Scholars, students, policymakers, and activists from around the country and the world will gather on the Colby campus in coming weeks to ponder global engagement in the liberal arts, the liberal arts and its special relationship with the humanities, and the legacy of the Prague Spring 50 years on.

The first of the three conferences gets underway Sept. 14 as faculty and staff from a wide range of liberal arts colleges from the U.S. and abroad focus on effective global engagement.

Access, Integration, and Action: Global Engagement in the Liberal Arts” is the fourth in an annual series, and the first to be held at Colby.

Faculty and/or administrators from Colby, New York University and Ashoka University, India, and Haverford, Carleton, and Colorado colleges, among many others, will consider how to best support and sustain global engagement, ways to encourage and harness student interest in language learning, and how to include global learning across a curriculum.

On Sept. 20-21, focus will shift to the Prague Spring, the brief liberalization of the Czechoslovak state and society in 1968 that ended a few months later with the Soviet invasion of the country.

The Prague Spring Fifty Years On: Meaning, Legacy, Future Prospects” has drawn a remarkable lineup, including in the movement, historians, Cold War experts, and a photographer who witnessed and documented the invasion.

Sponsored by the Government Department, the Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs, the conference will explore competing interpretations of the event, the role of art and university students in political dissent, and implications of the Prague Spring for Russian expansionism and security issues in Central and Eastern Europe.

The keynote address will be given by Petr Pithart, a Czech politician, Prague Spring participant, and former prime minister of Czechoslovakia. Photos of the invasion taken by Paul Goldsmith will be on exhibit in the atrium of the Diamond Building.

On Sept. 28-30, Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities will be host to a conference, Liberal Arts and the Humanities: Case Studies from Liberal Arts Colleges and Small Universities, that will see experts consider humanities concepts and questions forged in a liberal arts environment.

Colby is one of four colleges/universities presenting at the two-day session, for which Colby received a $20,000 matching grant from the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.

The sessions will attract representatives of 27 colleges and universities, including institutions that are just at the stage of creating a center for humanities, or have brand new centers, and hope to learn more about Colby’s center and also about things other network members are doing, according to Kerill O’Neill, director of the Center for the Arts and Humanities at Colby. The institutions with nascent centers include St. Anselm, Carroll, Franklin & Marshall, Macalester, and Middlebury.

The conference will also feature a conversation with noted scholar and humanities advocate Dianne Harris, a senior program officer at the Mellon Foundation.