How to Define Art

Alfred Jan

July 15, 2018

From ancient times to the present, one of the main philosophical issues concerning visual art is how to define it. Art-making is a quintessential humanistic activity, but can it be defined, and if so, how? In this presentation, Alfred Jan will offer some traditional versions and several contemporary attempts for the audience to consider: how to define visual art as a category rather than as a term of praise or approval.

Alfred Jan has an MA in Philosophy specializing in Aesthetics. As a critic, he published 500 reviews and articles in 20 different art magazines from 1982 to 1995. In the mid-1980s, he curated an exhibition called “Sculpture As Used in Performance” at the San Francisco State University Art Gallery. He has appeared on many panel discussions about art in Bay Area art departments and art schools, and taught “Introduction to Aesthetics” at DeAnza College in 1995. One of his reviews was analyzed in the textbook titled “Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary” by Terry Barrett.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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Voting Systems, The Invisible Force that Shapes Societies

Jeff Justice

July 1, 2018

Most Americans are hardly aware that democracies have choices when it comes to how they vote. When our current system elects a candidate not favored by the majority, we blame the Russians, dark money, or anything but the voting system. In this talk, Jeff Justice will review the history of voting systems and ways we could greatly improve what we now have.

Jeff Justice is a board member of the Center for Election Science. He has previously given talks about the value of YouTube, which has great resources on this current topic. He is also a member of the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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Refugee Crisis 2018: What’s Happening Now and How YOU Can Help

Mindy Berkowitz

June 24, 2018

Mindy Berkowitz will discuss the following subjects:

– Setting the stage
– What is a refugee?
– Brief overview of the “typical” refugee resettlement process
– What do refugees bring with them?
– Housing challenges
– The Travel Bans
– Why the Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley sued the Trump Administration
– Current state of refugee resettlement
– Update on our lawsuit
– Making a Case for Supporting Refugees
– How We Say Never Again
– My people were refugees too
– Now It’s Your Turn: How You Can Help
– Volunteer
– Advocate
– Donate

Mindy Berkowitz has been Executive Director of Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley (JFS SV) since 2003 – and still claims it’s the best job she ever had. Mindy earned a BA in Sociology and Certificate in Women’s Studies from Rutgers University, prior to receiving a Masters in Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College and a Masters in Social Work from Washington University. Before working at JFS SV, Mindy enjoyed an extensive nonprofit management career in mental health, camping and youth services. Mindy lives with her husband, Rabbi Allan Berkowitz in San Jose, CA. Mindy and Allan have four children and one grandson.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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Just A Little Girl: Despair and Deliverance

Haya R. Rubin and Anna Halberstam Rubin

June 17, 2018

Haya R. Rubin will open the talk with some words on “The Legacy of the Holocaust”.

Anna Halberstam Rubin will then follow with a discussion of her book, “Just A Little Girl: Despair and Deliverance”, which is a fascinating coming-of-age memoir of the years 1942-1946, by the sole surviving descendant of a prominent European dynasty of Chassidic rabbis which describes her miraculous survival as a teenager wandering through the Holocaust.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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Trump and the Constitution, Year Two

Professor Martin Carcieri

June 10, 2018

On January 7, 2018, Prof. Martin Carcieri spoke and answered questions at a Forum entitled “Trump and the Constitution”. (See http://www.humanists.org/blog/2018-01-07/)

In this new talk, Prof. Carcieri will continue his discussion of constitutional issues the Trump presidency has raised, this time focusing on 2018 events.

Martin D. Carcieri is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University, specializing in Public Law and Political Theory. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Cal State Los Angeles, a J.D. from UC Hastings, and a Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara.

Dr. Carcieri teaches undergraduate courses in Judicial Process, American Political Thought, Legal Issues, Constitutional Law, and Jurisprudence, as well as graduate seminars on the First Amendment, Separation of Powers, Judicial Process, the U.S. Drug War, and John Rawls. He has won four teaching awards, and his work has been cited in amicus curiae briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in five landmark cases. His second book, “Applying Rawls in the 21st Century: Race, Gender, the Drug War, and the Right to Die,” was published in 2015 by Palgrave MacMillan.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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See videos of our past Forums here.