Headliners

a variety of microphones (black and white image)
  • 2019–20 Season: Oct. 10, Nov. 7, Dec. 5, Feb. 6, March 5, April 2, and May 7
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Location: Continuing Education and Conference Center
  • Cost: Series Pass $90 | Individual tickets $20; Purchase Series Pass by 10/10 and save $50!
  • Connect on Facebook and Twitter: Use hashtag #umnheadliners

Go beyond the spin and soundbytes when you join LearningLife for this popular series in which University scholars and researchers share firsthand knowledge of today’s most intriguing stories. From medical breakthroughs and culture clashes to social trends, international affairs, and more, you’ll learn the who, what, where, why, and how from an insider’s point of view and then share your insights in a moderated and lively Q&A.

LearningLife also offers an innovative portfolio of short courses, seminars, and one-day immersions, as well as Encore Transitions, a series of courses designed to help you imagine and prepare for a vibrant post-career life.

October 10, 7 p.m.

The US Supreme Court: Still the Least Dangerous Branch?

Timothy R. Johnson, Morse-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Law, University of Minnesota

Timothy R Johnson

The Founding Fathers considered the US Supreme Court to be the weakest of the three branches of government since, as Alexander Hamilton noted, it held “neither sword nor purse strings.”

Yet while a US president may remain in office for two terms or a maximum of eight years, they are also able to influence public policy for decades to follow through appointments to the US Supreme Court. Indeed, justices serve until they retire, die, or are impeached. The average tenure of a justice is 15 years, though many serve longer.

For example, Chief Justice John Marshall, appointed by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, served a record 34 years. The longest serving current justice is Clarence Thomas, who has been on the Court since 1991.

As justices hold their decades-long tenures, the Supreme Court has arguably become the most powerful branch of government, deciding on hot-button issues such as abortion rights, gerrymandering, voting rights, and freedom of speech. Keep in mind: once the justices make a decision, it is very difficult for Congress to overturn that decision.

Join us October 10, when nationally recognized Supreme Court scholar Dr. Timothy R. Johnson will discuss his insights about how the Court decides, how the justices interact with one another, and what this means for the 2019 term (which, in keeping with tradition, begins on the first Monday in October: October 7).

Timothy R. Johnson is Morse-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Minnesota and a nationally recognized expert on US Supreme Court oral arguments and decision-making. The former coeditor of Law and Society Review, he is the author or coauthor of four books, and provides commentary frequently for The Economist, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, National Public Radio, and WCCO, KARE, KSTP, and KMPS, among other venues. Johnson is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 American Political Science Association's Distinguished Teaching Award.

Learn more about Professor Johnson and purchase tickets.

November 7, 7 p.m.

How Neuroscience Will Revolutionize the Law

Francis X Shen, Associate Professor of Law, McKnight Presidential Fellow, Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Minnesota; Executive Director, Harvard Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, Massachusetts General Hospital

Francis Shen

Brain science is rapidly becoming central to our understanding of how we make decisions, why we act, and why we sometimes behave in ways we wish we hadn’t. Lawyers, public policy makers, and the courts, including the US Supreme Court, have all taken notice and are already integrating neuroscience research into their arguments and opinions, asking questions such as: What are adolescents, psychopaths, and killers thinking? How does dementia affect legal capacity? Why is eye-witness memory so poor?

Legislators are also listening as they work to address mental health, addiction, dementia, prenatal care, education, and a host of other social policies.

According to Dr. Francis X Shen, it’s clear that neuroscience will revolutionize the law, but how? He cautions, “Better understanding of brain function offers great promise—but also great peril,” noting there are “principles by which brain science should (and should not) be embraced by courts, legislatures, and citizens.”

Join us November 7, when Shen, a neurolaw pioneer, will introduce the University of Minnesota’s cutting-edge role in this emerging field at the intersection of law and neuroscience. Topics will include criminal culpability, adolescent brain development, aging brains and capacity, brain-based lie detection, cognitive enhancement, memory, emotions, decision making, and more.

Dr. Francis X Shen, JD, Harvard Law School; PhD, Harvard University, is the executive director of the Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior; an associate professor of Law, McKnight Presidential Fellow; and faculty member in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota, where the Shen Neurolaw Lab conducts empirical and legal research. The lab’s mission: to translate advances in brain science into better law and policy. As the executive director of Education and Outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience and a member of the National Institutes of Health Neuro-ethics Subgroup, Shen speaks internationally about this emerging field.

Learn more about Professor Shen and purchase tickets.

December 5, 7 p.m.

Beyond Extinction: On Nature’s Value, Biodiversity Trends, and Causes for Hope

Kate A. Brauman, Lead Scientist, Global Water Initiative, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota

Kate Brauman

A May 2019 media release from the United Nations reads “One million species at risk of extinction” and goes on to detail the findings of the Global Assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Three years in the making, the landmark intergovernmental report finds that the accelerated rate at which humans are destroying the natural world could plunge the planet into a sixth mass extinction event.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” 

Dire headlines notwithstanding, the report also offers a range of possible scenarios and hope for the coming decades. According to scientist Dr. Kate Brauman, a coordinating lead author of one of the report’s major sections—how societies benefit from nature—there are practical ways in which we can reverse course and protect the natural environment.

“It’s going to take some pretty big changes, but they are absolutely possible, and they can absolutely change this trajectory,” Brauman says. [Star Tribune, May 11, 2019] 

Join us December 5, when Brauman will discuss the primary findings of the report, including how changes in nature affect human well-being, with a particular focus on approaches to work with nature to improve water quality, regulate water quantity, and mitigate the impacts of flooding. 

Kate A. Brauman is the lead scientist for the Global Water Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE), where she also leads IonE’s Impact Goal to ensure safe water for all Minnesotans. Through projects as diverse as payments for watershed services, global variation in “crop per drop,” and worldwide trends in water consumption and availability, Brauman works to find sustainable solutions to pressing water issues. She is a coordinating lead author for the UN’s IPBES Global Assessment and recently testified about the report’s findings to the US House of Representatives Committee on Space, Science and Technology. 

Learn more about Dr. Brauman and purchase tickets

Headliners Archive

Clem Pryke

Studying the Beginning of the Universe from the Bottom of the World
Dr. Clem Pryke
May 2, 2019
  

Jane Kirtley

“Believe Me”: Seeking Truth in an Age of Disinformation  
Jane Kirtley, JD
April 4, 2019 

 

Tom Hanson

The Waning of Pax Americana? 
Tom Hanson
March 7, 2019


 

maria Gini

Intelligent Machines: AI’s Present and Future 
Dr. Maria Gini
February 7, 2019
 

 

Kathryn Pearson profile

Another Year for the Record Books? 2018 Election Results and the Implications for Governing
Dr. Kathryn Pearson
December 6, 2018

 

Dr. Sophia Vinogradov

Investigating Suicide, Self-Injury, and Psychosis: The Importance of the Research, the Risks to the Researchers  
Dr. Sophia Vinogradov
November 1, 2018
Audio not available

Mark Seeley

Climate Change in Our Own Backyards: Evidence and Implications
Dr. Mark Seeley
October 4, 2018

Overprescribed: Moving Beyond Opioid-Centered Care
Dr. Erin Krebs
May 3, 2018
 

Net Neutrality: Then, Now, Later
Christopher Terry
April 5, 2018
 

Astronomy’s Golden New Age: Observing the Universe with Gravitational Waves 
Dr. Vuk Mandic
March 1, 2018
 

Hidden Harms: The Supply and Demand of Sex Trading and Trafficking in Minnesota
Dr. Lauren Martin
February 8, 2018
 

Augmenting You: 3D Printed Bioelectronic Devices 
Dr. Michael C. McAlpine
December 7, 2017
Audio not available

From ICE to Sanctuary Cities: The Myths and Realities of Immigration Enforcement
Linus Chan, JD
November 2, 2017

From the Lab: Untangling Alzheimer’s Disease 
Dr. Sylvain Lesné
October 5, 2017

The Art of the Wasted Day 
Patricia Hampl
May 4, 2017
Audio not available

Our Health Economy: The Undiscovered Country
Dr. Stephen Parente
April 6, 2017
Audio not available

Cyber Crime: From Phishing to The Dark Net
Mark Lanterman
March 2, 2017

Best of Class: Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It? 
Dr. Jason Hill
February 2, 2017
Audio not available

One for the Record Books: 2016 Election Results and the Implications for Governing
Dr. Kathryn Pearson
December 1, 2016

Beyond Cecil: Lions, Conservation, and Controversy
Dr. Craig Packer
November 3, 2016

Radio K Interview "Beyond Cecil" with Dr. Craig Packer
November 2016

Protecting Your Lunch: Food Fraud and Adulteration
Dr. Amy Kircher
October 6, 2016

Radio K Interview with Dr. Amy Kircher
October 4, 2016

The Anti-Campaign
Dr. Larry Jacobs
May 5, 2016

The Growing Stickiness of Criminal Labels
Dr. Christopher Uggen
April 7, 2016

News from Paris: Deciphering the UN Conference on Climate Change
Dr. Jessica Hellmann
March 3, 2016

When Everyone is Above Average: Inflated Rhetoric in Higher Education
Julie Schumacher
February 5, 2016

Mapping and Interfacing with the Human Brain
Dr. Bin He
December 3, 2015 
Audio not available

Stronger, Faster, Brighter: Wearable Technology and the Future of Clothing 
Dr. Lucy Dunne
November 5, 2015

Energy Evolution: Shaping the Future of Electricity
Dr. Elizabeth J. Wilson
October 8, 2015 
Audio not available

Contemporary Fiction and the Modern Security State
Charles Baxter
May 7, 2015

Copper, Nickel, and Precious-Metal Deposits in Northeastern Minnesota: A Geological Perspective
Jim Miller
March 5, 2015

The Shifting Tides of Global Terrorism
Dr. Jarret Brachman
February 5, 2015 
Audio not available

Paleofantasy: What Evolution Tells Us about Modern Life
Dr. Marlene Zuk
December 4, 2014

Ebola: Rethinking Global Emergency Response
Dr. Jeffrey Bender
November 6, 2014

Explore, Teach, Inspire: Taking Education and Innovation to the Next Level
Dr. Aaron Doering
October 9, 2014

What's Next for Generation Next? R.T. Rybak Tackles the Education Achievement Gap
R.T. Rybak
May 1, 2014

Stem Cell Research and the Frankenstein Complex
Dr. John Wagner
March 6, 2014

Managing Global Crises and the Future of Our World
Dr. Eric Schwartz
February 6, 2014

A Trillion Reasons to Care: Early Evidence and Expectations of the Affordable Care Act
Dr. Jean Abraham
December 5, 2013

Galápagos Fragile Past, Brighter Future
Dr. Julia Ponder
November 7, 2013

Big Data Landscape: Technology, Economy, Society
Professor Ravi Bapna
October 3, 2013

Alleviating Global Poverty
Professor J. Brian Atwood
April 11, 2013

The Secret World of the Body's Blood-Clotting System: An Inside Look at the Elusive Platelet
Professor Christy Haynes
March 7, 2013

Seeing the Forest and the Trees: The Impact of Climate Change on Terrestrial Ecosystems
Regents Professor Peter Reich
February 7, 2013

What's Next? Envisioning the U's Future
President Eric Kaler
January 10, 2013

Fracking: Facts, Fiction, and Fixes
Professor Lawrence Wackett
December 6, 2012

Election 2012 Recap
Professor Kathryn Pearson
November 8, 2012

Post-Revolution Egypt: The Struggle Continues
Professor Ragui Assaad
October 4, 2012

The New Public Square
Professor Heather LaMarre
April 5, 2012
View New Public Square Slides

Ramp Up to Readiness: Should College Be the Goal for Every Student?
Kent Pekel, executive director of the University of Minnesota College Readiness Consortium
March 1, 2012

What's Past is Prologue: The Global Economic Crisis
Professor Tim Kehoe 
February 2, 2012

Treating Man and His Best Friend
Professor John Ohlfest
January 5, 2012

Seven Billion and Counting
Professor Jonathan Foley
December 1, 2011

American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality
Professor Myron Orfield
November 3, 2011
American Metropolitics: PowerPoint Presentation

What's Next?: Debunking the Myths about Retirement in America
Professor Phyllis Moen
October 6, 2011

The Important Life of Bees
Professor Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor of Entomology
March 3, 2011

Easing the Economic Slowdown
Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
February 3, 2011

Get Smart: A Power Grid for the 21st Century
Professor Massoud Amin
January 6, 2011

Book Versus Nook (and iPad and Kindle and Kobo and...)
Douglas Armato, director of the University of Minnesota Press
December 2, 2010
Download Book Vs Nook MP3

Election 2010: Reading the Tea Leaves
Professor Kathryn Pearson
November 4, 2010
Download Election 2010 MP3

Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine: The Controversy and the Science
Professor Jonathan Slack, director of the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota
October 7, 2010
Download Stem Cell MP3

The New Frugality
Chris Farrell, journalist and personal finance expert
April 4, 2010
Download New Frugality MP3

The Curious Culture of Wall Street
Professor Karen Ho
March 4, 2010
Download Wall Street MP3

Who Really Makes National Security Policy?
Vice President Walter Mondale and Larry Jacobs, director of the Center of the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
February 4, 2010
Download National Security MP3

A Way Forward in Afghanistan
Professor Iraj Bashiri 
January 7, 2010
Download Afghanistan MP3

New Models for the News
Nora Paul, founding director of the University of Minnesota's Institute for New Media Studies
December 3, 2009
Download New Models for News MP3

The Journey of Solar Decathlon 2009: A View from the Trenches
Peter Hilger, architect and CCE Construction Management faculty
November 5, 2009
Download Solar Decathlon 2009 MP3

Touching the Third Rail: The Politics of American Health Care
Larry Jacobs, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
October 1, 2009
Download American Health Care MP3

The Awful, Lawful Joyride: Minnesota's Budget Rollercoaster
Jay Kiedrowski, former state finance commissioner and co-chair, Minnesota Budget Trends Study Commission
March 5, 2009
Download MN Budget MP3

Living on a Shrinking Planet: Challenges and Opportunities for a Sustainable Future
Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota
February 5, 2009
Download Sustainable Future MP3

A Culture in Peril: Hmong Grave Desecration in Thailand
Professor Mai Na Lee
January 8, 2009
Download Hmong Grave Desecration MP3

Where Do We Go From Here?: Transition in the White House
J. Brian Atwood, Dean, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
December 4, 2008
Download White House 2008 Transition MP3

Election 2008: History in the Making
Professor Kathryn Pearson
November 6, 2008
Download Election 2008 MP3

Petropolitics and the Middle East
Professor William O. Beeman
October 2, 2008
Download Petropolitics MP3

The Foreclosure Crisis Hits Home
Professor Prentiss Cox
April 3, 2008
Download Foreclosure Crisis MP3

The China Connection
Professor Yongwei Zhang
March 6, 2008
Download China Connection MP3

On the Road in Search of Latino America
Professor Louis Mendoza
February 7, 2008
Download Latino American MP3

Global Warming...Regional Impact: Minnesota's Role in an Environmental Crisis
Professor Deborah Swackhamer
January 10, 2008
Download Global Warming MP3

Game Theory in an Economic Maelstrom
Professor Varadarajan V. Chari
December 6, 2007
Download Game Theory MP3

A Discovery of Cosmic Proportion
Professor Larry Rudnick
November 1, 2007
Download Cosmic Proportion MP3

Bridges Fall Down
Professor John S. Adams
October 4, 2007
Download Bridges MP3

How "Free" Is the Freedom of the Press?
Professor Jane Kirtley
April 5, 2007
Download Freedom of the Press MP3

Understanding the Conflict in Somalia
Professor Abdi Samatar
February 1, 2007
Download Somalia MP3

The Next Generation of Biofuels
Professor David Tilman
January 11, 2007
Download Biofuels MP3

The Science, Politics, and Ethics of Stem Cell Research
Professor Meri T. Firpo
December 7, 2006
Download Stem Cell Research MP3

The Social Web
Professor John T. Riedl
November 2, 2006
Download Social Web MP3

The Prospects for Peace in the Middle East
Professor Michael Barnett
October 5, 2006
Download Peace in the Middle East MP3

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