Go back to school for a day, minus the tests, stress and homework.
Each Saturday U term features lectures from three outstanding University of Wyoming professors. Following the lectures, all three professors will participate in a final round-table discussion. Participants may attend one, two, three, or all four sessions. No registration is required, and there is no charge.
8:30 – 8:50 am: Free coffee and pastries
8:50 – 9:00 am: Welcome and opening remarks
9:00 am: “How the Brain Learns to See: Studying Tadpoles to Understand People,” Kara Pratt, Assistant Professor of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming
Brains process information through neural networks, but a new brain has contains masses of neurons without connections. How are the proper connections made? The study of Xenopus tadpoles—whose see-through skin lets us view the brain directly—reveals how the brain creates itself by self-assembling neurons into networks that transform external stimuli from the environment into internal perceptions. One key discovery is that visual experience—the act of seeing—actually guides the precise wiring up of the visual system. This talk will describe this exciting research and explain what it reveals about the nature of human sight.
10:00 – 10:10 am: Break
10:15 am: “Democracy’s Past, Democracy’s Future: Problems and Possibilities,” Scott Henkel, Assistant Professor of English, University of Wyoming
Now that the fall election has passed, we can take a moment to look more broadly at the history and the future of democracy. Scott Henkel’s lecture will examine how writers and thinkers have understood democracy and have imagined its possibilities. What has democracy been in the United States, in ancient Athens, in cooperative workplaces, even on pirate ships and space ships? Who should participate in the democratic process, and what should that participation be? What might the future of democracy look like?
11:15 – 11:25 am: Break
11:30 am: “Will We Ever Have Beautiful Forests Again? Bark Beetles, Resilience, and Future Forests,” Daniel Tinker, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Wyoming
The Intermountain West’s bark beetle epidemic that began in the late 1990s is unprecedented in our recorded history. Its intensity and geographic scale has been overwhelming—and it continues today in many forests of the Western USA. The ramifications for such an intense and prolonged epidemic are far-reaching and many are not well understood, especially considering the changes in our climate happening at the same time. This talk will explore the bark-beetle phenomenon, its ecology and management, and the resilience of current and future forest systems.
12:30 – 1:45 pm: Lunch and question and answer session with presenters
Tibet and China have had a complex relationship for 1500 years. Wars have been fought, treaties signed, then ignored in the next conquest. But there was always trade. In this presentation, National Geographic writer Mark Jenkins takes us on a journey down the forgotten Tea Horse Road. For almost 1000 years there was a stone-paved road that connected Ya’an, the tea-growing capital of Sichuan province, with Lhasa, the 12,000-foot high capital of Tibet. Tea was essential to daily life in Tibet, and China’s feudal kingdoms needed war horses. For centuries China and Tibet were on equal footing, but the ascendancy of China in the second half of the 20th century has devastated Tibet and Tibetan culture. With National Geographic images, Jenkins reveals the modern lives of the Tibetans, and the Chinese, and the geopolitics that have always connected them.
A critically acclaimed author and internationally recognized journalist, Mark Jenkins covers geopolitics, the environment and adventure for National Geographic. Jenkins’ writing has won numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club Ross Award for “The Healing Fields” story about landmines in Cambodia and a National Magazine Award for photojournalism with colleague Brint Stirton, for “Who Murdered The Mountain Gorillas” – both of which were the focus of previous World to Wyoming tours around Wyoming. Jenkins is the author of four books and his work has appeared in dozens of national and international magazines. He has his BA in Philosophy and MS in Geography from the University of Wyoming.
Sponsored by the UW Office of Academic Affairs, Global and Area Studies, Outreach School, the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, thinkWY | Wyoming Humanities, the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation, Buffalo Bill Center for the West, National Wildlife Museum and our Wyoming college partners who help us bring the World to Wyoming tour around Wyoming.