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Preview/Review (Feb. 24 to Mar. 10)

A preview and review of some U events and lectures occurring through Mar 10, plus summer camps for kids!

Compiled by Adam Overland


February 22, 2011

War of Words
Why is the global climate change message so garbled? And what can we do about it? Former WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby offered his insights to a standing-room-only crowd at a Feb. 9 Frontiers in the Environment lecture at the U's Institute on the Environment.

Among the challenges Shelby sees:

  • Audiences don't always understand. The general public has insufficient scientific knowledge and interest to give the issue the attention it needs.
  • Scientists don't communicate as well as they could. Scientists tend to talk with other scientists, using the language of science—limiting their ability to influence the popular buzz on a topic.
  • Mainstream media no longer have the time or human resources to give adequate attention to covering science and the environment.
  • Journalists who do cover climate change tend to inadvertently distort the message by confusing balance with bias.
  • Much of the conversation is orchestrated by online communicators who can "hide behind the nonrules of the Internet" rather than abide by the rules of mainstream journalism.

Shelby called on scientists to help correct misinformation and take the offensive in bringing the truth about climate change to those who create public policy.

"I'm a little bit pissed off at the scientific community," he said. "It's time you throw some punches, time you fight back."

Watch the archived talk online—and check out the rest of this spring's series—at IonE talk. Opinions expressed in Frontiers lectures are those of the speakers and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment or the University of Minnesota.
--Review by Mary Hoff, originally published at Eye on Earth blog.

February CURA Housing Forum: Housing and the Boomers—A Discussion of Findings from Recent Minnesota Research.
Golden Boomers. The Silver Tsunami. The Boomer Age Wave. Regardless of what you call the phenomenon, 2011 will be a watershed year as the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation—the largest generation in American history—begins to turn 65. Many have predicted that boomers will redefine aging, as they've redefined nearly everything else in American culture and society, and the research presented at the February Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) Housing Forum shows they'll continue the trend. The forum attracted a capacity crowd at the Carlson School’s Honeywell Auditorium.

LaRhae Knatterud, who heads up Aging 2030, an initiative of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDH), kicked off the program. She presented the results of a recent statewide survey of baby boomers’ housing preferences as they look to retirement and beyond. In contrast to previous generations, which have been content to live in multi-unit “senior housing,” boomers expressed a desire to “age in place” by remaining in their own homes as long as possible. If they had to relocate, they preferred one-level apartments, townhomes, condos, or single-family homes.

Professor Marilyn Bruin from the Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel presented a summary of her findings from a research project she is undertaking with Hennepin County through CURA’s Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP). Bruin’s research reveals that boomers have largely avoided planning for their future retirement, believing that they will stay in their own homes. She found evidence that alternatives such as adapting existing homes to accommodate the needs of aging residents and supporting intentional communities that organize programs, services, and informal social networks for aging residents can provide cost-effective solutions that foster independent living in place.

Ross Macmillan, a professor of sociology at the U who is also working with Hennepin County through HUP, provided a preliminary look at demographic data that shows family income and family size are the biggest drivers of housing preferences as people age. Even for those aged 75 and older, said Macmillan, preferences for multi-unit dwellings did not change significantly as people aged.

Katy Boone from Carver County’s Office of Aging wrapped up the forum with insights gained from a project sponsored by CURA’s Community Growth Planning Assistance Center. The research underscored the desire of boomers to age in place, contribute to their community, be close to amenities, and have access to affordable health care.

The next CURA Housing Forum, “Where Have All the Towers Gone? Race, Housing, and Redevelopment in American Cities,” will take place March 9.
—Review by Mike Greco and Sara Bielawski

Supporting Our Communities: The third annual Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) symposium
If a word cloud were created for the 2011 Hennepin-University Partnership symposium on Feb. 4, the biggest, most prominent word would definitely be “community.”

From the keynote speech by Jennifer Godinez, associate director of the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, to the final panel discussion, the Twin Cities/Hennepin County community was the focus.

“What we do has to touch the ground,” said Mikkel Beckmen, executive director of St. Stephen’s Human Services and a symposium panel member. Beckman said that HUP is critically important to his work with the homeless and more broadly to the metro region.

“My organization is so busy with day-to-day crises that we need HUP to help us quantify our results, to help us discover what we’re doing right, and to help us tell our stories.”

In addition to the keynote speech and panel discussion, the symposium featured breakout sessions on HUP projects and priorities: child well-being, educational attainment, ending homelessness, impact of an aging population, and the Transitway Impacts Research Program.

In her keynote, Godinez highlighted two programs supported by HUP, one involving changes in county truancy enforcement to improve educational outcomes and the other using U students to help with data collection and analysis around homelessness.

Godinez and other participants had high praise for the county program, Accelerating Graduation by Reducing Achievement Disparities (A-GRAD), a commitment supported by the U's Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare to setting policy and making investments to ensure youth graduate from high school. Through HUP, the county has expanded its work on A-GRAD to include U faculty as subject-matter experts and as evaluators of the county attorney office’s Be@School initiative.

Heidi Barajas, associate dean in the College of Education and Human Development and part of the leadership team for the U's Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center in North Minneapolis, praised the county’s willingness, through A-GRAD, to rethink how its services could work in sync with educational goals.

“For many of us at the U, it has been hard to see how higher education can become more involved in the community. [The question now becomes] "How can more people at the U begin to make that same kind of slight cultural shift that the county did?” said Barajas.
--Review by Peggy Rader.

Unleash Your Inner Awesome: Discover Your Career Superpowers. Feb. 24, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Spill the Wine, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. Free. Stop being the office Clark Kent and hone your career superpowers (and meet some cool people, too) at the Unleash Your Inner Awesome professional development and networking series from the U. Instructor Vic Massaglia will teach you to take steps towards identifying your unique abilities, and come away with ideas on how to apply those strengths to advance your career and organization.

The Immortal Life and Troubling Ethical Issues of Henrietta Lacks. Feb. 24, 7–9 p.m., Continuing Education and Conference Center. $40. Every one of us probably has some biological material on file somewhere. Tissue, blood, and urine samples are routinely kept for medical research and we'll likely never know what, if anything, ever happens to them. In her best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, award-winning science writer Rebecca Skloot explored the complicated issues surrounding biomedical research and its very human consequences. At the heart of the story is a woman whose aggressive cervical cancer in 1951 led to some of the major medical breakthroughs of the 20th century—the polio vaccine, advances in chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization. Yet Henrietta Lacks' contribution to science went unacknowledged for 20 years. Her family lived in poverty and Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave while her resilient and rapidly reproducing HeLa cells launched a multimillion-dollar industry.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game": The Rise and Fall of the Baseball Organist. Feb. 25, 4–5:30 p.m., 280 Ferguson Hall. Free. en_040415_baseball_glove.jpg"Organ" often packs a health connotation at a research university with such an expansive health research program. But the folks at the School of Music aren't likely thinking about Doris Taylor when they think of organs. Over the past century, the organ has firmly entrenched itself as the signature sound of baseball. First introduced during a 1941 game at Wrigley Field, the organ quickly became a ubiquitous component of the baseball experience, filling gaps in play with various songs and fanfares.

Today, the organ remains a vital ingredient of the baseball soundscape, but the use of live organ music has declined since the 1980s. Remnants of the organ still remain at most ballparks, but current baseball soundscapes increasingly consist of prerecorded popular music and sound effects. Here you'll learn about the origins of organ music at the ballpark, and the reasons for its decline.

Sustainability Film Series, featuring top indie films and expert panelists. Bell Museum and other venues, various dates. The Bell Museum has kicked off a new Sustainability Film Series, featuring critically acclaimed independent films and expert panelists. The films range in topic from beekeeping to wind-farming, and the panel discussions will include vibrant and informative exchanges with leading academics, filmmakers, community leaders, and engaged citizens on current and local trends in sustainability. Upcoming films include Queen of the Sun, March 1, St. Anthony Main; Ghost Bird, March 17, Bell Museum; and The Greenhorns, Apr. 5, St. Anthony Main.

Frontiers in the Environment: "Ego, Markets, and Technology Ambivalence: Navigating the Energy Transition." March 2, noon–1 p.m., IonE seminar room R380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus or via UMConnect. If only we could power the world with words, there is enough written about the clean energy transition to solve our energy woes for the foreseeable future, and more all the time. So what new could there possibly be to say? Rolf Nordstrom, executive director of the Great Plains Institute, will attempt to delve beneath the rhetoric to distill some principles that are at work in the running debate over energy and climate, and offer a few compass headings for navigating from where we are to where we need to be.

"How We Talk about Feeding the World," a Minnesota Futures symposium, March 3–5. Free and open to the public; pre-registration by Feb. 24 is required
. In five panels and a series of conversations, this event will consider the stumbling blocks and dead ends that hamper productive discussions about food and feeding among those with different political, methodological, and disciplinary approaches. Visiting food studies scholars will join over a dozen Minnesota scholars and practitioners as attendees consider the value of integrative lenses for talking about feeding the world. Organizers are particularly interested in considering the implications of the global-scale imperative often associated with American agriculture: feeding the world.

Law School's Theatre of the Relatively Talentless (TORT) present Harry Torter and the Magical Law School. March 4–5, Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave. Advance purchase of tickets is recommended. You've got to give credit where credit is due, and the Law school has packed enough bad puns and purportedly bad acting into this production to truly deserve the adjective, "magical." The ninth annual production is written, produced, and performed entirely by Law School students, with reckless disregard for talent. Tradition dictates cameo appearances by faculty and prominent members of the legal community, including a former U.S. vice president, politicians, and Minnesota Supreme Court justices.

Harry Torter and the Magical Law School tells the story of the Plaintiff-Who-Lived Harry Torter. Orphaned by the evil wizard and trial lawyer Voldetort, Harry soon learns of his parents' true fate and begins his Law School adventure to discover the ways of Wizard Law.

THE WALL. March 7, 7–9 p.m., Kilburn Arena Theater, Rarig Center. Free. In the summer of 2010, a group of students traveled to border towns in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, to observe the politics and culture of immigration/migration firsthand. THE WALL is an artistic exploration of their research from multiple perspectives. The work centers on two walls: the United States/Mexico border and the relationship between movement across the border and the Minneapolis/St. Paul community. Students have developed original performances to create a raw and poignant glimpse into the current American political atmosphere.

2Tuesday Global Spotlight Series: The Galapagos—Fragile Past, Brighter Future. March 8, noon–1:30 p.m., 101 University International Center. Lunch will be provided. GalapagosChecker - SmallJulia Ponder, executive director of the U's Raptor Center, is part of an elite team helping to preserve the rare and endangered Galapagos Hawk while an invasive species of rat is eradicated on the islands. Hear from Ponder and learn how the U is working to prevent extinctions and restore ecosystems at Galapagos National Park. For more information, including some amazing photos from Ponder's trip, see Galapagos.

Where Have all the Towers Gone? Race, Housing, and Redevelopment in American cities. March 9, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Humphrey Center. Free. As a big-city mayor, U.S. senator, and vice president, Hubert Humphrey knew well the patterns of racial segregation and discrimination that shaped American cities. For many years, the United States has pursued an anti-poverty strategy that acknowledges the damaging effects of segregation, attempts to reduce intense concentrations of poverty, and focuses on releasing families from segregated, high-poverty environments. Professor Ed Goetz will discuss how progressive concerns about segregation and the life chances of the poor evolved into programs and policies that forcibly displace and disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands. RSVP is required.

Momentum 2011: Majora Carter (with Ananya Dance Theatre). March 10, Ted Mann Concert Hall. The U's Institute on the Environment is bringing today's top environmental visionaries to the Twin Cities for three nights filled with engaging ideas and entertainment. Encompassing science, arts, social entrepreneurship and more, Momentum 2011 will inspire new ways of looking at the world and our place in it. This season features eco-entrepreneur Majora Carter (with Ananya Dance Theatre) on March 10, international health guru Hans Rosling (with comedian Cy Amundson) on Apr. 26, and deep-sea diver Sylvia Earle (with musician Mason Jennings) on May 12.

Bonus: Summer fun
Bell Museum Science Discovery Day Camps. June 13–Sept. 2. I kind of want to have kids—or at least borrow someone's kids—just so that I can start going to these awesome camps. If, like me, your children dream of spaceships and saber tooth tigers, love baby animals, or want to save the planet, give them a summer to remember at Bell Museum Science Discovery Day Camps, June 13 through Sept. 2.

Science Discovery Day Camps are weeklong camps for children in kindergarten through sixth grade, and focus on learning through authentic objects and hands-on, inquiry-based classroom and lab activities, outdoor exploration, and play. The camps are led by the museum's enthusiastic education staff and give campers the opportunity to meet U of M scientists and take field trips to indoor and outdoor research laboratories, cultural institutions, and kid-friendly learning centers. Camps run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a convenient drop-off/pick-up site in front of the building. Extended care is available.

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. Review submissions should be no more than 500 words, previews 200 or fewer. Both are subject to review by the Brief editor