Previous Programs from the 2017-2018 Academic Year

Previous Programs from 2017-2018

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Luncheon, The Standard Club
Selwyn Rogers, MD
Founding Director of the University of Chicago Medicine Trauma Center
Addressing Violence through a Public Health Lens

The University of Chicago made headlines by announcing the establishment of a new level 1 adult trauma center-the only such center currently planned for the South Side of Chicago. Society recognizes trauma as physical injury, but over the past 30 years, the medical profession in the U.S. and accross the globe has recognized and studied violence not merely as incidental but as disease.

But beyond the physical manifestation and implications of violence, mental trauma from exposure to violence has been scientifically shown to increase a person's risk of adopting violent behavior themselves, meaning that violent behavior transmits and spreads based on exposure, just like an epidemic disease.

Join Dr. Selwyn Rogers as he discusses the ways in which violence acts as an epidemic disease in society - and as such can be treated and perhaps even cured.

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Dinner, The Casino Club
Charlie Catlett, Director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data
Kathleen Cagney, Director of the Population Research Center at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago
Small World, Big Data: The Array of Things Project in Chicago

In late 2016, Chicago became the first city to launch the Array of Things Project, a groundbreaking urban sensing venture that will eventually install 500 nodes on the city’s streets. By measuring data on air quality, climate, traffic, and other urban features, these nodes will support an innovative partnership among the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the City of Chicago to better understand, serve, and improve cities.

Array of Things is designed as a “fitness tracker” for the city, collecting new streams of data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure, and activity. This hyper-local, open data will help researchers, city officials, and software developers address critical urban challenges, such as preventing urban flooding, improving traffic safety, and assessing the impact of climate change.

Join us for a conversation between Array of Things director Charles Catlett and sociologist Kathleen Cagney as they discuss the ways in which this data can help researchers address Chicago’s most critical urban challenge.

Thursday, November 9, 2017
Luncheon, The Univeristy Club
Jacqueline Stewart, Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College
The L.A. Rebellion: Black Cinema and Social Change

Join Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, Professor of Cinema and Media Studies and Director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for the Arts and Inquiry, as she explores the films and legacy of the L.A. Rebellion, a group of fiercely independent Black film and video artists that formed at UCLA in the 1970s and 1980s. The group - including Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, Billy Woodbury, Jamaa Fanaka, Barabar McCullough, Ben Caldwell, and Zeinabu Irene Davis - shared a desire to create alernatives to the mainstream and Blaxploitation modes of cinematic narrative, style, and practice. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017
Cocktail Reception, The Casino Club
George Wu
John P. and Lillian A. Gould Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Get Smart: Smart Decision Making Means Better and Faster

Decision making is hard. This is true whether the choices are personal or professional or involve business, legal, medical, household, or governmental issues. A stream of research, often popularly known as behavioral economics, has been recognized with Nobel Prizes in Economics awarded to Daniel Kahneman at Princeton and the University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler. Although this work has only recently captured public attention, the University has been a pioneer since the establishment of the Center for Decision Research in 1977. Since then, scholars at the Center have conducted groundbreaking research designed to understand why decision making is often flawed and how we can do better.

Join us for a brief presentation from Professor George Wu on the decision biases that lead decisions to take too long and be too risk-averse. Although many of us believe that there is a tradeoff between better or faster, Professor Wu demonstrates that smart decision making means better and faster.

Thursday, January 25, 2018
Annual Dinner, The Four Seasons
Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, and David Axelrod, Director of The Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, in conversation with Goli Sheikholeslami, chief executive officer of Chicago Public Media
Hold the Press! Journalism and Politics in a "Post-Truth" Era

Politicians have long been chided for bending the truth - for taking objective facts and manipulating them in service of a particular message. But in our comtemporary moment, what once was a tacit tenet of political discourse has warped into something else, in which the whole concept of truth has been turned on its head.

Used for political gain, the concept of "fake news" has injected doubt and suspicion into the very bedrock of democracy, the free press, with strident criticism coming not only from members of the public but from elected officials in the highest echelons of American government. Today, in an era when the political landscape has destabilized the notion of truth, we have to ask ourselves: Where do we go from here?

Join political strategist David Axelrod, jounalist Ann Marie Lipinski, and media leader Goli Sheikholeslami for an in-depth discussion of the interplay of politics and the media today.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Luncheon, The University Club
Neil Shubin, Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
Finding Your Inner Fish

Our bodies contain artifacts of 3.5 billion years of the history of life. But how did it happen? Are we experiencing an evolution of human beings today? And what could human beings possibly have in common with flies, worms, or even fish? Join evolutionary biologist Professor Neil Shubin as we explore paleontological fossil sites, discover how DNA has built our bodies over the millenia, and ultimately delve into the deep history of the human body - the universe within ourselves - and learn what it means for our future.

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Luncheon, The University Club
Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, and Professor of Political Science
How to Lose - and Save - Constitutional Democracy

Is the United States at risk of democratic backsliding? And would the Constitution prevent such decay? To some, the 2016 election campaign brought the question to the fore; to others the election represented a populist accountability movement against an unresponsive elite. The fact is that many constitutional democracies around the world are facing new challenges, driven by structural changes to the socio-economic environment and geopolitical shifts. Drawing on a forthcoming co-authored book (with Aziz Huq), Professor Ginsburg draws on comparative law and politics to explore the state of constitutional democracy in the United States. Comparartive experience suggests two modal pathes of democratic decay, identified as collape and erosion. Over the past quarter-century, the risk of democratic collapse around the world has declined, whereas the risk of erosion has spiked. The United States is neither exceptional nor immune from these changes. The book assesses the danger of erosion as very real, even is the risk of outright collapse is slim in the United States. Our constitutional safeguards against erosion are weak, while other systems have better tools, but there are real steps we can take to better insulate our system.

Thursday, May 10, 2018
Dinner, The Casino Club
Laurie Zoloth, Dean of the Divinity School
Must We Always Tell the Truth?: The Ethics of Veracity

The world depends on the concept of a shared language, and a shared determination to describe the world in its sheer actuality. But sharing the world depends on telling the absolute truth. We want to be told the truth in scientific research; in service encounters (medicine, car repair, plumbing); and in politics. For ethicists and policy makers, truth is central to the work, and the entire idea of informed consent in research depends on this structure of veracity. But do we always tell the truth? Ought we always tell the truth? What would it mean if we did? Join ethicist and divinity scholar Laurie Zoloth as we explor the history of debate on veracity in moral philosophy and religious ethics and consider the implications of truth and deception in our public and personal lives.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Luncheon, The Casino Club
Steven Rings, Associate Professor of Music
Bob Dylan's Nobel Blues

What can we make of the decision to award renowned musician Bob Dylan his controversial 2016 Nobel prize - in literature? Over the course of his career, Dylan has metabolized a vast range of musical genres, from folk to rock n' roll, country to gospel, Tin Pan Alley to Western swing. But arguably no genre is more central than the one that marries the literary and the musical in Dylan's oeuvre: the blues. For Dylan, the blues is not just another genre but an assemblage of idioms and performative behaviors. And during this innovative talk, we will see that the blues were as much a lyrical resource for Dylan as a musical one; indeed, its lyrical economy and often inscrutable imagery were as central to Dylan as were Woody Guthrie and Arthur Rimbaud. Join Professor Steven Rings as we delve into the creative practices of a musician who has defied expectations and inspired a generation of artists for the last half century.