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October 2004

Release Date: October 18, 2004

Holland Symposium to Focus on Marriage in Contemporary Society

Marriage, an institution almost as old as humanity itself and as current as today's headlines, will be explored by two renowned scholars during the 2004 E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 1-2, at Angelo State University.

Dr. David Popenoe, a sociology professor at Rutgers University, and Dr. Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College, will examine the transformation of marriage from the days when it was the cornerstone of the American Dream to the present when it is on the front lines of America's culture wars.

The two speakers will focus on the symposium theme of "Marriage and Family in an Age of Shifting Values" during public and classroom presentations. Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project and primary author of the Council of Families 1995 report Marriage in America: A Report to the Nation, will speak at 1:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1. Coontz, author of The Way we Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, will speak at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Both scholars will participate in a panel discussion on marriage and family issues at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2. The lectures and the panel discussion are open free to the public in the C.J. Davidson Center in the Houston Harte University Center at ASU.

Since its inception, the symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians and policy-makers to the ASU campus to discuss issues relevant to changes in American society. In 2003, the Board of Regents of the Texas University System named the symposium in honor of Dr. E. James Holland, who served 34 years as dean of ASU's College of Liberal and Fine Arts until his retirement last year. Holland established the annual symposium in 1984.

The two-day symposium, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, is the central event in a broader program of related activities, including class visits by the featured presenters, a video production of the symposium itself, and a creative contest with cash awards for students.

The symposium committee selected marriage as the 2004 topic to provide perspective on why many Americans are wedded to a "traditional" view of marriage and family, yet others want to divorce society from that narrow view of the institution. Coontz and Popenoe are two of the major scholars involved in the conflict over differing views of marriage.

Coontz is the national co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families. In addition to her landmark The Way We Never Were, she is also author of The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families; and The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families.

She has testified about her research before the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families in Washington, D.C., and has addressed audiences all over America and Europe. She has appeared on Oprah Winfrey, Crossfire, CNNs Talk Back Live, CBS This Morning, Leeza and Nighttalk with Jane Whitney, as well as in several prime time television documentaries.

A former Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Coontz has also taught at Kobe University in Japan and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She also has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Family History and Frontiers. Coontz is a faculty scholar for the National Faculty. In 1995 she received the Dale Richmond Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for her "outstanding contributions to the field of child development." She is currently working on a book on the history of marriage.

Popenoe is co-director of the National Marriage Project and a long-time specialist in the study of family and community life in modern societies. He is the author or editor of nine books, including Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society and Promises to Keep: Decline and Renewal of Marriage in America.

He is a founder and co-chair of the Council on Families in America, the national nonpartisan group of scholars and family experts that issued Marriage in America: A Report to the Nation. Popenoe is a member of the professional advisory boards of the National Fatherhood Initiative and the National Parenting Association. He previously chaired the board of the American Institute of Family Relations, the nation's first family counseling and research organization, originally founded by his father in 1930.

Popenoe has twice received a Senior Fulbright Research Scholarship for research abroad and has been a Visiting Fulbright Lecturer in Greece, Israel and Spain. He holds both his master's degree and his doctor of philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

For additional information, call Dr. Laurence F. Jones at 942-2262 or visit the Holland Symposium Web site.