Parents College Course Descriptions

Return to the complete event schedule. 

9 a.m.


"Anything I Was Big Enough to Do"


Emilye Crosby, Professor of History

This talk will focus on women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, the organization of young people that grew out of the 1960 sit-in movement. Women were crucial to the organization, sometimes accepting and other times ignoring or defying traditional gender roles, as they helped launch and sustain SNCC and the mass movement of the 1960s. I will highlight a few key women (including Ella Baker and Diane Nash), discuss broad patterns (including when and how women tended to join and influence the organization), and address significant historical debates (including the contentious sexism v. empowerment thread).

Earth's Future:  Predicting the Dynamics of Nature


Gregg Hartvigsen, Professor of Biology

The Earth is changing rapidly and some of these changes are due to human activities. We will learn about how the Earth has changed over long periods of time, examine more recent changes, and use these data to both predict where we're going and learn how scientists make these predictions. Finally, we'll discuss how we might deal with these challenges.

"You Said What":  Exploring Language as Symbolic Action


Meredith Harrigan, Assistant Professor of Communications

Have you ever been misled by the adage "sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you"? Have you ever felt misrepresented by a label? Have your words ever gotten you in trouble? This presentation will focus on the pragmatic function of language and the importance of effective language use to healthy interpersonal relationships. Special attention will be given to linguistic tools such as reference terms, marking, and hyphenation and the role they play in constructing personal and relational identities.

Geology of Alien Worlds:  Constraints on Intelligent Life in the Universe


Richard Young, Distinguished Service Professor of Geological Sciences

Planetary exploration, including visits to moons larger than Mercury, has taught us much about how large rocky and icy bodies evolve geologically. New images of large planets orbiting distant stars have revitalized the debate about life outside our solar system. However, the geologic conditions that have led to the emergence and evolution of intelligent life on earth are complex, unpredictable, and unique. Such evolution requires a relatively hospitable environment for billions of years, yet Earth's history is punctuated by catastrophic events that have periodically redirected our evolutionary pathway. What are the fundamental conditions that have shaped our current environment, and how likely are these conditions to have been matched in planetary systems elsewhere in the universe? For example: Would Earth's evolutionary pathway have been possible without our companion moon? Is the Earth's unusually stable climate of the past 10,000 years a permanent departure from the turbulent fluctuations of the last two million years of ice-age excursions? How many large objects are on dangerous courses that periodically insect the orbit of the Earth?





10 A.m.

Interacting Our Way to Long-Term Health


 Anne Eisenberg, Associate Professor of Sociology

There are a vast number of suggestions for avoiding the onset of dementia or Alzheimers. Sociologists are able to contribute evocative contributions to the study of, and future treatments for, such disorders. Dr. Eisenberg will explain the sociological contributions as well as offer her own relevant suggestions for living a long life.

How Does Political Science Understand the 2012 Presidential Elections


 Jeffrey Koch, Professor and Chair Political Science and International Relations

Political Scientists have been analyzing American Presidential elections since the 1950s, essentially since the advent of survey research. Given what scholars of American elections have learned, I will discuss the most notable features of the 2012 presidential election, as well as characteristics that are important but not unique.

Cancer from a Biologist's Perspective


Robert O'Donnell, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Biology

Get a look at cancer through discussion of the following topics: cancer causation from a historical perspective; cancer statistics for 2012; cancer from a biologist's perspective-what goes wrong; and the important role of research in cancer prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.

The Love Poetry of William Butler Yeats


 Robert Doggett, Associate Professor of English

"Her complexion was luminous, like that of apple-blossom through which the light falls"-thus writes William Butler Yeats of his first encounter with Maud Gonne on January 30, 1889. Tall, bronze-haired, with pale skin and a classical face, she was, in Yeats's words, a "goddess," and from that day until just months before his death in 1939, Yeats composed over eighty poems about her. Dr. Doggett, who has published extensively on Yeats and who frequently lectures at the prestigious Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, Ireland, will offer a short overview of these love poems, now recognized as some of the finest lyrics in the English language.