Williams said she, University Pastor Nancy Connor and University President Thomas Krise wanted to do something in response to Stevens’ death, and that’s how they came up with the idea of holding a memorial lecture.
“Both Nancy and I agreed it would be a good idea to do something that was very connected to PLU’s global education, that it would be a wonderful opportunity to lift up an individual who believed in the study of languages and deep knowledge about a place,” Williams said. “In terms of global education it just made a lot of sense.”
Williams chose to wait until spring to plan the lecture in order to give the family time to grieve and let the political scene die down. Stevens’ family had already decided they wanted him to be remembered through the promotion of education about the Middle East, and were supportive when Williams contacted them.
Wright said what happens in the Islamic world will be one of the most important issues affecting the lives of the generation currently in college, because that is the last region that has held out against the democratic tide.
“How they make the transition will affect everything from our personal security and national security to the price of gasoline in our cars and the face of democracy in other parts of the world. It will be very important in determining whether we do end up with a clash of civilization or a confluence of cultures,” she said.
The goal of this lecture is to teach people and students about the Middle East and what is really happening right now.
“I’m trying to explain in this lecture what I think Chris Stevens wanted people to know, which he no longer has a voice to explain,” Wright said. “Understanding what’s happening is the first step in preventing tensions from becoming more wars.”