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Past Events at CDHS 2019

This page lists recent lectures and events. It includes a brief description plus a link to a complete summary.

Prior years' links are at the bottom of this page.


Dr. Valerie Rapson:

The Search for Exoplanets
August, 2019

Dr. Valerie Rapson is Chief Astronomer at the Dudley Observatory in Schenectady. Her talk was about the search for exoplanets — that is, planets outside our own solar system. They are hard to find because they are very distant, much smaller than stars, and don't shine with their own light. It's only in recent decades that we've developed tools for finding them. The ultimate impetus is to learn whether we are alone.


Rosemary Armao:

Mission Impossible:
Political Reporting in the Age of Trump.

July, 2019

Rosemary Armao has had a long career in investigative journalism and teaching, has recently worked on a reporting project in the Middle East, and is a frequent radio commentator. Her presentation was titled, "Mission Impossible: Political Reporting in the Age of Trump." She started by saying she wanted to make this a discussion rather than a lecture, and there was indeed a lively back-and-forth throughout.


Don Porterfield:

Ethical Questions of the 21st Century
June, 2019

Don Porterfield is CDHS's co-executive director. He recapped programs at the 2019 Humanist International Conference held in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 31 to June 2. (The organization changed its name from the International Humanist and Ethical Union).

The general theme was: what are the ethical questions of the 21st Century? This was divided into four subject areas — the environment, refugees, economic justice, and democracy.


Mandisa L. Thomas:

"Never an Anomaly: A look at religious criticism in black comedy and literature."
May, 2019

Mandisa L. Thomas, of Atlanta, Georgia (formerly from Queens) is the founder and president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. Her talk was titled, "Never an Anomaly: A look at religious criticism in black comedy and literature." [Note, "black comedy" is an ethnic descriptor, not a reference to dark subject matter.] Religion and churchgoing have long played a larger role in American black culture than for white society.


Prof. Javier Corrales:

Venezuela's Tragedy: Lessons For America
April, 2019

Javier Corrales is the Dwight Morrow professor of political science at Amherst. His talk about the situation in Venezuela was divided into three parts: what he called "democratic backsliding;" economic collapse; and lessons for America. Corrales explained that the democratic backsliding preceded and led to the economic disaster. And he saw reasons for concern that the story could repeat even in well-established democracies like ours.


Prof. Hans-Friedrich Mueller:

"The Darkening Age -- the Christian Destruction of the Classical World"
March, 2019

Hans-Friedrich Mueller is Professor of Ancient and Modern Languages at Union College. His talk was based on a book by Catherine Nixey titled The Darkening Age -- the Christian Destruction of the Classical World.

Nixey was brought up in a religious environment, and got the traditional "sunday school" story of Christian monks preserving, through the Dark Ages, the writings of the ancient world. She was shocked to find out that in fact such preservation was almost accidental and was overwhelmed by a much bigger tale of destruction and suppression. Her aim in writing was to present this other "untold" side of the story.


Jonathan Starr:

"Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland"
February, 2018

Jonathan Starr spoke about the Abaarso School of Science and Technology he founded in Somaliland in 2009. Somaliland, officially part of Somalia (the textbook "failed state”), declared independence in 1991, though it isn't internationally recognized. Abaarso was conceived as a high school aiming for graduates who would go on to leading world universities, and then return to build their country.


The Hon. Frank Robinson:

"Consciousness, Self, and Free Will"
January, 2019

CDHS' January meeting featured a presentation by Frank Robinson, which was titled Consciousness, Self, and Free Will.  Mr. Robinson is a member of CDHS, a former Administrative Law Judge for the State of New York, and author of numerous books.  The presentation was partly based on Daniel Dennett’s recent book Freedom Evolves as well Mr. Robinson’s other readings on the topic of Consciousness, Self, and Free Will.  Mr. Robinson contends that although the question of whether we have free will has vexed philosophers for ages, we do indeed have free will.


[Past Events 2017, 2018]

[Past Events 2016]

[Past Events 2015]

[Past Events 2014]

[Past Events 2013]

[Past Events 2012]

[Past Events 2011]

[Past Events 2010]

[Past Events 2009]

[Past Events 2008]

[Past Events 2007]

[Past Events 2006]

[Past Events 2005]

[Past Events 2004]

[Past Events 2003]

[Past Events 2002]

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