September 13, 2011

Presenting Mount Allison's Year of Science and Discovery President's Speakers Series

Every year, Mount Allison decides on a theme for its speaker's series. This year's speakers are among the most renowned scholars in their fields. This year's list is below along with a link to the Mount Allison organized Facebook events.

I think many of the speakers will inspire lively debate on campus, especially Susan Greenfield.

Baroness Susan Greenfield
Title: Mind Change: The New Climate Change?
Profile: Professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, neuroscientist, broadcaster, and author of the best sellers The Private Life of the Brain and ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century
Event: Monday, September 26, 7 p.m. Convocation Hall
Supported by the Wilford B. Jonah Lecture Fund

Greenfield is a highly respected Neuroscientist especially in the field of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's treatment and is often described as the "foremost female scientist in Britain". She has made some very controversial statements including the implication that social networking sites are harmful to children's mental development. Below is Greenfield in her own words on video and highlights from an article she wrote two years ago in the Daily Mail.

"Facebook does not require the subtleties of social skill we need in the real world. Not only will this impair individuals' ability to communicate  -  and build relationships  -  it could completely change how conversation happens."

"I find it incredibly sad that people choose to spend their time and money sitting alone playing games with no consequence and no meaning.

But beyond any frustration I feel is concern about the future our screen culture might create. One extreme situation could be a rise in psychiatric problems and fewer babies born because people can't form three-dimensional relationships. 

By the middle of this century, our minds might have become infantilised  -  characterised by short attention spans, an inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity."
I'm absolutely going because I'd like to hear her explanation of these statements and what evidence led her to these conclusions. I highly encourage you to do the same.

Here are the other speakers this year:

Dr. David Schindler
Title: Protecting the Athabasca River Ecosystem from the Oil Sands Industry
Profile: International expert on climate change effects, water, and public policy and Killam Memorial Chair and ecology professor, University of Alberta
Event: Wednesday, October 12, 7 p.m. Crabtree Auditorium
Supported by the Centre for Canadian Studies and the annual Edgar and Dorothy Davidson Lecture in Canadian Studies

Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Title: Reflections on a Life in Science
Profile: Instrumental in the Nobel Prize-winning research on the discovery of pulsars, Prof. Bell Burnell, DBE, is a visiting professor in astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College and the Royal Society.
Event: Monday, January 23, 7 p.m. Brunton Auditorium
Supported by the Josiah Wood Lecture Fund

Dr. John Mighton, OC
Title: The Open Mind: Preparing for a Future in which Everyone is Brilliant
Profile: Playwright, mathematician, educator, and founder of JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies)
Event: Friday, February 10, 7 p.m., Crabtree Auditorium
Supported by CultureWorks and the Centre for Canadian Studies

Vanessa Woods
Title: The Bonobo Handshake: What We Can Learn from Our Peaceful Cousins in the Congo
Profile: Journalist, research scientist and evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University and Lola ya Bonobo in the Congo
Event: Monday, March 12, 7 p.m. Crabtree Auditorium
Supported by Leadership Mount Allison and the Marjorie Young Bell Speakers’ Fund