Sustainability, Complex Systems, and the Greeks

Sustainability and the field of complex systems are often presented as new areas of human endeavor. To the extent that these approaches to understanding and living in the world utilize new technologies and scientific advances, they are indeed new, and important.

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The Fall out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Charles Baudelaire

Event:  The College of Arts and Sciences Full Professor Lecture Series Presenter:  Joseph Acquisto, Professor of Romance Languages and Linguistics Video (MP4) Large File Audio (MP3) In the nineteenth century and continuing to our own day, many atheist and agnostic writers have borrowed from a theological framework while refuting tenets of Christianity, especially the existence of […]

Climate Justice and Vulnerability: Learning from Katrina, Irene, and Sandy

Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, and Sandy were historic, not only in leading to billion-dollar disasters across the U.S., but also for the vulnerabilities they revealed both culturally and socioeconomically. Ten years later, are we better equipped to prepare for and respond to climate hazards, especially in the face of a changing climate?

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Non-causal Moral Explanations

Suppose there were objective moral facts – roughly, facts concerning right and wrong that hold regardless of what conventions hold or what we value. Would they play any explanatory role in the world? Professor Cuneo sketches an account of how moral facts might non-causally explain the performance of speech acts such as asserting, promising, and […]

Human Rights: Religious and/or Secular Foundations?

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted, the philosopher Jacques Maritain famously said “Yes, we agree about the rights, but on condition that no one asks us why.” Asking “why” has been a staple of discussion in political theory ever since. This lecture will focus upon the work of two prominent contemporary thinkers, Michael Perry and Nicholas Wolterstorff, who argue that a successful grounding of the idea of human rights must be a religious one.

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Groove Theory: Fela Kuti, James Brown, and the Invention of Afrobeat

Who put the “beat” in afrobeat? An important shift occurred in West African popular music in the late 1960s as many musicians looked less to Europe and its former colonies in the Caribbean, and began to draw inspiration directly from African-American cultures in the US. This talk explores Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s seemingly paradoxical adoption of American funk grooves in his quest to further “Africanize” his music.

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“Thinking Outside the Light Box: New Ways to Treat and Prevent the Winter Blues”

Central dogma in the field of winter depression has previously viewed seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as a purely biological subtype of depression.  Professor Rohan’s research suggests that psychological models and treatments for depression are relevant to SAD.  She will explain how thoughts and behaviors play a role in triggering the winter blues and how a […]

Data Analysis Without Theory Is Not Science

In his classic book, The Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills coined the phrase “abstracted empiricism” to describe research in the social sciences that failed to address important theoretical issues. Although it has been more than half a century since this book was published, far too much current research remains in this category. Professor Krymkowski critiques […]

Home, Land, Security: The Cultural Politics of American Back-to-the-Land Movements

For many of us today, the phrase “going back to the land” may bring to mind a vision of the 1960s: yurts and domes, communes and co-ops. But Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land for over a hundred years, and earlier back-to-the-landers were often motivated by dramatically different beliefs, hopes, and fears. […]

Demystifying Chinese Characters

Chinese characters, unlike the writing system of any Indo-European language, are formed with no letters or combination of letters to represent the sounds of the Chinese language. Chinese characters have been a highly developed writing system for at least 3,300 years. How were the Chinese characters formed? What changes have Chinese characters undergone? How can native English speakers effectively learn and appreciate Chinese characters? Professor Yin addresses these questions, drawing on his studies and research.

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