USU humanities, social sciences dean speaks on role of community

A civil society can only be attained when the members of that society make decisions that cater to the collective group, rather than the individual, said Dean John Allen in the 37th annual Last Lecture. “What I’ve learned … is personalize,” Allen said. “Where we are headed, we are fragmenting our social system … the outsiders are the enemy, and the locals are the enemy to the outsiders.” Allen is dean of USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and was selected by the Honors Council to speak at this year’s Last Lecture — a tradition in which a distinguished member of campus is asked to give a lecture to USU’s population on the premise that it’s the last one they would ever give. “The Role of Community in a Civil Society” was the title of Allen’s Wednesday presentation. Christie Fox, director of the Honors Program, said the Honors Council is asked to choose a professor who has had a great impact both on his or her students inside and outside of the classroom. During his presentation, Allen shared stories that he experienced throughout his career in sociological work, all of which taught him that social conflict is most successfully solved when all sides involved can see the other groups as humans with similar emotions and life experiences. Allen received his doctorate in sociology from Washington State University and, while applying his degree in the field, said he has witnessed many situations in which two or more groups had to reach an understanding by becoming more aware of the opposing sides’ backgrounds and reasoning. This understanding trickles down to his students, he said.

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