Course Description

Symposia returns to provide deep dives into a thoughtfully curated array of topics. Our goal is to provide you with valuable new insights into important aspects of contemporary life that may not have caught your attention otherwise. This term, we will take full advantage of virtual classroom technology to hear speakers from far-off places, as well as those close at hand. The opportunity to pose questions to these experts is a key feature of Symposia. | Lecture + Q&A.
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Section Title
Symposia: Mind-Expanding Excursions and Diversions
Online - Zoom
1:30PM to 2:45PM
Sep 14, 2021 to Nov 16, 2021
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Virtual Classroom  
Course Fees
Section Notes

Guest Speakers:

Sept 14. Landscape Planning for Biodiversity. Sam Sinclair, PhD. Our speaker will describe how his UK firm, Biodiversify, advises businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and academics on avoiding and mitigating their impacts on the biosphere. Arranged by Ed Cox.

Sept 21. Vaccine in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic. James Coppola, MD, PhD. This talk will cover the immune system, progress and probable success toward herd immunity, the COVID-19 vaccines developed, AstraZeneca vaccine exposure, the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, and going into 2022. Arranged by Mike Smith.

Sept 28. Quaternary Science. Laura Boyall, MSc. She will share time-lapse photography images of ice shelves breaking up and glaciers dissipating, and discuss the research team's forecasts and projections. Arranged by Tony Waraksa.

Oct 5. Neuroscience and Psychology. Lisa Barrett, PhD. Professor Barrett of Northeastern University, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital will be talking with us about the intersection of neuroscience and psychology and how our brains interact with stimuli that affect our well-being. Arranged by Tony Waraksa. 

Oct 12. Bending Bamboo in Vietnam. Dan Wessner, PhD, JD, MDiv.  For most of the year, Professor Wessner teaches and writes in the Mekong Delta, where he works alongside Vietnamese scientists and educators developing Bending Bamboo. This cascading teaching strategy answers Vietnam’s most vexing challenges—the climate crisis, pandemic responsiveness, rapid urbanization, and a countrywide shift to bilingualism. Arranged by Jim Hollowood.  

Oct 19. A History of US and Global Air Pollution: Still Hazy After All These Years. John Bachman, MAT, MEHE. Our speaker, who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 33 years in leadership roles, will discuss the successes of pollution mitigation programs, including research, monitoring & accountability, and outline remaining challenges. Arranged by Beth Friedman.

Oct 26. The High Costs of Changing the Clock Twice a Year. William F. Shughart II, PhD. Various anticipated benefits stimulated the controversial 20th-century revision known as daylight saving time, once again under review. There are substantial economic and physiological costs associated with being forced to adjust clocks twice every year. Dr. Shughart, an economics professor from Utah State University, will tally up those costs and make the case for why he now favors permanent standard time. Arranged by Tony Waraksa. 

Nov 2. Secure Voting with Verifiable Results. Carey Parker. The speaker has extensive experience with cybersecurity, and now focuses his expertise on voting. What measures should we be taking to make voting secure and perhaps more importantly, what can we do to increase the general public's confidence in election results? Arranged by Jim Hollowood.

Nov 9. Resilience to Late-Life Stressors. Heather Whitson, MD, MHS. Seniors with complex medical conditions encounter extra challenges in the face of stressors such as surgery, sensory loss, and infections. The director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development will describe strategies being developed to improve the response to these situations. Arranged by Ed Cox.

Nov 16. Duke Forest: Celebrating 90 Years of Research, Teaching, Forestry, and Conservation. Sara Childs, MS. Much more than a wonderful hiking venue, Duke Forest is a vital anchor for ecosystem services in the Triangle region. The director of the Duke Forest Teaching and Research Laboratory will tell the story behind this unique land base, how it evolved and became the dynamic outdoor classroom and living laboratory that it is today. Arranged by Beth Friedman.