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Preview/Review (Nov. 9 to Nov 23)

A review and previews of some fun and informative U events and lectures occurring through Nov. 23

Compiled by Adam Overland


November 8, 2011

U of M Communicators Forum event: "Promoting Strategies on a Budget: Internal PR."
Sometimes when we think about communications we believe it to be the sole job of professionals with focused job titles like "communications specialist." But our communications efforts—helping others understand the value and role of an organization—are most effective and persuasive in numbers.

The University of Minnesota Communicators Forum, a volunteer organization comprised of communicators from around the University, holds regular events and activities that can be valuable not only to professional communicators but all staff and faculty. Such was the case at the most recent event titled "Promoting Strategies on a Budget: Internal PR."

Anna Kucera, director of marketing and public relations with the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, had a clear message for the several dozen attendees.

Everyone in your department should be involved in communications, and ultimately, everyone in your organization is anyway, she said. Conversations happen everywhere—online, in coffee shops, and in backyards—when people talk about work. Providing the tools to enable employees to lead the conversation, and to advocate on behalf of [the U], is ultimately a communicator's job.

"The people who work for the University need to be able to speak about what they do for the U and why it matters," Kucera said.

At her own organization, Kucera said, "A lot of times our employees are the people best connected to the communities we serve. We want to empower them to get the word out about upcoming events and our agenda."

Her advice is to train everyone in the key messages (the value) of the University, and in the use of social media (by holding social media brown bags) as an inexpensive way to amplify the 20,000 voices of the faculty and staff (and 67,000 students) who make up the U.

"Policy should be not only a list of what not to do, but to do's and how to's. Facilitate interactions among employees. Empower them to reach out to their own networks in a way that positively represents your organization," she said.

Certainly food for thought as the U approaches another important legislative session, with tens of millions of dollars on the line.

One way to get involved is to join the U's Legislative Network, get informed, and get ready for action at the U's 2012 Legislative Briefing, coming Feb. 1.

Follow the U's new (re-launched) Legislative Network on its Facebook page, and continue the conversation online.
--Review by Adam Overland

Sip of Science: A Sense of Where You Are: Science and Knowing on the Mississippi River, with Patrick Nunnally. Nov. 9, 5:30–6:30 p.m., Aster Café, 125 SE Main Street, St. Anthony Main. Free. Held on the second Wednesday of every month, "A Sip of Science" bridges the gap between science and culture in a happy hour setting that takes science into the community and puts it in context through storytelling. In this next installment, join the coordinator of the U's River Life Program, Pat Nunnally, for an exploration of the Mississippi River, what we know about it, and what it means. After a brief visual tour, Nunnally will engage the audience on a highly interactive exploration of the Mississippi River close to home, right outside our doors.

Cyclopath: Personalized Routing and Open Collaboration for Bicyclists. Nov. 10, 3:30–4:30 p.m., cycle_path-small 3001130 Mechanical Engineering Building, and live online via UMConnect. Cyclopath is the world's first full-featured geographic wiki—all users can edit the system's maps of roads and trails to create a detailed routing and mapping system for bicyclists in the Twin Cities metro area. A recent U homepage story, "On the move with Cyclopath," detailed the latest developments with the system, created by researchers in the U's computer science program. Once strictly Twin Cities centric, the tool will eventually go statewide, generating bicycling routes that can be personalized to meet individual cyclists' preferences from here to the Iron Range.

In this seminar, Loren Terveen, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will describe the innovative aspects of the Cyclopath system design, summarize research studies of Cyclopath users and usage, and describe new developments.

Behind the Podium: Lecturing 101. Nov. 10, 12:30–1:30 p.m., 207A Lind Hall. The second in the "Conversations on Teaching" brown bag lunch series, hosted by the Graduate Studies division of the Department of English, features two of the department's award-winning lecturers, professors John Watkins and Brian Goldberg. They will share tricks of the trade for keeping large groups of students enthralled and excited. Bring lunch and questions; soda and coffee served. Associate professor Brian Goldberg has won the Ruth Christie Distinguished Teaching Award in English. John Watkins, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, has received the Horace T. Morse-Minnesota Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education and the CLA Arthur "Red" Motley Exemplary Teaching Award.

Divas Night Out and Holiday Shopping. Nov. 12, 6–9 p.m., Oswald Visitor Center, U of M Landscape Arboretum. If you're looking for unique gifts this holiday season, it's a good bet the Arboretum will have them. Take time out from your busy everyday routine and experience the U's Arboretum in a whole new way. More than 27 display booths will feature unique and exquisite holiday gift items, including home decor, jewelry, clothing and more. The evening also includes wine tastings, food samplings, fashion shows, live acoustic pop by BZ Girls and classic jazz, psychic readings by Ruth Lordan, a drawing for fabulous Arboretum prizes, and a 10 percent discount on all purchase at the gift store. Guys are welcome too.

Institute on the Environment (IonE) Fellows Outburst. Nov. 15, 3–5 p.m., R380 IonE seminar room, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus or via UMConnect. Fill your brain for free as 20 IonE resident fellows each provide a three- to five-minute overview of the big question they're addressing, how they're doing it, and what it means for the rest of us. Topics will include renewable energy and property rights, developing environmentally friendly plastics, sustainable urban living, exploring the implications of nanotechnology for microorganisms, using tree rings to understand climate change, and more.

The Chemistry of Flavor. Nov. 15, 7 p.m., Bryant Lake Bowl. Cost: $5-12. Can the secret to success of big coffee chains be found in the cup after all? Gary Reineccius, flavor chemist and head of the U's Department of Food Science and Nutrition will examine how growing location, variety, and processing combine to create the distinctive flavors of coffee, chocolate, and other foods we love. Reineccius has been actively involved in flavor research for more than 40 years, and has published more than 210 articles and several books on the subject. Tickets available at the door and online.

Ink Link: A Letterpress Mixer. Nov. 18, 6:30–9 p.m., McNeal Hall. Cost: $5 students, faculty and staff; $10 Ink letterpress event 165alumni and friends. The U's College of Design will open up its print studios on Nov. 18, so drop by, roll up your sleeves, and pull a few proofs incorporating letterpress, the Hamilton wood type collection, screen printing, and more. Attendees can catch up on what's going on with the graphic design program and Hamilton Wood Type Museum while enjoying music, munchies, and a cash bar.

Math and Science Family Fun Fair. Nov. 19, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Coffman Union. Free backpacks for the first 350 students. Always a sell-out, this year's Math and Science Family Fun Fair will feature fascinating activities, hands-on exhibits, and entertaining presentations showcasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Highlights include the popular Physics Force shows at 10:30 a.m. and noon, and Energy and U shows at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Attendees can also make an earthquake, hold a meteorite, make a sound sandwich, play a life-size game of Operation, build an FM radio, create origami, and control robots that can climb stairs, work in water, and fly.

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.