CUSP Distinguished Speaker Series 2023-24



The CUSP Distinguished Speaker Series follows an intellectual theme that is the foundation of our year-long inquiry. This year’s talks explore the theme of “Absence.”  We will consider “absence” from the perspective of various disciplines, including natural and environmental sciences, engineering, literature, philosophy, art, history, politics, and religion. 

2023-24 Theme: Absence

The idea of absence has often been understood as negative: a lack or loss of something potentially vital. But how else can we understand this negative space, and what happens when it is considered expansively as a generative force in its own right, outside of its opposition to presence? Where, when, and under what circumstances does absence become visible and worth talking about, and who sets the terms under which absence operates? Should we accept absence as a given or should we seek to rectify, undo, and/or challenge certain forms of absence?

This Speaker Series considers absence in all its manifestations, from black holes and the mathematical concept of zero to photo negatives and memory loss. Absence can refer to something that has disappeared or is in the process of doing so, such as an endangered language or natural environment. The rise of religious “nones” in the U.S. can be considered in terms of absence, as can the need for accessible design or the suppression of cultural practices by an occupying force. Absence can also evoke a feeling, as with grief around death, displacement, or an uncertain future. Perhaps it reflects an omission, as with underrepresented voices in historical sources and archives.

Absence’s suggestion of emptiness generates the potential for deeper critical thought about meaning and matter. Here, we will explore how we can apply the concept of absence to our present moment. In a time of constant change–in climate, in politics, in the college experience itself–absence is not only a byproduct, but a critical tool for understanding what’s next.

Upcoming Talks

Michael Anthony Fowler, Tuesday, February 20, 2024 -Taking Things Out of Context: Interpretive Challenges and Approaches to Unprovenienced Artifacts 

Michael Anthony Fowler
Assistant Professor of Art History
Department of Art & Design, East Tennessee State University

Chair, Johnson City Public Art Committee

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Absence is a challenge that archaeologists and art historians, especially those dealing with more remote periods, inevitably face. The material record is riddled with fragmentary data and evidentiary gaps. Some of these absences are bequeathed to us by the biases and habits of the cultures that we study. Others are due to the impact of natural or anthropogenic factors over time. One of the most challenging absences is caused by unscientific or illicit excavation practices, according to which artifacts are removed from the earth without recording anything about their context of discovery, or provenience. Anyone who has visited a gallery of ancient Greek and Roman art, for instance, has likely noticed how frequently artifacts on display lack specific details about their provenience (to say any provenience at all). Beyond this, artifacts are still largely exhibited according to aesthetic rather than archaeological criteria, which privileges where an object was made and not where/how it was used or ended its “life”. How do we interpret these objects out of context? Using a select number of cases of unprovenienced ancient works of art, with a particular emphasis on Greek vases, this talk will address the problems and pitfalls of interpreting such artifacts and the creative approaches that scholars must adopt in order to make optimal use of them as historical sources. 

Biography

Dr. Michael Anthony Fowler is Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art & Design at East Tennessee State University. He completed a Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University in 2019, specializing in ancient Greece and West Asia. An award-winning educator, Dr. Fowler teaches courses across the global history of art, seeking to introduce students to the diversity of visual cultures around the world and to the critical role that the arts play in expressing, shaping, and responding to peoples’ ideals and realities. In his research and scholarship, Dr. Fowler focuses on topics related to material religion, iconography, gender, and violence (and their intersections). Over the past 15 years he has participated in a variety of archaeological surveys and excavations in the Mediterranean, including in the hinterland of Marsala (W Sicily), the sanctuary of Poseidon at Onchestos (Boeotia, Greece), and, most recently, the sanctuary of Apollo on the Cycladic islet of Despotiko (Greece). 

Christina Lazaridi, March 4, 2024 - Storytelling for the Screen:  Building Meaning through Absence

Christina Lazaridi
Screenwriter Technical Writer/ Editor IV at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Film Concentration Head, Screenwriting  

Presentation Description

The classic narrative syntax of filmmaking is guided by editing techniques, and the power  of the “cut.”   Highlighting the narrative power of omission,   we will reveal the dynamic role absence plays in shaping stories, challenging audiences and ultimately driving the creation of meaning and change.  

If what is left unsaid, avoided, or implied, shapes our understanding of stories, characters and life itself, how do we choose what is best to omit or include in a narrative?  And what does that the propelling power of absence tell us about the narrative evolution of our storytelling selves?  

Biography

Christina Lazaridi is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter and an expert in script development and audience response.   Projects she has authored, or actively developed, have won awards at Cannes (Camera D' Or) and Berlin Film Festivals (Golden Bear), Sundance, SXSW and the Ariels (Mexican Oscars), among others.   Her work as a development expert for award-winning properties was recognized in 2019 and 2020 by a grant to the organization she co-founded, Cine Qua Non Lab, from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.  

Christina currently serves as Head of Concentration for Screen & TV Writing at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division where she is an Assistant Professor of Practice. Prior to this position Christina designed and ran Princeton University’s Screenwriting track for its prestigious Creative Writing Program and conducted pioneering research on storytelling and the brain with Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute and Uri Hasson's Lab.  Results of their research were published by MIT's Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience in 2021. 

Born and raised in Greece in a family of Asia Minor refugees and artists, Lazaridi’s personal written work focuses on high emotional-impact narratives of dislocation and survival and her performance-centered screenplays have consistently attracted major collaborators domestically and abroad.  Her first feature film Coming Up Roses starred Broadway icon Bernadette Peters and introduced Rachel Brosnahan, and her historical feature documentary Varian and Putzi: A 20th Century Tale was directed by Academy Award winner Richard Kaplan and was released theatrically at the Museum of Modern Art.   In 2017 Christina’s first produced screenplay in Greece, Rosa of Smyrna, was a box office sensation surpassing all international sales.

Current projects include TV series Escape Attempt, based on the Strugatsky brothers Soviet sci-fi novels, (in collaboration with Grammy Award winning company Aggressive TV)  and Femen, a dramatic biopic of the Ukrainian activist movement (produced by Pan-Europeenne and  Arthouse Traffic for director Darya Zhuk). 

Lazaridi is the recipient of a prestigious Silver Condor Award for best screenplay for her work in Julia Solomonoff's critically acclaimed Nobody’s Watching. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Hungarian Holocaust drama, One Day Crossing.  

Christina holds an MFA with Honors from Columbia University's Graduate Film Division and a BA with Honors from Princeton University. She lives in New York City, with her husband and young daughter.

Homi Bhabha and Paul ChouchanaWednesday, March 27, 2024 - In Absentia

Homi Bhabha
Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities
English and Comparative Literatures Departments
Harvard University

Paul Chouchana
PhD Candidate
Harvard University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Today, we are increasingly interpellated by potentially traumatic images—from across the world and from down the street—directly addressed to us. They are there when we open our phones, our computers. They pop up on our feeds, are sent to us by friends. They command our attention and demand a response. They make us belated witnesses to events that we were absent for, participants in global, virtual political conversations. What ethical response do they call for? How do they affect us? In this conversation, we will explore what it means to live through events in absentia. 

Biography

Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the English and Comparative Literatures Departments at Harvard University. He was founding director of the  Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University from 2011-2019 and director of the Harvard Humanities Center from 2005-2011. From 2008-2019, he held the inaugural position of Senior Adviser on the Humanities to the President and Provost at Harvard University and from 2005-2008 served as Senior Adviser in the Humanities at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Bhabha is the author of numerous works exploring postcolonial theory, cultural change and power, contemporary art, and cosmopolitanism, including Nation and Narration, and The Location of Culture, which was reprinted as a Routledge Classic in 2004. His next book will be published by the University of Chicago Press. Bhabha has written extensively on contemporary art for Artforum and has written a range of essays on William Kentridge, Anish Kapoor, Taryn Simon and Mathew Barney, amongst others. He is a member of the Academic Committee for the Shanghai Power Station of Art, advisor on the Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (CIMAP) project at the Museum of Modern Art New York, and Curator in Residence of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Bhabha served on jury for the 53 rd Venice Biennale in 2009 and the Sharjah Biennale in 2018. With the support of the Volkswagen and Mellon Foundations, Bhabha is leading a research project on the Global Humanities. In 1997 he was profiled by Newsweek as one of “100 Americans for the Next Century.” He holds honorary degrees from Université Paris 8, University College London, and the Free University Berlin. In 2012 he was awarded the Government of India’s Padma Bhushan Presidential Award in the field of literature and education and received the Humboldt Research Prize in 2015. In December 2018 Bhabha received an honorary doctorate at Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa. Since 2021, he has been critic in residence at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Last year, he was named Honorary Student of Christ Church, Oxford College and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Paul Chouchana is a PhD Candidate in the department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He is writing a dissertation at the intersection of film studies, philosophy, and memory studies, on the inscription of memory in the domestic in three documentaries and one play from around the world, focusing on traumatic memories of recent wars. Before that, he studied literary theory at the École normale supérieure in Paris and Russian Literature & Culture at Columbia University, where he was a John Jay Scholar, and Lavinia’s favorite advisee. Paul is currently spending the year in Paris researching and writing on a fellowship from Harvard.

Timnit Gebru, Tuesday, April 2, 2024 - #TeamHuman: Community Rooted AI Research

Timnit Gebru
Founder and Executive Director 
Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR)

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

In the last few years, the quest to build so-called Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), an undefined system which seemingly can do any task under any circumstance, has captured the public's imagination. Those whose mission has been to build this system, like the leaders of OpenAI, Deepmind and others, discuss the utopia that will imminently come from building AGI, or the apocalypse that will be caused by it rendering humanity extinct. In this talk, I discuss the history of the AGI movement, and its link to the 20th century eugenics movement, with those who "christened" the term AGI having the goal of replacing humans with a superior race they call "transhuman AGI." I outline the harms the quest to build AGI has caused, including labor exploitation, centralization of power and the safety issues associated with building an unscoped system. I close by giving examples of various movements to resist this trend, including artists' fight to preserve their humanity and dignity with the hashtag #TeamHuman. I urge the African machine learning community to focus on small, constrained, task specific models, and present some of our work from DAIR showing how this approach outperforms the one size fits all trend to building machine learning based models.

Biography

Timnit Gebru is the founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR). Prior to that she was fired by Google in December 2020 for raising issues of discrimination in the workplace, where she was serving as co-lead of the Ethical AI research team. She received her PhD from Stanford University, and did a postdoc at Microsoft Research, New York City in the FATE (Fairness Accountability Transparency and Ethics in AI) group, where she studied algorithmic bias and the ethical implications underlying projects aiming to gain insights from data. Timnit also co-founded Black in AI, a nonprofit that works to increase the presence, inclusion, visibility and health of Black people in the field of AI, and is on the board of AddisCoder, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching algorithms and computer programming to Ethiopian highschool students, free of charge.

 

Jose Contreras, Wednesday, April 10, 2024 - Absence of Life: A Palliative Care Journey Exploring Life and Death

Jose Contreras
Chair of the Institute of Pain and Palliative Medicine

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description
Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on the wellness of a person with serious illness.  Anybody with serious illness, young, old or in between, can receive palliative care consultation in the medical setting.  The expectation when working with a palliative care team is the best outcome possible in any serious disease trajectory that is measured by optimal quality of life and increased survival.  This discussion will focus on my personal journey and a special person I met along the way. 

Biography

Jose Contreras, M.D. has worked at Hackensack Meridian Medical for just over 18 years.  Dr. Contreras is board certified in Family Practice and Palliative Medicine and is Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.  He graduated from University of California with a B.A. in Economics, University of Francisco Marroquin - School of Medicine and completed a fellowship in Pain and Palliative Care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Dr. Contreras has held a longtime passion for medical education and its humanitarian role that has translated into his commitment with the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine where he is an assistant professor in the unique, longitudinal Human Dimension course.  The Human Dimension course is dedicated to lifelong learning and includes a student’s role in the community and in the context of health and wellbeing, empathy towards suffering, excellence in medical care, research and discovery and humility in service. These topics resonate strongly with Dr. Contreras. He recognizes the importance of recruiting medical students that have attained outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated dedication to the mission and vision of the medical school.  The mission of the school of medicine includes professional reverence to the human condition and a commitment to serving the underrepresented minority populations. Dr. Contreras is a cancer survivor.

As the Chair of the Institute of Pain & Palliative Medicine he leads innovative culture change; specializes in oncology pain and palliative medicine.  Voted as Top Doctors in NJ since 2014 and Castle Connoly Top Doctors in NJ and NY since 2015.  Dr. Contreras was honored with the Planetree Physician Champion Award, given for honoring patient respect, compassion and empathy.  Dr. Contreras was recently honored with the Hackensack Meridian Health, Jose A. Contreras, MD scholarship award that contributes towards a young, up and coming employee’s higher education.

Favorite quotes are many and include “every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but it’s only the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he’ll rise.” “Compassion and love are not mere luxuries.  As a source of inner and outer peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species.”


Past Talks

Mark Vernon, Tuesday, November 14, 2023 - Spiritual Intelligence and the threat of AI

Mark Vernon
Writer and Psychotherapist

2:00-4:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Artificial Intelligence has become a spectre, even threatening civilisation and humanity itself, according to some. In this talk, Mark Vernon will explore how AI functions like a mirror, reflecting back our greatest hopes and darkest fears. But also how the spread of AI into our lives is an opportunity to recall the potency of other types of intelligence, not least that which can be called spiritual intelligence, which is also to remember what it is to be human.

Biography

Mark Vernon is a writer and psychotherapist. He contributes to and presents programmes on the radio, as well as writing for the national and religious press, and online publications. He also podcasts, in particular The Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues with Rupert Sheldrake, gives talks and leads workshops. He has a PhD in ancient Greek philosophy, and other degrees in physics and in theology, having studied at Durham, Oxford and Warwick universities. He is the author of several books, including A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling and the Evolution of Consciousness which in part explores the work of Owen Barfield, and Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey. He used to be an Anglican priest and lives in London, UK. Mark’s latest book is Spiritual Intelligence in Seven Steps. For more information see www.markvernon.com.
 

Marilee TalkingtonMonday, October 23, 2023 - The Invisibility of Disability in TV, Film, and Theater

Marilee Talkington
Professional Actor
Disability Activist
Screenwriter

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

We create beliefs about ourselves and other 'different' kinds of people by watching tv, film, and theater.  But what happens to those beliefs around worthiness and human value when we don't see ourselves nor those 'different' people, or we see wholly inaccurate portrayals of us and them instead? 

Biography

Marilee Talkington is a professional actor, disability activist, and creator of new stage and screen works.  They have recently performed on Broadway in Aaron Sorkin's new adaptation of CAMELOT and have appeared on television shows such as SEE (Apple TV+), Extrapolations (Apple TV+), FBI: Most Wanted (NBC), Law and Order: SVU (NBC), NCIS (CBS), and New Amsterdam, (CBS). Marilee is the voice of Mind's Eye at the Guggenheim Museum and is the founder of AC3 (Access Acting Academy), the world's first Acting Studio for blind and low vision performers.  They are one of the only blind/low vision actors in the United States to earn an M.F.A in Acting (American Conservatory Theater) for which they received the Carol Channing Trouper award for excellence, leadership and dedication. Marilee has originated over 100 characters on stage and screen, and has been founder and artistic director of two theater companies.  Their original work has been produced nationally and their solo show TRUCE  ran on the BBC. in 2020, Marilee was honored with the Dr. Jacob Bolotin international award for paradigm shifting work for blind persons, and was also named as one of Park Avenue Armory's 100 Women: 100 Artists.  Marilee is currently working on her first book. 

Brian Greene, Tuesday, October 17, 2023 - Until the End of Time

Brian Greene

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

The format of this talk will be a Q&A with Brian Greene focusing on his latest book, "Until the End of the Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe.”

Biography

Brian Greene is the Director of Columbia’s Center for Theoretical Physics. He has made groundbreaking discoveries in mathematical physics and superstring theory, including the co-discovery of mirror symmetry and the discovery of spatial topology change. Professor Greene's books, The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and Until the End of Time, have collectively spent 70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold over two million copies worldwide. Professor Greene is a frequent guest on late night television and was the host of two Emmy and Peabody award-winning NOVA mini-series based on his books. He also wrote and performed in Light Falls, a live theatrical exploration of Einstein’s discoveries, that was broadcast nationally on PBS. Together with Tracy Day, Professor Greene co-founded the World Science Festival and serves as Chairman of the Board.


SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES:
1. Website: briangreene.org
2. Twitter: @bgreene
3. Facebook: /BrianGreenePhysicist

Ross Perlin, Monday, October 2, 2023 - Just out of Earshot: Listening for Endangered Languages in the Global City

Ross Perlin
Lecturer, Department of Slavic Languages
Columbia University
Co-Director, Endangered Language Alliance (ELA)

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

For over a decade, the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), a linguist-led nonprofit with a mission to document and support linguistic diversity, has been working with speakers and communities to map and document the lesser-known, minority, endangered, and Indigenous languages of the New York area. In an age of language loss, cities are more linguistically diverse than ever before, but this diversity may be transient. ELA co-director and Columbia instructor Ross Perlin will discuss findings from ELA's work, as well as the difficult questions of representation, both technological and conceptual, raised by “absent” languages. 

Biography

Ross Perlin is a linguist, writer, and translator focused on exploring and supporting linguistic diversity. Since 2013 he has been co-director of the non-profit Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), managing research projects on language mapping, documentation, policy, and public programming for urban linguistic diversity. He also teaches linguistics at Columbia. His first book was Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy, and his next one is Language City: The Fight to Preserve Endangered Mother Tongues in New York, out with Grove Atlantic February of 2024.

Jonathan FeinWednesday, September 27 - Objects and Memory

Jonathan Fein
Sculptor
Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

How do we retain connections with people, places, and events that are now absent from our lives? How do otherwise ordinary things become conveyors of memory? Examination of the objects in our homes and museums that we care about the most reveals fundamental aspects of being human and provides a portal for inquiry through the various humanities disciplines. We navigate through a material world by imbuing witness objects with meaning and value. We use these things and the memorials we construct to preserve the past and speak to the future – when we will be absent.

Biography

Jonathan Fein has long been interested in the interrelationships of the tangible and the intangible. As a sculptor (University of Pennsylvania MFA '78), his work has evolved from the manipulation of physical material to sculpting in time: filmmaking. His award-winning documentary Objects and Memory was a four-time PBS national prime time special. His other credits include the award-winning documentary, Journeys to Peace and Understanding; the Emmy Award-winning series, 4Stories; the documentaries The CompetitionDeath Row Diaries, and A Change of Heart; the PBS series The Fred Friendly Seminars; and the Wisdom Channel series Innerviews. He is the founding director of EVER - Environmental Video, Education, and Reports, an organization dedicated to using media to improve the world. His current documentary project will be a series about innovators successfully addressing global problems.

Jonathan FeinWednesday, September 13 - Film Screening: Objects and Memory

Jonathan Fein
Sculptor
Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
401 Lerner Hall

Film Description

We preserve the past and speak to the future through the things we treasure and the memories they evoke. Using stories of items recovered from or offered in response to dramatic and pervasive American experiences, this film explores the human impulse to create community and reestablish connection in times of upheaval. Guided by Frank Langella's narration and set to the music of Philip Glass, the OBJECTS AND MEMORY helps viewers better understand their own thoughts, emotions, and behavior; the intangible values they hold dear; and the tangible objects that represent them. In presenting meaningful physical symbols - those that speak, those that reach out, and those that heal - and their stories, in the unusually dramatic setting of their retrieval, OBJECTS AND MEMORY explores the things we most value. Without the objects, the stories would lack vibrancy; without the stories the objects would lack significance. Taken together, the images of the objects, the stories they evoke, and the stories of their collection lead the viewer on a journey where the commonplace is transformed into the remarkable and where the stuff of history is highly personalized.

Biography

Jonathan Fein has long been interested in the interrelationships of the tangible and the intangible. As a sculptor (University of Pennsylvania MFA '78), his work has evolved from the manipulation of physical material to sculpting in time: filmmaking. His award-winning documentary Objects and Memory was a four-time PBS national prime time special. His other credits include the award-winning documentary, Journeys to Peace and Understanding; the Emmy Award-winning series, 4Stories; the documentaries The CompetitionDeath Row Diaries, and A Change of Heart; the PBS series The Fred Friendly Seminars; and the Wisdom Channel series Innerviews. He is the founding director of EVER - Environmental Video, Education, and Reports, an organization dedicated to using media to improve the world. His current documentary project will be a series about innovators successfully addressing global problems.

Gareth Williams, CUSP/ASP Annual NSOP Lecture: Here, There, Everywhere, and Nowhere: Some Thoughts on the Ubiquity of Absence - August 22, 2023

Gareth Williams
Anthon Professor of Latin Language and Literature
Department of Classics, Columbia University

10:00-12:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

The idea of absence has often been understood as a negative phenomenon, denoting loss, deficiency, denial, forgetfulness, under-representation, and so on. But the idea of absence also has great potential as a more positive and empowering force: absence as a detached and often intimidating position of power and influence, for example, or as a principled mode of resistance, or as a self-sacrificing cultivation of distance from others for the common good, or as a voluntary form of exile-as-protest. This talk explores various literary representations of both these positive and negative valences of absence, with emphasis on the psychological as well as the spatial/ physical implications of absence and presence. To what extent is absence often, even always, in tension with ideas of presence? We shall explore the ramifications of this and other questions through the lens of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Greek tragedy, and other ancient and modern texts that figure prominently in the Columbia Core Curriculum. 

Biography

Gareth Williams has taught at Columbia since 1992. He received a Ph.D. in 1990 from Cambridge University for a dissertation on Ovid’s exilic writings that subsequently resulted in two books: the first, Banished Voices: Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (Cambridge, 1994), and the second, The Curse of Exile: A Study of Ovid’s Ibis, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 19 (Cambridge, 1996). Two distinct research phases followed, the first of which focused on the Latin ethical writings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Two monographs resulted, the first an edition with commentary of L. Annaeus Seneca: Selected Moral Dialogues. De OtioDe Brevitate Vitae (Cambridge, 2003); the second, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca’s Natural Questions (Oxford, 2012), was awarded the Goodwin Award of Merit by the Society for Classical Studies in 2014. Most recently, among various other projects and edited volumes in the area of Roman philosophy, his research has focused on the socio-literary culture of Renaissance Venice, an interest that recently resulted in the publication of Pietro Bembo on Etna: The Ascent of a Venetian Humanist (Oxford, 2017).

Denise Cruz - Thursday, April 20, 2023 - The Rise of Couture in Manila: Fashion in the Postwar Philippines

Denise Cruz

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

1947 was a good year to become a fashion designer in Manila. While New Yorkers and Parisians hotly debated Christian Dior’s “new look,” on the other side of the globe, elite Filipina women recovered from the ravages of the Pacific War in part by completely reconfiguring the nation’s relationship to dress. Fashion transformed from being inspired by individual choices made by prominent socialites and their in-house dressmakers to a new process outsourced to designers. The city saw the efflorescence of salons and ateliers, the creation of fashion schools, and the appearance of the word “couturier” (fashion designer) in the press. In this presentation, I examine the rise of a new practice of fashion that unsettled social boundaries, as women became entrepreneurs and gay men became celebrities, and recover the story of how this emergence led to forms of recovery and creativity in the decades after World War II. 

Biography

Denise Cruz (she/hers) is Professor and Chair of English and Comparative Literature.  She writes and teaches about gender and sexuality in national and transnational cultures. She is the author of Transpacific Femininities: the Making of the Modern Filipina, the editor of Yay Panlilio’s The Crucible: The Autobiography of Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla, and she has published essays in American LiteratureAmerican QuarterlyAmerican Literary HistoryPMLA, the Journal of Asian American StudiesModern Fiction Studies. She was a Ford Foundation predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral fellow, and she was the 2021 recipient of Columbia’s Presidential Teaching Award and the Mark Van Doren Teaching Award

Key Rhodes - Monday, April 3, 2023 - Tech Talk: Ethical Design // Responsible Innovation - Then, Now and Later

Key Rhodes
Social Justice Entrepreneur 

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world was confronted with the proliferation of social impact initiatives grounded in the prioritization of privacy, human-centered artificial intelligence, product inclusion standards and much more. Due to an unprecedented degree to which individuals relied and continue to rely on technology to access care and resources, connect and collaborate within and across personal and professional environments in addition to the institutional uses of technology to monitor, report and facilitate the Covid-19 responses -- ethical questions have been raised. The question of ethics have compelled people and organizations to explore and/or reexamine the design, delivery and development of new and emerging technology. Questions across the tech, government, nonprofit and academic institutions, among others, include: Is privacy a human right? What does responsible innovation look like in a world where everyone's humanity is honored? How can technologists design with diversity, equity and inclusion in mind? What is corporate social responsibility? To what extent can the government create processes of accountability with institutions that violate humane standards? How do policymakers rectify the pace through which policymaking happens and the rapid speed of innovation? 

Biography

Keyaria “Key” Rhodes an innovative visionary working toward a fairer, healthier, more inclusive world. As a social change leader committed to responsible artificial intelligence and innovation, her intersectional and cross-sectorial work has informed her multifaceted approach to achieving justice. She has served as a trusted advisor for global initiatives across corporate, universities, government and nonprofit institutions for over 10 years. She's the founder of a successful consulting firm and leads ethical design initiatives grounded in social science research at Microsoft.

As a Tech Evangelist who advocates for the business value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Key is deeply invested in the intersections of technology and justice. Her research explores the role of data and social media in shaping the lived experiences of historically excluded people. She has earned several honors and awards for her work, which includes receiving national recognition as a Research Fellow at Columbia University, the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, the University of Chicago – among
others.

Key holds an M.A. from Columbia University in African-American and African Diaspora Studies, a graduate certificate from the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University along with a B.A. and Advanced Research Certification from the University of Washington. She is passionate about applying her knowledge and skills as a subject matter expert on issues that pertain to race, gender, sexuality, accessibility, etc. Key can be found enjoying brunch, roller skating, or
hiking in her free time and she’s an active mentor for early in career professionals.

Andrew Smyth - Wednesday, March 29, 2023 - The Emergence of a Digital Layer within Our Urban Infrastructure

Andrew Smyth
Robert A.W. and Christine S. Carleton Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

With increasing urbanization in America and around the world, urban challenges have become humanity’s challenges. Engineering can play a critical role in addressing these challenges. Already opportunities of new and more pervasive sensing modalities coupled with powerful computational modeling tools to better understand and manage our cities are hitting their stride to improve efficiencies, safety and performance. But over the horizon an even greater opportunity to overlay and integrate a digital layer with our physical urban system layer offers new channels for improved livability for all through adaptive urban functionality. Next Generation low-latency high-bandwidth communications and edge computing technologies leveraging broader contextual awareness from sensor arrays will be at the heart of this digital layer. Critical to the adoption of a more real-time, high precision, digital layer with urban functionality is the integration of security, privacy and fairness from inception at this new frontier in processing of sensed data from the public domain. The presentation traces the speaker’s research path from infrastructure monitoring, to vehicle fleet monitoring to broader use of urban sensor data in enhancing performance of infrastructure systems, culminating in a new initiative - the NSF Engineering Research Center for Smart Streetscapes.

Biography

Andrew Smyth is the Robert A.W. and Christine S. Carleton Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University. He is the Co-Chair of the Smart Cities Center at the Columbia Data Science Institute. He specializes in structural health monitoring, using sensor information to determine the condition of critical infrastructure. Recently his interest in sensor network monitoring has expanded to large fleets of vehicles in urban environments. Smyth has been involved with the sensor instrumentation and vibration analysis and remote monitoring of a large number of iconic long-span bridges and landmark buildings and museums. His research interests include the development of data fusion and system identification algorithms to derive maximum information from large heterogeneous sensor networks monitoring dynamical systems, nonlinear system dynamical modeling and  simulation, and natural hazards risk assessment.

He is the PI and Director of a recently (2022) awarded $26M NSF Engineering Research Center for Smart Streetscapes. He is an NSF CAREER award recipient, 2008 ASCE Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize recipient, and in 2013 was elected as a Fellow of the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute. In 2007 he was a Visiting Researcher at the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chausées, Paris, in 2014 a Visiting Researcher at KU Leuven in Belgium, and in 2019-20 a Visiting Professor at Trinity College, Dublin. In 2018-2019 he served on NY State Governor’s 6 member L-Train Tunnel Review Panel which proposed a rehabilitation redesign obviating the need for a 15-month shutdown. In 2018 received the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates.

He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering & Engineering Mechanics, and is the Faculty Director of Research for Columbia’s Robert A.W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory. He is the founding co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Intelligent Infrastructure and Resilience. He has served as an Assoc. Editor of the ASCE Jo. of Engineering Mechanics and on the Editorial Board of the Int. Jo. of Structural Control and Monitoring, and in 2011 was elected to serve on the Board of Governors of the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute, and in 2013 served as the Vice President of the EMI. He is the President of the International Association of Structural Control and Monitoring.

Prof. Smyth received his Sc.B. and A.B. degrees at Brown University in 1992 in Civil Engineering and Architectural Studies respectively. He received his M.S. in Civil Engineering at Rice in 1994, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering (1997) and his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (1998) at the University of Southern California.

Jane Adams - Thursday, March 23, 2023 - Emergence in Complex Self-Organizing Systems, or: Ants Invented TCP/IP

Jane Adams
Data Scientist
Two Sigma Investments

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Forager ants in the Arizona desert have a problem: after leaving the nest, they don’t return until they’ve found food. On the hottest and driest days, this means many ants will die before finding food, let alone before bringing it back to the nest.

All ants in the colony coordinate to minimize the number of forager ants lost while maximizing the amount of food foraged. Their solution is necessarily decentralized and abstract: no single ant coordinates the others, and the solution must withstand the loss of individual ants and extend to new ants. The solution focuses on simple yet essential features and capabilities of each ant, and uses them to great effect. In this sense, it is incredibly elegant.

In this talk, we’ll examine a handful of natural and computer systems to illustrate how to cast system-wide problems into solutions at the individual component level, yielding incredibly simple algorithms for incredibly complex collective behaviors.

Biography

Jane Adams works at Two Sigma Investments, where her job is to think about the many ways datasets can break and how to deal with it. Previously, she worked as a data scientist in the child welfare domain. She has an undergraduate degree in Emergence in Complex Systems from NYU, and a MS in Applied Urban Data Science (also from NYU). Outside of work, she makes ceramics and runs a community direct aid operation to provide diapers to Brooklyn families every week.

Jamieson Webster - Thursday, March 2, 2023 - Emergent Psychoanalysis

Jamieson Webster

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

How does psychoanalysis deal with emergent phenomenon? Is it simply the old cliche about the unconscious, repressed trauma, disavowed sexuality, the Oedipus complex? Or is there something more important to learn here, not just about individuals, but how we are bound together as a society? Freud once felt that psychoanalysis, in so far as it listened to our latent wishes and how  they create social bonds, could be prophetic. In this talk I will present this future oriented psychoanalysis.

Biography

Jamieson Webster is a psychoanalyst in New York City. She teaches at the New School for Social Research and supervises doctoral students in clinical psychology at the City University of New York, and is a member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. She is the author of The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011), Stay, Illusion! with Simon Critchley (Vintage, 2013), Conversion Disorder (Columbia University Press, 2018), and Disorganisation and Sex (Divided, 2022). She writes regularly for ArtforumThe New York Review of BooksThe New York Times and Spike Art Quarterly.

Tumi Mogorosi - Thursday, February 23, 2023 - Black voice and the limit before invention, Louis Moholo and the incoherence of the beyond

Tumi Mogorosi

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

What happens when thinking with incoherence as a marker to the limit of recognition, and what opens or closes when coupling it with Louis Moholo's adage "Yes baby, No Baby" (Mogorosi, 2020)? I wrestle with a way to engage Clark Terry's the Mummbles (1966) that by way of Jes Grew in Reed is known as Mumbo Jumbo (1972). How do these moments read as a limit to coherence, or as something beyond the limit of recognition? Are they presenting the Fanonian leap which is the emergence of a potential to liberation or do they fall back into the wars of representation?

Biography

Tumi Mogorosi is an artist, activist and theorist with a focus on the Black liberation through the prism of the Black Radical tradition, also as way to engage the Black sonic in its diasporic articulation. Mogorosi has three Jazz and improvised music albums (Project Elo, 2014; Santum
Santorium, 2017; The Wretched, 2020; Group Theory: Black Music, 2022), and features as a sideman on some leading groups in South Africa and globally. He holds an MAFA from University of Witwatersrand and he is currently enrolled in the political studies PhD programme with a focus on Afro pessimism and cultural work. As a Yeoville inhabitant, Mogorosi also has a anthology of essays titled Deaesthetic: writing with and from the Blac Sonic 2020 Iwalewa Books. Being a Yeoville inhabitant has enabled his trans-national orientation to thought and being which fosters the infidelity to the performative relay of national situated (ness). His practice straddles across performance theory, jazz studies, Afropessimism, critical theory and Black studies in close relation with the question on Black liberation beyond the incompleteness of the South African rainbowism and global emancipation politics. Thinking beyond the national level opens up ways to think of the trans-national acoustics that can be found as a "trace" of the sameness in different cultural articulations. Within the South African context and its eleven official cultures there is an opening to create and complicate narratives that are historically bound, and finally to open up a conversation between enthnomusicology and critical race theory as a way to think historical images presented through the sonic lenses.

Peter Brannen - Wednesday, February 15, 2023 - 600 million years of CO2: The carbon cycle in the age of animals

Peter Brannen
Science Journalist

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Carbon dioxide is popularly portrayed as an industrial byproduct that just so happens to come out of smokestacks, rather than the fundamental substrate of all life--one whose balanced movement through the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, crust, and life has kept the planet habitable for billions of years. When this balance has been thrown off, in a manner similar to the current global industrial chemistry experiment on the planet, mass extinction has resulted. This talk will discuss our global crisis in the context of deep time--a context that illuminates just how unusual, and dangerous, this moment in time is.

Biography

Peter Brannen is an award-winning science journalist and contributing writer at The Atlantic. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Scientific American, among other publications. His book, The Ends of the World, about the five major mass extinctions in Earth's history, was published in 2017 by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. He is an affiliate at the University of Colorado-Boulder's Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR).

Josef Sorett - Monday, January 30, 2023 - Black is a Church: Christianity and the Contours of African American Life

Josef Sorett
Dean of Columbia College, Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor and Vice President for Undergraduate Education; and Professor of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Within the context of American culture, Black studies are often described as if they are secular phenomena, but this talk will argue for the centrality of religion, religious expressions, and religious institutions to their identity, as well as examine what constitutes Afro-modernity and the polyvocal nature of “the Black church,” a phenomenon often assumed to be monolithic.

Biography

Josef Sorett serves as dean of Columbia College, the Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor and Vice President for Undergraduate Education at Columbia University. As the chief academic and executive officer of the College, Dean Sorett’s central focus is to ensure that students have the best possible experience inside and outside the classroom. The dean oversees the College curriculum, which includes the Core Curriculum, as well as the other academic, co-curricular and programmatic services that form the foundation of the undergraduate experience at the College.

Prior to his current roles, Dean Sorett chaired the Department of Religion; was the director of the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics & Social Justice; and was director of undergraduate studies in the Departments of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies. A recipient of Columbia’s Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award (2018) and a Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence (2022), he has also sat on numerous departmental and University-wide committees, councils and boards, including the Joint Committee on Instruction, which oversees the College and General Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Policy Planning Committee, and chaired the Inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee.

As an interdisciplinary scholar of religion and race in the Americas, and a professor of religion, African American and African diaspora studies, Dean Sorett employs primarily historical and literary approaches to the study of religion in Black communities and cultures in the United States, straddling the disciplines of history, literature, religion, art and music. His first book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics, illuminates how religion has figured in debates about Black art and culture across the 20th century. In addition to editing the recently released volume The Sexual Politics of Black Churches, Dean Sorett’s forthcoming second book, Black is a Church: Christianity and the Contours of (African) American Life, will be published in 2023. He is working on a third, There’s a God on the Mic: Hip Hop’s (Surprising) Religious History.

Prior to joining Columbia’s faculty in 2009, Dean Sorett was a fellow at Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute, and an instructor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Medgar Evers College. He earned a B.S. from Oral Roberts University, an M.Div. in religion and literature from Boston University and a Ph.D. in African American studies from Harvard.

Jeffrey Kluger - Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - The James Webb Telescope—and the Cosmic Secrets it Will Reveal

Jeffrey Kluger
Editor at Large, TIME Magazine

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Ten billion dollars worth of Earthly hardware is parked in space one million miles from our planet. The hardware is the James Webb Space Telescope. The one-million-mile location is a Lagrange point—a spot in space where the gravity of the Earth and Sun effectively cancel each other out, allowing the telescope to remain stable and in place, gazing unblinkingly out at the cosmos for what engineers expect will be the next 25 years. The Webb telescope is far and away the most capable and ambitious cosmic observatory ever built, able to peer 13.6 billion light years away—and thus 13.6 billion years back in time—to a moment in cosmic history just 200 million years after the Big Bang.  The Webb will witness the moments that the universe first turned its lights on—when stars and galaxies first swirled into existence, when the celestial nothing that was once all that existed began to transform itself into the celestial something that surrounds us today. We will discuss both the remarkable machine that the James Webb Space Telescope is, and—more importantly—the remarkable things it may discover.

Biography

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for Time Magazine, where he has written more than 45 cover stories on topics ranging from space to physics to health to psychology to human behavior. He is the author of 12 books, including “Apollo 13,” which served as the basis for the 1995 movie, and the recent novel “Holdout.”

 

Ethel Sheffer - Monday, November 14, 2022 - Why Does New York City Look the Way it Does?

Ethel Sheffer
Urban Planner
NYC Public Design Commission
Adjunct Professor Emerita
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

This presentation will provide a rapid survey and analysis of New York City’s land use development, its density, its skyscrapers, and its varied neighborhoods from the early 20th century to the present day. New York City was the fastest growing business and population center in the country in the early 20 th century, but in response to unregulated development, to growing concerns among various interests about the disruptive side of that development, New York City did create the first comprehensive zoning legislation in 1916. We will track and analyze that “tool” of planning and development, through the era of New York’s famous skyscrapers of the twenties and later, on to the changing population patterns due to the growing influence of the automobile and to the changing patterns of work and suburbanization , which resulted in the very great changes contained in the 1961 Zoning regulations. We will also reference the very recent New York and world wide-growth of the supertall building, as we examine the “emerging” 21st century city of New York.

Biography

Ethel Sheffer, FAICP, is an urban planner, civic and community leader and educator. She has served as an Adjunct Professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation for more than 15 years. She has an extensive knowledge of New York City’s neighborhoods, has been a community leader in several noteworthy battles and developments, has served as the President of the New York Chapter of the American Planning Association, and is a member of the NYC Public Design Commission.

James Colgrove - Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - Trust and Authority: The Future of the U.S. Public Health System in a Post-COVID World

James Colgrove
Dean, Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program
Columbia School of General Studies
Professor of Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia Mailman School of Public Health

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

The COVID pandemic has sparked polarizing debates in the U.S. over control measures such as quarantine, masking, and vaccination. The credibility and authority of the U.S. public health system has often come under attack during these debates. Although the politicization of COVID has been widely lamented over the past two years, disease outbreaks have always been inherently political events that entail not just scientific considerations but also questions of ethics, law, and policy. This talk will situate the COVID pandemic in historical context, examine some of the political controversies that arose as the U.S. confronted COVID in 2020-21, and reflect on the future of the U.S. public system as the country transitions into the next phase of the pandemic.

Biography

James Colgrove, PhD, MPH, is Dean of the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program at the Columbia School of General Studies and Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. His research examines ethical, historical, and legal dimensions of public health policies. His books include Epidemic City: The Politics of Public Health in New York (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011) and State of Immunity: The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America (University of California Press, 2006). His articles have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Science, Health Affairs, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. His research has been supported by grants from the National Library of Medicine, the Greenwall Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Milbank Memorial Fund.

Mark Wilding - Thursday, October 27, 2022 - TV: You Simply Can't Get Away From It

Mark Wilding
TV Writer and Producer

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Long-time TV writer Mark Wilding offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world of television. He promises some statistics, some observations and as much gossip as time will allow.

Biography

Mark Wilding has worked in television for almost three decades, writing and producing both comedies and dramas. Comedy credits include Ellen, Caroline In The City, The Naked TruthWorking and Jesse. Drama credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Good Girls and Charmed.

Mark served as executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy for seven years, during which time he wrote a dozen episodes and was part of a writing staff that was twice nominated for an Emmy for best dramatic writing. His episode “Where The Boys Are” won the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding individual episode. He was executive producer and head writer on Scandal for five years. One of his episodes, “Nobody Likes Babies” was cited by Time Magazine as one of the Top 10 TV episodes of 2013. In 2005, “The Cell”, a pilot he co-wrote, was hailed by the New York Times as the “funniest unproduced script in Hollywood.” His play, “Our Man In Santiago”, is currently running off-Broadway.

Ellen Sandler - Monday, October 17, 2022 - How to Stand Out When You Have to Fit In—The Writer’s Voice in a Collaborative Medium

Ellen Sandler
TV Writer and Producer

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

TV Writer and Producer, Ellen Sandler, will share her experiences at the writers’ table and how an individual voice emerges through the collaborative process of television staff writing. She’ll also let us in on a few of her favorite techniques for finding personal connections in a script.

Biography

Ellen Sandler received an Emmy nomination as a Writer/Producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, and has worked on the writing staffs of many TV comedies. [See here for complete credits.] She is the author of The TV Writer’s Workbook, A Creative Approach to Television Scripts [Bantam/Dell]. It is a required text in film studies programs at UCLA, USC, NYU, Stanford, Northwestern, and the Sundance Film Festival. An internationally known speaker and teacher, she has consulted on TV development in Australia, Canada, Italy, Singapore, Japan, China, Dubai, and Israel; and has taught TV writing at Chapman University, UCLA, USC, the David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts at Maharishi International University, The New School, and The HB Studio Playwrights Unit, New York. She has an MFA from the American Film Institute and is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America.

David Krakauer - Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - CUSP Inaugural Talk - Emergence: Evidence, Aesthetics, and Ethics 

David Krakauer
President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems
Santa Fe Institute

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

In a new book project with my collaborator Tony Eagen called The Transcendent Triangle, we are endevouring to grasp the triple foundations of understanding. We argue that all phenomena can be, and should be, viewed in terms of their truth claims, their appeal to beauty and emotion, and their social implications. And this holds for the concept of emergence on which I shall shall focus. I shall review the evidence bearing on emergence and how new phenomena arise through collective dynamical patterns. How these patterns give rise to challenging social and ethical questions in the domain of society. And end by considering the meaning of beauty in the unpredictable domain of emergent order. 

Biography

David Krakauer is the President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute. His research explores the evolution of intelligence and stupidity on Earth. This includes studying the evolution of genetic, neural, linguistic, social, and cultural mechanisms supporting memory and information processing, and exploring their shared properties. 

He served as the founding Director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the Co-Director of the Center for Complexity and Collective Computation, and Professor of Mathematical Genetics all at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Krakauer has been a visiting fellow at the Genomics Frontiers Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, a Sage Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of Santa Barbara, a long-term Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and visiting Professor of Evolution at Princeton University. He was included in Wired Magazine’s 2012 Smart List as one of fifty people “who will change the world,” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2016 list of visionary leaders advancing global research and business.

 

Gareth Williams - Wednesday, August 24, 2022 - CUSP/ASP Annual NSOP Lecture - Emergence, Renewal, and Learning from Experience: Some Ancient Thoughts on How to Come Back from a Setback

Gareth Williams
Anthon Professor of Latin Language and Literature
Department of Classics, Columbia University

11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

At last our emergence from the pandemic has begun to gain momentum, and we all hope that that emergence will continue steadily in the next years so that we can regain stability in all our lives. So much has happened on so many fronts beyond the pandemic in recent times – so many socio-political crises and reckonings that have brought deep challenges and opportunities to our way of life. One useful way of thinking about how to emerge and learn from our own times of change is to look to the example of the past. In this talk the Greco-Roman myths of Odysseus, Oedipus, Aeneas and others will help us to think widely about the nature, scope, and excitement of emergence in our own times – emergence from (among other things) struggle, oppression, error, inhibition, and self-delusion.

Biography

Gareth Williams has taught at Columbia since 1992. He received a Ph.D. in 1990 from Cambridge University for a dissertation on Ovid’s exilic writings that subsequently resulted in two books: the first, Banished Voices: Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (Cambridge, 1994), and the second, The Curse of Exile: A Study of Ovid’s Ibis, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 19 (Cambridge, 1996). Two distinct research phases followed, the first of which focused on the Latin ethical writings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Two monographs resulted, the first an edition with commentary of L. Annaeus Seneca: Selected Moral Dialogues. De OtioDe Brevitate Vitae (Cambridge, 2003); the second, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca’s Natural Questions (Oxford, 2012), was awarded the Goodwin Award of Merit by the Society for Classical Studies in 2014. Most recently, among various other projects and edited volumes in the area of Roman philosophy, his research has focused on the socio-literary culture of Renaissance Venice, an interest that recently resulted in the publication of Pietro Bembo on Etna: The Ascent of a Venetian Humanist (Oxford, 2017).

 

Christina Lazaridi - Monday, April 18, 2022 - "Scars of Life, Seeds of Life: Empathy, Storytelling, and Resilience."

Christina Lazaridi
Screenwriter Technical Writer/ Editor IV at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Film Concentration Head, Screenwriting  

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Tonight I'd like to speak to you about the connections between storytelling and resilience. The resilience a writer needs in order to discover the stories they are passionate to share with the world. The resilience an audience needs in order to be able to embrace difficult stories, unfamiliar stories, slow down and be able to listen, so that they can grow. The resilience our bodies need, in order to hold onto the stories we experience so we can chart our next steps forward and share them, bravely, with the world. Because stories are meant to be shared. Storytelling is power. And storytelling is scary. Stories, like life, are filled with things that endlessly go wrong... But stories are also what allow our brains and bodies to remember, and shared experience becomes a path through which we can connect deeply to each other. What we think is our life, what we think is the end of our story, is never how we plan it. And what allows a writer to complete a story, and similarly, a human to complete a life of purpose, is the essence of resilience.

Biography

Christina Lazaridi is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter and an expert in script development and audience response.   Projects she has authored, or actively developed, have won awards at Cannes (Camera D' Or) and Berlin Film Festivals (Golden Bear), Sundance, SXSW and the Ariels (Mexican Oscars), among others.   Her work as a development expert for award-winning properties was recognized in 2019 and 2020 by a grant to the organization she co-founded, Cine Qua Non Lab, from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.  

Christina currently serves as Head of Concentration for Screen & TV Writing at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division where she is an Assistant Professor of Practice. Prior to this position Christina designed and ran Princeton University’s Screenwriting track for its prestigious Creative Writing Program and conducted pioneering research on storytelling and the brain with Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute and Uri Hasson's Lab.  Results of their research were published by MIT's Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience in 2021. 

Born and raised in Greece in a family of Asia Minor refugees and artists, Lazaridi’s personal written work focuses on high emotional-impact narratives of dislocation and survival and her performance-centered screenplays have consistently attracted major collaborators domestically and abroad.  Her first feature film Coming Up Roses starred Broadway icon Bernadette Peters and introduced Rachel Brosnahan, and her historical feature documentary Varian and Putzi: A 20th Century Tale was directed by Academy Award winner Richard Kaplan and was released theatrically at the Museum of Modern Art.   In 2017 Christina’s first produced screenplay in Greece, Rosa of Smyrna, was a box office sensation surpassing all international sales.

Current projects include TV series Escape Attempt, based on the Strugatsky brothers Soviet sci-fi novels, (in collaboration with Grammy Award winning company Aggressive TV)  and Femen, a dramatic biopic of the Ukrainian activist movement (produced by Pan-Europeenne and  Arthouse Traffic for director Darya Zhuk). 

Lazaridi is the recipient of a prestigious Silver Condor Award for best screenplay for her work in Julia Solomonoff's critically acclaimed Nobody’s Watching. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Hungarian Holocaust drama, One Day Crossing.  

Christina holds an MFA with Honors from Columbia University's Graduate Film Division and a BA with Honors from Princeton University. She lives in New York City, with her husband and young daughter.

 

Eric Sanderson - Thursday, April 14, 2022 - "Prospects for Resilience:  Learning from the Past to Plan New York City's Future"

Eric Sanderson
Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society.  

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Hard as it might be to believe, peering over the pile of concrete, glass, asphalt, and building stone that is New York City, at one time there was no city.  Rather there were forests with streams running through; wetlands loud with insects and frogs; beaches lapped by estuary waters; and wildlife in numbers astounding to the modern mind.  These ecosystems and their inhabitants, including the indigenous cultures of people over the last 8000 years, knew some things about dealing with climate change, great storms, long droughts, social unrest, and living on the land with grace and dignity.  Here I will try to extract a few parables from the city's historical ecology to help spur our collective imaginations toward conceiving a hopeful and thriving future for awesome Gotham through what remains of the 21st century and beyond.

Biography

Eric W. Sanderson is a Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Sanderson received his Ph.D. in ecology (emphasis in ecosystem and landscape ecology) from the University of California, Davis, in 1998, while studying with Dr. Susan Ustin. Starting at WCS in 1998, he established the “Landscape Ecology and Geographic Analysis” program to bring landscape thinking and geographic analysis tools into the conservation practices of the WCS. In 2002 Dr. Sanderson and colleagues created the Human Footprint map, the first look at human influence globally at less than 1 square mile resolution. He is also an expert on species conservation planning and has contributed to efforts to save lions, tigers, Asian bears, jaguars, tapirs, peccaries, American crocodiles, North American bison and Mongolian gazelle; and landscape planning conservation efforts in Argentina, Tanzania, Mongolia, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Adirondack Park, in the USA. He has edited two scientific volumes and written numerous scientific papers. His work has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic Magazine, CNN, NPR, and The New Yorker. He is also the director of The Mannahatta Project, an effort to reconstruct the original ecology of Manhattan Island at the time of European discovery in the early seventeenth century. In 2009 he published a book, “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City,” illustrated by Markley Boyer. From May 20 – October 12, 2009, Dr. Sanderson curated an exhibition based on the Mannahatta Project on display at the Museum of the City of New York.

Rishi Goyal - Tuesday, March 29, 2022 - "Heroes and Villains: Moral injury and Resilience in healthcare during COVID"

Rishi Goyal
Founding Director of Medical Humanities, ICLS, Columbia University
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center
Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southern Denmark  

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Throughout the pandemic, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers were celebrated as "heroes".   This form of address came even as those same healthcare workers felt needlessly endangered by precarious working conditions.  The metaphoric framework of pandemic as war resulted in valorization, but also in the roll calls of the fallen.   I want to explore the narrative and discursive possibilities afforded by the idea of the hero in the setting of moral injury while also pointing to acts of resilience, generosity, and gratitude.

Biography

BA, Dartmouth (1997); MD, Columbia (2001); MA. Columbia (2002); Ph.D., Columbia (2010).  Professor Goyal is Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center (in Medical Humanities and Ethics and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society) and founding director of the major in Medical Humanities.  Professor Goyal completed his residency in Emergency Medicine as Chief Resident while finishing his PhD in English and Comparative Literature.  His research interests include the health humanities, the study of the novel, and medical epistemology. His writing has appeared in The Living Handbook of NarratologyAktuel Forskning, Litteratur, Kultur og Medier, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. He is a Co-Founding Editor of the online journal, Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.  He is currently working on Increasing Vaccine Confidence through a grant from Columbia World Projects.

 

Derek Kravitz - Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - "Documenting COVID-19"

Derek Kravitz
Instructor, The Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, Columbia Journalism School
Documenting Project Lead, Brown Institute for Media Innovation

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

Documenting COVID-19 (https://documentingcovid19.io/) is a searchable repository of documents obtained through local, state and federal open-records laws and the Freedom of Information Act related to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the project’s inception in March 2020, it has grown to include more than 500,000 pages of tagged and keyword-searchable health department and government records and we have partnered with dozens of newsrooms, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, to produce journalism on the pandemic’s impact on meatpacking and migrant farm facilities, reopening plans and super-spreader events. Over the course of the next four months, we would like to expand the project, to allow for a searchable timeline of pandemic-related information, for academics, historians and researchers, and new visualizations for our growing collection of health and business data. 

Biography

Derek Kravitz is working on grant-funded initiatives in 2020-21 through Columbia and Stanford's Brown Institute for Media Innovation. He is also an instructor for the Columbia Journalism School's Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, where he teaches research and reporting skills. From 2016 to 2019, he was the research director at ProPublica, the New York-based investigative nonprofit newsroom, and, for the past decade, has worked as a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press and The Washington Post.  Kravitz is a two-time Livingston Award finalist — for work with The New Yorker and ProPublica — and projects he edited or reported have won prizes from the George Polk Awards, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Deadline Club. He has also been apart of three teams that have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. 

 

Mary Marshall Clark - Wednesday March 9, 2022 -- "Oral History Lessons from 9/11 and Covid-19 Stories"

Mary Marshall Clark
Director, Columbia Center for Oral History Research
Co-Founder, Co-Director, Oral History Master of Arts
INCITE-Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

In two longitudinal oral history projects conducted by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research/INCITE, one focused on the welfare of New Yorkers begun immediately after 9/11, and the other, focused on the welfare of New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic, ordinary New Yorkers seek, and sometimes fail, to make meaning of their experiences. For those who were able to find meaning, connecting to resilience, they did so by forging and maintaining relationships with others
 

Biography

In addition to being the Director of the Columbia University Center for Oral History Research in INCITE,  Mary Marshall is the co-founding director of Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts (OHMA) degree program (with Peter Bearman)  created in 2008-09, the first oral history master’s program in the United States. Mary Marshall has been involved in the oral history movement since 1991, and was president of the United States Oral History Association from 2001-2002. She was the co-principal investigator (with Peter Bearman) of The September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, a longitudinal oral history project through which over 1,000 hours of interviews were taken with eye-witnesses, immigrants and others who suffered in the aftermath of the events. She also directed related projects on the aftermath of September 11th in New York City.

Mary Marshall has directed projects on the Carnegie Corporation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Japanese Internment on the East Coast.  She founded the Guantanamo Rule of Law Oral History Project in 2009, through which over 350 hours of oral history were collected with advocacy and constitutional lawyers, lawmakers, judges, representatives from the department of state, former prisoners and psychologists who protested the American  Psychological Association’s involvement in torture.

Mary Marshall was president of the national Oral History Association in 2001-2002, and participated in the founding of the International Oral History Association.  She has conducted life history interviews with lead figures in the media, human rights, African American history, South Africa history and recorded women’s achievements in journalism, politics and the arts. Mary Marshall directs Columbia University’s biannual Summer Institute in Oral History. She writes on issues of memory, the mass media, trauma, and ethics in oral history. Mary Marshall is an editor of After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 11, 2001 and the Years that Followed, published by The New Press in September, 2011. She is a co-author of the human rights publication Documenting and Interpreting Conflict through Oral History: A Working Guide, co-produced by Columbia University and TAARII, the American Institute for Research in IraqShe is an editor of the Columbia University Press Oral History Series, announced in 2019. Currently, Mary Marshall is a co-principal investigator and interviewer on the Obama Presidency Oral History Project and is the director of the Human Rights Campaign Oral History Project, tracing the history of the Human Rights Campaign in advocating for the rights of LGBTQ people in the United States.

 

Thomas Dodman - Monday, February 21, 2022 -- "Extravagant Feelings: Resilience and Emotional Survival at War"

Thomas Dodman
Director, MA in History & Literature, Columbia University in Paris 
Assistant Professor, Department of French, Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online
 

Presentation Description

There is an old saying, dating back to the American Civil War if not before, that soldiering is 99% boredom and 1% terror. The experience of war is an affective one--possibly one of the most intensely felt activities known to human beings. But this is also a site of erasure, insofar as soldiers are typically expected to master their feelings and cultivate stoicism. What tremors lie beneath their "stiff upper lips"? What muted cries of pain, anger, and joy rise out of the trenches? This talk will explore the wide-ranging emotional lives of soldiers at war to help us think about the notion of resilience in extra-ordinary times.

Biography

Thomas Dodman is Assistant Professor in the Department of French at Columbia University and director of the MA program in History & Literature at Columbia’s Global Center in Paris. A historian by training, he is the author of What Nostalgia Was: War, Empire and the Time of a Deadly Emotion (Chicago, 2018) and the coeditor of Une Histoire de la guerre du XIXe siècle à nos jours (Seuil, 2018). He obtained his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2011 and was a Mellon Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2016-17.

 

Mujib Mashal - Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - "Storytelling as Coping"

Mujib Mashal
South Asia Bureau Chief, The New York Times
CUSP Alumni (Kluge Scholar) 

NEW TIME! 10:00am. - noon EST
Online

Presentation Description

Mujib Mashal will discuss the impact of trauma on identity, and the place of storytelling as a coping tool when trauma becomes the overwhelming reality.

Biography

Mujib Mashal is the Bureau Chief of South Asia for The New York Times based in New Delhi. Born and raised in Kabul during Afghanistan's civil war, he received a school scholarship to study at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts soon after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. He graduated with a degree in South Asian history from Columbia University, focusing on India’s independence movement.

 

Peter Basch-Thursday, December 2, 2021—My loopy, inefficient, random trajectory to Mars

Peter Basch 
Technical Writer/ Editor IV at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Center for Robotic and Deep-Space Exploration, NASA

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Peter worked on the Mars 2020 (Perseverance to you) project at the Kennedy Space Center, documenting the 1000-odd procedures used to assemble and test the Rover and Helicopter. He will share his view of the process, complicated by Covid-19, which struck smack in the middle of his stay in Florida. He will also share his story of being a first-generation college student at Columbia. 

Biography

Peter Basch is a technical writer and editor at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Center for Robotic and Deep-Space Exploration at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He studied Physics, took lots of classes in Medieval Studies (being obsessed with Tolkien), then dropped out of grad school at Berkeley to be an actor in New York. He spent fifteen years slowly realizing that maybe he should write instead. He wrote a play called English (It's Where the Words Are), which got a good review in the New York Times. This brought him to Los Angeles where he met his wife and found, to his surprise, that there were other places in the world than NYC. Suddenly needing to make an actual living, he evolved into a technical writer and got a job at JPL, where he has been for a decade.

 

Kyle T. Mandli - Tuesday, October 26, 2021- Coastal Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Kyle T. Mandli 
Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Coastal communities from small islands in the Pacific to New York City are all threatened by climate change. The changing risk to these communities is a central question that needs to be assessed in order to address how to best make each diverse community more resilient to the threat of climate change. This discussion will focus on some of the computational tools that mathematicians, scientists and engineers across the spectrum of disciplines, from anthropology to civil engineering, and how these disciplines are contributing to a solution that can hopefully span the diversity of communities that are under threat.

Biography

Kyle T. Mandli is Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics in the department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and affiliated with the Columbia Data Science Institute. Before Columbia he was at the University of Texas at Austin where he was a Research Associate at the Institute for Computational and Engineering Sciences working in the computational hydraulics group. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 2011 from the University of Washington studying multi-layered flow as it applies to storm-surge simulation. His research interests involve the computational and analytical aspects of geophysical shallow mass flows such as storm-surge, tsunamis, and other coastal flooding. This also includes the development of advanced computational approaches, such as adaptive mesh refinement, leveraging novel computational technologies, such as accelerators, and the application of good software development practices as applied more generally to scientific and engineering software.

 

Susanna Coffey-Tuesday, October 19, 2021: Imagination: Source of Resilience

Susanna Coffey
Director of Undergraduate Studies-Visual Arts
Visiting Professor of Painting

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

The word 'imagination' is often associated with terms like fantasy, fairy tale, lack of reality, false memory, even lie. But if one closely considers ones imaginative activities one might understand this wonderful, vital capability... Its ability to help us survive the unexpected. Please bring your memory of your imaginative experiences to our meeting, and a piece of paper and a writing tool.

Biography

Susanna Coffey, Director of Undergrad Studies in Columbia University’s School of Visual Art has been a  Visiting Professor of Painting since 2018. She recently retired as the F.H. Sellers Professor in Painting at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After receiving her BFA magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut at Storrs she graduated as a MFA from the Yale School of Art. A respected figurative painter, her works in self-portraiture are investigations of the iconic human head. This work is driven by questions about what a portrait image can mean. What is a beautiful appearance? Why do conventionally gendered images involve caricature? Can inchoate feeling-states be adequately portrayed? 

Meticulously observed, the works show her face in many guises and locations: under dramatic lighting, highly costumed, inside a studio, within landscapes, places of fiery devastation, and amidst phantasmagoric patterns. Some portraits seem almost entirely abstract with only the barest suggestion of a human face. Her series of paintings portraying other women artists and writers at work in their studios was recently exhibited at Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects. 

In addition to her work in portraiture she is involved in other projects. Her book Night Painting was recently published in its second edition by MAB Books. This book features her nocturnal landscape paintings as well as essays, poems and prose poems by Dr. Carol Becker, Brice Brown, Jane Coffey, Jane Kenyon and Mark Strand. Currently she is working with The Leroy Nieman Center for Print Studies on a series of woodcut illustrations for Apostolos Athenassakis’ English translation of The Homeric Hymn to Demeter.

Coffey’s work is included in the collections of The Art institute of Chicago, The National Portrait Gallery, National Academy of Design, The Hood Museum, The Honolulu Museum of Art, Minneapolis Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, and others. This year she was one of the recipients of the “Artist x Artist Award” given by the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Other awards include the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts Award, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. Her many one-person exhibitions have been written about in The New York Times, Art in America, Art News, the New Yorker, Hyperallergic, and other publications. Several books and monographs have included, or featured, her work. She received honorary degrees from the Pennsylvania College of the Arts and the Lyme Academy of Art. 

This coming fall her work will be exhibited at the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. Ms. Coffey is represented In New York by Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects.

 

Scott Barry Kaufman- Wednesday, October 13, 2021: Post-Pandemic Growth—“CUSP Inaugural Lecture"

Scott Barry Kaufman
Cognitive Scientist and Humanistic Psychologist
Founder and Director of the Center for the Science of Human Potential

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Can we grow from traumatic events? If so, how can such growth be fostered and cultivated? In this talk, I will present the latest science of post-traumatic growth and help people find meaning and process the events of the past year. Humans have a great capacity for resilience. I will help people tap into it using the tools of gratitude, exploration, purpose, and other areas of positive and humanistic psychology.

Biography

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is a cognitive scientist and humanistic psychologist exploring the mind, creativity, and the depths of human potential. He is founder and director of the Center for the Science of Human Potential and is an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Wellbeing Science. He is author/editor of 9 books, including Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, and is host of the #1 psychology podcast in the world— The Psychology Podcast— which has received over 17 million downloads. Dr. Kaufman received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University and has taught courses on intelligence, cognitive science, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, Yale, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. In 2015, he was named one of “50 groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world” by Business Insider. 

 

Patricia Cruz — Tuesday, February 9, 2021: A Change Is Gonna Come...Or Is It?

Patricia Cruz
CEO and Artistic Director
Harlem Stage

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Patricia Cruz will discuss how the roles and responsibilities of individuals, and groups of individuals, united by shared values can effect lasting change. Octavia Butler has said “the only lasting truth is change.” She hopes to be able to touch on the impact that art has in inspiring and reflecting change or transformation. 

Biography

Patricia Cruz began her term as Executive Director of Harlem Stage in 1998. Ms. Cruz is a member of the Board of Directors and is responsible for overseeing Board Development, long-range planning, fundraising, and program development. The highlight of her tenure has been the $26 million renovation of the Gatehouse for use as Harlem Stage’s new home. Cruz serves on The CalArts Board of Overseers.

Cruz has also served on the Tony Nominating Committee and the Board of Urban Assembly. She is also past President of The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), an organization that supports and nurtures the work of artists and arts organizations throughout the state, and ArtTable, a national organization of women in the arts.

Indrani Das — Wednesday, February 17, 2021: On a Slippery Slope: The Science and Story of the Potential Instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Indrani Das, PhD
Lamont Associate Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest ice sheet on this planet. It is beautiful, surrounded by the Southern Ocean, with icebergs and sea ice moving with the waves, the winds, and the tides near its coast.

Unprecedented climate change related ocean warming is causing the ice sheet to lose mass rapidly in the recent decades. The western part of Antarctica is one of the most vulnerable section of the ice sheet. Large portions of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are deemed susceptible to rapid disintegration, partly because of the warmer Amundsen Sea melting the ice shelves and grounding line from underneath, and partly because it is situated on backward-facing bedrock slope that renders it inherently unstable, defined as the marine ice sheet instability.

In this session, Indrani Das will talk about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, discuss its present state of vulnerability and climate change. She will also share field pictures and stories of Antarctica, her life, science and art in this extreme environment that she is trying to understand to predict how it may change.

Biography

Indrani Das has a Glaciology and Atmospheric Sciences background with expertise in satellite and airborne remote sensing. The main area of her research includes mass balance of ice sheets and ice shelves. She studies physical processes that impact the mass balance and stability of ice sheets and ice shelves, ice-atmosphere and ice-ocean interactions using a combination of satellite remote sensing, airborne radar and laser altimeter, ground based measurements, and modeling.

Indrani earned her Ph.D in Atmospheric Physics from Indian Space Research Organization in 2007 where she worked on radiative transfer algorithms to retrieve marine aerosols from satellite data. After briefly working on estimating snow depth in the Himalayas, in 2007 she came as a postdoc to University of Alaska Fairbanks to work on mass balance of Alaskan glaciers using airborne laser altimetry.

In 2010, Indrani came to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to work on surface processes impacting surface mass balance of Antarctica. She is now an Associate Research Professor and her work has evolved to include both surface and basal processes of ice sheets and ice shelves. She also works on paleo observations of accumulation rates and climate history of Greenland ice sheet.

Her active projects include the NERC-NSF-funded ITGC project PROPHET for which she is the institutional PI. Indrani uses airborne radar to study ocean water intrusion in the grounding line of Thwaites. She compares observed bed slippery conditions with ice sheet modeled drag and friction.

Indrani serves as a committee member on the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). She is also a council member of the International Glaciological Society (IGS) and on the Organizing Committee of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Meeting.

Norrell Edwards — Tuesday, March 16, 2021: Translating Your Research Outside the Academy — “Research and Industry In Action (RIIA)/Cool Jobs”

Norrell Edwards
Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow
Texas Christian University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

In December 2019, Norrell Edwards completed her doctorate in English literature from the University of Maryland, College Park with a specialization in 20th and 21st century Black Diaspora Literature. Dr. Edwards will share her experience weaving together her research interests with working outside of academia. Both her employment experience and research interests place her work at the nexus of global Black identity, cultural memory, and social justice. She has worked with several criminal justice and education-focused non-profit organizations including: The Drug Policy Alliance, Advancing Real Change, John Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and TandemEd.

Biography

Dr. Norrell Edwards recently joined Texas Christian University as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow from her position at Georgetown University where she served as Assistant Director of Education of the Prison and Justice Initiative. Norrell also currently serves as the volunteer director of communications for the Next Step Forward Initiative, a New York-based grassroots organization focused on making progress to eradicate systemic racism. To learn more about Norrell’s work and scholarship, follow her on Twitter @Norrellexplains or stop by her website, www.Norrelledwards.com.

Irwin Redlener — Tuesday, March 30, 2021: Getting to Here: From Lee County to COVID-19

Irwin Redlener
Pediatrician
Public Health Activist

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Sometimes career paths are linear, heading in a single direction and sticking to the well-worn path. “I want to be a surgeon, or an electrical engineer. That means college in a certain set of acceptable majors, grad school and advanced training, and, if all goes as planned - Voila, I've made it!” But other times, life is more of an adventure; serendipity is a driver, paths are indistinct or malleable. This can be wildly gratifying or deeply unsettling, provoking anxiety or worse. “What am I doing? I'm lost!” Dr. Redlener will share what it has been like to have a terrific time pursuing an eclectic path, hardly always perfect, to be sure, but never, ever boring.

Biography

Irwin Redlener, M.D. is a pediatrician and founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and director of the Center’s Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative.

Since 2019, Dr. Redlener has been serving as an on-air public health analyst for NBC & MSNBC.

Dr. Redlener is also President Emeritus and Co-Founder of the Children’s Health Fund, a philanthropic initiative that he created in 1987 with singer/song-writer Paul Simon and Karen Redlener to develop child health care programs in 25 of the nation’s most medically underserved urban and rural communities.

He currently serves as a special advisor on emergency preparedness to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and regularly communicates with leadership in U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, as well as Homeland Security. He was an advisor to then Vice President Joe Biden, and, in 2015, served as an advisor to the federal czar on the Ebola outbreak. In 2019 Dr. Redlener worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in repeated efforts to stop inhumane treatment of immigrant families and children on the SW U.S. border.

Over his career, Dr. Redlener has created or expanded programs to treat victims of child abuse and neglect and was the principal designer and lead in the development of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), the first institution of its kind in the Bronx, one the most indigent urban zip codes in the U.S. Early in his career, Dr. Redlener’s positions included medical director of a community health center in an impoverished rural county in Arkansas and directing a new pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

As an advocate on issues pertaining to the health and well-being of children living with multiple adversities from extreme poverty to domestic violence and homelessness, Dr. Redlener has long-standing relationships with Members of Congress and, from time to time, high ranking Administration officials. He has advised every Democratic presidential campaign since 1988.

Dr. Redlener has authored and co-authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals on issues related to access to care for children and disaster-related topics. He a regular resource to journalists on these and related issues and has contributed opinion pieces to the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Hill, CNN.com, The New York Times and other media. He is the author of The Future of Us, What the Dreams of Children Mean for Twenty-First-Century America (Columbia University Press) which was released on September 19, 2017 (updated and re-released in 2020). He also authored Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now (Knopf).

Dr. Redlener completed his undergraduate degree at Hofstra University and received his M.D. at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. Specialty training was received at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the University of Colorado Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He holds honorary degrees from Hofstra University and Hunter College of the City University of New York.

 

Kyle T. Mandli-Tuesday, October 26, 2021—Coastal Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Kyle T. Mandli 
Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Coastal communities from small islands in the Pacific to New York City are all threatened by climate change. The changing risk to these communities is a central question that needs to be assessed in order to address how to best make each diverse community more resilient to the threat of climate change. This discussion will focus on some of the computational tools that mathematicians, scientists and engineers across the spectrum of disciplines, from anthropology to civil engineering, and how these disciplines are contributing to a solution that can hopefully span the diversity of communities that are under threat.

Biography

Kyle T. Mandli is Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics in the department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and affiliated with the Columbia Data Science Institute. Before Columbia he was at the University of Texas at Austin where he was a Research Associate at the Institute for Computational and Engineering Sciences working in the computational hydraulics group. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 2011 from the University of Washington studying multi-layered flow as it applies to storm-surge simulation. His research interests involve the computational and analytical aspects of geophysical shallow mass flows such as storm-surge, tsunamis, and other coastal flooding. This also includes the development of advanced computational approaches, such as adaptive mesh refinement, leveraging novel computational technologies, such as accelerators, and the application of good software development practices as applied more generally to scientific and engineering software.

 

Gareth Williams - Thursday, August 26, 2021: On the Rebound: Resilience, Bouncing Back, and Encore in the Core — “CUSP/ASP Annual NSOP Lecture”

Gareth Williams
Anthon Professor of Latin Language and Literature
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Classics, Columbia University

10:00 a.m - noon EST
Online

Just what is resilience? How do we begin to define such a wide-ranging term? Has that quality been differently perceived over the ages within a given culture or across diverse cultures? Is resilience always a good thing? This talk will consider various forms and illustrations of resilience in different cultural settings from the past, with reference to many of the texts that figure in the Columbia Core. A major aim will be to complicate our view of what resilience is and can be in the different settings that we shall consider.

Biography

Gareth Williams has taught at Columbia since 1992. He received a Ph.D. in 1990 from Cambridge University for a dissertation on Ovid’s exilic writings that subsequently resulted in two books: the first, Banished Voices: Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (Cambridge, 1994), and the second, The Curse of Exile: A Study of Ovid’s Ibis, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 19 (Cambridge, 1996). Two distinct research phases followed, the first of which focused on the Latin ethical writings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Two monographs resulted, the first an edition with commentary of L. Annaeus Seneca: Selected Moral Dialogues. De OtioDe Brevitate Vitae (Cambridge, 2003); the second, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca’s Natural Questions (Oxford, 2012), was awarded the Goodwin Award of Merit by the Society for Classical Studies in 2014. Most recently, among various other projects and edited volumes in the area of Roman philosophy, his research has focused on the socio-literary culture of Renaissance Venice, an interest that recently resulted in the publication of Pietro Bembo on Etna: The Ascent of a Venetian Humanist (Oxford, 2017).

 
 
In a new book project with my collaborator  Tony Eagen called The Transcendent Triangle, we are endevouring to grasp the triple foundations of understanding. We argue that all phenomena can be, and should be, viewed in terms of their truth claims, their appeal to beauty and emotion, and their social implications. And this holds for the concept of emergence on which I shall shall focus. I shall review the evidence bearing on emergence and how new phenomena arise through collective dynamical patterns. How these patterns give rise to challenging social and ethical questions in the domain of society. And end by considering the meaning of beauty in the unpredictable domain of emergent order. 

Ethel Sheffer - Monday, November 14, 2022 - Why Does New York City Look the Way it Does?

Ethel Sheffer
Urban Planner
NYC Public Design Commission
Adjunct Professor Emerita
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Online

Presentation Description

This presentation will provide a rapid survey and analysis of New York City’s land use development, its density, its skyscrapers, and its varied neighborhoods from the early 20th century to the present day. New York City was the fastest growing business and population center in the country in the early 20 th century, but in response to unregulated development, to growing concerns among various interests about the disruptive side of that development, New York City did create the first comprehensive zoning legislation in 1916. We will track and analyze that “tool” of planning and development, through the era of New York’s famous skyscrapers of the twenties and later, on to the changing population patterns due to the growing influence of the automobile and to the changing patterns of work and suburbanization , which resulted in the very great changes contained in the 1961 Zoning regulations. We will also reference the very recent New York and world wide-growth of the supertall building, as we examine the “emerging” 21st century city of New York.

Biography

Ethel Sheffer, FAICP, is an urban planner, civic and community leader and educator. She has served as an Adjunct Professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation for more than 15 years. She has an extensive knowledge of New York City’s neighborhoods, has been a community leader in several noteworthy battles and developments, has served as the President of the New York Chapter of the American Planning Association, and is a member of the NYC Public Design Commission.

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