about fantastic show business memories. As she explains in her story, "The Bullseye", her grandfather, in typical Talmudic fashion, regularly used stories as teaching tools. Using stories as a guide, he allowed Carrie Sue and her siblings to arrive at their own conclusions and challenge their perceptions of a situation, a technique Carrie Sue often uses today.

She moved to Mexico as a teenager, where she then met her husband and discovered another world of stories among her newfound family and friends. Combining her childhood stories with those she has gathered during her time in Mexico and the U.S., Carrie Sue has developed an impressive repertoire of bilingual, cultural, folk, and historical tales.

Today, Carrie Sue is a nationally acclaimed storyteller dedicated to preserving and promoting the art of storytelling. Sharing her stories in both English and Spanish, she connects people, languages, and cultures through her tales.

Her topic at The Emerson Center will be "Florida Stories with Latino Sabor (Flavor)."



You can review programs from prior years by accessing our archive pages.


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