Recordings of Convocations
- Created 9 January 2015; Published 12 January 2015Convocation: Michael Shermer
Dr. Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the executive director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a prolific author. In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, and alien abduction. Shermer wages a no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, debunking nonsensical claims and exploring the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing.
A science historian and crusader, Shermer holds degrees in psychology, experimental psychology, and the history of science, and was a college professor for 20 years. He has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, Larry King Live, Oprah, Unsolved Mysteries (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!), and other shows as a skeptic of weird and extraordinary claims, as well as interviews in countless documentaries aired on PBS, A&E, Discovery, The History Channel, The Science Channel, and The Learning Channel. He was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, "Exploring the Unknown." The title of his presentation is "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time." (Sponsored by the Irene Whitney Distinguished Visitor Lectureship Fund)
- Created 7 November 2014; Published 31 December 2014Convocation: Waneek Horn-Miller
Waneek Horn-Miller has overcome discrimination, self-doubt, and an infamous incident of violence to emerge as one of North America’s most inspiring Native speakers. With purpose and poise, she traverses the intersection of two generations of Native people, working to mend the dysfunctional relationship between Native and non-Native communities through social and political change. A Mohawk from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal, Horn-Miller was behind the lines during the Oka crisis in 1990 when she was stabbed by a Canadian soldier’s bayonet. This near-death experience marked a turning point in her life. Instead of recoiling, she came back stronger than ever. In 2000, she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, in her role as co-captain of Canada’s Olympic women’s water polo team. More recently, Horn-Miller has worked to attract Aboriginal youth to higher education by building self-esteem and emphasizing a balance between education and sports, and she has teamed up with the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and health experts to launch a fitness and healthy-eating initiative called Working It Out Together. The title of her presentation is "First Nations Rights." (Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life)
- Created 24 October 2014; Published 30 December 2014Convocation: Charles Kernaghan
Charles Kernaghan is director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights which is dedicated to the promotion and defense of internationally recognized worker rights in the global economy. With a widespread and highly experienced team of international advocates, the Institute responds to appeals for support from exploited workers all over the developing world who produce goods for export to the U.S. The Institute undertakes in-depth research, public education and popular campaigns that empower the American people to provide support and solidarity to workers struggling to defend their most basic rights. As workers across the developing world fight for their right to work in dignity, in healthy and safe workplaces, to earn a living wage and to organize independent unions, the Institute provides solidarity and international visibility to support their efforts. The Institute also continues to demand that corporations be held legally accountable to respect core internationally recognized worker rights standards. Kernaghan first became involved in the protection of worker rights while on an international peace march through Central America in the mid-80s, when scores of union leaders were being assassinated. He joined the Institute in 1988 and became its director in 1991. He is perhaps best known as "the man who made Kathie Lee cry" after exposing that 13-year-old children were working in a brutal Honduran sweatshop earning just pennies an hour sewing Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line for Wal-Mart. Kernaghan's work is widely recognized as having launched the anti-sweatshop movement in the U.S. The title of his presentation is "The Race to the Bottom in the Global Economy." (Sponsored by the Irene Whitney Distinguished Visitor Lectureship Fund)
- Created 17 October 2014; Published 21 October 2014Convocation: Robert Paarlberg ’67
Robert Paarlberg ’67 is a researcher on food and agricultural policy, with a focus on farming technologies and poverty in the developing world. This topic connects Paarlberg both to his own family history (his father grew up on a farm in Indiana) and to an important current issue in international development: how to help farmers in Africa – most of whom are women – increase their productivity to better feed their families and escape poverty. His book, Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa, explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He also has published books on the use of food as a weapon (Food Trade and Foreign Policy), on international agricultural trade negotiations (Fixing Farm Trade), on environmentally sustainable farming in developing countries (Countrysides at Risk), on U.S. foreign economic policy (Leadership Abroad Begins at Home), on the reform of U.S. agricultural policy (Policy Reform in American Agriculture), and on the regulation of biotechnology in developing countries (The Politics of Precaution). In the past decade Paarlberg has worked in more than a dozen countries in Africa, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the United States Agency for International Development. Paarlberg is a Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. The title of his presentation is "The Political Fight over Food and Farming: Who is Winning?" (Sponsored by the Class of 1957 Revolving Lectureship Fund)
- Created 10 October 2014; Published 21 October 2014Convocation: Jake Porway
Jake Porway is a matchmaker. He sees social change organizations working hard to make the world a better place, collecting mountains of data, but lacking skills and resources to understand and use that wealth of information to advance their mission. He sees data scientists with amazing skills and cutting-edge tools eager to use their talent to accomplish something meaningful, yet cut off from channels that would allow them to do so. He sees governments ready to make unprecedented amounts of data open and available, but disconnected from people who need it. For Porway, it's a match waiting to happen and exactly why he founded DataKind (formerly Data Without Borders). They connect nonprofits, NGOs, and other data-rich social change organizations with data scientists willing to donate their time and knowledge to solve social, environmental, and community problems. Porway pionts out that there are dozens of apps to help us find movies or choose restaurants. Nice, but isn’t that really just making very comfortable lives slightly more comfortable? What if we also used the power of data analysis to do something that could change the world? The title of his presentation is “Using Data for the Greater Good.” (Sponsored by the QuIRK Initiative, the Thomas M. Crosby Sr. Lectureship Fund, and the M.H. Wright Family Fund)
- Created 3 October 2014; Published 20 October 2014Convocation: Daisy Hernández
Daisy Hernández grew up in New Jersey. That’s where she heard the best stories about Cuba and Colombia and this lady who knows how to eat an avocado so you won’t get pregnant. It’s also where she first learned about race, sex, money, and love. These stories are captured in her new book, A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir. Hernández is also co-editor of the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, which is taught in women studies classes alongside the classic works of feminist theories. At ColorLines, a newsmagazine on race and politics, Hernández worked with a virtual, multi-racial newsroom of reporters, activists, and bloggers. Previously, Hernández was a columnist for Ms. Magazine and worked on the metro desk of The New York Times. Her commentaries have appeared in several publications and her essays have been published in multiple anthologies. The title of her presentation is "Feminism, Sofia Vergara, and Writing about Familia: A Talk on Media Representations." (Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life)
- Created 26 September 2014; Published 29 September 2014Convocation: Stephen Strand
Economics Professor Stephen Strand presents the annual Argument and Inquiry Seminar Convocation.
- Created 15 September 2014; Published 11 December 2014Opening Convocation: R.T. Rybak
Carleton’s Opening Convocation is an annual all-college assembly celebrating the beginning of the academic year and recognizing academic achievement. This year’s address was presented by former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
A three-term mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2013, Raymond Thomas “R.T.” Rybak, Jr. is currently head of Generation Next, a partnership of education, community, government and business leaders aimed at closing the achievement gap between white and minority students.
During his tenure as mayor, Rybak led efforts to make Minneapolis a national leader in innovative, cradle-to-career approaches to youth development, and worked to highlight the crisis of our region’s achievement gap and advance effective strategies for ending it. As mayor, Rybak founded the Minneapolis Promise, an innovative cluster of coordinated efforts to get students college- and career-ready and put them on the path to success.
Rybak has been recognized as a national “Afterschool Champion” by the Afterschool Alliance—not only for his leadership of the Minneapolis Promise, but for founding the Minneapolis Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, an innovative public-health approach that has dramatically lowered youth involvement in violent crime, for being a champion of the youth-led Minneapolis Youth Congress, and for his active involvement in Minneapolis’ Youth Coordinating Board.
A Minneapolis native, Rybak graduated from The Breck School in 1974 and from Boston College in 1978. In the 1970s and ‘80s he worked as a journalist for the Minneapolis Tribune, then went on to run the Twin Cities Reader. For a few years he headed Internet Broadcasting Systems, which started as an online division of Minneapolis Television station and CBS-affiliate WCCO and runs websites for many stations across the United States. Following his job there, Rybak was an Internet strategy consultant, and assisted on projects with Minnesota Public Radio and Public Radio International.
Rybak also serves on the board of directors of Nice Ride Minnesota, a public bicycle sharing program.
- Created 30 May 2014; Published 2 September 2014Honors Convocation 2014
The Honors Convocation is held each year on the last Friday of spring term, drawing the campus community together to celebrate the awards and academic accomplishments of our students. This year's address was delivered by Hibah Hussain, who graduated from Carleton in 2008 with a B.A. in English and went on to earn a Master of Science degree with a concentration in Media Studies from the London School of Economics.
Hussain served as a media research fellow at Columbia University, an account optimizer at Google, and a technology policy analyst at The New America Foundation before recently returning to Google as a public policy analyst in Washington D.C. Among other topics, her research focuses on the international digital media landscape and the links between policy, technology, and economic development. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate at Carleton, Hussain was also a member of Mortar Board and recipient of both the Ruth Weimer Mount Fellowship and the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship.
- Created 16 May 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Sandra Steingraber
Internationally recognized ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber explores the links between human rights and the environment. She has devoted her life’s work to understanding the ways in which chemical contaminants in air, water, and food endanger human health. As a cancer survivor with a doctorate in biology, Steingraber takes a personal and scientific look at what she regards as a human rights issue, and offers insights into how we can protect our environment and ourselves.
Winner of the Annual Heinz Award, Steingraber is the author of the powerful Raising Elijah: Protecting children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, and Living Downstream, which prompted a highly-acclaimed documentary of the same name. The title of her presentation is "The Whole Fracking Enchilada: Toward Meaningful Toxic Chemical Reform and a Rational Energy Policy."
- Created 9 May 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Sean Carasso
Sean Carasso, a young social entrepreneur, freedom fighter, industry innovator, and humanitarian, has spent the last four years running toward a goal most call impossible. In 2008 he went into the Democratic Republic of Congo where he learned of children sent to the frontlines of war, armed with only a whistle. That night he wrote a small journal entry, "Falling Whistles." The journal was forwarded around the world, and he woke up to thousands of emails asking: "What can we do?" The Falling Whistles campaign was born with a simple response—make their weapon your voice, and be a whistleblower for peace.
Out of a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, Falling Whistles invests in eight Congolese whistleblowers rebuilding their country, and is building a global coalition for peace in our world's deadliest war. Today, that coalition is over 50,000 strong. Carasso has been featured in Forbes and has been selected by the White House as a Next Generation Leader. He also coauthored Baptism of Liberty, a strategic brief endorsed by eight advocacy organizations, 35 Congressmen, and 16 senators, which led to a global call to action by 77 international organizations and 24,000 citizens. The title of his presentation is "The Power of the Individual: Youth Movements and Social Change."
- Created 2 May 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Kao Kalia Yang ’03
Kao Kalia Yang ’03 is a Minnesota writer with a story that stretches across the globe. The daughter of Hmong immigrants to Minnesota, Yang was born in a Thai refugee camp, Ban Vinai, in 1980. Her family came to Minnesota when she was seven.
In her book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, Yang recounts her family's journey from Laos to Minnesota—from her parents' first encounter and unceremonious marriage in the jungles of Laos, to their harrowing escape into Thailand, and subsequent relocation to Minnesota. In The Latehomecomer, Yang struggles to feel a sense of home—new to Minnesota, and cultural heir to centuries of homelessness. Yang’s interest in writing arose from her struggle with speaking English.
A graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University, Yang and her sister founded Words Wanted, a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. The title of her presentation is "Returning To Our Stories."
- Created 25 April 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Philip Lilienthal
Philip Lilienthal is the founder and president of Global Camps Africa, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower children for an AIDS-free tomorrow. Global Camps Africa changes the lives of South Africa’s vulnerable children and youth by providing HIV/AIDS prevention education and training through high-impact residential and day camp experiences and continuing education, equipping young people with the life skills that will support them in becoming safe and productive adults who have hope for the future.
A former Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and a veteran camp owner in the United States, Lilienthal brought together his belief in the transformational nature of camp and his passion for helping people around the globe to create a powerful force in the lives of South African children.
In 2013, the National Peace Corps Association awarded Lilienthal the annual Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service. Named for the first Peace Corps Director, the annual award is given to a returned Peace Corps volunteer who continues to make a sustained and distinguished contribution, whether that be to humanitarian causes at home, abroad, or through innovative social entrepreneurial efforts to bring out significant long term change. The title of his presentation is "Having Fun and Doing Good: Impacting HIV/AIDS Through Experiential Learning (the Camp Experience)."
- Created 18 April 2014; Published 11 December 2014Convocation: Derreck Kayongo
A former Ugandan refugee, Derreck Kayongo created a global business vision out of his challenging life experience. In 1979, when Kayongo was ten, his family fled the civil war in Uganda for a better life in America. He never forgot the experience of homelessness and living in a refugee camp, and today he has made it his mission to help save the lives of millions of children in developing countries, one bar of soap at a time.
Each year, an estimated 3.5 million children die from illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia, which can be prevented through improved hygiene and sanitation. In 2009, Kayongo and his wife founded the Global Soap Project, which donates melted, purified and reprocessed hotel soap to vulnerable populations, an astonishingly simple yet highly effective and sustainable approach to global health.
Since establishing his non-profit, Kayongo has become known as a widely respected global health leader and social entrepreneur, and in 2011 he was among CNN’s "Top Ten Heroes" of the year. Prior to Global Soap, he served in leadership roles in some of the world's top NGOs, including the American Friends Service Committee and Amnesty International. He currently serves as Senior Advocacy Coordinator with CARE International and is a regular columnist with The Huffington Post. The title of his presentation is “Recycle Soap, Save a Village.”
- Created 11 April 2014; Published 2 September 2014Convocation: Mel Duncan
In an age when unarmed civilians are apt to get caught in the crosshairs of conflict, Mel Duncan has a radical idea about who should stave off war's "collateral damage:" other unarmed civilians. Duncan's Nonviolent Peaceforce, founded in 2002, dispatches international teams of trained, unarmed peacekeepers to conflict zones where civil society has been caught in the crossfire. Unlike the blue-helmeted U.N. troops, these peacekeepers are immersed in local society to make connections and build trust. Their lack of weapons helps, too. "Peacekeeping isn't always most effective when it’s done at the end of a gun," says Duncan. Sometimes simply being a presence can provide protection. Often, serving as a conduit of nonpartisan information is key.
Duncan’s peacekeepers go only where they've been invited by civil society groups, and where extensive analysis determines that their presence and limited resources can be effective. "No one can make anyone else’s peace for them," says Duncan. "[We] help create the space where local people can do their work and stay alive." The title of his presentation is "Nonviolent Peacekeeping: Hard Nosed Hope in a Tough World."