By Park Greer

With the new semester comes a new lineup of Chautauqua lectures based on the theme of “Nature’s Humans,” bringing in many speakers, including Peter Singer, who initially created the idea that animals have rights. Eastern’s own Bruce MacLaren, former Chautauqua director, will kick off the series at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 in the Ferrell Auditorium in the Combs building. To introduce the series, he’s going to start at the very beginning – explaining why the Chautauqua program exists.

MacLaren began the lecture series in 2000 with hopes of not only bringing in the brightest minds in all fields of study to speak, but to attract students, faculty, and the public to listen and become involved in the debate. He stepped down from being the program coordinator last year and was replaced by Minh Nguyen.

MacLaren said he wants people to attend the lectures and be inquisitive.

“Going (to a lecture) and asking questions is better than just going,” he said in a recent interview about his upcoming lecture. “If you go and ask one question, you will have a memory that will stick with you.”

Chautauqua is designed to be a welcoming environment. The lectures are developed to be intriguing and entertaining.

“All of my speakers are calling on us to think again,” MacLaren said when speaking on why questions are encouraged. “To have someone tell you what he thinks is true and for you to refute builds the mind.”

The purpose of the lectures is to teach and expand one’s mind, much the same way “bringing a musician to campus allows students to hear music that they might otherwise never have heard,” MacLaren said.

Sometimes the lectures will utilize Eastewrn’s faculty as speakers because they are a community of intellect and are often “no different than the book writers,” MacLaren added. In fact, numerous faculty members at Eastern are authors themselves.

For more information about upcoming Chautauqua lectures, visit