By Brian Palmer
CCC Journalism Program

Cleopatra is the subject of the current Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility (CCLR) lecture series at Camden County College. The CCLR series, now in its third year of providing free, public lectures, discusses the life, times and lasting impact of Egypt’s last queen.

Cleopatra is the focus of several events at Camden County College. Photo provided

“Cleopatra is a magical name in America,” said Jack Pesda, CCLR director. Pesda said Cleopatra’s influence on American modern culture, including the larger-than-life Hollywood movies made about her, led CCLR to choose her as the subject for the upcoming series.

Pesda said the series was also planned to complement the Franklin Institute’s world premiere exhibition, “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt,” which includes treasures and artifacts from her reign that were unearthed after nearly 2,000 years of being buried under sea and sand. Partnering with the Franklin Institute and Penn Museum, CCLR is sponsoring outings to the exhibit, as well as hosting lectures with guest professionals who deal directly with the exhibit.

Pesda said he was unaware of any other college in the region that is dedicating a public lecture series solely to Cleopatra.

The lecture series began Sept. 15 with “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt, an Overview of the Exhibit,” led by David Silverman, professor and curator of Egyptology at the Penn Museum. Five more lectures have followed. The last lecture will be “Fashion in the Age of Cleopatra” on Nov. 10.

The Cleopatra guest professionals conducting lectures include six leading Egyptologists and a distinguished scholar of Roman history, Pesda said.
A CCC history professor, Pesda has hosted lectures at the college for nearly 20 years. He credits support from college administrators, CCLR staff and its volunteers for bringing lectures and discussions of humanities and social justice to the public.

“Our goal is to reach out to not just Camden County, but the entire Delaware Valley,” he said.

CCLR programs are made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. CCLR hosts two different lecture series every semester. Along with the Cleopatra lectures, CCLR will also host a series called “Science and Religion: The Debate Continues,” exploring the relationship between the two.

In the spring of 2011, a “Sex and Society in America” series is scheduled. Pesda said a series on environmentalism is also being considered, and a four-year series on the Civil War is in the works for the fall of 2011.

Members of the public are invited to the lectures. Teachers are also encouraged to come, as lectures may help fulfill professional development requirements.

Along with its lecture series, CCLR is hosting various autism-related events this fall and winter designed to help teachers and professors understand the special needs of children with autism in a classroom setting. There will also be a lecture specifically for first responders, which will teach them to identify symptoms and behaviors that indicate autism. Participants will also learn how people with autism may typically react to protocols followed by first responders.

The lectures take place in Civic Hall inside the Connector Building on the Camden County College Blackwood campus. The hall holds 320 people but accommodates overflow seating. For more information or to register, visit http://www.camdencc.edu/civiccenter.

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