This research guide is a finding aid for Stetson's recordings of the James A. Stewart and Howard Thurman Lecture series, as well as archival materials related to the lectures. Recordings listed in this guide belong to the duPont-Ball Library's Stetson Collection. They are available on DVD and may be used within the library. To access these recordings, contact the Archives & Special Collections department by phone (386-822-7191), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or in person. You may also request these items from the circuation desk.
Dr. James A. Stewart was appointed as Stetson University’s first chaplain in 1955. A native of Ireland, he worked as a boy in the shipyards of Belfast. He received his education from universities in Ireland, England, and the United States, where he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy. After serving as a pastor in churches in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky and finally at the Riverside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Stewart accepted an invitation to come to Stetson, where he taught in the Philosophy Department and served as Dean of the Chapel for ten years. He moved to the University of North Carolina in Ashville in 1965 and taught Philosophy there until his retirement at age 74. He died in 2005 at the age of 101.
The Stewart Lecture Series was initiated in 1990 by members of Stewart’s former church in Jacksonville, alumni, as well as friends of the university, as an effort to honor the memory of Dr. James A. Stewart’s constant commitment to genuineness of honest knowledge and scholarship, blended with humble wisdom. When asked what a long life had taught him, Stewart replied: “That a person whose mind is closed to new ideas is dead; people who think they know all the answers to every question of life is not worth listening to; that there is a great deal more about religious faith that we don’t understand than we do understand; and that we must have the courage to pursue truth no matter where it leads."
The Stewart Lectures were originally administered under the leadership of Dr. Dixon Sutherland, director of the Institute for Christian Ethics. The lecture series sought to bring leading voices of ethical values to campus, encouraging students to be socially responsible and involved in their communities. Speakers included Jürgen Moltman (1990), Desmond Tutu (1991), Jimmy Carter (1992), Elie Wiesel (1996), Bill Moyers (1998), Jane Goodall (2000), and E.O. Wilson (2009).
Today the James A. Stewart Lectures, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, and co-sponsored by the Department of History, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Multicultural Student Council, are administered under the leadership of Dr. Paul Croce, Professor of History and American Studies and Director of the American Studies Program. Just as the series has always done, the current aim of the James A. Stewart Lectures is to stimulate awareness of and critical reasoning about important ethical concerns in an ever-changing world. Speakers in the current iteration have included Marcia Chatelain (2022), Byllye Avery (2023), and Loretta Ross (2024).
The Howard Thurman Program at Stetson was established in partnership with New Birth Inc., a national board of African-American leaders headed by Reverend Jefferson Rogers. Through the program, Stetson worked to extend the legacy of Dr. Howard Thurman, who led the leaders of the American Civil Rights movement. Thurman, a Daytona Beach native, was a spiritual adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was hailed as one of the greatest pastors of the twentieth century. He was the first African American Dean of the Marsh Chapel at Boston University and co-founder of The Fellowship Church for All Peoples in San Francisco, the first interracially co-pastored church in America. Through the Howard Thurman Lecture series, Stetson hosted world-class speakers who challenged the University's internal as well as external audiences to seek solutions to social, religious, and ethnic problems both in America and around the world. In addition to public lectures, each speaker would visit classes or hold workshops with Stetson students and faculty, offering them new perspectives on social justice and encouraging them to bridge the intellectual work of the classroom to work in forwarding justice in the world. Thurman speakers included Derrick Bell, Taylor Branch, Angela Davis, John Lewis, Fred Shuttlesworth, Randall Robinson, Andrea Young, and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael).