Ebola: Rethinking Global Emergency Response

In "The Animal Connection," an August 31, 2006 Discover feature story, author Richard Broderick relates how University experts have long stressed the importance of the animal-human disease connection. That is, they continually look to the world's animal health as a critical barometer of human health. Writes Broderick: "... we confront a public health threat so potentially catastrophic that it has refocused our collective minds on what was, until recently, a medical backwater--zoonotic infectious diseases. In other words, diseases humans can catch from animals.

"When we ask ourselves why we are seeing the emergence of so many zoonotic diseases, we can see there are a number of factors," explains Dr. Jeffrey Bender, who teaches classes on zoonotic disease both in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public Health. "There are ecological factors and changes, like deforestation and also reforestation ...There's the trade in exotic animals, global travel, and even changes in modern agricultural practices such as the use of meat and bonemeal as a cheap source of food for cattle..."

Keep in mind, "The Animal Connection" was written eight years ago. Enter Ebola 2014. With 4033 deaths and 8399 probable or suspected cases in seven countries to date, the World Health Organization reports it is the deadliest Ebola outbreak the world has seen, and Dr. Bender's research remains front and center.

As a former infectious disease epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health; principal investigator for a CDC-funded project on zoonotic influenza infections; and co-director for human-animal interfaced studies at the Minnesota Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, Dr. Bender knows a thing or two about Ebola.

For one, he asserts that the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa illustrates the challenges of controlling emergent diseases in resource-poor settings. This includes the need for a trained workforce; supplies for infection control and prevention; and infrastructure coordination for the care of the ill, dying, and deceased. In addition, there is a need for bedside diagnostic tests and effective preventatives and treatments. Yet, Bender cautions, this would only address direct medical needs and not the unanticipated societal costs, of which there are many.

Some of these reflect our limited understanding of the anthropologic and social structures of West African society. This current outbreak is impacting local economies, food production, and country stability in West Africa.

Join us November 6, when Dr. Bender will lead the conversation about how to rethink the global response to Ebola and in so doing, provide effective support for future disease control efforts and interventions.

Explore, Teach, Inspire: Taking Education and Innovation to the Next Level

Since his days growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota, Aaron Doering has had a passion for geography, technology, education, and the environment, all of which play a role in his drive to transform the landscape of learning by bringing the world into classrooms across the globe. For more than a decade Doering and his dedicated team at the University of Minnesota, have engaged millions of people annually in "adventure learning" by using interactive online learning environments to educate people about the environment. This has taken him (and his learners) to the far reaches of the earth while exploring remote landscapes and connecting learners from vastly different cultures with one another.

Doering's projects include GoNorth!, in which students complete research-based lesson plans while interacting with an Arctic dogsledding expedition team, scientists, and their peers and teachers. Reaching more than three million learners annually, the first six GoNorth! programs provided the groundwork for Doering's subsequent adventure learning projects.

These include: North of Sixty°, GeoThentic, and WeExplore. His most current project, Earthducation, investigates the intersection of education and sustainability on all seven continents, and involves traveling to climate hotspots, documenting environmental issues and educational practices, and working with a broad array of individuals, communities, and organizations to create an ecological narrative of educational beliefs. The goal of Earthducation is to address the challenge set forth by the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. Students, teachers, and others are discussing these same ideas via EnviroNetwork, helping to expand the conversation and explore, collectively, how education can influence the future of our planet.

Says Doering: "Through design, technology, and adventure, we can revolutionize education around the world."

Join us on October 9 to learn how Doering's passion for education and the environment have dramatically transformed the landscape of learning in classrooms throughout the world. From apps to the Arctic to the Amazon, come experience Doering's daring new educational frontier.

In January 2014, former Minneapolis Mayor, R.T. Rybak, began his tenure as the executive director of Generation Next, a first-of-its-kind partnership between organizations and leaders from across the Twin Cities--all dedicated to educational excellence and narrowing the achievement gap.

During his three terms as mayor, Rybak excelled in his efforts to make Minneapolis a national leader in innovative, cradle-to-career approaches to youth development. As part of this effort, he not only highlighted the crisis of our region's achievement gap, he also advanced effective strategies to ensure its end.

One of those strategies involved the founding of the Minneapolis Promise, an innovative, coordinated set of efforts to make students college- and career-ready. The Minneapolis Promise included STEP-UP, a work readiness training and summer jobs program recognized by The White House, and which Rybak cites as being the achievement of which he is most proud. One only needs to consider the data to see the justification for that pride. Since 2004, STEP-UP has given 18,000 Minneapolis youth (86% young people of color, 50% from immigrant families, and 93% living in poverty), meaningful summer employment.

A member of Generation Next's Leadership Council since the group's founding in 2012, Rybak has long been dedicated to the group's cause: "Improving education for all children is clearly the civil rights issue of our time, and there is almost no region in the country that has to close more of a gap than Minneapolis-St. Paul. We clearly face a crisis, but it can also be our greatest opportunity."

Join us on May 1, for a compelling conversation about the present and long-term consequences of the education achievement gap, as well as Rybak's vision for Generation Next and what he hopes to achieve in his inaugural year.

Stem Cell Research and the Frankenstein Complex

The 21st century will likely see a dramatic shift in human life expectancy. And while longer lives might offer distinct benefits for individuals and society, the life-expectancy shift would also bring greater human vulnerability to a plethora of debilitating, age-related illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, vision loss, cancer, and dementia. Certainly, leading a healthy lifestyle has a significant impact on longevity and well-being, but it is the power of stem cells and regenerative medicine that holds the greatest promise for altering the natural history of age-related diseases once they occur.

Borrowing from Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, American author and biochemist Isaac Asimov coined the term the Frankenstein Complex in order to describe the human phobia of "mechanical" men or human beings who have been altered in some way (perhaps with devices or generated human tissues), but whose outward appearance remains human. (Think: android, the Six Million Dollar Man, all those wives in Stepford.)

What implications does the Frankenstein Complex have for the promise and future of regenerative medicine? Are there lessons to be learned from Shelley's Modern Prometheus?

Join us on March 6, for an intriguing conversation with Dr. John Wagner, director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and scientific director of Clinical Research, Stem Cell Institute, who will discuss what is known about stem cells today, the field's potential impact on society, and of course, the prophecy of Mary Shelley.

Managing Global Crises and the Future of Our World

From Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria and South Sudan, world leaders are perpetually confronted with a dizzying array of crises that threaten peace and stability. Moreover, as the international power and influence of the United States is increasingly challenged by countries such as China, Brazil, Russia, and India, the United Nations and other post-World War II international security and economic structures seem inadequate to the task of promoting security and well-being throughout the world.

So what are the key international challenges and opportunities for American policy-makers and the American public in the decades ahead, and how do we address them?

Join us on February 6, for a thought-provoking conversation in which Eric Schwartz, Dean of the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, discusses significant international governance challenges of the 21st century and considers how to best manage global crises and our world's future.
Few topics have been in the headlines as perennially as health care reform in the United States. From the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 and the proposed Health Security Act of 1993 (aka the Clinton Health Care Plan), to the ongoing debate and drama of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), it seems the discussion has no end. But what are the facts behind this most recent legislation and how does one separate fact from fiction and political posturing from very real consequences for U.S. citizens?

The U.S. is projected to spend $2.9 trillion on health care in 2013. Despite this high level of spending, approximately 47 million non-elderly persons are uninsured. The ACA was created, in part, to address this issue. Following numerous legal challenges, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA's constitutionality in a 5-4 decision in June 2012.

At this writing, much of the focus has turned to the rocky rollout of healthcare.gov and the disruption generated by new insurance regulations. According to Dr. Jean Abraham, an award-winning professor from the University's School of Public Health, "As implementation of the ACA continues, we are able to observe how the policy is evolving and being shaped by political forces, as well as how provisions within the Act may be adapted in order to meet the goal of expanding coverage to approximately 25 million low-income Americans."

Join us on December 5 as Dr. Abraham presents an in-depth look at key health-insurance provisions within the ACA, and helps to sort through the evidence and expectations related to this controversial legislation.

Galápagos Fragile Past, Brighter Future

Situated in the Pacific Ocean on both sides of the equator, The Galápagos Islands are recognized as the place where Charles Darwin cultivated his theory of evolution. The islands are also famed for their large number of unique endemic species. This archipelago, like islands elsewhere, is recognized as a focal point for speciation and extinction, and has long struggled in the face of ever-increasing ecological pressures. On a more hopeful note, researchers have found invasive mammal eradication to be a powerful tool in preventing endemic island species extinction.

Dr. Julia Ponder, executive director of The Raptor Center, is part of an international group of conservationists who plan, implement, and monitor efforts to systematically remove invasive rats from the Galápagos, and in so doing, save the islands' endangered and at-risk species. These high-riskhigh-reward efforts often demand value judgments and ethical considerations such as, when is it right to kill one species to save another Says Ponder "Unintended consequences must be minimized, and outcomes and uncertainties must be managed. Extensive efforts are undertaken to protect non-target animals, such as the Galápagos hawk, from harm; the pay-off is both tangible and immediate."

Big Data Landscape: Technology, Economy, Society

Join Professor Ravi Bapna (Director, Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative, Carlson School of Management) for an eye-opening discussion about the research being conducted by University faculty, including how social media data can be used to better understand fundamental human constructs such as peer influence, trust, and altruism.

Alleviating Global Poverty

One of the biggest challenges facing today's world is the delivery of foreign aid to our poorest and most fragile nations. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is dedicated to meeting that challenge by coordinating the international aid efforts of 24 donor nations and monitoring aid effectiveness in the developing world.

Join Professor Atwood, who has just returned to the University of Minnesota following his two-year term as DAC chair, for an inspiring discussion about the possibilities of alleviating global poverty.
U of M chemistry professor Christy Haynes was named "one of the country's most brilliant scientists" by Popular Science for her work with blood platelets.
2012 was one of the worst years for wildfires in nearly half a century. Across the United States, more than 8 million acres burned--the highest average acreage consumed, per fire, since 2000. Many blame the effects of climate change, including increasingly severe heat waves and droughts, for creating more fuel to burn and longer wildfire seasons. Last year's Pagami Creek fire at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area was just one example of this new era of larger, more destructive forest fires.

What does a worsening wildfire scenario mean for the economy and the environment? How does it relate to a rise in other natural disasters such as storms and floods? And what can be done to arrest the effects before they change the face of our planet irrevocably?

On February 7, join Regents Professor of Forestry Peter Reich as he examines the impact of global climate change on our terrestrial ecosystems and discusses the future of our boreal forests.

What's Next? Envisioning the U's Future

The rising cost of a college degree is one of the most pressing issues facing higher education today. But while the demands for lower tuition and institution-wide budget and spending cuts continue to grow, public financial support continues to dwindle.

So how, then, does a 21st century academic leader balance both the books and the competing priorities of today's land-grant universities? New University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler believes the process begins by renewing a partnership with the state's elected officials, promoting the University's economic and cultural value, and establishing research initiatives focusing on early-stage discovery research--something universities are uniquely positioned to do.

On January 10, join President Kaler as he previews his first biennial budget request since taking office and discusses his vision of "What's Next?" for the University--including his commitment to holding the lid on tuition while improving the U's operational efficiency.

Fracking: Facts, Fiction and Fixes

Biochemist Lawrence Wackett provides an expert assessment of the oil and gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." Dr. Wackett is leading an award-winning research effort at the University of Minnesota to develop new biotechnology to clean up the wastewater created by fracking.

Election 2012 Recap

As the dust from a particularly long and divisive campaign season settles, Political Science Professor Kathryn Pearson provides expert analysis of the elections and what the results mean for the crises facing our state and nation.

Post-Revolution Egypt: The Struggle Continues

Last year, youth activists led successful "Arab Spring" campaigns to overthrow longstanding autocratic regimes from Tunisia to Egypt, including that of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak. In the immediate wake of Mubarak's ouster, the prospects of freedom in Egypt seemed higher than they had in more than six decades.

It didn't take long, however, for widespread jubilation to turn into political intrigue and infighting. Now led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, many fear that Egypt's transition to democracy has been short-circuited once again. President Morsi has already successfully challenged the authority of the military junta that had controlled Egypt since Mubarak's ouster, but his grip on power continues to be precarious at best.

On October 4, join international economic expert Ragui Assaad, who has just returned from observing this year's volatile events in his native Cairo, as we kick off the seventh season of Headliners.

Amendments, Recounts, and More

From nationally watched recounts for Senate offices and state governorships, to ongoing battles over ballot wording, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has been thrust into the limelight in ways not imaginable a few years ago. What are the responsibilities and powers of the Minnesota Secretary of State, as the "chief elections officer" of Minnesota? How has this office become a lightning rod of controversy in recent years?

Join Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, MinnPost journalist Beth Hawkins, and U of M law professor Dale Carpenter as they discuss the Secretary of State's position and powers, and how those powers play out in the amendment battles, recounts, and the overall contentious state of state elections.
This June, the Supreme Court will announce its decision on the constitutionality of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, adding yet another contentious issue to the already fiery political debates of the 2012 election season.

Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of politics, health care, and more in the June 11 installment of MinnPost Asks, Presented by LearningLife, with former U.S. senator David Durenberger, MinnPost political reporter Eric Black, and U of M political science professor Larry Jacobs.

Public Mission, Urban Challenges: The 21st Century

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, the legislation that laid the groundwork for this country's land-grant research universities, U of M President Eric Kaler sat down with Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Syracuse University, to discuss their institutions' responses to the urban challenges of the 21st Century.

Marriage Amendment: The Meaning Behind the Messages

The inaugural event will focus on the debate over whether the state constitution should be amended to define marriage only as the union of a man and a woman. Richard Carlbom, executive director of Minnesotans United for All Families (the anti-amendment coalition), will be interviewed by MinnPost journalist Beth Hawkins and University of Minnesota Communications Studies Professor Ed Schiappa. The discussion will focus on messaging being used in Minnesota and elsewhere by groups fighting for and against the amendment. Video clips will be shown and analyzed.

The New Public Square

Many people use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to keep in touch with friends and family and stay current on pop culture. But social media has also changed the face of reporting and journalism by giving the average citizen a voice. And politicians and the government are taking notice.

On April 5, join Heather LaMarre, associate professor and social media expert from the U of M School of Journalism and Mass Communications, as she discusses how this "new public square" is having an impact on the American presidential campaign...and even in global geopolitics. How does social media affect the relationship between the public, the policy makers, and the media? And what will it all do for civic discourse and public engagement in the election season--and beyond?

Ramp Up to Readiness: Should College Be the Goal for Every Student?

For decades, the United States led the world in the percentage of its citizens who earned a college degree. In recent years, however, American college completion rates have remained relatively flat, while those of other nations have risen dramatically. As a result, while the United States ranks first among developed nations in the percentage of 55- to 64-year-olds who have graduated from college, our nation ranks fourth among 35- to 44-year-olds and 10th among 25- to 34-year-olds.

How should we respond to this downward trend? Some argue that the United States should make college the goal for every student in America's elementary and secondary schools. Others counter that emphasizing college for all will divert many students from preparing for careers that do not require a college degree. This tension is heating up in battles at the national, state, and local levels.

On March 1, in this 10th anniversary year of No Child Left Behind, join Kent Pekel, executive director of the University of Minnesota College Readiness Consortium, as he provides an overview of these issues and suggests a way forward for Minnesota.

What's Past is Prologue: The Global Economic Crisis

The current financial crisis in North America and Western Europe has raised fears that we could be headed for the next Great Depression. Is it possible, though, that we can keep history from repeating itself by looking at today's global economic crisis through the lens of hindsight? What lessons can be learned from comparing and contrasting previous depressions such as those occurring in Latin America in the 1980s, or Japan in the 1990s? Can studying the experiences of these countries help the economies of North America and Western Europe recover more quickly and emerge stronger than ever?

Join us February 2 as Distinguished McKnight Professor and adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Tim Kehoe discusses the critical financial depressions of the recent past--and what lessons we can glean from them for today.

Treating Man and His Best Friend

Three years ago, an experimental cancer treatment at the University of Minnesota turned a small black dog named Batman into an international celebrity. The groundbreaking nontoxic therapy used on Batman proved to be so successful in treating canines that it has now been approved for clinical trials for humans suffering from an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer.

On January 5, hear from oncologist Dr. John Ohlfest as he shares the story of how researchers from Veterinary Medicine and the Masonic Cancer Center joined forces on this cutting-edge treatment, and explains what it means for the health of man--and his best friend.

Seven Billion and Counting

On October 31, the seven billionth human being was born, raising the most compelling question facing humanity today: how can we feed the world's people without destroying Earth's fragile life support systems? Nearly a billion people currently lack adequate access to food and suffer from chronic hunger. As the world's population continues to grow, we must address three problems simultaneously: prevent famine, increase global food production, and reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture.

On December 1st, join noted ecologist and climatologist Jonathan Foley as he reveals the key ingredients needed to create a recipe for globally sustainable agriculture.

American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality

After World War II, Congress authorized the building of the interstate highway system and subsidized mortgage loans for returning servicemen and their families. The result? The "American Dream" of the suburbs--a massive social engineering project that encouraged middle-class whites to abandon the inner city and move to brand-new bedroom communities.

Now, these first-ring suburbs are in a state of simultaneous decline. Crumbling infrastructure, struggling schools, abandoned strip malls, home foreclosures, and an eroding tax base have hit them hard. The very policies that built the first-ring suburbs 60 years ago are now moving their former prosperity and stability out to the metro's edge.

Join Myron Orfield, a nationally recognized expert in land use and regional governance, as he explores the economic, environmental, and social consequences of America's aging first-ring suburbs.

What's Next?: Debunking the Myths about Retirement in America

The idea that most people march in lockstep down the same career path (full-time education, followed by continuous full-time employment, capped by full-time retirement) is a popular myth in America; in truth, only a tiny percentage of the population ever really executes this exact route. Yet, corporate practices, government policies, and social structures are still geared to this model.

As 78 million American baby boomers approach traditional retirement age, our society will witness unprecedented change and transitions. Creating new retirement options for this 21st-century reality, particularly in light of the recent economic downturn, requires a rethinking of what we've come to accept as a predictable life course.

Join noted sociologist Phyllis Moen, as she kicks off the sixth season of Headliners by mapping the real retirement trends and outlining a visionary alternative to the "retirement mystique."

Human Rights Challenges of the 21st Century

Mary Robinson, and David Wippman - April, 2011 - A groundbreaking politician and lifelong crusader for human rights, Mary Robinson has not had a career free from controversy. But, then again, as David Wippman, dean of the U of M Law School says, "A human rights advocate holding a high-profile office must sometimes take principled but unpopular positions."

Wippman, who is himself a respected authority on international law, human rights, and ethnic conflict, will interview Robinson for the April 7 Great Conversations at the U of M Coffman Memorial Union, sponsored jointly by the College of Continuing Education and the Law School. "Mary is arguably one of the world's leading figures on human rights issues," he says. "She breathed new life into the Irish presidency. In her role in the U.N. and beyond, she pioneered new approaches to human rights and rule of law issues. I think this will be an inspiring and educational conversation."

The Important Life of Bees

From apple orchards and pumpkin patches, to alfalfa fields and balsam firs, more than two-thirds of the world's crop species either need or benefit from honeybees. In the U.S. alone, the busy insect plays a crucial role in the fate of more than 100 different crops, with an estimated value of $20 billion.

Unfortunately, beekeepers from all over the country have noticed an increase in the disappearance and death of large numbers of bees in their apiaries--a trend that will be costly not just to the beekeepers, but to the U.S. (and global) agricultural engines.

On March 3, join Professor Spivak as she discusses her leading-edge research, and shares her thoughts on what is causing this die-off, whether it can be prevented or reversed, and what it means for our economy and food sources.

Easing the Economic Slowdown

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the Federal Reserve's principal decision-making body with regard to monetary policy, and its duty is to make key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the United States money supply.

Recently, Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, made news when he said that the FOMC's plan to buy $600 billion of long-term treasuries this year (an action known as quantitative easing) would only have a modest effect on the economy.

On February 3, join Narayana Kocherlakota as he shares his viewpoints and walks you through the role of the FOMC in current macroeconomic conditions, how those conditions affect the U.S. labor market, and his forecast for economic recovery. Speaker

Get Smart: A Power Grid for the 21st Century

What would it take to bring our electric power grid up to 21st-century standards? How could sustainable sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power connect with, and reinvigorate, our tired, old energy system? And what should be done to improve the reliability, security, and efficiency of the nation's electrical infrastructure?

On January 6, meet Massoud Amin, a pioneer in smart grid technology, as he shares his vision for the construction of an improved national power grid that would avert large-scale blackouts, save billions of dollars in wasted electricity, and increase the security of the country's essential power supply.

Book Versus Nook (and iPad and Kindle and Kobo and...)

With the Nook and Kindle and cohorts battling it out at the top of holiday gift guides, it seems e-readers are becoming more ubiquitous each passing day. The machines themselves are dropping in price, and myriad titles are available--everything from cookbooks and self-help guides, to popular fiction and 16th-century poetry.

But where does that leave "real" books--and along with them, the publishing industry? Does paper have a future in publishing? What role will backlists play? Who will choose what goes digital--or decide what should even be considered? What will be the role of textbooks, scholarly press publications, and other educational materials?

On December 2, join Douglas Armato, director of the University of Minnesota Press, as he addresses the future of publishing in the digital age.

Election 2010: Reading the Tea Leaves

With the balance of power in both Houses of Congress at stake, the economy still in turmoil, and President Obama's policies under scrutiny, as well as the Minnesota governorship up for grabs, the 2010 midterm elections are contested battlefields on both the state and national levels.

What will the results mean for Minnesota--and for the U.S.?

As the dust settles after the midterm elections, join political science Professor Kathryn Pearson on November 4 as she recaps the 2010 elections, reflects on their significance, and examines the "political tea leaves" to see what the results porten

Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine: The Controversy and the Science

In August, a federal court judge stunned scientists nationwide when he issued a temporary injunction against President Obama's expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The result? Widespread controversy and confusion. Researchers in labs throughout the country scrambled to interpret the decision and assess its immediate impact on their work. The prohibition was condemned by advocates who believe that more permissive federal funding will lead to major medical breakthroughs in the fight against such diseases as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. At the same time, it was cheered by groups that oppose the research on moral grounds. Continuing this legal saga, just days ago an appeals court placed a temporary stay on the injunction as it considers the case.

Regardless of the outcome of this legal fight, the contentious debate over the ethical use of human embryos in biomedical research has gained new momentum. What does this recent court ruling mean? And how will it impact work being conducted at the U of M, home of the world's first interdisciplinary institute dedicated to stem cell research?

Robert Bruininks, Jonathan Cole, and Robert Berdahl - September 30, 2010 - University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks speaks with Jonathan Cole, former provost and dean of faculties at Columbia University and Robert Berdahl, former chancellor of The University of California, Berkeley. As a special part of the celebration of Homecoming, the trio discuss the future of American higher education: what makes it great and how to sustain its global stature.

World Pandemics and the Environment

Larry Brilliant and Jonathan Foley - June 15, 2010 - Jonathan Foley is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, where he is a professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. He also leads the IonE's Global Landscapes Initiative. Lawrence Brilliant is an American physician, epidemiologist, author, and philanthropist. He is the former director of Google's philanthropic arm and has served as CEO of two public companies. From 1976-79, he participated in the successful W.H.O. smallpox eradication program and, in 2005, was awarded the TED Prize for this important work. In April 2009, he was chosen to oversee the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, established by eBay founder Jeff Skoll.

The Global Economic Crisis

Hernando de Soto with J. Brian Atwood - May 18, 2010 - Hernando de Soto is a Peruvian economist internationally known for his work on the informal economy and the importance of property rights. Praised by President Clinton as "the world's greatest living economist" and named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Forbes magazine, de Soto is the President of Peru's Institute for Liberty and Democracy, located in Lima. J. Brian Atwood is the dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota. Among his past leadership posts, he served as the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Clinton Administration; as the leader of the transition team at the State Department and as Under Secretary of State for Management, also during the Clinton administration; and as a member of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Panel on Peace Operations.

The Transformative Power of Art

Rafael Yglesias with Madelon Sprengnether - April 20, 2010 - Described by The New York Times as "one of America's most prominent novelists," Rafael Yglesias is a screenwriter and the author of nine novels. His novel Fearless was made into a 1993 major motion picture, for which he also wrote the screenplay. After a 13-year absence, his latest novel, A Happy Marriage, has just been published to rave reviews. Yglesias's film Fearless was the subject of a chapter in Madelon Sprengnether's acclaimed book, Crying at the Movies: A Film Memoir. A faculty member in the University of Minnesota English Department, Sprengnether is a Regents Professor, the highest honor bestowed on University of Minnesota professors.

The New Frugality

For the past decade, American consumers have been engaged in a credit-fueled spending binge, lured into an inflated sense of wealth by soaring home values and record-breaking stock prices.

By the time of the financial meltdown, personal debt stood at a staggering $13.8 trillion--nearly $125,000 per household. The ensuing economic crisis accelerated two concurrent national trends of frugality and sustainability.

Now, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, "The Great Recession" is technically over. Following every recession since World War II, penny pinching quickly fell out of fashion as Americans returned to their previous spending habits. Will this time be different? As the economy recovers, will we continue to practice a sustainable lifestyle that's as good for the planet as it is for our bank accounts?

On April 1, hear from award-winning journalist and respected personal finance expert Chris Farrell as he explains the theory and practice of "The New Frugality."

The Curious Culture of Wall Street

In the midst of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, how can investment bankers believe they deserve such princely pay packets? How did short-term shareholder value become such a short-sighted corporate goal? Does today's financial crisis differ from past boom and bust cycles? And what would it take to instigate meaningful reform?

On March 4, join anthropology professor and former investment banker Karen Ho, author of Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street, as she provides a fascinating portrait of the curious culture of Wall Street.

Who Really Makes National Security Policy?

Since World War II, the U.S. has been locked in a constitutional crisis over the authority and roles of the legislative and executive branches, precipitating intense disputes over the competing priorities of national security and American laws and values. With many crucial challenges facing the country, policy-makers must carefully weigh the consequences of their choice of action--diplomacy, international coalitions, constructive engagement, covert action, military force. But who decides which strategies are in the country's best interest? Who really makes national security policy?

On February 4, gain firsthand insight into policy-making at an open forum featuring long-time public servant, Vice President Walter Mondale and Larry Jacobs, director of the Center of the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

A Way Forward in Afghanistan

Last month President Obama announced his long-awaited strategy for America's involvement in Afghanistan. With much riding on this decision--from our own national security to the future of this war-weary region--his announcement triggered vigorous debates on both sides of the aisle. After eight years, is this military action winnable? Is it possible to dismantle Al Qaeda and its extremist allies within the publicly announced timeline? Can we rely on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a government rife with corruption to "step up as we step down"?

While many pundits dissect the American-led war effort, few understand the region's cultural history, which reflects the country's position as a crossroads for successive waves of invading forces.

On January 7, professor Iraj Bashiri, who recently returned from the region, discusses what history reveals about a way forward in Afghanistan.

New Models for the News

For most of the 20th century, newspapers were the primary source of information for the American public. At their best, they held governments and corporations to account and set the news agenda for the rest of the mass media. Until the early 1990s, the newspaper business was doing extremely well, earning staggering returns for its owners and shareholders. But more recently, it has been forced to rethink its place in a world of wireless communication.

Last year was the worst on record for the U.S. newspaper industry. Already hit hard by decreasing circulation and declining ad revenues, newspapers across the country laid off staff and cut editions to counter the combined effects of online competition and economic recession. Locally, the Star Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection in January, only emerging in late September. Just months after its workers agreed to concessions in bankruptcy, the St. Paul Pioneer Press opened discussions with its guild members seeking similar cuts.

Are today's diminished news organizations capable of sustaining the informed citizenry on which democracy depends? Are newspapers an endangered species? Or are they just obsessing too much over the "paper" part of their names?

On December 3, join Nora Paul, founding director of the University of Minnesota's Institute for New Media Studies, as she explores new models for the news.

Journey of Solar Decathlon 2009: A View from the Trenches

In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy created the Solar Decathlon, a challenge to college teams from around the globe to design, build, and operate an aesthetic and livable, fully solar-powered house. This international competition helps accelerate academic research in renewable energy technologies and educates the public about the benefits of energy efficiency and green building technologies.

In October, for the first time, the University of Minnesota was one of 20 teams on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., competing in the Solar Decathlon. The U's "Icon House" was the tangible result of two years intense, inspiring, and collaborative effort of 150 students in disciplines ranging from architecture and design to engineering and construction.

Meet architect Peter Hilger, adviser to the students working on the U's solar house, as he recounts their life-changing journey to Solar Decathlon 2009.

Feeding the World: At Home and Abroad

Tom Vilsack with J. Brian Atwood and Allen Levine - October 5, 2009 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks with Dean J. Brian Atwood of the Humphrey Institute and Dean Allen Levine of the college of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. The trio engages in a wide-ranging conversation about food aid and international development, obesity and nutrition, food security, farm and foreign trade policy, and a host of other topics related to the USDA's mission.

Touching the Third Rail: The Politics of American Health Care

Larry Jacobs holds the Walter and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies and directs the Center of the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. An expert in American politics and policy, he is the author of ten scholarly books including The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of U.S. and British Health Policy and Healthy, Wealthy, and Fair, as well as articles on health reform in The New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Professor Jacobs received a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1988.

The World’s Most Powerful Court

Kenneth Starr and E. Thomas Sullivan - May 12, 2009 - From freedom of speech to separation of church and state, from abortion to affirmative action, the U.S. Supreme Court exerts pervasive influence over American life, handing down decisions that set the legal standards by which every American lives.

Knowing Our Place in Time

Steve R. Simmons is Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in Agronomy and Plant Genetics. During his thirty-one year career at the University of Minnesota, he has researched the physiology of crops such as wheat, oats, barley, and corn, and studied the agroecology of diversified cropping systems. At the same time, his emphasis has been on undergraduate and graduate teaching and he has published a number of education-related articles including the use of memoir writing as pedagogy. Since retirement, Steve has been writing a book of personal essays about formative experiences during his upbringing in southern Indiana. He also facilitates reflective writing workshops and retreats. He continues to serve as a mentor for new faculty through the early-career program of the U of M's Center for Teaching and Learning where he co-taught experiential workshops for faculty preparing for retirement entitled This I Have Learned.

Bio-Ethics of the Future

Doris Taylor and Patricia Simmons - April 16, 2009 - Biomedical research has led to significant improvements in the health of all Americans and increased human longevity over the past century. Join two leading doctors as they discuss the breakthrough therapies needed to prevent, treat, and, hopefully, one day cure, fatal ailments.

Solar Decathlon: Building a Greener Future

Ann M. Johnson - April 2, 2009 - Radiant heat from the sun has been harnessed by human ingenuity since the earliest times and sunlight has influenced building design throughout architectural history. Still only a fraction of available solar energy is being used in today's buildings, creating a burden on the environment. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy held its first Solar Decathlon, a challenge to college teams from around the globe to design, build, and operate an aesthetic and livable, fully solar-powered house. This biennial event helps accelerate academic research in renewable energy technologies and serves as a reminder to all of us to act responsibly when making energy decisions at home. This year the University of Minnesota was selected as one of twenty teams invited to compete in the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., the first and only Minnesota team ever to participate in this unique international competition.

America's Constitutional Crisis

Seymour Hersh, Larry Jacobs, and Walter Mondale - March 10, 2009 - Three political experts review the constitutional framework of the American model of governance, particularly the ongoing constitutional crisis over the authority and roles of the legislative and executive branches.

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