Course Description

Symposia is one of OLLI’s longest running invited speaker series. Among its not-so-secrets of success is that each lecture is presented by a different speaker, often one taking an afternoon off from a busy professional schedule to talk with us about their work. Symposia fits in well with the lifestyle of busy OLLI members—because each week is about a different topic, missing a lecture does not mean losing course continuity. Our classmates often enjoy lunch together at Café at the Forest or a different restaurant, then satisfy their intellectual hunger by coming to the lecture.

Because our speakers have ever-changing schedules, the program is subject to change, but at press time these speakers and topics are scheduled. • Lecture (plus questions).

Jan 7 • Hospitals Are Dangerous: Protect Yourselves! Did you know nearly one thousand patients a day die from accidental hospital harm? Preventable harm in hospital care is the third leading cause of death in the US, after cancer and heart disease. Today Nancy Ruffner, a board-certified patient advocate, will be talking with us about the risks, and the questions we should be asking about the care of our loved ones when they are in the hospital. (arranged by Tony Waraksa)

Jan 14 • NEXUS: Ethics and the Environment “Facing the Anthropocene: Rethinking Humanity’s Place in the World.” How do social, political, legal, and economic orders affect land, ocean, and atmospheric conditions? Mari Joerstad, a researcher at Duke’s Kenan Ethics Institute, works with others who view the Anthropocene with philosophical, religious, and ethical considerations. She will share her views on ethics of the environment. (arranged by Jim Hollowood)

Jan 21 • Journalism & Public Policy Bill Adair will speak of political reporting and fact-checking. His research on automation and new technologies in journalism will be included. He is the director of Duke’s DeWitt Center for Media and Democracy, and his work was cited in “Autocorrect” (Atlantic, June 2019). (arranged by Jim Hollowood)

Jan 28 • Our Violent World . . . or Is It? Violence seems ubiquitous: war, terrorist attacks, civil unrest, mass shootings, let alone the backdrop of “routine” homicide, violence against women, child abuse, and so on. Yet Alan Vaux, the immediate past president of OLLI and a retired professor and academic researcher, reminds us that Steven Pinker, in his book The Better Angels Among Us, claims that violence is declining. In this session, Alan will examine the main points of Pinker’s thesis: reviewing the substantial evidence that diverse forms of violence have declined, and very briefly exploring why these changes have taken place. (arranged by Tony Waraksa)

Feb 4 • College Sports Are for Student Athletes, unless . . . . . . unless they play in revenue sports like basketball and football. Then, they are bound by different rules imposed by the NCAA. Retired Superior Court Judge Robert Orr will offer his insights on the physical dangers of playing and the seemingly unfair way these elite athletes are compensated as they play their sports. (arranged by Mike Smith)

Feb 11 • The Atlantic Ocean Is Taking Our Shoreline! Robert George was a professor of marine biology at UNC-Wilmington before he retired to form the George Institute in Wake Forest. He will be talking about the need for prudent coastal resilience and improved infrastructure to resist the inevitable storms and hurricanes. He did not quite phrase it this way, but it appears that if we take the cartoon ostrich posture and keep our heads in the sand, there will soon be no sand left. (arranged by Tony Waraksa)

Feb 18 • 20/20: Legacy, Lenses and Lasers— Cataract Surgery in the Year 2020 Jullia Rosdahl, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Duke Eye Center. She will present an overview of cataract surgery and what it means to have 20/20 vision—covering the legacies of surgical innovators from the past, advances in lens technologies, and how lasers are changing the paradigm. (arranged by Ed Cox)

Feb 25 • A Step Beyond Reparation & Restitution William Darity, founding director of the DuBois Cook Center for Social Equity (Duke), will invite us to think about “baby bonds” as a “leg up for everyone.” He may also touch on other aspects of his research, namely, stratification economics and inequality by race, class, and ethnicity. He has researched and written on a range of topics being discussed by presidential hopefuls. (arranged by Jim Hollowood)

Mar 3 • Sunshine—Is It the Best Alternative Energy? John E. P. Morrison, senior VP for North American operations of Ecoplexus Inc., will discuss the evolution and future of solar energy in North Carolina, in recent years second only to California in rate of new installations. John has played a major role in the NC renewable energy revolution while overseeing the engineering, procurement, construction, and operations and maintenance of over seventy ground-mounted solar facilities totaling approximately 600 MW. (arranged by Ed Cox)

Mar 17 • Science & Society & Communication For the last several years there have been a range of issues and problems with science writing. Misha Angrist, senior fellow in Duke Initiative for Science and Society, will speak of disruption in science publishing. He works with students across a range of challenges with science communication. (arranged by Jim Hollowood)

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