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CUSP Distinguished Speaker Series 2015-16


Each year, the CUSP Speaker Series is united by a common thread that is the foundation of our year-long inquiry. This year we will explore the theme of "Metamorphosis."

Transformation has gripped the attention and imagination of humans for centuries. Change is integral in our perception of our own personal life narrative, our scientific understanding of the universe, artistic expression, storytelling, and religious belief. It can appear mundane, profound or mysterious, involving a literal or metaphorical transformation from one category of being into another.


From insect life histories to geomorphology to the evolution of galaxies and formation of black holes, the universe we live in offers dramatic metamorphoses across spatial and temporal scales. The application of scientific knowledge to engineering, medicine, psychology, and artificial intelligence has led to metamorphic changes to people’s lives and how we view the human condition. While often occurring in seemingly magical form in the natural world, in art and literature metamorphoses can blur the line between fantastical and ordinary, possible and impossible. In a social context, transformation underlies contemporary issues such as those facing transgender individuals or service men and women integrating back into peaceful society following active service.

This year’s Speaker Series will consider metamorphosis within these contexts and beyond.

 Past Talks

  • Jim ValentiniBeginner's Mind
    Tuesday, April 19, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; 3rd Floor Journalism
  • Nim Tottenham, Constructing the Human Brain
    Thursday, April 14, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Rennert Hall
  • John McWhorterWords on the Move
    Thursday, April 7, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • J. Turner VossellerMetamorphosis in Medicine: How’d We Get From Here to There
    Wednesday, March 23, 2016; 6:00-8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium

  • Ben Fried, "Alumni Journeys" CIO of Google
    Tuesday, March 22, 2016; 6:00-8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • Caroline Leland, “Cool Jobs” The Tree Ring Time Machine: Understanding Past Climate Through Dendrochronology
    Tuesday, March 1, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; 401 Alfred Lerner Hall
  • Elazar BarkanWhen Peace and Justice Collide
    Thursday, February 25, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium

  • Teodolinda BaroliniShape-changing in Dante's Divine Comedy, Sexual and Otherwise
    Wednesday, February 17, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • Kartik ChandranEngineered Resource Recovery for Sustainable Urban Development
    Wednesday, February 10, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • Erica AvramiChanging Landscapes: Heritage in a Sustainable Built Environment
    Thursday, February 4, 2016; 6:00-8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • Jennifer BoylanSAME MONKEYS, DIFFERENT BARREL: Transgender Identity & Narrative
    Wednesday, January 27, 2016; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • Gareth WilliamsWhy Read Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the 22nd Century?
    Wednesday, December 2, 2015; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; 3rd Floor Lecture Hall, Journalism School
  • Doug Lawrence & Viki RaddenEarth 2020: Climate Change, the Economy, Your Food, and You
    Monday, November 16, 2015; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; 3rd Floor Lecture Hall, Journalism School
  • Kristy Biolsi, “Cool Jobs” New York City and its Changing Waterways: Seals in Our Harbors
    Monday, November 9, 2015; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; 401 Lerner Hall
  • James Danoff-BurgInspiring Nature: How a Beetle Can Help Alleviate Water Shortages and Other Tales
    Wednesday, October 28, 2015; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Davis Auditorium
  • Neal Broffman"Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi", Exclusive U.S. College Premiere Screening & Discussion
    Wednesday, October 7, 2015; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; 3rd Floor Lecture Hall, Journalism School
  • Eric Sanderson, The Mannahatta Project: A Natural History of New York City
    Thursday, September 24, 2015; 6:00–8:00 p.m.; Rennert Hall, The Kraft Center
  • Robert O’MeallyHunting Is Not Those Heads on the Wall: Expedition Into the Core
    Monday, August 31, 2015; 12:00-2:00 p.m.; 3rd Floor Lecture Hall, Journalism School

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