Pulitzer-winner to speak, get honorary degree

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Dr. Martin Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and nuclear policy expert, will receive an honorary doctorate from Bowling Green State University during a visit to campus this week.

Immediately following the conferral of the degree, he will give a talk titled “Oppenheimer's Shadow: His Nuclear World and Ours” at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 5) in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater.

A brilliant physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer was widely known as "the father of the atomic bomb." After World War II, he became a leading advocate of international control of atomic energy and an opponent of developing the hydrogen bomb. During the post-World War II “Red Scare,” his loyalty was questioned in public hearings, and he lost his security clearance.

“His life is fascinating and raises important, if troubling, issues that we confront today,” said
Dr. Donald Nieman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which is sponsoring Sherwin's visit.

A book signing and reception will follow his talk, which is free and open to the public.

Sherwin will also participate Wednesday evening in a panel discussion of the lessons to be learned from Oppenheimer's life. Some of the issues still pertinent today include the control of nuclear power, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the role of open debate in a democratic society.

Moderated by Tom Walton, former editor of The Blade in Toledo, the panel will also include
Dr. Gary Hess, Distinguished Research Professor of history, and Dr. Walter Grunden, an associate professor of history. The discussion will be held at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Bowen-Thompson Student Union and is also free and open to all.

A history professor at Tufts University, Sherwin's writings have influenced national discussion of foreign and national security policy for the past three decades. His 1976 book, “A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance,” is a classic analysis of atomic diplomacy and the origins of the Cold War. Sherwin was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in biography for his book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” co-authored with Kai Bird.

In an effort to break down the Cold War barriers between the United States and the former U.S.S.R. on the level of the private citizen, he spent the 1980s traveling and teaching in Russia, and took American students there as part of his “Global Classroom.” It was during one of those trips that he met Dr. Douglas Neckers, McMaster Distinguished Research Professor and executive director of BGSU's Center for Photochemical Sciences, and former BGSU President Paul Olscamp, who were forming an alliance with Mendeleev University in Moscow. Sherwin has also worked extensively with Hess.

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(Posted September 05, 2007 )