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TED Talks on Thursdays (at noon)

Join us at noon at the South Haven Campus in room SH141 each Tuesday for another entertaining, educational, provocative, and inspiring TED Talk. Each talk lasts less than 30 minutes followed by a short discussion.  This semester’s Talks include Mellody Hobson making the case for speaking openly about race, a short story about aliens and love from John Hodgman, and Susan Etlinger on make sense of big data.

Bring your lunch, bring a friend and come as you are! (TED is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Talks are pre-recorded.)

January 29           Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?

The subject of race can be very touchy. As finance executive Mellody Hobson says, it's a "conversational third rail." But that's exactly why we need to start talking about it. In this engaging talk, Hobson makes the case that speaking openly about race—and particularly about diversity in hiring—makes for better businesses and a better society.

February 5        Russell Foster: Why do we sleep?

Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.

February 12      John Hodgman: Aliens, love—where are they?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Humorist John Hodgman rambles through a new story about aliens, physics, time, space and the way all of these somehow contribute to a sweet, perfect memory of falling in love.

February 19        Shai Reshef: An ultra-low-cost college degree

At the online University of the People, anyone with a high school diploma can take classes toward a degree in business administration or computer science — without standard tuition fees (though exams cost money). Shai Reshef hopes that higher education is changing "from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all."

February 26    Steven Pinkes: The surprising decline of violence

Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence.

March 5           Murray Gell-Mann: Beauty, truth and … physics?

Armed with a sense of humor and laypeople's terms, Nobel winner Murray Gell-Mann drops some knowledge on TEDsters about particle physics, asking questions like, Are elegant equations more likely to be right than inelegant ones?

March 12         Jim Toomey: Learning from Sherman the Shark

Cartoonist Jim Toomey created the comic strip Sherman's Lagoon, a wry look at underwater life starring Sherman the talking shark. As he sketches some of his favorite sea creatures live onstage, Toomey shares his love of the ocean and the stories it can tell.

March 19         Debra Jarvis: Yes, I survived cancer. But that doesn't define me

Debra Jarvis had worked as a hospital chaplain for nearly 30 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. And she learned quite a bit as a patient. In a witty, daring talk, she explains how the identity of “cancer survivor” can feel static. She asks us all to claim our hardest experiences, while giving ourselves room to grow and evolve.

March 26         Nicholas Negroponte: A 3-year history of the future

MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte takes you on a journey through the last 30 years of tech. The consummate predictor highlights innovations he foresaw in the 1970s and 1980s that were scoffed at then but are ubiquitous today. And he leaves you with one last prediction for the coming 30 years.

April 2             Kimberley Motley: How I defend the rule of law

Every human deserves protection under their country’s laws — even when that law is forgotten or ignored. Sharing three cases from her international legal practice, Kimberley Motley, an American litigator practicing in Afghanistan and elsewhere, shows how a country’s own laws can bring both justice and “justness”: using the law for its intended purpose, to protect.

April 9             Karima Bennoune: When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism

Every human deserves protection under their country’s laws — even when that law is forgotten or ignored. Sharing three cases from her international legal practice, Kimberley Motley, an American litigator practicing in Afghanistan and elsewhere, shows how a country’s own laws can bring both justice and “justness”: using the law for its intended purpose, to protect.

April 16           Dan Ariely: Our buggy moral code

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we're predictably irrational — and can be influenced in ways we can't grasp.

April 23           Susan Etlinger: What do we do with all this big data?

Does a set of data make you feel more comfortable? More successful? Then your interpretation of it is likely wrong. In a surprisingly moving talk, Susan Etlinger explains why, as we receive more and more data, we need to deepen our critical thinking skills. Because it's hard to move beyond counting things to really understanding them.

April 30           Meaghan Ramsey: Why thinking you're ugly is bad for you

About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, “Am I ugly?” Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project has a feeling that many of them are young girls. In a deeply unsettling talk, she walks us through the surprising impacts of low body and image confidence—from lower grade point averages to greater risk-taking with drugs and alcohol. And then shares the key things all of us can do to disrupt this reality.

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