Ilan Stavens Reads From His New Book : The Wall

May 31, 2018

Ilan Stavans went to the U.S.-Mexico border to explore the juncture of aborted dreams and exacerbated realities. He came back with a polyphonic epic poem that explores the wall dividing the two civilizations.

Getting Our Hands Dirty: Studies of Wildlife to Understand Disease Transmission with Michael Hood, Professor of Biology

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Research on the fundamentals of infectious disease is at the intersection between important health concerns and understanding primary forces driving ecological diversity in natural populations. Our investigations use a naturally occurring disease of wild alpine flowers, which present opportunities to study the spread of infections in a safe and experimentally tractable system. The "anther-smut disease" replaces pollen of the flower with pathogenic spores, and this somewhat silly name belies an impact on par with the infamous black death, affecting nearly a third of all host individuals and causing complete, lifetime sterility. We are working to determine how the disease spreads by a mixture of dispersal modes, via sexual transmission (the botanical analogy) and by contact between individuals in close proximity. These interactions parallel the discovery of mixed transmission mode of some of the most alarming epidemics of recent history, and we aim to reveal the basic ecological and evolutionary consequences that have relevance across diverse types of diseases.

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Audio icon 180524_1600 GETTING HANDS DIRTY.mp372.06 MB

Professor William Taubman on His New Book, Gorbachev: His Life and Times

Thursday, May 24, 2018

When Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, the USSR was one of the world’s two superpowers. By 1990, he, more than anyone else, had ended the Cold War, and in 1991, after barely escaping a coup attempt, he unintentionally presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union he had tried to save. In the first comprehensive biography of the final Soviet leader, Professor Taubman examines Gorbachev’s evolution and portrays the many sides of Gorbachev’s unique character, extending to his marriage and family life. William Taubman is the Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, Emeritus. His 2003 book, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, won both the Pulitzer Prize for biography and the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. Taubman’s new book, Gorbachev, was one of five finalists for this year’s National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. Presented by the Class of 1968.

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Audio icon 180524_1430 BILL TAUBMAN.mp382.21 MB

Amherst in the Amazon: Nature and People in the World's Biggest Rainforest

Friday, May 25, 2018

Despite alarming headlines, huge strides have been made in protecting the greatest rainforest on Earth, which is integral to preserving the planet’s biodiversity and climate stability. Tens of millions of acres of protected areas and indigenous reserves have been established, and a deeper understanding has emerged of people’s needs and interactions with nature. Foster Brown ’73 is a Senior Scientist with the Woods Hole Research Center and also a faculty member at the Federal University of Acre in Brazil. Jonathan Putnam ’88 works in the U.S. National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs, responsible for the Western Hemisphere and natural World Heritage sites. John Reid ’88, P’20 is founder and former President of Conservation Strategy Fund, an NGO that works extensively in the Amazon. The panel will be moderated by Katharine Sims, Associate Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies. Presented by the Classes of 1973 and 1988.

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Audio icon 180525_1600 AMHERST IN AMAZON.mp390.6 MB

Science for 2018 and Beyond

Friday, May 25, 2018

Following up on President Charlie Cole and Professor Arnold Arons, who boldly led us into Science 1, 2 in September 1954, we will present two cutting-edge scientific topics that we believe should be included in such a Science 1, 2 course for this fall’s entering first-year students at Amherst: (a) planets outside our solar system and the search for extraterrestrial life, and (b) the application of genomics and immunotherapy to the treatment of cancer. Come and find out about these fields which our Science 1, 2 course could never have even imagined. Presenters include Kate Follette, Assistant Professor of Astronomy, and Richard Goldsby, the Thomas B. Walton Jr. Memorial Professor of Biology, Emeritus. Presented by the Class of 1958.

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The Original, Grumpy Old Man

Friday, May 25, 2018

Join Jeremiah Mead ’68, P’09, a retired high school Latin teacher, for a casual lecture on the Roman author Phaedrus, who wrote fables in Latin, in verse—some hand-me-downs from Aesop, some his own. Topics include the little we know about him; political and social commentary in the fables; Phaedrus’ sense of his own importance and resentment of his critics; and his outlook late in life. Presented by the Class of 1968.

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Audio icon 180525_1030 GRUMPY OLD MAN.mp383.79 MB

1) The Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis: Research that Won the Nobel Prize and 2) The Pathogenesis of Aging: Research that Will Win the Nobel Prize, with Dr. James L. Frey ’68

Friday, May 25, 2018

1) The first presentation explains the process called “hardening of the arteries,” graphically portraying the mechanism, emphasizing the central role of cholesterol. The history of medical inhibitors of cholesterol is chronicled. The research that led to the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is then explained and visually portrayed, but… there will be more, and that’s what’s exciting! 2) Aging is the disease with which we are all ultimately afflicted. The question is not “if”, but when. This presentation explores the usual suspects—genetics, geography, diet, activity. It then explains how these are only observations that have led to little more than speculations. Experiments in modern molecular biology and physiology are redefining aging. They now show us tantalizing research that writers of science fiction would envy. Presented by the Class of 1968.

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Audio icon 180525_1300 PATHOGENESIS.mp391.15 MB

un/bodying/s : A New Cantata About the Quabbin Reservoir

Friday, May 25, 2018

Composer Greg Brown ’98 will speak about his new cantata—un/bodying/s—which addresses ideas of displaced peoples, particularly those of the former Swift River Valley, now the Quabbin Reservoir (not far from Amherst). The composer will present photographs, maps, historical background and audio clips from his recently released CD of the work with Philadelphia choir, The Crossing. Presented by the Class of 1998.

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Audio icon 180525_1600 UNBODYINGS.mp379.63 MB

Working for God and Finding Meaning in the Middle of Life

Friday, May 25, 2018

What does a life of religious service look like in an era where faith and reflection seem set against outrage and outbursts (not to mention middle-aged lives of overarching logistical insanity)? Rabbi Brenner Glickman ’93, who serves a thriving congregation in Sarasota, Fla., and The Rev. Megan Carr Holding ’93, the Episcopal Spiritual Advisor at Northeastern University in Boston, will share the stories of how (or if) they found God at Amherst and eventually landed in the clergy. (Megan is a reformed lawyer; Brenner is a Reform Jew.) Like many of the people they serve, you too may long for more spiritual connection in your life but may not participate in traditional worship communities as much as your parents did. Or perhaps the mere idea of God is off-putting. But all comers are welcome as we discuss where we fit in on faith and how to find what we’re searching for. Presented by the Class of 1993.

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Audio icon 180525_1600 WORKING FOR GOD.mp372.29 MB

Amherst’s Impact On My Activism

Saturday, May 26, 2018

During the 1980s, Amherst College was a tumultuous place. There was a strong anti-apartheid movement, as well as numerous other struggles and protests hoping to make Amherst more racially and ethnically diverse and more accepting of women, gay and transgender students, faculty and scholarship. This discussion will examine how cultural and political movements influenced the current activism of several members of the Class of 1988. Panelists include Barbara Brousal-Glaser ’88, a performer, music teacher and City Councilor in Newton, Mass.; Julie Galdieri ’88, speechwriter, speech coach, performer and founder of Loquent, Inc.; Stanley B. Lemons ’88, author of Expanding College Opportunity and Speaker, Trainer and President of TheSecretToWriting.com; Charles Myers ’88, Chairman and Co-Founder of Signum Global Advisors; Nathan Newman ’88, professor, political research consultant, dad of two kids, J.D. and Ph.D.; and Erica Stracher Fields ’88, STEM education research and evaluation associate, poet/rapper/blogger. Moderated by Flora Stamatiades ’88, union organizer and negotiator, Yale School of Drama ’94 graduate, cat lover, Pilates fanatic and Bikram yogi. Presented by the Class of 1988.

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Audio icon 180526_0900 AMHERST IMPACTa.mp387.46 MB