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Oliver Sacks

Honors Colloquium celebrates 40th year

For the past 40 years the University of Rhode Island’s Honors Colloquium has provided an opportunity for the campus community to get together with experts from a wide range of disciplines to discuss and exchange points of view.

“The Honors Colloquium has lasted so long because we’ve had excellent professors who have risen to the task of coordinating it and encouraged their students to participate,” said Galen Johnson, director of the Honors Program. “We’ve had timely topics and programs that include much more than just lectures. Special events like the Pete Seeger concert in 2000 help to galvanize the public’s attention on the topic.”

Each year a different topic is chosen. Topics have ranged from Technology and the Environment during the first colloquium in 1963 to last year’s A Just and Sustainable Future. Among the colloquium topics covered more than once over the past four decades have been death, technology and the environment. This fall’s colloquium topic, Genetic Technology and Public Policy in the New Millennium, includes the following upcoming speakers:

Nov. 5: Albert Kausch, director of research for HybriGene and a professor of molecular biology at URI and Connecticut College, addressing controversies involving the development and marketing of genetically modified organisms.

Nov. 12: Dan Brock, professor of philosophy and biomedical ethics at Brown University, defending the use of genetic testing and selection against arguments put forth by members of the disability movement who call this technology discrimination.

Nov. 19: Richard Rhodes, URI vice provost and professor of animal and veterinary sciences, on the scientific advancements and ethical issues related to harvesting organs from other animals to save human lives.

Nov. 26: Dorothy Wertz, research professor of psychiatry at UMass Medical School and senior scientist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Foundation, discussing ethical issues in clinical genetics from a global perspective.

Dec. 3: Oliver Sacks, physician and writer, on the link between the body and the mind and the way in which the whole person adapts to various neurological conditions.

All events will be held at the Chafee Social Science Center, room 271, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and are open to the public at no cost.

By Nicole Duguay

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