Cambridge Forum Program Schedule Fall 2011 - How We Live Today
How do we live today in America? What are our American Dreams? How do our lives reflect our values? Ten years after the shock of 9/11 and two years after the end of the Great Recession, life in the United States can seem very unstable. Distant wars are expensive–in dollars and lives; Americans are beginning to ask how this outlay makes them more secure. Although the economic downturn has officially ended, unemployment rates remain high, and spending by businesses and consumers is weak. Education is widely seen as fundamental to the nation’s future success, but are schools and colleges preparing our children for that future? Our representative government appears gridlocked, divided by a basic disagreement about the appropriate role of government in the nation’s life; is this the civic dialogue our democracy requires?.
These are the questions that Cambridge Forum will be discussing as we begin our 45th season of public programs in Harvard Square. Hear from the experts–political scientists, economists, educators, psychologists, scientists–about the realities of life in the United States today. Share your own experiences. And talk about potential solutions to the challenges we all face. These discussions are the first step in ensuring that our values are represented in our civic and private lives, and everyone can participate.
All programs are Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm in Helverson Parlor unless otherwise noted
Thursday, September 8 in the First Parish Meetinghouse
One Great Crisis: How the World Economy Fell Apart and Why the Economists Didn’t Have A Clue
James K. Galbraith examines current economic debates about austerity, government spending, tax policy, and job creation. How much is our understanding–on Main Street and on Wall Street, in Washington and at America’s kitchen tables–about the economy driven by economic theory? By political ideology? What impact do these abstract ideas have on individual well-being? On the well-being of our society?
The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism
Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol discusses the Tea Party. What are the sources of this group’s influence? How is it like other recent attempts to create a third party in our de facto bipartisan system? How is it different? What impact has it has on current policy debates? On the 2012 election cycle?
September 21 in the First Parish Meetinghouse
Bullies and Cyber-bullies: Impacts on Victims, Victimizers, and Communities
A panel featuring psychologist Elizabeth Englander, neuroscientist Tracy Vaillancourt, and storyteller Odds Bodkin examine the phenomenon of bullying. Bullies have been around since Hercules; how are they different today? What can we learn from the accumulated wisdom of our culture and from the modern discoveries of neuroscience about the impact of bullying on both victims and victimizers? How can we change this destructive behavior?
Tuesday, October 4 at 8:00 pm in the First Parish Meetinghouse
Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home
Law professor Anita Hill reflects on her own experience as an African American woman in the late 20th century. How successful have the movements for racial and gender equality been in eliminating barriers to opportunity? Have the victories been robust or fragile? What challenges does she see ahead?
America the Vulnerable: Digital Espionage, Crime and Warfare
Former National Security Agency insider Joel Brennerexplores the chilling future of espionage and warfare in our era of cyber-connectedness. Looking beyond the well-known cases of identity theft and Wikileaks, Brenner discusses how the Pentagon recently decided to treat some instances of cyber-attack as acts of war. How can the laws and protocols that govern "real" world crime, war and espionage be applied to acts that take place in the digital matrix? What kinds of societal and international agreements are possible to regulate this new world "disorder?"
Thursday, October 27 in the First Parish Meetinghouse
Bob Dylan in America
Princeton historian and cultural commentator Sean Wilentz explores the place that legendary artist Bob Dylan holds in America. How is he the product of a particular time and place? What are the roots of his continuing influence?
The Four Voyages of Columbus
Author Larry Bergreen retraces the voyages of Christopher Columbus, placing the 15th century explorer into the context of the Age of Discovery and examining the reasons behind his importance in U.S. history. How significant was his achievement in sailing west to find the East Indies? How did he come to be known as the discoverer of America when he never reached the continental mainland?
Co-sponsored by David Leveille
Michael Neilsen, a pioneer of quantum computing, discusses the need to change the way scientific research is conducted and the way data is handled in the modern scientific era. How i technology revolutionizing the way scientific problems are solved? How can a system traditionally based on individual discovery adapt to support collaboration and teamwork?
Ron Burns Memorial Forum on Science and Technology
Co-sponsored by Harvard Book Store
December 7 in the First Parish Meetinghouse
Imagination and Storytelling
Author Gregory Maguire has re-imagined the stories of Oz, beginning with the best-selling Wicked,which took the viewpoint of one of the "wicked witches." His recently published Out of Oz, the fourth volume of the series, provides the occasion for the storyteller to reflect on his art. What is the relationship between the "original story" and his retelling of it? What are the satisfactions of re-imagining a beloved tale? What are some of the pitfalls?