Lunch Colloquiums


Lunch Colloquiums are generally held twice monthly at the Luce Center and feature a wide range of faculty from all parts of the university. We switched to Zoom presentations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue offering online access using a hybrid format when it is safe to meet in person.

Colloquiums usually take place every first and third Monday or Tuesday from 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Many of our colloquiums are recorded. Click on a title link to view the session.

2021–2022 Programs

Thursday, September 9
Patrick Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, Emory College
“How Should We Think about Environmental Crises?”

The idea of the end of the world has been central to American history since the Puritans. After the atomic bombs of 1945, it became possible to imagine the world would be destroyed not by an angry God but by human folly. Fears over nuclear weapons and then over environmental issues such as pollution, overpopulation, and resource exhaustion led to a succession of alarms in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and finally to expressions of dread that global warming will be apocalyptic. In this colloquium, the first of the fall 2021 series with which we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Emeritus College, Patrick Allitt will review the history of environmental alarms to show their continuity with the jeremiad tradition and older forms of American catastrophism. And he’ll discuss whether he still holds with the uncatastrophic views he expressed in his 2014 book, A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism.

Monday, September 20
Alan Abramowitz, Allen W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, Emory College
“In Search of the Elusive Swing Voter”

With the rise of partisan polarization and straight-ticket voting, swing voters seem to be vanishing from the American electorate. While there definitely are fewer voters who are “up for grabs” in US elections, there is still a group of voters who are open to supporting Republican or Democratic candidates, and this group can play a crucial role in deciding the outcomes of close elections like the 2020 presidential election. Alan Abramowitz will present evidence about the characteristics of these swing voters and the factors that influence their candidate choices. 

Monday, October 4
Denise Raynor, MD, MPH, Professor Emerita, School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor, Emory College Department of Psychology 
“Unmaking the Masked Man: The Real Lone Ranger”

We all remember: A white hat, a white horse. And, of course, a white man. But as Denise Raynor will explain today, referencing the research she’s done for a book she’s preparing for young adult readers, the real Lone Ranger was the first Black US deputy marshal west of the Mississippi. The remarkable Bass Reeves rose from slavery to become one of the most effective lawmen in history, arresting more than 3,000 in the course of his long career, including one of his own sons who had murdered his wife). He had courage and physical prowess to spare, but he also was cunning and inventive, using his skin color along with his wits to outsmart lawbreakers and bring them to justice—and he managed to look good while doing so. A stickler about his appearance, Reeves also used his style to win friends and strike terror in the hearts of foes. He was indeed a legend in his own time—and it’s past time we came to celebrate him as a model for a legend in our own.

Tuesday, October 19
Susan Soper, OLLI at Emory Instructor 
“The Memoir Kit: Your Good Life”

The memoir genre in book publishing has certainly exploded in the past several years. As Mary Karr, author of The Art of Memoir, told an interviewer: “It’s trashy ghetto-ass primitive. Anyone who’s lived can write one.” True, but many of us don’t know how or where to start—or how to keep going. The Memoir Kit class Susan Soper teaches for OLLI is an accessible approach to capturing life’s stories: the ups, downs, risks, relationships, losses, hurdles, and heartbreaks we have all survived. Motivated by more than 250 prompts, her students have shared whimsical, funny episodes and charming tales as well as dark moments about death, addiction, abuse, and abandonment. Twelve chapters of these prompts are being compiled into a book, The Memoir Kit: Your Good Life, One Story at a Time.

Monday, November 1
Melissa Carter, Clinical Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory School of Law
“‘Upstream’ Legal Advocacy to Promote Family Integrity”

Two decades of research documenting the effects of adverse childhood experiences, and mounting evidence that removing children from their families and placing them in foster care can cause acute and enduring trauma, have helped to broaden thinking about the relationship between the legal duty to protect children and the moral responsibility to promote their well-being. Recently enacted federal policies have imposed mandates and unlocked resources to prevent the unnecessary separation of families, reduce socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic disparities in the child welfare system, and afford a greater measure of justice for children and parents. As child welfare system stakeholders coalesce around a prevention agenda, the role and responsibility of the justice system in achieving outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being for children must be redefined.  One promising opportunity for system improvement has captured the full attention of judges, lawyers, and agency administrators throughout the country—the use of lawyers as an “upstream” intervention to address the social determinants of health that create vulnerabilities within families. Melissa Carter will explain this emerging model of preventive legal advocacy and share research, data, and program models demonstrating how lawyers can prevent the need for children to enter foster care by addressing the poverty-related needs of families.

Monday, November 15
Michael Kutner, Rollins Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Rollins School of Public Health
“Biostatistical Collaboration for the Betterment of Society” 

We are not the only ones who recognize the extraordinary quality and impact of Mike Kutner's work in his chosen field of statistical techniques and procedures, especially in the biological sciences and medicine. And it’s not only at Emory that he has distinguished himself in teaching, publishing, and research, especially the collaborative research he so enjoys. He has been receiving “lifetime achievement” awards from a wide range of professional organizations for decades now. And this year he was awarded the 2021 Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions to the Betterment of Society by the American Statistical Association (ASA). In this lecture, Kutner looks back at the work that prompted the ASA to honor him—and look ahead to the work he still plans to do, training the next generation of biostatisticians, so that they too may enjoy and excel in this collaborative field.

Monday, November 29
Gonzalo Vazquez Prokopec, Winship Distinguished Professor in Environmental Sciences, Emory College
“Bridging Science and Public Health Policy to Control Urban Mosquito-Borne Diseases”

Considered the world’s deadliest animal, mosquitoes inhabit virtually every corner of our planet. Their need for vertebrate blood has made them perfect vehicles for pathogens such as malaria, yellow fever, Zika, dengue, and West Nile virus (to name a few). Unfortunately, vaccines are not an option for most of those pathogens, so mosquito control (the use of chemical, environmental, or behavioral tools to prevent human-mosquito contact) is the primary means to prevent human infection and disease. Gonzalo Vazquez Prokopec’s talk will present results from more than a decade of work at Emory researching mosquito biology and disease epidemiology and discuss major improvements in public health policy emerging from such work in the US and internationally. He also will outline new directions in mosquito control with potential beneficial implications from the Emory campus to the whole of the globe.

Monday, December 13
Allan Levey, Director, Brain Health Personalized Medicine Institute, Emory University
“Racing for an Effective Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease: One Person at a Time”

Allan Levey will provide a brief introduction to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias including the current state of knowledge, treatments, and accelerating progress in research. Levey serves as chair of the Department of Neurology and was recently appointed director of the newly constituted Brain Health Personalized Medicine Institute. He also serves as Goizueta Foundation Endowed Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Betty Gage Holland Professor and Chair of Neurology as well as director of the Goizueta Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. There is no one better able to share highlights of Emory’s remarkable record of ongoing research in neurodegenerative disease and information about the initiatives in this area the Emory Brain Health Center is pursuing under his leadership.

Monday, January 10
Sherryl Goodman, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology
“Depression in Women during Pregnancy and the Postpartum”

Sherryl Goodman will discuss decades of research, grounded in developmental psychopathology that have encompassed the study of mechanisms by which mothers with depression transmit psychopathology to their children, preventing or treating depression in women, and how children might benefit from prevention or treatment of their mothers’ depression.

Monday, January 24
Robert M. McCauley, William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor of Philosophy and founding Director of Emory's Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture
“The Cognitive Basis of Similarities in the Forms of Religious Representations and Mental Abnormalities”

Byproduct theorists in the cognitive science of religions hold that the forms of many religious representations turn on cueing the operations of maturationally natural dispositions of mind. Alterations or impairments in the operations of many of those same maturationally natural cognitive systems stand behind symptoms of many mental abnormalities that closely resemble religious forms—from such things as hearing voices (in schizophrenia) to feelings of urgency about carrying out ritualized behaviors (in obsessive-compulsive disorder). Robert McCauley, an expert in this fascinating field, will discuss this and related questions.

Monday, February 7, 12:15–1:45 p.m. 
Annabelle Singer, McCamish Foundation Early Career Professor, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech and Emory University
“Decoding Memory in Health and Alzheimer’s Disease: From Deficits in Neural Codes to Neural Stimulation that Boosts Immune Function” 

We don’t often hear of promising developments in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but Annabelle Singer will describe how she and her fellow researchers have discovered new neural stimulation approaches that do offer great promise in treating the disease. After examining how neural codes fail in the transgenic mice that are the primary animal model of Alzheimer's, they have learned how to stimulate specific frequencies of activity lacking in the mice, discovering that a non-invasive “flicker treatment” (using light and sound) mobilizes the immune system and reduces pathogenic proteins. It’s already clear that this work could lead to new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and may also be broadly applicable in the treatment of other neurodegenerative diseases.

Monday, February 21
Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Goizueta Business School, and Marla Vickers, Associate Vice President of Advancement, Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement
“2036: The Future Starts with You”

Emeritus College member and mainstay Jag Sheth and Marla Vickers will share information about Emory’s new and comprehensive fundraising campaign, “2O36.” They look forward to revealing why the 2O36 campaign is Emory’s boldest campaign to date—aspirational and visionary. And they will highlight a variety of ways members of Emeritus College may want to get involved.

Monday, March 7, 12:45–2:15 p.m. 
Nancy J. Newman, LeoDelle Jolley Chair of Ophthalmology, and Valérie Biousse, Reunette Harris Chair of Ophthalmology 
“The Eye as a Window to the Brain: From Candlelight to Artificial Intelligence” 
  
For more than 150 years, physicians knew the appearance of the ocular fundus, the back of the eye, is a window into the neurologic and systemic health of human beings, just as poets and writers also knew the eye is the window to the soul. Through innovative technology and most recently via artificial intelligence tools, Newman and Biousse have championed and reintroduced the examination of the ocular fundus into mainstream medical practice. 

Monday, March 21
Voracious Readers Not-So-Anonymous: Emeritus College Volunteers
“BookFest 2022: Recommendations for Reading”

Read any good books lately? Of course you have. And might you be willing to recommend one (or more) of those good books to those of us wondering what to read next? We are looking for volunteers to describe books they have enjoyed that they think others might enjoy too. If you’ve got one to discuss, we’ll be happy to allot you five minutes of our BookFest time. If you’ve got two or three, we can schedule you for ten minutes. And of course, you can choose a book or books of any kind at all. If you would like to volunteer, please do so in an email to Gretchen Schulz. If you can name the book or books you’ll be recommending, please do so. But if you’d like to volunteer without specifying titles, that’ll be fine. All we really need to know is if you’re requesting five or ten minutes of time and we’ll schedule accordingly. First come, first scheduled, until we run out of time.

Monday, April 4
Barbara Rothbaum, Professor and Associate Vice Chair of Clinical Research in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory School of Medicine, Director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program, and Director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program
“Innovative Treatments for PTSD: From Assessment to Virtual Reality to the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program”

Since we live in a dangerous world, it’s no wonder we hear so much about people affected by trauma (and may be among such people ourselves). It’s not only soldiers returning from distant wars who have horror stories to tell. So do survivors of attacks here at home or accidents like car crashes or natural disasters that raze our communities to the ground. The strength and resilience of the human spirit are awe-inspiring, enabling most to come through such experiences well enough. But others suffer the severe, disabling, and often chronic condition called “posttraumatic stress disorder” or PTSD. Few know more about PTSD than Emory’s own Barbara Rothbaum. She will discuss the signs and symptoms of PTSD and review current treatments, focusing on cognitive behavioral treatments including the virtual reality exposure therapy she invented and has applied so successfully to the combat veterans she works with.

Tuesday, April 19
Sheila Cavanagh, Professor of English and Director of the World Shakespeare Project and the Emory Women Writers Resource Project, and Joonna Trapp, Director of the Emory Writing Program and Writing Across Emory
“The Monster in the Library: Unearthing a Course from the Decidedly Undead Bram Stoker Archives” 

Emory recently acquired the Bram Stoker archives, long in private hands. These materials reflect the preoccupations of the Irish-born Stoker as he researched and penned Dracula (1897) during his lengthy employment at London's famous Lyceum Theatre. And they also reveal the wide influence the novel has had on literary, cinematic, and popular culture since his day. Sheila Cavanagh and Joonna Trapp describe the course they teach utilizing these exciting materials and will share how the collection has helped them and their students journey through the theater environment where Stoker worked, through the wider literary world of London.

Monday, May 23
Voracious Viewers Anonymous, Assorted Members of the Emeritus College
“BingeFest 2022: Seen Any Good Shows Lately?”

For this participatory colloquium, we’ve decided to schedule a “BingeFest” instead of a “BookFest”—and ask for volunteers to recommend the shows through which they have sought to escape the realities of these trying times. If you have found some movies marvelous, some series irresistible, please let Gretchen Schultz know if you’d like to describe them to others who might enjoy them too. Email Gretchen, identifying the material you’d present, requesting five or (at most) ten minutes of time to do so. First come, first scheduled, until there’s no time left. And fair warning. If volunteers are lacking, Gretchen may claim leftover time to rave about the six seasons of Vikings she recently binged on herself—100-plus episodes. Just sayin’. 

Thursday, June 9
Bradd Shore, Goodrich C. White Professor of Anthropology Emeritus
“Just Nothing: How King Lear Means”

Last year saw the publication of Bradd Shore’s latest book, Shakespeare and Social Theory: The Play of Great Ideas. For this colloquium, he’ll be sharing its insights about King Lear, focusing on Shakespeare’s craftsmanship, examining the relationship between the play’s language and its harrowing effect on its audience (and even its readers). Of course, King Lear brings together themes that are themselves harrowing: the tragedy of growing old, an aged father’s vanity and folly, a king’s confounding of affairs of state and those of the heart, filial ingratitude and greed, and more. These themes suggest what King Lear means. But howKing Lear means is something different. Using insights from contemporary metaphor theory, Shore will discuss Shakespeare’s use of buried and intersecting metaphors that rhetorically perform Lear’s “undoing” on its characters as well as its audience, as King Lear enacts for us and within us the unraveling of the world.

Monday, June 20
Kylie Smith, Associate Professor, Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities, School of Nursing
“Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South”

Psychiatric hospitals in the United States have always functioned as spaces of both custody and care. In the mid-20th century, legislation was passed in an attempt to improve conditions and treatment practices for patients, but these developments were delayed in the South due to an insistence on racial segregation. In this talk, Kylie Smith draws on extensive archival sources from her book in progress to show the ways Southern psychiatric hospitals in the mid-20th century had become home to many thousands of Black patients with mental and physical disabilities, where treatment and care were custodial at best, violent and abusive at worst. Yet these hospitals were also the scene of important civil rights activism in the 1960s that revealed the ways in which psychiatry functioned as a tool of white supremacy. This activism led to the end of segregation, but could not fix the racism that underpins the provision of mental health and disability care today.

This project is funded by the G13 Grant from the National Library of Medicine and will be published by UNC Press in 2023.

Thursday, July 7
Ighovwerha Ofotokun, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine and Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
“Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 . . . or Long COVID”

Clinician-scientist Ighovwerha “Igho” Ofotokun has long been involved in Emory’s work with emerging infectious diseases and their consequences, or sequelae. He has now been chosen as a principal investigator of the Atlanta hub of the nationwide NIH–funded initiative, Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER). Aimed at studying the long-term post-acute-sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), the initiative seeks to understand the phenomenon that has come to be known as long COVID in order to treat it better and perhaps prevent its occurrence. Ofotokun will discuss what is currently known about the problem, including the burden of the lingering disease, its common clinical manifestations, its potential pathobiology, and the research effort he is helping to lead here at Emory and at other Atlanta-area institutions.

Monday, July 18
Terri Montague, McDonald Distinguished Senior Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Law, Emory Center for the Study of Law and Religion
“Demystifying and Meeting the Affordable Housing Challenge” 

As the US economy continues to recover from the global pandemic, the housing affordability crisis worsens, leaving public agencies, private developers, and community advocates scrambling to meet the growing demand and unmet housing needs. Meanwhile, millions of cost-burdened households live with the daily threat of eviction or foreclosure and face persistent inequality in housing opportunities. This presentation discusses the leading factors and conditions that contribute to the worsening housing affordability challenges facing American families and communities, highlighting the significance and nature of the affordable housing challenge, key housing system dynamics, evolving market dynamics, and emerging strategies that can help to overcome current barriers and limitations of conventional approaches, and explore what current calls for “racial equity” may mean for future affordable housing policy and practices. 

Common Good Atlanta: Breaking Down the Walls of Mass Incarceration

(2022, 
57 min.) Directed by Hal Jacobs, the film looks at the evolution of Common Good Atlanta and its impact on both students and instructors. This upbeat, uplifting exploration conveys the excitement and creativity of the program while also serving as a call to action to community and policy leaders.

Hal Jacobs has arranged a virtual screening for Emeritus College members that will be live from July 26 to August 3.

Private Screening Link

Monday, August 1
Hal Jacobs, Independent Documentary Filmmaker, and Sarah Higinbotham, Assistant Professor of English at Oxford College and co-founder of Common Good Atlanta
“Screening and Discussion of Common Good Atlanta: Breaking Down the Walls of Mass Incarceration

While a PhD student in 2008 at Georgia State University, Sarah Higinbotham wanted to teach a literature class in a Georgia prison. She soon discovered no college programs existed in Georgia prisons at the time. So, she started one. Today, an all-volunteer group of more than 70 faculty from six universities has reached some 700 incarcerated students in four prisons, including a downtown course for prison-impacted people. At the heart of the program’s mission is the belief that broad, democratic access to higher education for people affected by incarceration strengthens the common good of our communities.

This colloquium will take the form of a “Zoom talkback” with Jacobs, Higinbotham, and both alumni and instructors from the Common Good Atlanta program.