Recordings of Convocations
- Created 19 April 2013; Published 27 April 2013Convocation: Sarah Kay
Sarah Kay, known for her spoken word poetry, is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E., a group dedicated to using spoken word as an inspirational tool. A graduate of Brown University, Kay began performing poetry at the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan’s East Village at the age of 14. She was the youngest person competing in the National Poetry Slam that year, and the next year made her television debut performing on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She has performed at events and venues such as the Lincoln Center, the Tribecca Film Festival, the United Nations, and a widely acclaimed talk and performance at the 2011 TED Conference. Teaching poetry and self-expression at schools across the United States, Kay founded Project V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression) to encourage people, particularly teenagers, to use spoken word as an instrument through which they can explore and better understand their culture, their society, and ultimately themselves. V.O.I.C.E. brings together performance, writing, and a supportive environment to inspire youth to recognize that their views are significant, valid, and necessary. Kay shows how this ancient art form has been reborn in an era dominated by social media in her presentation titled "The Art of Storytelling in a Digital World."
- Created 12 April 2013; Published 15 April 2013Convocation: Zalmay Khalilzad
Zalmay Khalilzad served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. He has been involved with U.S. policy makers at the White House, State Department and Pentagon since the mid-1980s, and is the highest-ranking Muslim in U.S. Government in the history of the United States. Praised for his inclusive tactics, convivial style, and result oriented approach, Khalilzad’s record in the most turbulent areas of U.S. foreign policy earned him broad respect throughout the world. Khalilzad’s previous assignments included U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, wher he played a significant role in facilitating both countries’ constitutions, elections and formation of government. He is currently a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and president of Khalilzad Associates, an international business consulting firm based in Washington D.C. His first-hand knowledge and experience as a statesman in the world’s important hotspots give him unparalleled insights into the global issues of security, terror, extremism, state building, peace negotiation, and energy. Ambassador Khalilzad assesses the challenges the United States faces in the changing global landscape and their implications for the American people and effective U.S. strategy for the future in his presentation titled "U.S. Global Leadership."
- Created 5 April 2013; Published 9 April 2013Convocation: K. David Harrison
K. David Harrison is an authority on endangered and dying languages with particular interest in connections between language and biodiversity, ethnoecology, and cultural survival. Approximately half of the world’s 7,000 languages are predicted to go extinct in this century, and language death leads to intellectual impoverishment in all fields of science and culture. An associate professor and the chair of the linguistics department at Swarthmore, Harrison is also a fellow at the National Geographic Society and Director of Research at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, whose mission is to use multi-media projects to document, preserve, and revitalize endangered and little-documented languages. Harrison’s work involves living in the communities whose languages he is helping to document. He adopts the position that languages exist solely within a cultural matrix, and must be studied holistically and in their natural context. This means that in addition to studying abstract structures in the mind (e.g., vowel harmony), he is keenly interested in what people have to say and how languages shape the structure of human knowledge. His ethnographic research looks at indigenous knowledge, folklore, oral epics, conceptual systems, and naming practices. The title of his presentation is "Endangered Languages."
- Created 22 February 2013; Published 1 March 2013Convocation: Siri Hustvedt
Minnesota-born writer Siri Hustvedt is the author of a book of poetry, five novels, two books of essays, and a work of non-fiction. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. She also lectures and publishes regularly on the intersections among philosophy, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience. Hustvedt’s works repeatedly pose questions about the nature of identity, selfhood and perception. In The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves, an interdisciplinary account of her own seizure disorder, Hustvedt states her need to view her symptom not “through a single window” but “from all angles.” These multiple perspectives do not resolve themselves into a single view but rather create an atmosphere of ambiguity and flux. Hustvedt presents the reader with characters whose minds are inseparable from their bodies and their environments, and whose sense of self is situated on the threshold between the conscious and unconscious. Her characters often suffer traumatic events that disrupt the rhythms of their lives and lead to disorientation and a discontinuity of their identities. In her convocation presentation, Hustvedt will focus on the source of creativity, and the role of the self in the production of fiction. “The secret to creativity,” she writes, “lies not in the so-called higher cognitive processes, but in dreamlike reconfigurations... that take place unconsciously.” With brief readings from her own creative work to illustrate this idea, Hustvedt will explain how personal experience and memory become transformed into narrative. The title of her presentation is “Reflections on Creativity: Memory, Imagination, Narrative and the Self.”
- Created 15 February 2013; Published 1 March 2013Convocation: Brenda Brenner
Brenda Brenner, associate professor of music (music education) at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, drew international interest with her ground-breaking work with underprivileged and underachieving elementary students in Bloomington. Through an outreach program supervised by Brenner, first-graders at Fairview Elementary in Bloomington are taking violin lessons three times a week throughout the school year. Fairview Elementary serves low-income Bloomington neighborhoods; approximately 90 percent of its students qualify by family income for free or reduced-price school lunches. Brenner’s research through this program is looking at whether kids are more likely to attend school when they have violin class; parental involvement in school and attitude toward school improves; WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) cognitive test scores taken at the beginning and end of the year (compared with a control group from Bloomington's Highland Park Elementary School) improve; participation in the program has an effect on cognitive development. The title of her presentation is "Finding Our Shared Humanity: Cross-Cultural Connections in Music."
- Created 8 February 2013; Published 15 February 2013Convocation: David Gergen
A true public servant, David Gergen put his country above his personal politics, serving as an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and then Clinton. Today he helps audiences break through ideological barriers to recognize simple and lasting political truths. Gergen's unique vantage point—serving as an Oval Office insider to presidents from different political parties—provides him with insights that few others can match. For more than 30 years, Gergen has been an active participant in American political life. He currently serves as editor-at-large of U.S. News & World Report, as director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and as a regular television commentator for CNN. Author of Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton and an upcoming book on presidential transitions, he offers an inside glimpse into the corridors of power and the leadership challenges presidents face, bringing clarity to the most complex international and domestic issues.
- Created 8 February 2013; Published 26 February 2013Convocation Highlights: David Gergen
Highlights from the February 8 convocation with David Gergen, trusted advisor to four presidents and to both political parties. A true public servant, he served as an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and then Clinton. Today he helps audiences break through ideological barriers to recognize simple and lasting political truths. Gergen's unique vantage point—serving as an Oval Office insider to presidents from different political parties—provides him with insights that few others can match.
View the entire convocation in our archives section.
- Created 1 February 2013; Published 15 February 2013Convocation: Ebony Utley
Ebony Utley, associate professor of communication studies at California State University Long Beach, is an expert in popular culture, race, and romantic relationships. Her critically-acclaimed book, Rap and Religion: Understanding The Gangsta’s God, addresses all of the above by closely examining the juxtaposition – and seeming hypocrisy – of references to God within rap music. Rap music has been condemned for inciting violence, promoting misogyny, perpetuating racial stereotypes, and encouraging religious blasphemy. Despite these assessments, Utley asserts that religion has always been part of the urban environments that birthed rap music, and she shows exactly how a God-sanctioned gangsta identity can be empowering. The title of her presentation is "The Rap on Rap and Religion." This Black History Month Convocation is sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life.
- Created 25 January 2013; Published 15 February 2013Convocation: Helene York
Helene York is a food activist who has managed product sourcing for a large restaurant company, an advocate for humane meat production systems who happens to be vegetarian, a teacher, and a writer who has thought a lot about what Americans eat.
Conscientious consumers who want to "chew the right thing" can head for their local farmers market. But what about a corporation that serves 135 million meals a year in 32 states? From 1999, when Bon Appétit Management Company launched its Farm to Fork program, to February 2012, when it announced it was entirely phasing out pork from pigs confined in gestation crates and eggs from hens in battery cages, Bon Appétit has pioneered socially and environmentally responsible practices. The company's first director of purchasing strategy, and the architect of many advances for which the company is known, York will talk about the complexities and ethical challenges of how Carleton's food service provider influences our food system and works to make more sustainable food available for everyone. The title of her presentation is "Supporting Consumer Activism: The Role of Corporate Change Making to Affect a Sustainable Food System."
- Created 18 January 2013; Published 21 February 2013Convocation: Anita Sarkeesian
Anita Sarkeesian is a pop culture media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. Over the past few decades there has been a significant increase in the number of television shows and movies that showcase female action heroes. These roles have helped transform and challenge historical representations of women in the mass media. But are these examples of strong female characters or are they just replicating traditional masculine archetypes in a sexualized, female body? Sarkeesian argues for a new character archetype that supports feminist values and breaks out of traditional oppressive gender binaries in order to promote, encourage, and envision a more just society. The title of her presentation is "I'll Make a Man Out of You: Redefining Strong Female Characters."
- Created 11 January 2013; Published 17 January 2013Convocation: Ronald Henkoff
Ronald Henkoff '76, the editor of the award-winning Bloomberg Markets magazine and an executive editor of Bloomberg News, has been a business journalist for more than three decades. Before joining Bloomberg News as global features editor, Henkoff worked at Fortune magazine where he was Chicago bureau chief and a member of the board of editors. Prior to that he worked for Newsweek magazine in New York, Houston, and London and was Newsweek's European economics editor. Bloomberg Markets, the world's leading financial magazine with 375,000 readers in 150 countries, provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the global financial markets and is the go-to source of information on the most essential, can't-miss financial news. A graduate of Carleton College, Henkoff holds an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and an M.A. in international history from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Taking a look at how the economy has been affected by scandals within financial institutions, the title of his presentation is "Money, Power and Trust."
- Created 4 January 2013; Published 21 February 2013Convocation: Anthony DeCurtis
Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared for more than thirty years. He has also written for The New York Times, Relix and other publications as a respected author and music critic. DeCurtis is the author of In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work and Rocking My Life Away: Writing About Music and Other Matters. He is editor of Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture and Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer, and he co-edited the third editions of the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll and the Rolling Stone Album Guide. DeCurtis holds a PhD in American literature from Indiana University. He helped design the arts-and-culture curriculum at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and currently teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent member of the judging panel for the annual Independent Music Awards, DeCurtis has also appeared as a commentator on MTV, VH1, the Today Show and many other news and entertainment programs. The title of his presentation is “The Music of Social Protest.”
- Created 2 November 2012; Published 2 November 2012Convocation: Leslie Harper
Leslie Harper is keeping the Ojibwe culture alive and well in northern Minnesota. On the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, it has been decades since anyone has heard Ojibwe children routinely speaking their native tongue. Harper is one of the founders of an elementary school program there designed to revive the language. Its young students hear only Ojibwe in the classroom – all day, every day. Proponents say total immersion in the language is the best way to ensure its survival. That's what's happening every day at the tribally-run Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School east of Cass Lake. Ojibwe language is not the subject in this classroom. It's the vehicle for teaching everything – reading, writing and arithmetic. The four-year-old language immersion program is called Niigaane, which in Ojibwe means "the ones who lead." Harper, who is Ojibwe, learned her native language in a university setting and through self-directed instruction. Her passion for ensuring others learned the native language came partly from the realization that she had no one to talk to outside of a few senior citizens. But, primarily, Harper believes firmly that important cultural knowledge is embedded in the language, and that knowing it helps give children a stronger sense of their own identity. Harper will be speaking about the importance of indigenous languages and language revitalization in contemporary times, including aspects of inclusion, re-creation of space for indigenous languages, and some new policy initiatives being undertaken in Minnesota to support indigenous language revitalization. This Native American Heritage Convocation is sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life.
- Created 26 October 2012; Published 2 November 2012Convocation: Sherry Turkle
Sherry Turkle is a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research and writing focuses on the "subjective side" of people's relationships with technology, especially computers. She is an expert on mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics. Profiles of Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. She has been named "woman of the year" by Ms. Magazine and among the "forty under forty" who are changing the nation by Esquire Magazine. She is a featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, Frontline, 20/20, and The Colbert Report. In addition to serving as the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, Turkle is also the founder and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. She received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Turkle uses the metaphor of “necessary conversations” to describe where technology has brought us and to the questions we now must confront, such as: What does it mean to have a liberal arts education and how much of it can take place online? What is the difference between conversation and connection, and is technology eroding bonds of community? What is democracy without privacy? What is personhood, and can we have meaningful conversations with machines? We have a tendency to avoid these questions; we flee from conversation about them, part of a more general flight from conversation. But these conversations need to be embraced and we need a new vocabulary for embracing them. The title of her presentation is “Necessary Conversations: Technology as an Evocative Object.”
- Created 21 October 2012; Published 25 October 2012Convocation: Baoting Li and Miao Song and Dance Troupe
The Baoting Li and Miao Autonomous County Song and Dance Troupe is the premier performance troupe in China dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rich cultural resources of the Miao (Hmong) minority and Li minority. Performers include dancers dressed in traditional festive costumes, vocalists hailing the strong work ethic of the Miao and Li people and the natural beauty of their region, and musicians performing on the rare traditional instruments. The Li Miao Autonomous Region Baoting Song and Dance Troupe is significantly diverse in its styles and expressions, creating a unique culture of Chinese folk art and receiving high appraisals from nationwide. The troupe was also commissioned by China’s Ministry of Culture and China’s Tourism Bureau to perform in many foreign countries, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Japan, Sweden, Ireland, Finland, Korea and Hong Kong. Through these cultural missions, the troupe has successfully brought the Li & Miao culture overseas, facilitating cross-cultural communications. The convocation and the concert will demonstrate the unique charm and beauty of Li and Miao's original cultural environment.