Swarthmore College

This is a list of Second Tuesday Cafes for which a recording is available. For access to a recording, please contact the Aydelotte Foundation Administrative Assistant.

Germs, Antibiotics, and Immunity

Professor of Biology Amy Vollmer inaugurated Second Tuesday Science Cafe with a talk on the immune system, germs, antibiotics, and keeping illness at bay.

Pennsylvania’s K-12 High Stakes Testing System

Associate Professor Lynne Schofield’s talk examines public reaction to the proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s K-12 high-stakes assessment policy. She and her students examine the characteristics of different school districts, individuals’ roles within a school district, and the trends of opposition or support for new testing policies.

Why things look as they do: Illusion and reality in perception

Professor Frank Durgin: “When you see, when you look and you see, there’s actually a lot going on. It involves more than simply raising your eyelids.”

When personhood begins: The science and the rhetoric

Professor Scott Gilbert speaks about the biological reasons why different groups of scientists claim that embryos become persons at different stages of development, and that there is no scientific consensus as to when an embryo is a person.

To Frack or Not to Frack

Professor Carr Everbach refers to his interest in the arc through which technologies move along their course, applying the broader context of energy production to his discussion of fracking.

Making Faces – How the Brain Is Built to Help Us Pick out Faces in the Crowd

Visiting Assistant Professor Chris Vecsey discusses the process of facial recognition.

A World on Fire: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Global Order

Professor Dominic Tierney discusses President Obama’s handling of the crises taking place in Ukraine, Gaza, Syria, and Iraq.

Why? Some Puzzles of Motivation

Professor Barry Schwartz discusses intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Economics and the Future of Elite Colleges

Professor Mark Kuperberg discusses factors that may influence the future of elite colleges, such as misperceptions about sharply increasing private college tuition, the potential impact of MOOCS, and for-profit colleges.

Putting the Public Back into Public Education

Assistant Professor Cheryl Jones-Walker discusses how school tests operated and who they served to help us think about the purpose of public education in the U.S.

The Perils of Imagination: Why Historians Don’t Like Counterfactuals

Professor Tim Burke says the discussion of counterfactuals illustrates history’s uneasy location in the borderlands between the social sciences and the humanities.

The New Golden Age: Citizenship Education & the Liberal Arts

Associate Professor Ben Berger argues that the liberal arts could preside over citizenship education in far more meaningful ways than in the oft-nostalgized past.

With and Without Words: Development of Language and Thought

Professor Stella Christie describes what we know of the state of the mind without language and how we came to know it.

Time and the River: Hindu Goddesses of Life and Death

Professor Steven Hopkins talk takes the audience on a metaphorical, symbolic boat ride on the Ganga.

Listening to the Lessons of “Chopin Without Piano”

Professors Allen Kuharski and Barbara Milewski discuss the North American premiere of Chopin Without Piano, a production on campus that came to the U.S. from Poland.

Picturing a Classic: “The Tale of Genji” in Japanese Visual Culture

Professor Tomoko Sakomura talk explains that while not everyone had access to this text, many encountered Genji through images that demonstrate how multiple artists and viewers over time engaged with Genji and kept Genji relevant to their times.

Discovering a History: The Farm Portraits

Professor Syd Carpenter discusses the legacy of African Americans’ relationships to farms and gardens.

Should We Shame on Social Media?

Professor Krista Thomason explores whether or not a moral argument can be made in favor of shaming.

Theorizing Indian Dance in the Age of Bollywood

Professor Pallabi Chakravorty discusses her current ethnographic research on reality show and Bollywood dancers.

Treknology: Reference Materials and Worldbuilding in Science Fiction Fandom

Professor Bob Rehak examines the role of fan-generated reference materials — blueprints, schematics, and technical manuals — in mapping the “future history” of Star Trek during the 1970s, raising questions about the relationship between licensed and unlicensed creativity, the limits of authorship and canon, and the role this legacy continues to play in contemporary blockbuster storytelling.

Collaborative Theater Making

Professor Elizabeth Stevens discusses the role of the director from a play’s conception to completion, highlighting the collaborative nature of theater.

The 2016 Election: How Different Political Scientists Rethink What They Thought They Knew

Professor Carol Nackenoff explores whether we are witnessing long-term shifts and the transformation of at least one political party.

What Election Judges See: Ways You Can Fail to Get Your Vote Counted in Pennsylvania

Three election judges share what they have seen at polling places, what might cause a vote to be invalidated or lost, and on what matters they exercise discretion.

The Words You Speak Become the House You Live In: A Literature Professor’s Perspectives on Politics

Professor Peter Schmidt discusses examples that literary writers have used to help people think about politics and power.

Climate Disruption in the Age of Trump

Professor Lee Smithey discusses how the presidential vision for dealing with climate disruption, as outlined before and after the elections, aligns with the need for unprecedented environmental social change and a just energy transition.

La Política Desde Abajo (Politics From Below): U.S. Latinx Politics Following the 2016 Election

Associate Professor Edwin Mayorga discusses ways that Latinxs have already been engaging in a “politics from below” and what direction these efforts might take in this new presidency.

What Happened When I Called Christians Pagans

Professor Mark Wallace discusses how an attempt to fuse Christian and Pagan themes produced such an allergic reaction among scholars and critics that he no longer uses this wording.

Why We Must Fail

Associate Professor Stella Christie discusses why failure is useful and necessary for a psychologist and a scientist. The success of any experiment is meaningful only in relation to a failure of another experiment. Using data from her work with young children and great apes, she will illustrate how charting the failures of human reasoning reconstructs the inner workings of the mind.

Poet Nathalie Anderson Explains How She Turned “Failed” Research to Poetry

Professor​ Nathalie Anderson spoke to the campus community about the unexpected sources of inspiration for her poetry, including her “failed” research on an artifact inherited after her father’s death.

From Scribbles to Compounds and Back Again: A Chemist’s Tale

Associate Professor Christopher Graves breaks down his research, which focuses on development of novel aluminum complexes for application as catalysts.

Communicating Global Issues to a Public Audience

Professor Dominic Tierney will discuss the perils and opportunities of communicating to a mass audience about global challenges, including the tribulations (and benefits) of being a foreign observer of the United States, navigating an age of partisanship and ideology, and how the Iraq War fundamentally shaped the left’s view of the world.

Research on Yoga, Healing

Professor Pallabi Chakravorty discussed her current research on yoga, dance, healing, and the hybrid intercultural body that is both artistic and scientific in contemporary culture.