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Center for Advanced Studies announces November lecture series

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A variety of topics will be explored in a series of November lectures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – among them a journalist’s take on America at home and abroad, Homer’s lessons for the modern military, diploma mills, naturalists and their letters, and what bees can teach us about brains and behavior.

The lectures are sponsored by the university’s Center for Advanced Study, and three are part of the its MillerComm series. All of the talks are free and open to the public.

The MillerComm lecture series began in 1973 and is supported with funds from the George A. Miller Endowment and several co-sponsoring campus units. The lectures provide a forum for discourse on topics spanning the university’s many disciplines.

The first of the CAS lectures will come on Nov. 2, with the inaugural Chancellor’s CAS Special Lecture, “Overachievers: What Honey Bees Teach Us About Genes, Brain and Social Behavior,” presented by Gene E. Robinson, professor of entomology at Illinois. He also is a professor in the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois and director of the Neuroscience Program.

Robinson will draw on the latest studies from several fields to explore how honey bees, with brains the size of a grass seed, can live together in societies that rival those of humans in complexity and internal cohesion. His lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Beckman Institute, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana.

Subsequent CAS lectures:

Nov. 3, “The Slow-Motion Suicide of the American Empire,” by Ted Rall, a journalist, columnist and cartoonist for the Universal Press Syndicate and author of “Generalissimo El Busho: Essays & Cartoons on the Bush Years.”

An outspoken opponent of the current administration, Rall will discuss the country’s ideological divides and a number of international issues. His MillerComm talk begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.

Nov. 10, “Corresponding Naturalists,” by Janet Browne, a professor in The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London, and currently a George A. Miller Endowment Visiting Professor at Illinois.

Browne will discuss the role that letters played in natural history research in the 18th and 19th centuries, with particular emphasis on the correspondence of Charles Darwin and his contemporaries. Her MillerComm talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium in the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana.

The lecture also will serve as the opening keynote for a two-day symposium, “Naturalist Voyagers,” held in honor of Richard W. (Chip) Burkhardt, who recently retired from the department of history at Illinois.

Nov. 14, “Degree Mills – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” by Allen Ezell,
co-author of “Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas.”

Ezell, who founded and headed the FBI’s “DipScam” diploma-mill task force, will discuss how the mills operate and the extent of the problem. His talk, part of the CAS “Age of Networks” series, begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.

Nov. 17, “From Troy to Baghdad: Can the U.S. Military Learn from Homer's Epics?” presented by Jonathan Shay, staff psychiatrist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Boston, and author of “Achilles in Vietnam.”

Shay will discuss what he has learned about military leadership and ethics from his treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and from the work of the ancient Greek poet Homer. His MillerComm lecture begins at 4 p.m. in Room 407 of the Levis Faculty Center.

For additional information, or to confirm scheduling details prior to a lecture, check the events section of the CAS Web site.