Faculty Experts Featured In Free UBThisSummer Lecture Series

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: May 1, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Members of the local community are invited to participate this summer in the University at Buffalo's 2008 UBThisSummer Lecture Series, "Our World Community: Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future," in which UB's internationally renowned faculty will share their expertise on a variety of topics.

The lectures will take place at 4 p.m., on Wednesday afternoons, beginning June 4 and running through Aug. 13 -- with the exception of July 2 -- in 225 Natural Sciences Complex on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. They will be free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

The UBThisSummer Lecture Series is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education.

This year's lineup features a broad range of speakers representing a variety of academic disciplines. Lecture topics range from local concerns, such as the location of UB's North Campus in Amherst and population shifts in Western New York, to broader topics of national and international importance, including investigations into American political campaigns and elections and global climate change and world health.

The schedule for the lecture series:

• June 4: "What's the Matter With American Elections?" Harvey Palmer, associate professor, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences. Palmer will examine democratic ideals about elections by exploring some of the major research into the nature of electoral behavior and the limits of "voter sophistication." Do voters really select the "best candidate"? Why do popular candidates frequently become presidents who polarize the nation?

• June 11: "What Are Campaigns For?" James Gardner, Joseph W. Belluck and Laura L. Aswad Professor of Civil Justice, UB Law School. Gardner will explore the gap between Americans' idealistic expectations for political campaigns -- as a forum for dignified and reasonable debate on serious issues -- versus the actual event's thoughtlessness and superficiality, as well as whether it would be better to view campaigns as merely a mechanism for tabulating the political opinions that voters hold before the debate begins.

• June 18: "Direct Democracy in America," Joshua Dyck, assistant professor, Department of Political Science. Dyck will examine research on ballot initiatives and referendums to evaluate the roles of various direct-democratic institutions in the United States, such as voter-proposed legislation, that have resulted in such actions as laws that define marriage, property tax rollbacks, affirmative action repeals, harsher sex offender registration and monitoring laws, minimum wage increases and classroom size mandates.

• June 25: "My Secret Life on the McJob: Lessons in Leadership," Jerry Newman, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair, Department of Organization and Human Resources, School of Management. Newman will share his experiences going undercover as a bottom-rung worker at some the biggest names in fast food and talk about how the work environments at each restaurant were set by the actions of their respective managers.

• July 9: "The Four Seasons: Perspectives of Midlife and Older Erie County Residents," Debra Street, associate professor, Department of Sociology, CAS. Street will discuss a study conducted by UB's Regional Institute documenting the experiences and opinions of Western New Yorkers aged 50 or older on a number of subjects, including retirement planning; transportation and housing concerns; the important of family, friends and neighbors; the quality of life in Erie County; and other factors related to their decision to remain in -- or leave -- the region in later life.

• July 16: "The Evil Witch: Embodiment of Universal Human Fears," Phillips Stevens, Jr., associate professor, Department of Anthropology, CAS. Stevens will explore images of the witch throughout historical periods and cultures -- from the evil witch of Western folklore to the Harry Potter stories and the Wizard of Oz to modern Wiccans -- tracing the various attributes of witches to universal fears and fantasies rooted in human evolutionary biology.

• July 23: "UB: Why We Are Where We Are, Why We Are the Way We Are," William R. Greiner, president emeritus and professor, UB Law School. Greiner will explore the various urban legends surrounding UB's North Campus, including its linear design, absence of central gathering spaces, the remote location -- and unusual architecture -- of the Ellicott Complex and the controversial decision to build the campus in Amherst.

• July 30: "The Arctic Is Melting!" Jason Briner, assistant professor, Department of Geology, CAS. Briner will examine the critical role of the Arctic in global climate change, including the effects of melting land-based glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet on rising sea levels and changes in arctic sea ice on the planet's energy balance. The talk also will provide background on global and arctic warming, and discuss several cases of previous climate changes based on geological records.

• Aug. 6: "To Leave or Stay: An Emergency Preparedness Question," Donald W. Rowe, director, Office of Public Health Practice and Public Health Liaison, School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP). Rowe will present a candid and interactive talk about some of the greatest fears and uncertainties people have about facing a natural or man-made disaster, including where to go when the unthinkable happens and how to best prepare oneself, from both a personal and government perspective.

• Aug. 13: "Talking Taps and Toilets: Water and Sanitation Beyond the Reach of Billions," Pavani Kalluri Ram, assistant professor, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, SPHHP. Ram will address the tremendous global need for access to improved water supplies and sanitation facilities in a world where billions go without them, as well as discuss the impact on human health, women's empowerment and girls' education. She also will talk about some of the challenges facing governments and civil societies working to reduce these fundamental barriers to health and livelihood.

Although the lecture series is free, those interested in attending any of the lectures are asked to register at http://ubthissummer.buffalo.edu/lectures.html, or by calling the UBThisSummer Lecture Series office at 645-6404.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.