How Noam Chomsky Came to Speak at ESU

Noam Chomsky speaks in Abeloff Performing Arts Center on 6 Feb 2013 to a full house. Photo Credit / Kelly North
Noam Chomsky speaks in Abeloff Performing Arts Center on 6 Feb 2013 to a full house. Photo Credit / Kelly North

Staff Writer

Noam Chomsky was scheduled to speak at East Stroudsburg University Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Chomsky was to present his lecture on “Public Education and the Common Good” at Abeloff Center from 1 to 3 PM Wednesday afternoon.

When professors spoke about bringing Noam Chomsky to East Stroudsburg University,  one name in particular kept appearing.

“When the faculty learned that ESU had this unique opportunity to bring such a distinguished intellectual to campus, a number of ESU APSCUF leaders and academic department chairs worked collaboratively to find a way to make this event happen,” said Dr. VanArsdale, Chair of the English department.  “Dr. Pruim has done most of the work.”

When asked how Noam Chomsky ended up at East Stroudsburg university, Dr. Peter Pruim of the philosophy department stated that a student contacted him about a lecture by Chomsky already scheduled at Lehigh University.

At first Dr. Pruim thought it would not be possible for ESU to afford such a renowned speaker, but the student further informed him that Chomsky only asked for a minimal fee compared to other speakers. Dr. Pruim then added that Chomsky was not speaking for the money, but rather to get out into the world and influence society.

“I couldn’t believe Noam Chomsky was coming here, 84 years old, and he couldn’t be doing enough,” said Dr. Pruim.

According to Dr. Pruim, Chomsky has taken his “speaker’s fee” and decided to donate the money back to East Stroudsburg University, under the condition that the fund be focused on “local activism.” The fee will be donated towards bringing future speakers to ESU.

“I don’t remember many of my classes in college, but I remember two times specifically, when Eugene McCarthy and Ralph Nader spoke,” stated Pruim, as he emphasized the importance of this lecture.

I asked Dr. Pruim to describe the importance of Noam Chomsky’s visit to focuses such as philosophy, English, and communication studies. He responded that it would be equivalent to “what it would be like for the Beatles to visit the Music Department.”

Noam Chomsky, a well known linguist, was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and he received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. While teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Chomsky made profound changes in the field of linguistics and has also strongly influenced multiple other disciplines.

Chomsky’s work in linguistics has affected cognitive learning in psychology, and argued against John Locke’s “blank-slate” theory in Philosophy; his views in politics, especially in his lecture “Manufacturing Consent,” have greatly affected the way we study mass media.

Chomsky has also made himself known for his political views. Being described as a traditional anarchist, Noam Chomsky has many views that disagree to common view of our society. In his lecture, “Manufacturing Consent,” he argues that without full freedom of speech, people are inluenced by the US government, which uses media as a propaganda tool, and only focuses on one side of the story.

The ESU event was free of charge and one of the most momentous moments in the university’s academic presentations.

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