AS&E Speaker Series
Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change
Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change is a semi-annual event where presenters strive to broaden the perspectives of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. In sharing our ideas and allowing ourselves to be challenged and changed, we can all achieve greater insight into the problems we share as citizens of the world in the 21st century.
The theme focuses on the idea that driving all progress—whether cultural, technological, scientific, or aesthetic—is the free give and take of differing viewpoints. We only learn, grow, innovate, and discover through encounters with difference. In this series of events, the dean of the faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E) will bring to campus thought leaders, innovators, and iconoclasts who seek to live and achieve the Rochester ethos of “Meliora,” or ever better.
Difficult Conversations: Ocean conservationist Alexandra Cousteau
Ocean conservationist and environmental activist Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of famed French explorer Jacques Cousteau, discusses the urgency of saving Earth’s waters.
Difficult Conversations: Performative v. Normative Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Moving Away from Deficit Thinking
Virtual event featuring a presentation from equity, diversity, and inclusion practitioner and alumna, Dr. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar '03W (MS), '07W (PhD). Utilizing a funds of knowledge approach to the conversation —knowledge that students and family members have because of their roles in communities and culture—Dr. Rios-Aguilar explores how cultural experiences can be used to develop strategies to overcome disparities and enact long-term normative change.
Difficult Conversations: Actor, activist George Takei of Star Trek fame to speak
Former Star Trek actor George Takei spoke with Donald Hall, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering for the October 2021 “Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change” series. Takei related how his path to activism on LGTBQ and immigrant rights was a long and bumpy one.
Difficult Conversations: Virtual Talk with Michael Eric Dyson
A conversation with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Dean Donald Hall, as part of the "Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change" series.
A Message from Dean Hall: Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change
Dean Donald Hall discusses his "Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change" speaker series and announces the next guest speaker will be Georgetown professor and author Michael Eric Dyson.
An evening with Secretary Madeleine Albright
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited campus as part of the speaker series “Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change.” Albright, the first woman to serve as secretary of state, met with President Sarah Mangelsdorf, the first woman to serve as president of the University of Rochester.
Speaking with students, Albright voiced her concerns regarding the rise of nationalism and the importance of supporting democracy while engaging with people of different viewpoints. She challenged students to be active and make their voices heard, and told them, “Democracies need people to be out there and to say what they believe in.”
Later, Albright took part in a discussion with Donald Hall, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. On the importance of understanding foreign policy, she told the audience in attendance, “I understood early that international affairs was not just another academic subject; it was a matter of life and death for real people whose fate could be determined by the moral and policy choices that were made.”
Educating Students to be Engaged Citizens
“As the next speaker in our Difficult Conversations as a Catalyst for Change series, [Davis] is uniquely poised to speak about how universities can equip students to become engaged citizens of the world, where disagreements abound but common cause can be found around the need for respectful dialogue across differences,” says Donald Hall, the Robert L. Mary Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. Watch Donald Hall's video message.
Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White
In the first of an ongoing initiative to bring challenging conversations to campus, Donald Hall, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull dean of the faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering, welcomed basketball icon and activist Kareem Abdul Jabbar to meet with students and host a talk on the issues dividing America, including racism, economic inequality, and social injustice. For more information see the Writings on the Wall event page.