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2017 Provost's Lecture Series

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November 1: Todd Gitlin 

todd gitlinDemocracy, Populism and Fake News in the Age of Trump
Todd Gitlin is Professor of Journalism and Sociology and Chair of the PhD program in Communications at Columbia University. He is the author of sixteen books, including  The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage; The Whole World Is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left, and his latest   Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street  Widely published, his work has appeared in  The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Dissent, The New Republic, and The Nation,  among other  publications . He  holds degrees from Harvard University (mathematics), the University of Michigan (political science), and the University of California, Berkeley (sociology). He was the third president of Students for a Democratic Society in 1963-64 and helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War and the first American demonstrations against corporate aid to the apartheid regime in South Africa. 

Co-sponsor:  School of Journalism

Abstract: The response to any threats to our democratic principles will require not only a reassertion of political responsibility, but a reassertion of the highest values of the republic by three of the institutions charged with its protection: the press, the courts and a representative Congress. This talk will examine whether these institutions are up to the challenge and propose a few ideas in an era of “fake news” and Twitter populism.

Wednesday, November 1, 4:00 pm, Wang Center Theater

November 2: Paul G. Falkowski

paul falkowskiLife’s Engines:  How Microbes Made Earth Habitable
Paul G. Falkowski is the Bennett L. Smith Chair and director of the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program at Rutgers University. His scientific interests include evolution of the Earth systems, paleoecology, photosynthesis, biophysics, biogeochemical cycles, and symbiosis. His research interests are focused on three areas: origins of life, how electron transfer reactions are mediated, and how organisms transformed the geochemistry of Earth. In the evolution of Earth, microbes became a major force in transforming this planet to make it habitable for animals, including humans. Falkowski seeks to understand the basic chemical reactions that enabled microbes to transform Earth's goechemistry. He works at the molecular level of proteins and fundamental chemical reactions of minerals, and the global scale of how this planet came to have oxygen as the second most abundant gas. He is most interested in understanding how these kinds of processes have transformed our planet and may evolve on planetary bodies in our solar system and on extra-solar planets. Falkowski addresses two fundamental questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone?  He is a member of US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Co-sponsors: School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research  

Abstract: This lecture will look “under the hood” of cells to examine the evolution of protein structures that are responsible for life on Earth. These structures are literal nanomachines that physically move electrons and generate energy for life. All of the core structures evolved over 2.5 billion years ago in microbes and were subsequently inherited by plants and animals. Ultimately they came to form a global electronic circuit that is powered by the Sun.  Over geological time, the global electronic circuit completely altered the gas composition of Earth. This phenomenon guides us in our search for life on planets outside of our solar system.

Thursday, November 2, 4:00 pm, Simon’s Center Auditorium, Room 103 

November 9: Claude M. Steele

claude steeleStereotype Threat and Identity Threat: The Science of a Diverse Community
Claude M. Steele is an American social psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley. He is best known for his work on stereotype threat and its application to minority student academic performance. His earlier work dealt with research on the self (e.g., self-image, self-affirmation) as well as the role of self-regulation in addictive behaviors. In 2010, he released his book,  Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, summarizing years of research on stereotype threat and the underperformance of minority students in higher education. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Board, the National Academy of Education, and the American Philosophical Society. He has served in several major academic leadership positions as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UC Berkeley, the I. James Quillen Dean for the School of Education at Stanford University, and as the 21st Provost of Columbia University. Past roles also include serving as the President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, President of the Western Psychological Association, a member of the Board of Directors American Psychological Society.

Co-sponsors: Division of Undergraduate Education   

Abstract: Drawing on stereotype threat and social identity threat research, this talk will address the why, what and how of diverse learning communities: why they are important, a working hypothesis about what is critical to their success and what research reveals about how to achieve that success. The talk’s practical aim is to identify features of diverse learning communities—schools, universities and academic disciplines—that while good for all students, are especially helpful for minority students generally, and for women in STEM fields. The talk will also explore the psychological significance of community and its role in learning.   

Thursday, November 9, 11:00 am, Wang Center Theater 

November 14: Eugene Alletto
Featuring SBU Alum Joe Campolo as interviewer

eugene allettoThe Entrepreneurs Edge
Eugene Alletto, Quarterback/Founder and CEO of Bedgear®, is the visionary behind the performance bedding category. With more than 20 years’ experience in retail and manufacturing for the home furnishing industry and his ability to successfully analyze market trends,  Alletto created Bedgear and led the company’s rapid growth. The QB title represents his philosophy on strategy and team success as part of the Bedgear culture. Bedgear’s success is attributed to its sleep system sales process that fits the pillow based on sleep profile and body type providing consumers with personalized sleep solutions. His national reputation as both an innovator and creative visionary in the growing market of performance bedding has propelled him in ranking on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies in 2012 and Crain’s New York Fast 50 Companies in 2013 and 2014. He was also the winner of the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in New York. A dynamic speaker, Alletto presents regularly at many leadership conferences around the world. In 2012, he founded the Sleep Fuel Foundation,  a non-profit organization that offers free interactive sleep deprivation programs to youth of all school ages. The Foundation educates children, parents and educators about sleep deprivation and how it affects their success levels.

Co-sponsor:  College of Business   

Abstract: The Entrepreneurs Edge is an interview-format speaker event with highly successful entrepreneurs from Long Island, New York City and around the country. Joe Campolo, Advisory Board Chairman, Protegrity Advisors, is the moderator/interviewer and asks tough but respectful questions about real-life business experiences, including successes, challenges and inevitable failures along the way. The event provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to build a successful business.

Tuesday, November 14, 7:00 pm, Wang Center Theater 
A reception precedes the lecture at 6:00 pm in the  Wang Center's Zodiac Gallery.  
Due to the anticipated large audience, please RSVP »


October 2: John Hooker

john hooker Taking Ethics Seriously: Why Ethics Is an Essential Tool for the Modern Workplace
John Hooker is T. Jerome Holleran Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, and Professor of Operations Research, at Carnegie Mellon University. He has also held visiting posts at numerous universities, most recently at the London School of Economics and the State University of Campinas, Brazil. He holds doctoral degrees in philosophy and management science. He brings his extensive background in philosophy, mathematics and logic to the rigorous analysis of ethical dilemmas, and his background in management to making sure the dilemmas are realistic. He has published more than 170 research articles, eight books, and five edited volumes on ethics, operations research, and cross-cultural issues, including Business Ethics as Rational Choice, Taking Ethics Seriously, and Working across Cultures. Hooker is the founding editor-in-chief of the world’s only academic journal dedicated to teaching business ethics and has organized international ethics conferences in China, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. He also has a strong interest in cross-cultural ethics and has lived and worked in 10 countries on 6 continents. He is a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences and has served on numerous program committees and editorial boards.  At Carnegie Mellon, he developed the ethics program in the Tepper School of Business and received a Distinguished Academic Leadership Award, an Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence (one of only two awarded), and the Gerald Thompson Award for Excellence in the Classroom. 

Co-sponsors: Center for Integration of Business Education & Humanities and College of Business

Abstract: Ethics is no less important to an organization than technology or finance. We need ethics not to decide who is good or bad, but to build social infrastructure that, like physical infrastructure, is indispensable to getting anything done. Simplistic platitudes cannot accomplish this. Only a sophisticated intellectual framework can guide us through the complexities of today’s world. This talk illustrates why failures to think analytically about ethics, not bad people, lie behind many ethical lapses in organizations. It presents examples of how ethical dilemmas can be resolved, and sound organizational policies developed, on the basis of rigorous ethical analysis.

Monday, October 2, 2:30 pm, Wang Center, Lecture Hall 1

The AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award Lecture
October 12:
Carl Zimmer

carl zimmerScience Reporting in the Age of Fake News
Carl Zimmer is a columnist for The New York Times, national correspondent for STAT, and three-time winner of the  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Kavli Science Journalism Award. He has written 13 books about biology and medicine and hundreds of features for magazines such as The Atlantic, National Geographic and Scientific American. As one interviewer wrote of Zimmer, “Unlike his literary icon, Herman Melville, he doesn't adorn his writing with ornate flourishes or complicated scaffolding. His approach is simple, elegant, and potent, much like the microscopic lifeforms he so often examines. And, like these microorganisms, he is a marvel of adaptability and innovation. “ The AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award lecture series brings winners of the distinguished journalism award to campuses for public lectures and workshops with journalism students. Zimmer won the AAAS Kavli Award twice in the large newspaper category (2012 and 2009) and once in the online category (2004).

Co-sponsors: School of Journalism, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science and The Kavli Foundation.

Abstract:  Are humans causing the planet to get hotter? Do vaccines cause autism? Did our species evolve 300,000 years ago? Scientists have answered these questions (yes, no, yes), yet these subjects and many others are now fiercely contested, in some cases by government officials. This talk will explore the current state of science reporting, including some hopeful innovations that may bring more understanding to the public about how the world works.

Thursday, October 12, 4:00 pm, Wang Center Theater

The Presentation of the Rohlf Medal
October 24: Dennis E. Slice

dennis sliceAn Unexpected Journey: A Curious Career in Shape Analysis
Dennis E. Slice is a professor in the Department of Scientific Computing at Florida State University and Honorarprofessor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Vienna, Austria. He received his doctorate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston, SC. His work focuses on the development of theoretical and methodological issues in shape analysis, morphometrics, and on their application to real-world problems such as the fit and function of protective equipment and the development of tools and methods for forensic science. He has produced over one hundred scholarly works and is the manager and moderator for MORPHMET, the international mailing list for morphometrics. He has released in excess of twenty computer programs for use by the morphometrics community and has lectured and taught courses and workshops on shape analysis in fourteen countries.

Co-sponsors: Department of Anthropology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Abstract: This talk will  summarize some of the people and events that led Slice to the unlikely position of being in the right place at a propitious time to be part of the growing and increasingly important field  of modern morphometrics. He will discuss some of the developments in shape analysis during his graduate career and the people who were involved and who influenced him. He will conclude with a summary of his post-graduate work in software and methodological development and applications, his outstanding students who are now making important contributions of their own, and will speculate on the short-term advances of which he hopes to be a part. Application areas to be visited include ecology and evolution, the analysis of clothing and protective apparel, and computational forensics.

Tuesday, October 24, 4:00 pm, Wang Center, Lecture Hall 1

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