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Past Events at CDHS 2011

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


Curran Street “LGBT Issues- the Pride Center” December, 2011

Our December speaker was Curran Streett, Program Director for the Pride Center of the Capital Region. Founded in 1970, it was originally called the Capital District Gay Community Center. With three paid staff and relying mainly on volunteers, the Center offers meeting and activity space to the LGBT community (estimated to be between 4 and 10% of the total population) in a 9-county region. LGBT” stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender.



Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne: “New York Remembers . . . Or Does It?” November, 2011

Dearstyne casts himself as an advocate for New York History – making him something of a rara avis. But he holds that history is not dry and dull, but really full of more entertaining stories than in fiction. Further, he says, the way we think about our past shapes our progress into the future.



Marc Adams: “From Fundamentalism to Freedom” October, 2011

Marc Adams is – let’s see – a direct descendant of John Adams; child of a fundamentalist Christian minister; a former student at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University; gay; an ordained Humanist minister; author of 9 books; and founder of HeartStrong, which provides help for LGBT students in religious schools. Adams explained that already in kindergarten he felt “different,” and by age 7 realized that while teachers were pushing the boy-girl thing, he was instead attracted to male classmates.



Dr. Steven Leibo: "Ten Years After- The Middle East after 9/11"

Sept 2011

Dr. Steven A. Leibo is a Professor at the Sage Colleges and SUNY and frequent commentator on Northeast Public Radio. He previously addressed us on climate change. Leibo’s September 11 talk was titled “Ten Years Later.”

His focus was on the Middle East, covering both the historical background and the current situation. Leibo identified several distinct stages, starting with the postwar “secular nationalist movements” exemplified by Egypt’s Nasser.



Colin Donnaruma: The Continuing Struggle to Defend Civil Rights: the NYCLU's Priorities for 2011-2012. Aug 2011

Donnaruma began by noting that with the election of Barack Obama we had "overly high expectations". Here in NYS, however, same-sex marriage equality passed fast this year. NYS is now the sixth and the third-most-populous state in the U.S. to do so. Many more – 44 – are yet to follow suit. We have Marriage Equality in NY but not at the Federal Government level.



Matt Cherry: The Right to Blaspheme -- Why an atheist defends religious freedom at the UN. July, 2011

Matt Cherry, formerly with the Institute for Humanist studies, is currently the UN representative for the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a global federation of humanist and atheist groups. His talk was entitled, “Why an atheist defends religious freedom at the UN – the right to blaspheme.”



Christopher Chabris: The Invisible Gorilla. June, 2011

Our June speaker, Christopher Chabris, is the co-author with Daniel Simons, of The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us.
The book (and his talk) discusses what he calls “everyday illusions” – intuitive commonsense beliefs about how our minds work, that often tend to be systematically wrong, hard to overcome, and can get us into big trouble if we’re not aware of them.



Dr. Lawrence Wittner: The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons Today.

May, 2011

Dr. Lawrence Wittner has written extensively on the history of peace movements. His most recent book is titled Confronting the Bomb.
His theme was the danger of nuclear weapons, and complacency about it. There are 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world. If the U.S. attacked Russia with 300 nukes, the earth would be left a smoldering ruin...



Scott Christianson: “ the freeing of Charles Nalle.” April, 2011

Charles Nalle was a slave owned by Blucher Hansborough of Culpeper, Virginia (actually, he was also Hansborough’s half brother.). Charles was married to Kitty – itself a privileged situation for a slave – but she was on a nearby plantation – it was common to keep slave families from living together. When Kitty’s owner died, his will freed her; but Virginia law required freed slaves to leave the state. Kitty went to Washington, DC, still slave territory, in order to remain near Charles. Then, in October 1858, aided by a local white agent of the Underground Railroad, Charles managed to escape north.



Dr. Ruth Ann Smalley: Carvings on Albany's Buildings. March, 2011

He began with the premise that people are unequal, some having more access to power and decision-making, and the ability to make – and interpret – history. Due to shifting sands in these regards, an historical event’s meaning is always unstable. Kuritz further held that history always has its “silences” – things not talked about.



Dr. Taury Smith: “Global Warming Isn’t Going Away.” February, 2011

Dr. Smith saw the global warming debate turning into more of a political issue than a scientific one; a “manufactured controversy” in which deniers base their positions on what they’d like to be true, and are impervious to facts. Thus he observed that even as data comes in confirming that global temperatures are rising, public belief in this is falling. Dr. Smith noted the obvious parallels to the evolution “debate.”



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[Past Events 2003]

[Past Events 2002]

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