Six faculty members to discuss the Power of Ideas at Oct. 12 Scientia

Faculty members from History, Natural Sciences, Sociology, Bioengineering and Music will reflect on the Power of Ideas at the next Scientia colloquium 4 p.m. Oct. 12.

ScientiaThe lectures will be in the Brochstein Pavilion Garden and are free and open to the public. In case of rain, the colloquium will be held in Herring Hall, Room 100. A reception will be held after the talks.

The speakers will be:

John Zammito, the John Antony Weir Professor of History, presenting “Mt. Fuji and Me.” In an abstract of his talk, he wrote, “When I was 20 I had the extraordinary good fortune to be sent around the world on a study tour with a bunch of other bright undergraduates. Our first foreign stop was Japan. There were many transformative experiences for me there, but I wish to highlight one, my pursuit of Mt. Fuji, and the decisive role it had in shaping my intellectual orientation for the balance of my life.”

Robert Curl, the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural and University Professor Emeritus, who will present “I Didn’t Do This By Myself.” “When I look back over my life, I realize that I could never have accomplished what I have without the aid of many people, the nation, our institutions and values that our society supports,” he wrote. “I had the great good fortune to be born when and where I was. I want to recognize those who fed me, clothed me, led me, encouraged me, taught me and especially those with whom I worked.”

Elizabeth Long, professor and chair of sociology, presenting “Local:Global = David:Goliath.” She wrote, “Field research this summer into how communities are affected by slick water horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas introduced me to grassroots democracy in action, and showed me how important it is to preserve local autonomy when possible. This is especially the case in the face of global market forces, large corporations, and state and federal vulnerability to special interests.”

John Boles, the William P. Hobby Professor of History and editor of the Journal of Southern History. He will present “Getting to Know President Lovett” and discuss how Rice founding President Edgar Odell Lovett integrated the newest information about the rise of the modern research university with his own experience in such a way as to be able to transform the vague founding charter of the Rice Institute into a blueprint for creating a distinguished university in 1912.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and chair of the Department of Bioengineering, presenting “Learning to Swim.” She wrote, “There is a saying in Haiti:  ‘You don’t learn to swim in the library. You learn to swim in the river.’ I’m interested in how changing the way we teach can help students to become leaders in a global generation.

Robert Yekovich, dean of the Shepherd School of Music and the Elma Schneider Professor of Music, who will discuss “Turrell with Music.” “James Turrell’s Skyspace at the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion is among the most recent of his nearly 80 works in this genre,” Yekovich wrote. “It is the first, however, designed as a venue for combining light and sound. The Shepherd School of Music now has a unique ‘laboratory’ where the faculty and students can explore the numerous ways in which music and light can be joined in artistically meaningful ways.”

Scientia is an institute of Rice University faculty founded in 1981 by the mathematician and historian of science Salomon Bochner. The lecture series provides an opportunity for scholarly discussion across disciplinary boundaries; its members and fellows come from a wide range of academic disciplines. For more information on Scientia, visit




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