Astra Speaker Series Fall 2010 / Winter 2011 | College of Arts

Astra Speaker Series Fall 2010 / Winter 2011


Don Bruce - March 15/11

ASTRA Lecture Series Presents:
Don Bruce - Astronomy and Literature in the 19th Century: Good News and Bad News from the Stars

12:00 noon - 1:15 pm in MacKinnon 020

One of the defining tensions in the nineteenth century was the conflict between order and disorder: though no an uncommon tension during other historical times, the particular form that it took in the nineteenth century had to do with both socio-political developments and scientific discoveries.

Significant advances in science and technology preetrated into everyday life, and the social sciences were born in an attempt to understand the motivations, mechanisms, forces at work in society: in particular, its sources of 'social energy'.  Energy was a key metaphor of the 19th centure, and literature, as well as other forms of representation, engaged in its analysis.

Order and disorder manifested themselves in relation to astronomy in at least two ways: one major articulation was in terms of the application of the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) on a grand scale: heat death was our insescapable end.  This was also related to the 19 c. notion of degeneracy.  Another articulation however was in terms of the possibility of discovering new civilizations ('possible worlds'), of seeing ourselves in relation to something greater than ourselves which did not necessarily have a religious source, and of going beyond our mortal coil by means of a new, 'cosmic' spirituality.

This presentation will explore the tendancies in 19th century French literature, with forays into the surrounding cultural scene in Europe.

Donald Bruce received his PhD in French Studies from the University of Toronto in 1987.  Most of the first part of his career however was spent at the University of Alberta as a professor of French, and as Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies.  He moved to the University of Guelph in 2006 to become Dean of Arts.  His main areas of reasearch and teaching are Nineteenth Century French Literature, especially what the French call épistémocritique: the interrelationship between different forms of knowledge, and their representation.

Karen Landman - February 15/11

ASTRA Lecture Series Presents:
Karen Landman on Urban Agriculture: what's happening in North America?

12:00 noon - 1:15 pm in MacKinnon 020

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from lower transportation distances; an increase in local economic activity; enhanced social relationships between producer and consumer; and waste recycling are some of the benefits that can accrue from urban agriculture.  The urban location of food production is an important distinguishing feature; however, it is the interaction with the social, economic and ecological systems of the immediate urban centre that fully separates urban agriculture from simply growing food in the urban environment.  Examples from across North America will illustrate the issues, benefits and constraints of this growing form of green infrastructure.

Karen Landman is an Associate Professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph.  Her background is varied, and includes horticulture, landscape architecture, rural planning and cultural geography.  Current interests can be conveniently collapsed into the 'greening' of our environment, from urban core, to the near-urban, to the rural landscape, and with a particular eye on community collaboration.  Karen recently undertook a 30,000 km road tour to investigate the urban agriculture momement in North America.

Gywnne Dyer - Climate Change: How to avoid the much worse planet

Tuesday February 8, 2011

7:30 pm - Talk
Science Complex Atrium

 Gwynne Dyer has worked as a freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster and lecturer on international affairs for more than 20 years, but he was originally trained as an historian.  Born in Newfoundland, he received degrees from Canadian, American and British universities, finishing with a Ph.D. in Military and Middle Eastern History from the University of London.  He served in three navies and held academic appointments at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Oxford University before launching his twice-weekly column on international affairs, which is published by over 175 papers in some 45 countries.

His first television series, the 7-part documentary 'War', was aired in 45 countries in the mid-80s.  One episode, 'The Profession of Arms', was nominated for an Academy Award.  His more recent works include the 1994 series 'The Human Race', and 'Protection Force', a three-part series on peacekeepers in Bosnia, both of which won Gemini awards.  His award-winning radio documentaries include 'The Gorbachev Revolution', a seven-part series based on Dyer's experiences in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in 1987-90, and 'Millenium', a six-hour series on the emerging global culture.

In Canada, Dyer's column appears regularly in the Telegram in St. John's, the Halifax Daily News, the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Le Soleil in Quebec City, La Presse in Montreal, Le Droit in Ottawa, the Kingston Whig-Standard, NOW in Toronto, the Hamilton Spectator, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the Guelph Mercury, the Sudbury Star, the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, the Winnipeg Free Press, Prairie Dog/Planet S in Saskatchewan, Vue in Edmonton, Fast Forward in Calgary, Georgia Straight in Vancouver, Monday Magazine in Victoria, and about forty other newspapers.

In the United States, his column appears in the Cincinnati Post, Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News, Hartford Courant, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raleigh News & Observer, Sacramento Bee, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salt Lake Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Winston-Salem Journal and about twenty other papers.

Outside North America, papers that use Dyer's column regularly include the Japan Times, the Straits Times (Singapore), the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), the Bangkok Post, the Canberra Times, the New Zealand Herald, The Pioneer (New Delhi), DNA (Bombay), Dawn (Karachi), 7 Days (Dubai), the Bahrain Tribune, Arab News (Saudi Arabia), the Jordan Times, Egypt Today, the Jerusalem Post, the Turkish Daily News, the Moscow Times, Telegraf (Kiev), Lidove Noviny (prague), Monitor (Sofia), Helsingin Sanomat (Finland), Information (Copenhagen), NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam), De Standaard (Brussels), Zeitpunkt (Switzerland), Internazionale (Rome), Daily Vision (Uganda), The Star (Nairobi), The Citizen (Johannesburg), the Cape Times, the Jamaica Daily Gleaner, the Trinidad Express, the Barbados Advocate and the Buenos Aires Herald.

 Dyer's recent books include "Ignorant Armies: Sliding in War in Iraq" (2003), "Future Tense" (2005) and "The Mess They Made: The Middle East After Iraq" (2007), all of which were number one or number two on the Globe & Mail's non-fiction best-seller list.

 His new book "Climate Wars"", based on his recent CBC "Ideas" series of the same name, deals with the frightening geopolitical implications of large-scale climate change, and has just been published in Canada by Random House.

"Crawling from the Wreckage", just published, traces the world's halting emergence from the dark tunnel of the past decade, a time marked by exaggerated fears of terrorism, futile and unnecessary wars in the Middle East, neglect of climate change, and financial near-collapse.

Stuart McCook - Bad Coffee: Robusta Coffee and the Challenges of Development

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 12:00 noon - 1:15 pm  BRING YOUR LUNCH!

Room: MacKinnon 020 

Current research in the coffee industry focuses heavily on the specialty and ethical coffee industries.  This research is important, but does not always adequately capture the complexity of the global coffee industry, particularly the production and trade of lower-grade Arabicas and Robustas (the “commodity coffees”) that continue to make up the vast majority of global coffee production and consumption.  Surprisingly, perhaps, the market for the lowest-grade Robusta coffees has grown almost as rapidly as has the market for specialty Arabicas.  These low-grade coffees provide a livelihood for hundreds of thousands of farmers across the global tropics –including Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  This talk will discuss the surprising growth of the production and consumption of the low-grade Robusta coffees since the early twentieth century, and consider the challenges that this kind of agricultural production represents for development.

Stuart McCook works on the environmental history of tropical commodities, especially coffee.  He has a BA in History and Philosophy of Science, and an MS in Science and Technology and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  He completed an MA and PhD in history at Princeton University, and held a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota.  He joined the faculty of the University of Guelph’s history department in 2003 after teaching for six years at The College of New Jersey.

Anne Milne - Sentient Genetics and the Genetically-Modified Gentleman: Breeding the Animal Breeder in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Tuesday November 16, 4:00 - 5:20pm MacKinnon 020

Anne Milne is an ecocritic who specializes in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature.  She holds a Ph.D. in English from McMaster University and currently teaches in the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences Programme at the University of Guelph.  She is a 2010-2011 Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre, Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany and the author of 'Lactilla Tends Her Fav'rite Cow': Ecocritical Readings of Animals and Women in Eighteenth-Century British Labouring-Class Women's Poetry  (Bucknell, 2008).  Her current research focuses on land-use transformation, local cultural production and the role(s) of British eighteenth-century labouring-class poets in both shaping and being shaped by dynamic and often chaotic landscapes.

In this talk, I illuminate discourses of genetics in eighteenth-century animal breeding as they impact animals, agricultural labourers, and breeders – with a specific focus on the work of the yeoman farmer and master breeder, Robert Bakewell.  Bakewell’s celebrity as an agricultural innovator is discussed as a cultural and aesthetic phenomenon in the context of his class position, his intuitive, unorthodox breeding practices, and the implications for the animal body as Britain rushed to address the needs of a burgeoning urban market for meat.

This is a FREE lecture open to everyone!

Dr. Thomas Calligaro - A Particle Accelerator to Unravel the Mysteries of Art and Archaeology

Tuesday November 2, 2010
Science Complex Atrium

6:15 pm - Coffee and Dessert
7:00 pm - Talk
Free parking in P31 after 5pm

Thomas Calligaro permanent researcher at the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Paris France. A wide range of scientific methods are currently applied to get a better insight into art works and archaeological artefacts and to improve their conservation and restoration. However, to characterize such precious and sometimes unique artefacts, non-destructive and non-invasive methods are often preferred. Among them, chemical analysis using ion beams produced by accelerators, yielding the composition with excellent performance and total non-destructiveness, constitutes one of the best choices. Introduced in the sixties as an application of nuclear physics to materials science, ion beam analysis (IBA) has been constantly tailored to address art works and archaeology questions. The particle accelerator AGLAE of the Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France located in the Louvre museum, has contributed to this progress for 20 years. The cornerstone of this development is a versatile external nuclear microprobe which allows the implementation of the full set of IBA techniques (PIX PIG, RBS, NR and ERDA It enables rapid assessment of artefacts and more extensive research works in art history, archaeology and conservation science. After an introduction to the basic principles of IBA, a virtual tour of this unique facility will be provided. The benefit of its use will be illustrated through a series of case studies, addressing the identification of the cultural heritage materials, the sourcing of supplies, the understanding of alteration and the indirect dating for authentication.  The studied works and periods are diverse, including painted works of the Spanish renaissance, stained glass from Medieval churches, Mesopotamian gemstone-inlayed carvings and a puzzling Pre-Columbian rock crystal skull.



Dr. Evan Fraser - Food Security and Climate Change: Disciplinary Problems and Interdisciplinary Solutions

Tuesday October 19, 4:00 - 5:20pm MacKinnon 020

Evan Fraser has a BA in anthropology, an MSc in forestry both from the University of Toronto.  His PhD was in environmental studies and agriculture from UBC.  He did a post doc, also at UBC, at the Liu Institute for Global Studies before moving to the UK where he worked for seven years at the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment.  He moved to Guelph this past summer to take up a Canadian Research Chair in the department of geography.

Current research about how climate change may affect food security is divided into two broad camps.  The first, which is drawn mostly from the natural sciences, uses mathematical models of crop productivity to assess climate change impacts in terms of changes in productivity.  The second, which is dominated by social scientists, tends to favour qualitative methods as a way of assessing how climate change may affect livelihood strategies and access to resources.   This talk will explore the strengths and limits of both approaches and present results from two multi-year research studies where (1) socio-economic insights have been used to improve the precision of crop-climate models and (2) livelihoods based case studies have been modeled using mathematical tools to develop climate change policy scenarios.  In the last part of the talk, the strengths and weaknesses of combining qualitative and quantitative methods will be discussed.

Eduardo Kac - Telepresence and Bio Art

Saturday October 16, 2010

Eduardo Kac is internationally recognized for his telepresence and bio art. A pioneer of telecommunications art in the pre-Web '80s, Eduardo Kac (pronounced "Katz") emerged in the early '90s with his radical works combining telerobotics and living organisms. His visionary integration of robotics, biology and networking explores the fluidity of subject positions in the post-digital world. His work deals with issues that range from the mythopoetics of online experience (Uirapuru) to the cultural impact of biotechnology (Genesis); from the changing condition of memory in the digital age (Time Capsule) to distributed collective agency (Teleporting an Unknown State); from the problematic notion of the "exotic" (Rara Avis) to the creation of life and evolution (GFP Bunny).

At the dawn of the twenty-first century Kac opened a new direction for contemporary art with his "transgenic art"--first with a groundbreaking transgenic work entitled Genesis (1999), which included an "artist's gene" he invented, and then with his fluorescent rabbit called Alba (2000).

From his first experiments online in 1985 to his current convergence of the digital and the biological, Kac has always investigated the philosophical and political dimensions of communication processes. Equally concerned with the aesthetic and the social aspects of verbal and non-verbal interaction, in his work Kac examines linguistic systems, dialogic exchanges, and interspecies communication. Kac's pieces, which often link virtual and physical spaces, propose alternative ways of understanding the role of communication phenomena in creating shared realities.

Kac merges multiple media and biological processes to create hybrids from the conventional operations of existing communications systems. Kac first employed telerobotics in 1986 motivated by a desire to convert electronic space from a medium of representation to a medium for remote agency. He creates pieces in which actions carried out by Internet participants have direct physical manifestation in a remote gallery space. Often relying on the indefinite suspension of closure and the intervention of the participant, his work encourages dialogical interaction and confronts complex issues concerning identity, agency, responsibility, and the very possibility of communication.

Kac’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues such as Exit Art and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, and Lieu Unique, Nantes, France; OK Contemporary Art Center, Linz, Austria; InterCommunication Center (ICC), Tokyo; Julia Friedman Gallery, Chicago; Seoul Museum of Art, Korea; and Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro. Kac's work has been showcased in biennials such as Yokohama Triennial, Japan, Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Gwangju Biennale, Korea. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the ZKM Museum, Karlsruhe, Germany, and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, among others.

Kac's work has been featured both in contemporary art publications (Flash Art, Artforum, ARTnews, Kunstforum, Tema Celeste, Artpress, NY Arts Magazine) and in the mass media (ABC, BBC, PBS, Le Monde, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New York Times). Kac has received many awards, including the Golden Nica Award, the most prestigious award in the field of media arts and the highest prize awarded by Ars Electronica. He lectures and publishes worldwide. His work is documented on the Web in eight languages:

Kac is a member of the editorial board of the journal Leonardo, published by MIT Press. Kac's writings on art, which have appeared in several books and periodicals in many countries, have been collected in two volumes: Telepresence and Bio Art : Networking Humans, Rabbits and Robots (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005) and Luz & Letra (Rio de Janeiro: Contra Capa, 2004). Kac's poetry is collected in Hodibis Potax (Édition Action Poétique, Ivry-sur-Seine (France) and Kibla, Maribor (Slovenia), 2007). Books about Kac's work include: Eduardo Kac : Move 36, Elena Giulia Rossi, editor (Paris : Filigranes Éditions, 2005), The Eighth Day: The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac, Sheilah Britton and Dan Collins, eds. (Tempe: ISA/ASU -- New York: DAP, 2003) and Eduardo Kac (Valencia: IVAM, 2007).

Eduardo Kac is represented by Numeriscausa, Paris, Black Box Gallery, Linz and Laura Marsiaj Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro.
Eduardo Kac at Ed Video Gallery, 40 Baker Street, Guelph

Opening on Friday October 15, 2010 at 7pm
Exhibition Monday October 18th to Thursday October 21st, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm


Thursday april 1st 7:30pm
Science Complex Atrium

INCUBATOR: Hybrid Laboratory at the Intersection of Art, Science and Ecology is a physical and theoretical hub, a new art/science laboratory at The University of Windsor.  It functions both as an apparatus in which environmental conditions can be controlled towards the assisted proliferation of life, but also as a site that supports the proliferation of new ideas.  Physically and metaphorically INCUBAITOR serves as site for innovative productive and performative imaginings of biotechnology as a technology of the body – a complex ecology – that implicates each of us intellectually and biologically in the continued propagation of the life sciences.  In 2011, in collaboration with The Banff Centre for the Arts, INCUBATOR will construct a portable laboratory in the Canadian Rocky Mountains – bringing internal scientific ecologies in direct contact with external ecological environments.

With this talk, Willet wishes to introduce the Art/Science Community to this new facility, with heavy emphasis on notions of ecology and democracy in imagining possible alternative biotechnological futures.  Willet will highlight the results of her new course, Bioart: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences.  Additionally she will present her ongoing research and the bioart expedition planned for 2011.

Jennifer Willet is an internationally successful artist in the emerging field of BioArt. Her work explores notions of representation, the body, self and subjectivity, in relation to biotechnological and digital technologies with an emphasis on social and political criticism. She has exhibited, and presented her research extensively across Canada and internationally.  From 2000-2007 Willet and Shawn Bailey collaborated on an innovative computational, biological, artistic, project called BIOTEKNICA.

She taught in the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University from 2000-2007, and completed her PhD in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program at the same institution.  Willet also taught “BioArt: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences” for The Art and Genomics Centre at The University of Leiden in Spring 2008, and now works as an Assistant Professor in the School of Visual Arts, at The University of Windsor.  In 2009 she opened the first biological art lab in Canada, called INCUBATOR: Hybrid Laboratory at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Ecology at the University of Windsor.

Exhibitions include: the Exit Art Gallery, New York, NY (2009), Ars Electronica festival, Linz (2008), FOFA Gallery, Montreal (2007), ISEA San Jose, USA (2006), Biennial Electronic Arts Perth Perth, Australia (2004), The European Media Arts Festival Osnabrück , Germany (2003), La Société des arts et technologiques (SAT) Montreal, Canada (2005), and The Forest City Gallery London, Canada (2004), amongst others.  She has conducted research during residencies at The Banff Centre for the Arts Banff, Canada (2002, 2007, 2009), and SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (2004, 2006).

Niles Eldredge, December 1, 2009


Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History
December 1, 2009, 7:30pm
Science Complex Atrium

When Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle in the waning days of December, 1831, he was still a month away from his 23rd birthday. But, though historians correctly emphasize that Darwin’s training as a naturalist had been minimal up to that point, nonetheless his work—with Robert Grant while in medical school (Edinburgh, 1825-1827) and as an undergraduate at Cambridge under the influence of John Stevens Henslow (1828-1831)—had exposed him to the rudiments of field collecting, microscope dissection, analysis of life histories (Grant), and the importance of variation (Henslow). Grant was an evolutionist—together with Darwin looking for phylogenetic connections between plants and animals; Darwin read Lamarck while in Edinburgh.

Darwin was testing—even  “experimenting” with—transmutation from the moment he collected fossil mammals at Bahia Blanca, Argentina in 1832. He wrote his first transmutationally-imbued essay (entitled February 1835) while in Valdivia, Chile—basing his thoughts on the replacement of extinct by living congeneric species primarily on his experiences at Bahia Blanca in 1832 and 1833. In the Fall of 1835, he visited the Galapagos, observing his predicted pattern of geographic replacement of congeneric species developed through his earlier observations in Patagonia and the Falkland Islands.

Darwin returned home, opening his “Transmutation Notebooks” in 1837, immediately seeing the “tree of life” as a simple prediction of the hypothesis of transmutation, and recording his discovery of natural selection in 1838 and 1839. With most of his theory in place, Darwin nonetheless refrained from publishing until forced to do so on receiving the fateful letter and manuscript from A.R. Wallace in 1858.



November 18, 2009,
4-5.20 pm.
Rozanski Hall room 105

Chris Bauch, PhD is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Guelph. He is a specialist in mathematical models of infectious disease transmission (dynamic models), and has experience in a broad range of modeling techniques, including differential equations, agent-based computer simulations, spatial models, stochastic models, and network models.  Dr. Bauch is interested in using models to assess the impacts of vaccination and other control strategies, in the incorporation of human behavioral elements into transmission models, and in the economic evaluation of infectious disease interventions.  Recent projects include cost-effectiveness analysis of universal Hepatitis A vaccination in Canada, modeling parental vaccinating behavior for pediatric infectious diseases under a voluntary vaccination policy using game theory, and using mathematical models in cost-effectiveness analysis to inform the development of new measles vaccine technologies for use in lesser-developed countries.  He has worked extensively with epidemiologists, health economics, physicians, and public health researchers on various interdisciplinary collaborations.

PAUL W. EWALD – OCT 13 2009

Tuesday October 13 2009
University of Guelph
Science Complex Atrium

For the past half century, genetic mutations have been incriminated as the primary culprit for causing cancer.  Although not widely recognized, we are now in the midst of a protracted revolution, driven by molecular and evolutionary biology, which increasingly implicates infections as initiating causes of cancer and relegates mutations to later stages of cancer development.  This revolution offers major new options for prevention of cancer.

Dr. Ewald received his PhD from the University of Washington and is currently Director of the Program in Evolutionary Medicine in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville.  He is considered one of the founders of evolutionary medicine and has authored two influential books in this area, Evolution of Infectious Disease (1993) and Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease (2000).  Among other honours, he was the first recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences.


“Listening to lichen: the sonification of arboreal lichen communities”

Thursday February 26th, 2009
4:00pm- 5:20 p.m.
University of Guelph
Rozanski 106

Kevan Berg completed a BSc in ecology at the University of Lethbridge in 2004, and a MSc in forest ecology with Andy Gordon and Shelley Hunt in the Department of Environmental Biology at the University of Guelph in 2008. Currently, Kevan is pursuing a PhD in ethnobotany with Steve Newmaster in the Department of Integrative Biology.

Jodi Vander Woude received a MMus in Composition from The University of Western Ontario in 2008, completing her thesis with Omar Daniel. Her bachelor’s degrees include a BSc in Chemistry from Trinity Western University in 1998, and a BMus in Composition from the University of Lethbridge in 2005. As a composer, Jodi finds herself drawn to investigate how an existing idea or artifact can be used and reinterpreted to create a new piece of musical art.

During their graduate work, Jodi and Kevan brought their fields of study together in a collaborative side project: an investigation into sonification – the use of sound to convey data. Kevan provided data on the distribution of different epiphytic lichen species occurring in community along conifer branch samples, and Jodi created an electronic piece to musically communicate these intricate community patterns.


“Max Nordau and Camille
Flammarion: Biology and Astronomy’s Intersection with Fin de siècle Culture”

Thursday Februsry 12th, 2009
4:oopm- 5:20 p.m.
University of Guelph
Rozanski 106

   Donald Bruce received his PhD in French Studies from the University of Toronto in 1987. He initially taught at the University of Toronto, and then at Mount Allison University. Most of the first part of his career however was spent at the University of Alberta as a professor of French, and as Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies. He moved to the University of Guelph in 2006 to become Dean of Arts. His main areas of research and teaching are Nineteenth Century French Literature, Literary and Cultural Theory, and what the French call épistémocritique, that is, the interrelationship between literature and different forms of knowledge, their representation, and their realization in discursive (or other) contexts. In particular, he has worked on the interface between scientific and non-scientific discourses (particularly literature) in the Nineteenth Century. With Prof. C. McWebb (University of Waterloo) he is presently completing a journal issue of Texte (University of Toronto) on Epistémocritique. Though administrative duties limit his teaching activity, this year he is teaching an MA course in French on dégénérescence focused on the late Nineteenth Century novel (ie, Verne, Zola, Huysmans, Villiers, Barrès). Personal interests include photography, astronomy, travel, and on occasion when time permits, reading.


January 29, 2009 – 7:30 p.m.
University of Guelph
Science Complex Atrium

How is philosophy relevant to science?

Sci-Phi, the borderland between science and philosophy, is a highly fecund area of interdisciplinary inquiry, where philosophers and scientists come to approach common problems from different yet mutually enhancing perspectives. It is high time to overcome the psychological divide between what C.P. Snow famously called “the two cultures” and renew the Enlightenment project of one unified quest for reason.

Massimo Pigliucci has a PhD in genetics, a PhD in botany and a PhD in philosophy. He received the Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. He is the author of several books, including Phenotypic Plasticity: Beyond Nature and Nurture, Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism and the Nature of Science, and Tales of the Rational: Skeptical Essays about Nature and Science.


March 25, 2008 – 7:00 p.m.
University of Guelph Atrium

Jay Ingram is a Canadian author and television personality. He is host of the television show Daily Planet and the former host of the science program Quirks and Quarks on CBC Radio One from 1979 to 1992.

Ingram is the author of several bestselling books including Talk, Talk, Talk: Decoding the Mysteries of Speech, The Science of Everyday Life, The Velocity of Honey: And More Science of Everyday Life and The Burning House: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain, which won the 1995 Canadian Science Writers Book Award. Ingram’s most recent popular science book is titled Theatre of the Mind: Pulling Back the Curtain on Consciousness.
In January of 2006, Ingram launched Jay Ingram’s Theatre of the Mind, a podcast inspired by his most recent book.