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University events and lectures preview/review (April 7-24)

A preview and review of U events and lectures, April 7-24

Compiled by Adam Overland

Port au Prince after 2010 earthquake stock photo 165
Port au Prince after 2010 earthquake, stock photo. (Note: the image is not by photographer Ozier Muhammad).

April 6, 2010


Coffee with the Times, March 25, 10:45 a.m., 227 Burton Hall. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Ozier Muhammad was in rush-hour traffic in Manhattan when he heard the first radio reports about an earthquake in Haiti. The next morning, he was on a plane to see and show that devastation to the world. Just a week earlier, he recalled, he had been gratified to hear a report covering the economy of Haiti--the return of the textile industry, he said--because it was very rare to see anything in the news about the tiny island nation.

Assigned to two reporters, he set about finding high-impact pictures to accompany the story of the day--stories on university students buried in the rubble, on those who could not escape, or on relief and rescue. There was no shortage of images.

Muhammad spoke to freshman seminars taught by colleagues Dan Detzner and Linda Buturian from the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning. Buturian introduced Muhammad and briefly mentioned her own experiences in Haiti decades ago when she was about 16.

"I held two orphans, brother and sister, in my arms, and I was never quite the same since then," she said. "For those who've been to Haiti, Ozier's photographs revive that memory, and for those who haven't, his photographs are a window," she said. /p>

She still recalls "the joy and the resilience of the Haitian people—a combination of dignity in the face of extreme poverty” that left an imprint on her. “It’s as if there’s an invisible chord connecting my experience in Haiti to what I choose to teach and how I try to live.”

Buturian, author of the essay collection World Gone Beautiful, teaches an interdisciplinary course called Water, Water, Everywhere? Investigating and Protecting Our Life Source. It's a writing-intensive freshman seminar with film and photography playing a large part. Students visit a university or community organization that is addressing water resource issues, and shoot photographs and video in order to create digital stories. The class members post their stories to a public website that they also create.

Many of Buturian's students were present for the talk.

"Increasingly, faculty across the U are using images in their discourse, and requiring students to use images in their learning and analysis. It's important we provide models of people who retain the integrity of the viewer and the viewee--people who are able to evoke in the flame of a moment, a story. Ozier is one of those models," she said.

Indeed, Muhammad's photographs were vivid. Images in a slideshow offered relentless, metered pain—of a looter executed by a crowd, of shrouded bodies set in the street to be picked up, of fires on street corners at night to warn traffic that people were sleeping in the streets. And seemingly endless photographs of newly orphaned children, "some who were able to find the bodies of their parents, and many who were not," said Muhammad.

Muhammad noted that he was puzzled by photographers and reporters who would hang around one area where police were regularly involved with the crowds, looking for the next conflagration. "Find what moves the story forward, not what's scintillating or provocative," he advised.

Among his photographs was a playful image of a girl caught trying to cut in line during a water distribution. She was being scolded by police, but taking it lightly, laughing.

In the audience, that laughter was reflected. It was the only laughter heard during the presentation.

For more information, view digital stories from students in the water seminar or see Ozier Muhammad’s work online


Frontiers in the Environment: Why We Can't Stop Eating, with Allen Levine, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources. April 7, noon-1 p.m., IonE Seminar Room, R380 Vocational-Technical Education. The world is home to 1 billion overweight and 300 million obese people. There are a variety of hypotheses about the cause of the obesity epidemic. This seminar will address the central nervous system controllers that regulate food intake and the rewards associated with ingestion. Watch live via UMConnect.

College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and Office of Information Technology (OIT) Academic Technology Showcase, April 7, 1-3 p.m., Great Hall, Coffman Union. The CLA-OIT Academic Technology Showcase will feature exhibitions on innovations in technologies for teaching and research throughout CLA.

Tortured Reasoning and Misunderstanding the Threat, with Ali Soufan, former FBI supervisory special agent, with commentary by former vice president Walter Mondale and moderated by Lawrence Jacobs. April 13, noon-1:30 p.m., Humphrey Forum, Humphrey Institute. Labeled "an important weapon in the ongoing war on terrorism" by the Department of Defense, Ali Soufan, a highly decorated former FBI agent, investigated and supervised highly sensitive international terrorism cases, including the East African Embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. He has been at the forefront of the nation's battle against al Qaeda, including going undercover as an al Qaeda agent, interrogating top terrorists, and serving as the government's main witness at trials held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Drawing on his experiences, Soufan will explain mistakes made against al Qaeda, what is needed to defeat the terrorist organization, and how to effectively interrogate top terrorists.

Art-o-mat®! An old cigarette vending machine with a new purpose. April 15, 5-7 p.m., Boynton Health Service. Boynton Health Service will hold an Art-o-mat® Premiere. Art-o-mat® machines are rehabilitated cigarette vending machines that have been converted to disperse art. There are nearly 90 active machines in various locations throughout the country. The experience of pulling the knob alone is quite a thrill, but users also walk away with an original work of art. It's just that easy to become an art collector. Refreshments, mini-tours of Boynton’s art collection, and Art-o-mat’s® own Clark Whittington will be in attendance.

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, April 16, noon-1 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Center. Roxana Saberi is an award-winning journalist from Fargo, North Dakota. She has worked as a correspondent for National Public Radio and others. In 2009, she was arrested, falsely accused, and imprisoned in Iran. She will speak about her experiences and her forthcoming book, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.

Making, Meaning, and the Marketplace: Design Visionary and Entrepreneur Rob Forbes. April 16, 5-6:30 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute. Design visionary, entrepreneur, and ceramicist Rob Forbes is best known as the founder of Design Within Reach (DWR) and for implementing his vision for a business that has grown into a leading retail destination for modern design in the U.S. His professional resume, pre-Design Within Reach, includes ceramic arts studio work in the U.S. and abroad, and retail management experience for Williams-Sonoma, London-based Selfridges, The Nature Company, and Smith and Hawken. In 2007 Forbes left DWR to launch Studio Forbes to further his interests in design, culture, and commerce. He is an avid cyclist and proponent of modern urban design initiatives and programs that help us reduce our dependency on cars, which led him to found his most recent venture--Public, Mass-Transit for One. The symposium is presented by the American Craft Council (ACC). ACC will offer a free ticket to the American Craft Council St. Paul Show to those who attend the symposium. April 16-18, St. Paul RiverCentre.

U of M Bookstore author event: Meet Hollywood artist Chris Ayers. April 20, 4-5 p.m., U of M Bookstore, Coffman Union. After a yearlong treatment and recovery from leukemia, Chris Ayers started a sketchbook called The Daily Zoo. He achieved his initial goal of drawing one animal per day and published them in The Daily Zoo: Volume 1. Ayers found the process so rewarding and therapeutic that he kept right on drawing. He'll discuss his latest book, The Daily Zoo Year 2: Still Keeping the Doctor at Bay with a Drawing a Day, along with continuing reflections on his life as an artist and a cancer survivor. The work features 365 distinct critters, from curious pandas to sinister hyenas, along with Ayer’s commentary about his cancer experience, the source of his artistic inspiration, and his creative methods.

Tucker Center Spring 2010 Distinguished Lecture: "Are Women Aging Successfully? New Thinking and Research about Gender and Physical Activity," with Mariah Burton Nelson. April 21, 7-9 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute. The world’s population is rapidly aging. By 2030, the number of U.S. citizens over 65 will be nearly twice what it is today and a large majority will be women. This gender difference in longevity has significant implications for women’s health, well-being, and quality of life. Scholars and advocates argue that older women are disproportionately affected by ageism and that cultural factors pressure many aging women to focus more on appearance versus physical health, more on face-lifting than weight-lifting. Mariah Burton Nelson, an internationally known author, journalist, and speaker on gender and sports challenges us to ask how women can positively embrace growing older and simultaneously resist the detrimental societal forces which may negatively impact their lives. Nelson is the author of six books, including The Stronger Women Get, The More Men Love Football.

CBS Annual Plant Sale, April 21-22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., St. Paul Student Center. The plant sale, which will be located in the Minnesota Commons of the St. Paul Student Center, will include a large selection of blooming annuals, tropical plants, herbs, carnivorous plants, succulents, and orchids. An orchid and succulent expert will be present to answer questions about the care and culture of these remarkable plants during the sale. Staff from the CBS greenhouses will also be on hand to answer any questions about the overall plant selections. For more information, call 612-625-4788.

The rise of networked individuals: A talk by Lee Rainie. April 22, 4-5:30 p.m., 100 Rapson Hall. A recent Pew Research report, “The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future,” suggests that the use of social media can provide institutions with a “post-bureaucratic” way to manage their activities. In his talk, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project Lee Rainie will discuss the impact of social media on the individual in society. His talk will address the ways in which blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media affect how people learn, make decisions, and seek and offer social support to others as well as how these social media affect the formation and performance of communities. The event is free and open to the public but registration is requested by April 15 at Institute for New Media Studies.

U of M Bookstore author event: Film and television writer Tracy McMillan will discuss her book, I Love You, And I’m Leaving You Anyway, April 24, 2 p.m., U of M Bookstore, Coffman Union. Tracy McMillan is a film and television writer who has worked on AMC’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series "Mad Men." McMillan delivers a provocative, insightful, and humorous memoir of how she tried to find love, security and self-esteem from men despite her complicated relationship with her own dad. MacMillan reflects on how having a pimp, drug-dealer, and convicted felon for a father shaped her own obsessions with men. This heart-warming story proves we can all grow from even our most flawed relationships, and how McMillan learned everything she needed to know about men, women and love by raising her own son.

Find more Twin Cities events using the U's events calendar.

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. Preview submissions should be no more than 450 words, reviews 150 or fewer. Both are subject to review by the Brief editor.