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Faculty Speakers

Designing an MFA for a Sustainable Future

Carol Padberg, Hartford Art School

What happens when we take the curriculum of nature, which is the most lasting and generative curriculum of all, and create new educational forms? This is a case study of an artist who reconsiders the traditional terminal degree for studio art, the MFA, to make an accredited grad program shaped by nature’s design system. Pragmatic. On point. Curriculum, in deed. This TEDx talk is dedicated to a new educational future.

The Next Wave: Unlocking the Economic Potential of Women-Owned Firms

Susan Coleman, Barney School of Business

Census data estimates that there are almost 9 million women-owned firms in the United States generating roughly $1.4 trillion in revenue. The same statistics reveal, however, that firms own by men outperform those owned by women in number, size, revenues generated, and employment. We all know that women are just as smart, just as creative, and just as hard-working as men, so what will it take to unlock their untapped economic potential?  My talk will provide insights into how a new wave of growth-oriented women entrepreneurs are breaking down barriers and achieving success.   

Building Climate Resiliency

Seth Holmes, CETA

Architects face a growing challenge to not only create energy efficient buildings, but to also design buildings that respond to increasing impacts of a changing climate. Historically, buildings were designed to respond to location specific climate attribute such as heat, cold, humidity, sun, wind, rain, or drought. However, various technological, social, and economic changes have led to the construction of buildings that overly dependent on mechanical systems for comfort and built with non-climate specific design methods. As increased storms, floods, droughts, and heat-waves occur, buildings will need to respond accordingly in order to provide continuous shelter for their occupants. New resilient design methods, many based on lost building and planning practices, are being developed to better prepare buildings for long-term and extreme climate change. Professor Holmes will discuss many of the resilient design efforts in the building industry along with his own research on resilient design metrics.

Why Scientists Make Good Citizens

Laura Pence, College of Arts and Science

All the citizens of a community play important roles in helping that community function, but scientists with their specialized knowledge base and skill set have a particular responsibility to contribute and get involved. Too often, scientists feel that government at the federal, state, or even local level is for someone else to take care of and engage in. We simultaneously complain that laws and regulations are made without fully considering science, while expecting someone else to engage in those discussions. I will make the case why scientists are invaluable to the public policy process, and I will describe one opportunity to maximize those contributions through Congressional Science Policy Fellowships.

Is it time to stop college football?

Mike Wininger, College of Education, Nursing, and Health Professions

A great many college football games result in "blow-out" losses, where the victor vastly outscores their opponent. At the same time, college football games create an environment where the risk for catastrophic injury is high. In medical clinical trials, a study will be stopped if one treatment is identified as measurably superior to another; it is unethical to continue to subject patients to risk when the outcome has been satisfactorily determined. In this spirit, we propose a simple 'stopping rule' for college football games—after each scoring play, the score differential is compared against a pre-defined boundary for likelihood of accurate outcome prediction. If this threshold is breeched, the game is stopped, victory is assigned appropriately, and the players are removed from the field of play. Given the implications for policy and player safety in sport, we ask, "Is it time to stop college football?"

A Theory You've Never Heard of and How it Changed the World

Michael Robinson, Hillyer College

The Hamitic Hypothesis was a 19th century anthropological theory that claimed that humans originated in Asia and then migrated to other regions of the world. The theory was used to explain the discovery of so-called “white races” in Africa in the late 1800s. The Hamitic Hypothesis was not simply a curiosity of anthropological science. It was an idea that changed lives: from those European colonists who relied upon it to justify their presence in Africa, to the scientists who used it to explain away the accomplishments of African civilizations as a result of “white” influence. Ultimately, the Hamitic Hypothesis anchored a global theory of human origins and migration that, when combined with the Aryan race theory, shaped anthropology, colonial policy, and even the attitudes of Africans themselves for a hundred years.


Karen Cook, The Hartt School

What do you teach when you teach music history? How do you fit 1800 years of music history into a single semester? Should a music history class focus on certain seminal works? But what about the music that is not well known—music from female composers, rivals, enemies? What about the bad music? This talk discusses a new project for teaching music history.


Student Selected Speaker: Dr. Joyce Ashuntantang, Hillyer College

Educators like me are always looking for ways to improve student learning in the classroom. After teaching for 19 years in various colleges and universities in the USA, I have come to the conclusion that one of the most effective ways of maximizing students potential in and out of the classroom is to get them enthusiastic about the world around them.  Enthusiasm is key to unlocking students’ abilities and sustaining them.

Student Speakers

Winging It 101: Improvising in a Complex World

Liel Asuline

The world we live in is remarkably complex and as a result, constantly changing. As we begin to understand this, we are faced with an uneasy reality. In the past, we have relied on oversimplified models that provide us with incomplete answers to these immense issues. Moving forward, our ability to improvise will prove to be our most valuaable tool in addressing the variety of issues relating to sustainability. Many of the guidelines of Improv comedy—accepting and advancing ideas, working together with others, and adapting to new situations—work perfectly as guidelines for behavior solving complex problems. In this presentation, I will attempt to demonstrate this connection as well as practically apply the method to contemporary world issues.

Minimalism in Design

Hugo Santana

I am concerned with the thoughtlessness and randomness in today’s design. We are surrounded by design every second of our lives, and in a world where problems include rapid population growth and climate changes, we need to take design more seriously. No aspect of design should be left to be random. To sustain capitalism we are taught to consume and keep consuming. This is why new products are being released every other month and are so dreadfully made so they are cheap, temporary, and disposable. The idea I want to share with you is that, as Dieter Rams said “Good Design is as little design as possible." And to show that improving doesn’t always mean adding more, we will focus on the minimalist aspect, which means to strip the unnecessary so we are left with the essential—designing a more honest, understandable and unobtrusive product.

Who Should Be Singing?

Elizabeth Schorr

American education is changing. With the initial implementation of Common Core students and teachers alike are now presented with the potential for growth and change in classrooms. By providing students with opportunities to make cross-curricular connections, we afford them with a more comprehensive education that not only encourages critical thinking, but teaches students how to be active and empowered citizens. This kind of learning is especially evident in music classrooms, as students are able to move, create, and critically think while being active participants in an enriching learning environment.

Exercise: Harmful or Helpful

Puja Bhardwaj

Many tests are done to diagnose a person with a disease or to prescribe a medicine, but when it comes to recommending exercise from a physician standpoint no thought it usually given. Sometimes the patient maybe left to pick their own form of exercise, and myself, like many others want a quick result and tend to go for the trendy exercises, for instance cross fit. Thousands of people claim to have lost a lot of weight in a little time, and I'm sure this is accurate, but studies have found insane numbers of exercise injuries, up to 70%. Let's say you have lost 30 pounds in one month due to this exercise, but you have injured your knee. Many times people have to seek more medical help and either rest the knee for extended periods of time or in severe cases have to opt for more drastic measures. The person may have been better of doing a simple exercise. Yes, there are places a person can buy such services, but what about people who do not have this extra money? I am here today to inspire you to be proactive, be your own researcher, and to take charge of your health.