2019–20 Convergence: intersections between the sciences and the humanities
The Convergence lecture series highlights key areas of human experience where science and the humanities intersect as well as areas of divergence where science and the humanities could be brought into more productive relation. Our speakers discussed a range of topics and perspectives relating to bioethics, health and justice, climate change and human adaptation, and neuroscience and the human brain.
Leonard Mlodinow, theoretical physicist, and author of Elastic: flexible thinking in a time of change (2018)
We live in a time of great turmoil and change in the personal, social, and business spheres. To thrive we in such times we must adapt and exercise a particular kind of thinking: elastic thinking. It is a kind of thinking needed to assess new situations, and to form a framework for understanding and reacting to them. It is the thinking that leads to innovation and creativity. In his talk Mlodinow will illuminate elastic thinking, explore the psychology and neuroscience behind it, and detail ways one can assess one’s skills at it, and improve upon them.
“Ethical Challenges of the COVID Pandemic”
Paul Root Wolpe, Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University
Wolpe will be speaking on emergent ethical issues we have confronted during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Included will be questions about allocating scarce resources; inherent biases of age, class, race, and disability; privacy; ethics of social distancing; and the importance of leadership.
Elizabeth Rush, Creative Nonfiction, Brown University; author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore (2018)
What might we learn from the people living on climate change’s front lines about the future that we share? In her talk, Rush will speak about a small community on the eastern shore of Staten Island––a place that hurricane Sandy both undid and remade from the ground up––investigating the storm’s aftermath and the radical decisions residents made about how to overcome their shared vulnerability. She will give voice to those who have been traditionally left out of environmental discourse and how we might make the conversation more whole moving forward.
Ruha Benjamin, African American Studies, Princeton University; author of Race After Technology (2019).
Benjamin will present the concept of the “New Jim Code” to explore a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. Benjamin will also consider how race itself is a kind of tool designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice and discuss how technology is and can be used toward liberatory ends. Benjamin will challenge us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.