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Northwestern University

Past Events 2016-2017

2016-2017 Lectures

Faculty Department or Field Title of Talk

Mark Sheldon


End of Life Issues and Phycisian Assisted Death

 A brief survey of choices currently available at the end of life, along with an argument that physician assisted death ought to be included as one of those choices. 

Aldon Morris


W.E.B. Du Bois at the Center: From Science, Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter


Milan Mrksich


What is the Role for Universities in the Technology Economy?

Basic research is the driver for the development and commercialization of new technologies. Industry has traditionally made significant investments in basic research and development, yet economic pressures and an evolving corporate model have led to the demise of R&D budgets. Universities have in turn played a larger role in generating the basic research that drives the technology economy, and they have developed an infrastructure to facilitate translation of knowledge and methods from the university to companies. How does this translation work, and how has it changed the mission and culture of academic scholarship?


Shalini Shankar


From Spellbound to Spellebrity: Brain Sports, Spelling Careers, and the Competitive Lives of Generation Z

Focusing on the school-age competition of spelling bees in America, this talk will examine how members of Generation Z, the "Selfie Generation" (b. 2001-present), manage their childhoods.  It will discuss the most prestigious "brain sport" in which children today compete-The National Spelling Bee-with an eye toward how new definitions and characteristics of childhood may broadly impact American society. The talk will especially investigate the role that post-1965 professional immigrants from South Asia have played in heightening the level of this competition, as well as the role that broadcast and social media play in complicating these trends.


Ravi Allada


Why Do We Sleep?

Eli Finkel


The All or Nothing Marriage

Historical shifts in the institution of marriage in America have produced two major consequences. First, the quality of average marriages has weakened over time. Second, the quality of the best marriages has strengthened over time. In tandem, these two consequences have pushed marriage toward an all-or-nothing state.

Ursula Porod


What are the Chances? (Probability in Everyday Life...)

From opinion polls to reports on drug studies to stock market predictions - uncertainty surrounds us in our daily lives. Probability theory quantifies uncertainties and allows us to compute the odds for seemingly unpredictable situations. In this talk we will explore a number of areas where probability impacts our everyday lives.  We will also discuss some of the basic ideas that underly the theory. 

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