Calendar

Sep
23
Sun
Martin Rees @ New Scientist Live: The posthuman future
Sep 23 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

ReesHumanity has reached a critical moment. Our world is unsettled and rapidly changing, and we face existential risks over the next century. Various outcomes—good and bad—are possible. Yet our approach to the future is characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. In this short, exhilarating book, renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees argues that humanity’s prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow.

The future of humanity is bound to the future of science and hinges on how successfully we harness technological advances to address our challenges. If we are to use science to solve our problems while avoiding its dystopian risks, we must think rationally, globally, collectively, and optimistically about the long term. Advances in biotechnology, cybertechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence—if pursued and applied wisely—could empower us to boost the developing and developed world and overcome the threats humanity faces on Earth, from climate change to nuclear war. At the same time, further advances in space science will allow humans to explore the solar system and beyond with robots and AI. But there is no “Plan B” for Earth—no viable alternative within reach if we do not care for our home planet.

Rich with fascinating insights into cutting-edge science and technology, this accessible book will captivate anyone who wants to understand the critical issues that will define the future of humanity on Earth and beyond.

Martin Rees is Astronomer Royal, and has been Master of Trinity College and Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University. As a member of the UK’s House of Lords and former President of the Royal Society, he is much involved in international science and issues of technological risk. His books include Our Cosmic Habitat (Princeton), Just Six Numbers, and Our Final Hour (published in the UK as Our Final Century). He lives in Cambridge, UK.

Sep
24
Mon
Eboo Patel @ Center for Social Solutions at U Mich
Sep 24 @ 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm

PatelAmerica is the most religiously devout country in the Western world and the most religiously diverse nation on the planet. In today’s volatile climate of religious conflict, prejudice, and distrust, how do we affirm the principle that the American promise is deeply intertwined with how each of us engages with people of different faiths and beliefs? Eboo Patel, former faith adviser to Barack Obama and named one of America’s best leaders by U.S. News & World Report, provides answers to this timely and consequential question.

In this inspiring and thought-provoking book, Patel draws on his personal experience as a Muslim in America to examine broader questions about the importance of religious diversity in the cultural, political, and economic life of the nation. He explores how religious language has given the United States some of its most enduring symbols and inspired many of its most vital civic institutions—and demonstrates how the genius of the American experiment lies in its empowerment of people of all creeds, ethnicities, and convictions.

Will America’s identity as a Judeo-Christian nation shift as citizens of different backgrounds grow in numbers and influence? In what ways will minority religious communities themselves change as they take root in American soil? In addressing these and other questions, Patel shows how America’s promise is the guarantee of equal rights and dignity for all, and how that promise is the foundation of America’s unrivaled strength as a nation. The book also includes incisive commentaries by John Inazu, Robert Jones, and Laurie Patton on American civil religion, faith and law, and the increasing number of nonreligious Americans.

Eboo Patel is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit organization that promotes interfaith leadership on college campuses. He is the author of Interfaith Leadership: A PrimerSacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America; and Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. He lives in Chicago.

Sep
27
Thu
Jonathan Haskel & Stian Westlake @ CFA Society
Sep 27 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

CapitalEarly in the twenty-first century, a quiet revolution occurred. For the first time, the major developed economies began to invest more in intangible assets, like design, branding, R&D, and software, than in tangible assets, like machinery, buildings, and computers. For all sorts of businesses, from tech firms and pharma companies to coffee shops and gyms, the ability to deploy assets that one can neither see nor touch is increasingly the main source of long-term success.

But this is not just a familiar story of the so-called new economy. Capitalism without Capital shows that the growing importance of intangible assets has also played a role in some of the big economic changes of the last decade. The rise of intangible investment is, Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake argue, an underappreciated cause of phenomena from economic inequality to stagnating productivity.

Haskel and Westlake bring together a decade of research on how to measure intangible investment and its impact on national accounts, showing the amount different countries invest in intangibles, how this has changed over time, and the latest thinking on how to assess this. They explore the unusual economic characteristics of intangible investment, and discuss how these features make an intangible-rich economy fundamentally different from one based on tangibles.

Capitalism without Capital concludes by presenting three possible scenarios for what the future of an intangible world might be like, and by outlining how managers, investors, and policymakers can exploit the characteristics of an intangible age to grow their businesses, portfolios, and economies.

Jonathan Haskel is professor of economics at Imperial College Business School. Stian Westlake is a senior fellow at Nesta, the UK’s national foundation for innovation. Haskel and Westlake are cowinners of the 2017 Indigo Prize.

Oct
4
Thu
Hanna Holborn Gray @ American Philosophical Society
Oct 4 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

grayHanna Holborn Gray has lived her entire life in the world of higher education. The daughter of academics, she fled Hitler’s Germany with her parents in the 1930s, emigrating to New Haven, where her father was a professor at Yale University. She has studied and taught at some of the world’s most prestigious universities. She was the first woman to serve as provost of Yale. In 1978, she became the first woman president of a major research university when she was appointed to lead the University of Chicago, a position she held for fifteen years. In 1991, Gray was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to education.

An Academic Life is a candid self-portrait by one of academia’s most respected trailblazers. Gray describes what it was like to grow up as a child of refugee parents, and reflects on the changing status of women in the academic world. She discusses the migration of intellectuals from Nazi-held Europe and the transformative role these exiles played in American higher education—and how the émigré experience in America transformed their own lives and work. She sheds light on the character of university communities, how they are structured and administered, and the balance they seek between tradition and innovation, teaching and research, and undergraduate and professional learning.

An Academic Life speaks to the fundamental issues of purpose, academic freedom, and governance that arise time and again in higher education, and that pose sharp challenges to the independence and scholarly integrity of each new generation.

Hanna Holborn Gray is the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Early Modern European History at the University of Chicago, where she served as president from 1978 to 1993. She is the author of Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories. She lives in Chicago.