Thematic Focus: Technology and Society

Thematic Focus Technology and Society .jpg

COD faculty are invited to integrate some aspect/s of the thematic focus topic into their respective courses whenever possible and to encourage students to join activities, events, panel presentations, field trips, films, sessions that will be offered.

The goal is to encourage students to explore diverse questions, methods, and materials in studying a selected yearly topic from various viewpoints through the lenses of different disciplines. The thematic focus offers faculty opportunities to bring their respective disciplinary expertise by engaging students to develop interdisciplinary fluency in preparation for a future which will likely require them to tackle complex problems through diverse sets of methods and concepts.

This site contains a calendar of events - click on the event to view additional event information as well as links to associated supplemental resources, such as books and articles, online videos and bibliographies.

When viewing events on the calendar, be sure to click on upcoming months to view all events scheduled for the semester!

Stem Speakers Series: Neal Sales-Griffin, CEO at CodeNow StemNealSalesGriffin.png

Friday, Sept. 15, 7pm – 9pm, HSC 1234

Neal Sales-Griffin is the CEO of CodeNow, a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that hosts coding workshops for students from low-income backgrounds in six cities across the US. Before heading CodeNow, Sales-Griffin was the CEO of The Starter League, an institution determined "to teach everyone to code," with an innovative curriculum and strong alumni connections. He also serves as a coordinator to the non-profit International Game Developers Association (IGDA®) and is a faculty member for the Northwestern University Farley Center for entrepreneurship and Innovation. Sales-Griffin lends his mentorship to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Sustainability Film and Discussion Series: Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 7pm - 9pm HSC 1234

Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet it's become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way she meets scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined.

COD Faculty Panel Discussion: Communication: Our Rewired Minds Our Rewired Minds_0.jpg

Thursday, Sept. 21, 1-3 p.m. SRC 2000 A-C

Interactive technology in the information age has altered our brains: thinking, memory, attention spans, feelings, even dreams are changing. Please come and bring your students to the first Thematic Focus faculty panel discussion: “Communication: Our Rewired Minds” moderated by Prof. Jennifer Kelley. Listen to perspectives from Anthropology (Prof. Alexander Bolyanatz), Computer Information (Prof. Carolyn England), Library (Ass. Prof. Jason Ertz), Philosophy (Prof. Eva Maria Räpple) and Speech (Brandon Wood).

Presentation Slides


STEM Speaker Series: TBA

Friday, Oct. 6, 7-9 p.m.

These Shining Lives These Shining Lives.jpg

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017.

Light Refreshments and Panel Discussion 6:30 - 7:30 pm in Student Services Center, Room 3245

Performance begins at 8:00 pm at the McAninch Arts Center, Studio Theatre

Join the Honors Program, the Honors Student Advisory Committee and Alumni Relations for a performance of These Shining Lives, written by Melanie Marnich & directed by Michael Ryczek.

These Shining Lives dramatizes a true, local story from Ottawa, Illinois. Led by Catherine Donahue, the inspirational story follows four women working at Radium Dial, the potential dangers of radium poisoning, and their courageous fight for justice.

Please stay for a brief post-show discussion.

Sustainability Film and Discussion Series: SEED: The Untold Story

Monday, Oct. 23, 7-9 p.m. HSC 1234

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds.

COD Faculty Panel Discussion: On the Nature of Time On the Nature of Time.png

Thursday, Nov. 2, 1-2 p.m. SSC 2201

Presenters: Tom Carter and Tom Montgomery Fate. “Time is but a stream we go a-fishing in,” writes Henry David Thoreau. What is “natural time,” opposed to numeric time, and how is it affected by technology? When is time im/measurable? What’s the difference between being present and multi-present? Does it matter? Join us for a lively conversation centered on these questions.



STEM Speaker Series Pauline Gagnon - Gigantic tools to explore the smallest particles gagnon.jpg

Friday, Nov. 3, 7-9 p.m. HSC1234

I was born in Chicoutimi in Quebec, Canada in 1955. As a young kid, I dreamt of understanding what were the fundamental constituents of matter. After teaching physics for a few years in local colleges, I fell in love, dropped everything and moved to California. There, I first studied at San Francisco State University then completed a PhD in particle physics at University of California in Santa Cruz. I then started my research activities at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics located near Geneva, where I worked as a Senior Research Scientist with Indiana University until I retired in 2016. From 2011-2014, I worked within the CERN Communication group, writing blogs for the Quantum Diaries and answering questions from numerous media worldwide. Explaining particle physics in simple and accessible terms has become my trademark. Since 2013, I have given more than sixty presentations to large audiences in seven countries. I hope my book will allow me to reach even larger audiences since particle physics is too much fun to leave it only to physicists!

Sustainability Film and Discussion Series: Growing Cities: A Film about Urban Farming in America

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 7-9 p.m. HSC 1234

In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.

Student Presentations! Technology & Society & Students

Wednesday, December 6, 2017, Noon-3:00 p.m. SSC 2201 Atrium

Join students from classes across campus in presentations of their original scholarship exploring the impact of technology in our lives.

Student Panel Presentation Schedule

  • Panel I: (12 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.) Select Topics in Biology and Artificial Intelligence
  • Panel II: (1 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.) Technologies and Dystopia/Utopia
  • Panel III: (2 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.) Technologies: Cost and Benefits

Spring, 2018 Events

COD Faculty Panel Discussion: “Between Utopia and Dystopia: Technology, Society, and the Future” Between Utopia and Dystopia: Technology, Society, and the Future

Tuesday, January 30, 1-3 p.m. SRC 2000

Since the 19th Century, many have believed that the wonders of science and technology would usher in a new, advanced utopia where all that has plagued humanity in the past was erased and shining visions of the future await. Others, however, cautioned that this technological dream could quickly become a nightmare in ways unimagined. As we live in the “marvelous” world imagined by those before us, has our technology brought us that promised utopia, that threatened dystopia, or something in between? Join us for a probing discussion with panelists Jim Allen (English), Chris Goergen (Political Science), Tom Tipton (English), and Lauren Morgan (Speech Communications).

Sustainability Film and Discussion Series: Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

Tuesday, March 6th, 7-9 p.m. HSC 1234

WASTED! aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle, and eat food. Audiences will see how the world’s most influential chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Massimo Bottura, and Danny Bowien make the most of every kind of food, transforming what most people consider scraps into incredible dishes that create a more secure food system. WASTED! exposes the criminality of food waste and how it’s directly contributing to climate change and shows us how each of us can make small changes – all of them delicious – to solve one of the greatest problems of the 21st Century. This film is part of the One Earth Film Festival

Sustainability Film and Discussion Series: After the Spill

Thursday, March 8th, 7-9 p.m. HSC 1234

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the coast of Louisiana. Five years later the Deepwater Horizon exploded and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst ecologic disaster in North American history. Amazingly, those aren’t the worst things facing Louisiana’s coastline today. This film is part of the One Earth Film Festival and is co-sponsored by Glen Ellyn Environmental Commission

STEM Speaker Series: Andy Jansen Jansen.jpg

Friday, March 9, 2018 7:00 p.m. HSC 1234

Andrew Jansen is a chemical engineer in Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division who plans and conducts goal-oriented research and development on advanced battery systems; providing technical guidance and program direction. His work includes evaluating developmental cells/batteries with an emphasis on cell chemistry and hardware development for lithium-based battery chemistries for transportation applications. Arts Lecture: Marissa Lee Benedictza

Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:00 a.m. MAC 205

STEM Speaker Series: Wes Ketchum Ketchum.jpg

RESCHEDULED Friday, Apr. 6, 2018 7:00 p.m. HSC 1234

Wes Ketchum is a member of the MicroBooNE collaboration at FermiLab, and he has spent the last year working at CERN in Switzerland. In 2014, he won the Physics Slam with his presentation using Claymation to show how different particles interact inside a liquid-argon particle detector, depicting them as multicolored monsters bumping into one another and creating electrons for the detector’s sensors to pick up.

STEM Speaker Series: Ted Daeschler daeschler.jpg

Friday, April 20, 2018, 7:30 p.m. HSC 1234

Ted Daeschler is an American vertebrate paleontologist and Associate Curator and Chair of Vertebrate Biology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He is a specialist in fish paleontology, especially in the Late Devonian, and in the development of the first limbed vertebrates. He is the discoverer of the transitional fossil tetrapod Hynerpeton bassetti, and a Devonian fish-like specimen of Sauripterus taylorii with fingerlike appendages, and was also part of a team of researchers that discovered the transitional fossil Tiktaalik. He received a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. He has held recent research grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and other donors. He is also known for his work on the preservation of natural history collections.

Sustainability Film and Discussion Series: The True Cost

Wednesday, April 18th, 7-9 p.m. HSC 1234

This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

STEM-CON Keynote Speaker: Emily Graslie graslie.jpg

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 9:00 a.m. MAC

Emily Graslie is an American science communicator and YouTube educator. She started volunteering at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the University of Montana in 2011 and graduated with a BFA in studio art/painting. Today, she is the writer, producer, co-creator and host of The Brain Scoop, an educational YouTube channel that explores behind-the-scenes of The Field Museum in order to share the work of scientists and the value of research collections with the world. She is now employed by The Field Museum as their first-ever Chief Curiosity Correspondent and was the keynote speaker at the Chicago March for Science on April 22, 2017.

Thematic Focus Culminating Event

Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Atrium and SSC 2201

Come join COD students and faculty for the Thematic Focus Culminating Event. Students will present work completed during the semester. Poster sessions and panel discussions will take place, as well as speeches from award winning members of the COD Speech Team.

Student Panel Presentation Schedule

  • Panel I: (1 p.m. - 1:55 p.m.) Topic: Nuclear Energy: Pros and cons of a powerful technology
    Panelists: Rose Arnold, Allison Plesha, Noah Redmond, Sasha Fenton
    Class: Environmental Ethics/Biology (Honors Seminar)
  • Panel II: (2 p.m. - 2:55 p.m.) Topic:  Biology, Technology, and Society: connections to human well-being
    Panelists: Students of Biology 1152 (Honors)
    Class: Principles of Biological Science II
  • Panel III: (3 p.m. - 3:55 p.m.) Topic: Water App –Watching the use of a precious resources
    Panelists: Nadia Hussain, Natalie Orsic, Cameron Bilardello
    Class: Environmental Ethics/Biology (Honors Seminar)