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College of Arts and Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

Lecture Series: Previous Projects



Dr. Robin Rogers Lecture Jan 26, 2018

Humanity has always relied on Nature for survival, but today oil is treated as a feedstock and used to produce chemicals to suit any purpose, from fuels and medicines to plastics. By reducing our reliance on Nature, we have forgotten our respect of Nature in the process. The world is now covered by non-biodegradable synthetic plastics which mar landscapes and threaten oceans. The ability to replace synthetic plastics with renewable biopolymers from plants and animals exists, but the consistencies of supply and economies of scale to make them competitive are not. With this mission in mind, we will explore the entire range of the “biorefinery concept,” from dissolution, conversion of plant and animal resources into value added chemicals, extraction of essential oils or vital chemicals, to isolation of pure biopolymers and production of new biomaterials from them.


Dr. Lisa Anderson Lecture Jan 12, 2018

As states in the Arab world collapse into conflict, the people of the region resort to other kinds of identities and institutions to provide the necessities of daily life in the 21st century. From religious sects to trading networks and family connections, how has the last century of state formation and deformation shaped these alternatives and what might they mean for politics--in the region and beyond--in the coming decades?


Turner Lecture Oct 27, 2017


Writer and US Army veteran Brian Turner reads from his work and discusses some of the complications involved in crafting art from memory.

Brian Turner is a poet and memoirist who served seven years in the US Army. He is the author of two poetry collections, “Phantom Noise and Here,” “Bullet,” which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” award, the 2007 Poets Prize, and others. Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, Harper’s Magazine, and other fine journals. Turner has been awarded a United States Artists Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and more. His recent memoir, “My Life as a Foreign Country,” has been called, “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”


Lacovara cancellation

  Lecture cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.


Lynch Lecture

Donald Trump has promised a bold new approach for the United States in the Middle East. His administration has focused on combating Iran and Islamic extremism, while downplaying democracy and human rights. Will Trump actually be able to fundamentally change America's role in the Middle East, or will he find his administration battling the same intractable conflicts and contradictions which have bedeviled his predecessors? Will his policies drive the US towards war with Iran or Syria?

Bio: Marc Lynch is a professor of political science at the George Washington University, and a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. He is the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science, an international network of scholars, and a contributing editor of the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. In 2016, he was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow to conduct research on the legacies of post-Arab uprising violence. His most recent book is The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East. New York: Public Affairs. 2016.  

CAS Lecture Series: Dr. David Helfand


The Earth’s climate is changing. That’s both beyond dispute and nothing new. The important questions are What’s driving this change? How fast will change occur? What does the future hold? Few public debates are carried out with so much misinformation and irrational exuberance. So now for something completely different: a dispassionate analysis of what we actually know and
what we don't yet know about climate change. My approach is to distinguish facts from fictions, and physics certainties from feedback uncertainties. Every planet's temperature is controlled by a simple balance between the energy it receives and the energy it radiates back into space, and we examine each of the factors affecting this balance in turn.

Bio: Dr. Helfand made his reputation as chair of Columbia’s astronomy department for about half of his 39 years as a faculty member, authored close to 200 scientific publications, mentored 22 doctoral students and helped create Quest University Canada, where he served as president and vice chancellor from 2008 to 2015 and is now president emeritus. His passion remains teaching science to non-science majors which directly influenced his instituting the first change in Columbia’s core curriculum in 60 years by introducing science to all first-year students.

He currently serves on the executive committee of Science Counts, an organization formed to educate the general public on the importance and impact of scientific research. And his recently published — and critically acclaimed — book, A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind (Columbia University Press), is specifically aimed to help nonscientists come to their own conclusions about scientific research.

 CAS Lecture Series: Dr. James Aho

James Aho is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Idaho State University, where he taught for more than 40 years. Aho’s research interests are in the sociology and phenomenology of religion, violence, and the body. He is the author of 10 books including Far Right Fantasy: A Sociology of American Religion and Politics (Routledge, 2016), This Thing of Darkness: A Sociology of the Enemy (University of Washington Press, 1994), and The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism (University of Washington Press, 1990). He was the recipient of the Gustavus Myers Award for the Best Study of Human Rights in North America in 1994 and the Pacific Sociological Association book award in 1996. He was nominated for the Edward Hayden Humanities Book Award, the American Political Psychology Book Award, and the Victor Turner Humanities Book Award in anthropology.