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University events and lectures preview/review

A preview and review of U events and lectures (Jan. 27-Feb. 10)

Compiled by Adam Overland

Hungry planet image 165
An image of an Ecuadorian farmer and child, as seen at the Bell's Hungry Planet exhibit.

January 26, 2010

University events and lectures preview/review is a periodic column (about every two weeks) highlighting events and lectures recently past and soon to come on the UMTC campus. Faculty and staff are invited to contribute. Submissions should be no longer than 250 words and are subject to review by the Brief editor.

Hungry Planet: What the World Eats: through May 9 at the Bell: If you've made the common New Year's resolution to start eating right, or at least differently, then there's perhaps no better place to digest some inspirational information than at the Bell's Hungry Planet exhibit. The grocery lists and dining tables of people around the globe will inform, inspire, and perhaps even shock you (especially some of the costs).

The exhibit combines mesmerizing photos with hands-on displays that explore issues surrounding food in the 21st century--what people eat, how much it costs, and where it comes from--as well as learning how different cultures approach growing, processing, and eating food.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Bell continues to host a range of provocative Thursday evening programs on the topic of food--from panel discussions on food-related news, to presentations by University experts and local food gurus, to tastings of locally produced foods and beverages. Thursday evening programming is free with museum admission. For more information, see Hungry Planet.

"Obama and the Liberal Dilemma in Power:" Jan. 19, noon: Two days after the Democratic Party lost the special election in Massachusetts to fill Ted Kennedy's seat, Alan Brinkley, a professor of history (and former provost) at Columbia University and author of numerous books, including Liberalism and Its Discontents, presented the lecture "Obama and the Liberal Dilemma in Power." The lecture and follow-on discussion took place at the Humphrey Institute in a room suited for about 50 people, and drew many more.

Professor Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance introduced Brinkley by saying that the lecture fell at a "fortuitous" moment. Brinkley quipped that he wasn't sure fortuitous was the right word, suggesting that he could not have come "at a less propitious moment." "The Massachusetts election is a kind of earthquake in Obama-land," Brinkley said.

Brinkley, a liberal historian, offered a critique of Obama's leadership so far, including both successes and shortcomings. He opined that the administration made a critical mistake in taking on healthcare too soon, and should have focused more on the economic crisis during the past year, moving on to healthcare only after achieving progress there.

Brinkley also had strong words for congress, saying that the United States is nearing the fourth decade in which congress and the government as a whole have failed to deal with any of the major problems facing the country—"Healthcare, infrastructure, education reform, energy and environmental policy, and many other critical issues have received little or no attention from congress and the White House," said Brinkley.

For those who would like to listen to the lecture and discussion, the talk was recorded and aired on MPR's Midday radio program on Jan. 22.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, multiple lectures beginning Jan. 28. Professor Alex Jassen of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies will present a series of community teaching events on the Dead Sea Scrolls this winter and spring, with the first lecture Jan. 28. The events are happening in conjunction with the upcoming Science Museum of Minnesota exhibition.

"Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed" will take place off-campus Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m., at B’nai Emet Congregation. St. Louis Park, MN. Sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies.

Coming lectures and classes on campus include: "The Dead Sea Scrolls," Institute for Advanced Study, March 24; and "The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered," Compleat Scholar Program, College of Continuing Education, April 8, 15, 22, and 29.

For more information, including info on Jassen's exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota, read an interview with Alex Jassen.

Feast of Words, Jan. 28, 5 p.m., Campus Club. This event is has become an annual January tradition--the result of an excellent partnership of the Campus Club and the University of Minnesota Libraries. This year's featured speaker is David Treuer, associate professor in the Department of English. His specialties are Native American fiction, modernisms, fiction writing, and narration theory. His topic for the Feast of Words is "Fighting Words--Writing as combat" (with a funny twist). Reservations are required, and it's filling up, so RSVP soon.

Active Learning with Technology: Myths, Magic, and Mucho Motivation, Feb. 2, 10-11:45 a.m., theater, Coffman Union. Based on extensive research, Curtis Bonk will dispel the myths and outline the debates of technology integration in higher education. Bonk will be joined by four experts in a panel discussion to further discuss the application, benefits, and challenges of e-learning. Panel members include Ann Duin, Aaron Doering, Merrie Kaas, and Billie Wahlstrom, with moderator Debra Olson. For more information, see learning with technology.

Frontiers in the Environment lecture series presents "The Whole Village Project," Feb. 3, noon-1 p.m., IonE Seminar Room 380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus, available via UMConnect. Held every Wednesday at noon, the next lecture in the series from the Institute on the Environment will feature Craig Packer, professor, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, discussing The Whole Village Project. The project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of foreign aid projects in sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty is the principal cause of habitat loss. As part of the project, more than 20 U researchers in applied economics, agronomy, ecology, education, medicine, nursing, public affairs, public health, and veterinary science are working together in 240-plus villages throughout Tanzania. The project seeks to measure changes in health, nutrition, education, socio-economics, food security, land use, and natural resource status for 10 to 20 years, as well as identify best practices for development agencies, local government, and village communities. All Frontiers lectures are posted online and available for live viewing on UMConnect.

"From flapping birds to space telescopes: the math of origami," Feb. 9, 7 p.m., 125 Willey Hall. The principles of origami, the centuries-old Japanese art of paper-folding, can be used to solve a wide range of folding problems, from how to compress an airbag into a steering wheel to how to design complex folding telescopes. These math-based origami concepts are used in product development, architecture, and designs seen all around us. For example, the University of Minnesota's Weisman Art Museum is an origami-inspired structure. The speaker, Robert Lang, is an artist and a consultant who applies origami principles to engineering problems.

Design for the Planet's Poor, Feb. 9, noon-1:30 p.m., (lunch will be provided), 101 University International Center. Presenter: Thomas Fisher, Professor and Dean, College of Design. Designers work directly for, at most, 10 percent of the global population, even though the other 90% need what designers provide--shelter, sanitation, security--even more than the wealthiest few. This has led some in the design community, which has traditionally followed a medical model of practice, to explore a form of practice more along the lines of public health, in which designers develop, in partnership with diverse communities around the world, low-cost, locally built prototypes that can meet people’s basic needs. The speaker will address the possibilities as well as some of the problems inherent in this work.