Course Description

Sept 10: Disagreeing without being Disagreeable. Professor Walter Sennot-Armstrong is one of our favorite and most thought provoking lecturers. Today for his lecture, he says “Our country is being torn apart by toxic talk and inflexibility by partisans on both sides. Everyone complains about this polarization, but what can we do about it? You and I cannot civilize the internet or make elected officials do their jobs. What we can do is improve the quality of our interactions with some of our fellow citizens who disagree with us about contentious issues. In this talk, I will show how we can reduce polarization by learning to ask the right questions and then to answer other’s questions with good arguments. (Tony Waraksa)

Sept 17: 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. Mr. Morrison has played a major role in the N.C. renewable energy revolution while overseeing the engineering, procurement, construction, and operations & maintenance of over 70 ground mounted solar facilities totaling approximately 600 MW. (Ed Cox)

Sep 24: A woman’s place? It is in the Congress, the Senate, and the House, so long as it’s White. Deondra Rose is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the Sanford School, Duke University. Her research includes political engagement and the politics of gender, race and class. She will be speaking with us about women running for President and other elective offices in 2020. Not only is this the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, women are asking and receiving votes in unprecedented numbers. In the entire history of America, there have been but thirteen women of major parties seeking the Presidency; there are perhaps equal or more seeking the office in the upcoming election. Why these numbers? Are the women qualified? What are the motivations? What are the chances of success? Who among these women stand out as particularly able and likely to be among the few finalists? As important, are women running for senate and house offices likely to match male numbers? State offices are increasingly open to and filled by women. (Jim Hollowood)

Oct 1: Live Long and Evolve. Mohamed Noor PhD, Duke University professor noted for research in understanding what genetic changes contribute to the formation of new species, and how the process of genetic recombination affects species formation and molecular evolution. He will discuss his book, title is at the start of this paragraph, using a star trek approach. (Mike Smith)

Oct 8: NC’s good roads help make good connections.Today we will be learning about NC’s roads from someone who is well versed in our infrastructure, and as importantly, how it is funded. Michael Walden is the Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist at NC State and is a member of a new state commission on transportation funding. He has authored several relevant books, including, in 2017 North Carolina Beyond the Connected Age (2017). (Tony Waraksa)

Oct 15: How much good health is inherited? Jay A. Pearson, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Director, Global Inequality Research Initiative, Sanford School, Duke University. Among his several research areas, he has been examining the social determinants of population health differences. Professor Pearson will speak with us about his research objectives and the results to date. He is examining health variation by nativity for racially and ethnically diverse groups, and asking what are the health effects of various factors over time for U.S. immigrant groups? While there is much to be discovered, a reasonable hypothesis is that providing health insurance or even medical services does little to address the stress associated with dehumanization of immigrants of color, in particular. In turn, how might racialization be reversed to eliminate the distresses and improve health conditions. (Jim Hollowood)

Oct 29 Integrity in research: in theory and in practice. Dr Geeta Swarmy, Vice Dean and Associate Vice Provost for Scientific Integrity of Duke Med, works with leaders across the Duke campus to provide a consistent vision for scientific integrity standards and expectations and drives efforts to ensure the advancement of scientific integrity. Her responsibilities include leading the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity and she also oversees the Duke Office of Research Initiatives (DORI) which works to facilitate effective research and collaborations for the Duke research community. Every researcher is aware there is an internal bias to provide positive results. Dr. Swarmy’s task is to, among other things, be sure those biases do not influence results. Today we’ll gain some insights into how that is done. (Tony Waraksa)

Nov 5: The City as an Environmental Lab? Some climate change researchers have to travel to Greenland or Antarctica to do their work, but when Professor Steven Frank of North Carolina State wants to visit his laboratory he just walks out the door. His recent paper explores using cities as laboratories to understand and prepare for climate change. We’ve heard cities described as ‘heat islands, but Frank and his team are using that effect as a way of predicting how the nearby areas not in the heat shadow of a city might respond as average temperatures increase. Today we will learn more about his research. (Tony Waraksa)

Nov 12: Just how safe is America, anyway? This lecture, “New Dimensions of American National Security" will be given by Admiral Dennis Blair , A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Admiral Blair earned a master’s degree in history and languages from Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, and was a White House fellow at the Department of Housing and Urban Development from January 2009 to May 2010, as Director of National Intelligence, Blair led the sixteen national intelligence agencies and reported to the President. From 2003 to 2006, he was president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Defense Analyses. Prior to retiring from the Navy in 2002 after a career of 34 years, Admiral Blair was the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command. (Mike Smith)

Nov 19: Connections between Scientific Research and Society. Michael “Buz” Waitzkin is the Deputy Director of Science & Society and Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke University. Much of his work and lecturing has been on issues of science law, policy, ethics and politics. He has had a particular focus on biomedical technologies. Also, he has served as Special Counsel to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office. For Symposia, approximately one month prior to his November talk, Buz will survey the frontiers of Science Public Policy. And based on the survey results, Buz will present a thoughtful talk on what may be considered the most important contemporary issues of Science & Society. (Jim Hollowood)



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Section Title
Symposia: Scientific Excursions and Diversions
2:00PM to 3:15PM
Sep 10, 2019 to Nov 19, 2019
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
  • Durham
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Course Fees