Lou Douglas lecture focuses on doing little things


There are constant exchanges of power in current political systems and the economic markets around the world are constantly shifting. With all of these changes taking place, society is bound to follow, and new political, social and economic issues arise with them.

Students and faculty of the UFM Community Learning Center created the Lou Douglas Lecture Series to help understand these problems and find ways society can help deal with and solve them.

This year’s series kicked off Tuesday, with a lecture by Libuse Binder, author of the book “Ten Ways to Change the World in your Twenties.”

Binder spoke in Forum Hall, emphasizing the opportunities students can take to make a difference in the world.

Binder left her job as a film producer, working on million-dollar films, to find a way she could use her skills to help benefit others. Since then, she has worked as a writer, teacher and environmental activist.

Her speech reflected her book, discussing ways the current generation of students can make a difference in the world — whether it be small or big changes.

“We are incredibly powerful,” Binder said. “We have access to information technology like never before and so we really have the power to create a new world.”

Binder discussed how people can take small steps in their everyday lives to work toward a greater cause. She said she sees so much power and potential in today’s youth.

“I see a tremendous level of energy for all of these different causes, from the environment to fair trade, fair wages, to volunteering locally, to stopping violence against women,” she said, “and really we all are a community that has to stick together and harness that energy and work towards changing this world together.”

Binder said out of all of the ways people can make a difference in the world, it is important that they focus on an issue or topic that is deeply personal to them. She offered simple ways to get involved, from voting and recycling to buying local and sustainable foods and starting nonprofit organizations.

Binder spent a great deal of time on environmental issues and sustainability.

“The school is moving toward bringing in more sustainable practices all over campus,” she said. “Some of the basic things you can do are just really small steps. Using a reusable coffee mug, using a reusable water bottle,” she said. “Once you sort of embrace in these practices, encourage your parents and your friends to do the same thing.”

Binder closed the speech with a quote from her book, pushing forward the idea of small changes that can end up making big differences.

“Take a simple action or two every day or a few times a week, even if you don’t think it matters much,” she said. “Once these actions become second nature and you develop some momentum, you will probably find yourself looking for more to do and learn.”

Carolyn Gatewood, sophomore in secondary education, said she hoped the lecture would have focused more on the nonprofit side of making a difference.

“I thought it was interesting how she focused a lot on sustainability and environmental action,” Gatewood said.

Gatewood, who is also minoring in nonprofit leadership, said she does understand that sustainability is relevant in the world right now, but wished Binder would have talked more about charitable organizations.

“I saw that in the description and I wish she would have focused a little bit more on the nonprofit, but I did get some good ideas from it,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to start a nonprofit organization, so it seems like she has some good ideas. I’m interested in getting her book and reading that and see what I can take from that to use in my future.”

Linda Teener, director of the UFM Community Learning Center and executive director for continuing education, said Binder was a great fit for what the lecture series represents.

“There is so much with students getting involved and making a difference in the world, we ran across her, and she sounded like a terrific person to come and have some inspirational ideas for students,” she said.

Teener said while the speech had much more of an environmental focus than she had anticipated, she thought it was quite good and said Binder made good points throughout the speech.

“I think K-State students can make a difference, you know, a little idea whether it’s helping one person, helping your community, looking at sustainability or any other kinds of issues, can be a very rewarding thing,” she said.

Teener said the UFM Community Learning Center, which has been around for 42 years, was made as a way of bridging communication and sharing ideas between the campus and the community, and said Lou Douglas was a big supporter of this cause.

Douglas, distinguished professor of political science from 1949 to 1977, focused his time on issues like civil rights, racial and economic justice and international peace.

“He was a terrific guy, and very interested in fairness, true democracy and social justice,” Teener said. “So, we’ve tried to look at those kinds of issues when we look for speakers for the lecture series. It reflects something that Lou would have been proud to be a part of.”