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Join Us for A Brighter U 2017

January 4, 2017
Saturday, February 18
11:30 am - 5:00 pm
McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis, MN

$25 UMAA members  |  $30 non-members
Admission includes: lunch, 2 topic sessions, and a complimentary beverage during the closing social hour

A Brighter U is our signature alumni event. It opens with a buffet luncheon and a musical presentation featuring Director of Opera Theatre David Walsh and student performers from the School of Music. Guests will then attend two small group sessions, selecting from an array of intriguing topics.
Space is limited. Registration deadline: February 17, 2017

Event Details


11:30 - 12:00 pm Registration and lunch
12:00 - 1:15 pm Welcome and presentation by University Opera Theatre
1:30 - 2:30 pm Topic session 1
2:45 - 3:45 pm Topic session 2
4:00 - 5:00 pm Social reception


Topic Session 1 (Select one from three options)

The Problem of the Contemporary

Presenter: Jane Blocker, art history

What can it mean to be a historian of contemporary art? The problems inherent in that seeming contradiction form the basis for a discussion of the challenges that contemporary art poses for historical thought. Jane Blocker, professor of art history, looks to contemporary artists’ recent innovative engagements with history to develop new methods for researching and writing the history of the now.


Speech Production and Perception: Cornerstones for Language Acquisition

Presenter: Ben Munson, speech-language-hearing sciences

For children acquiring a spoken language, variation in the perception and production of speech early in life can profoundly affect other aspects of language like word learning and social communication later in life. Professor Ben Munson researches speech perception and production in the preschool years and how enriching children’s speech knowledge might offset word-learning problems in children at risk for language-learning impairments. He has also examined how children learn to convey and perceive gender in speech. Munson will present some of this work and lead a discussion of how recent research in language acquisition might influence recommendations for how to best facilitate language in young children.


Carceral Landscapes at Fort Snelling

Presenter: Katherine Hayes, anthropology

Watch a video of Hayes talking about her research at Fort Snelling (0:48)

Anthropology professor Katherine Hayes is exploring new ways of telling the story of Fort Snelling. Minnesota residents may be familiar with the fort’s story of opening up new American possibilities. But Professor Hayes uses multiple perspectives (landscapes, buildings, archaeology and material culture, and archival remains) and new technologies (virtual and augmented reality) to think about how instead people were confined, pressed into new categories, such as, citizen, alien, property, racialized person, loyal, or disloyal.


Topic Session 2 (Select one from three options)

Bodystorming: Choreographing Cutting Edge Cancer Research

Presenter: Carl Flink, theatre arts & dance

Watch a video of Flink describing his work with the Bell Museum (0:57)

Dance and microbiology come together in bodystorming, a scientific method modeling technique developed by dance professor and award-winning choreographer Carl Flink and U of M microbiology engineer David Odde. Join Flink and members of his professional dance company, Black Label Movement, to experience this innovative research tool and how unexpected collaborations can inspire and produce unique discoveries.


The Trump Presidency and the 115th Congress

Presenter: Kathryn Pearson, political science

Watch a video of Pearson talking about the research for her book, Party Discipline in the US House of Representatives (0:59)

With unified party control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have an opportunity to pass major legislation. Nonetheless, intra-party divides within the GOP and disagreements with Democrats in a polarized Congress can make legislating difficult. What have Congress and President Trump accomplished so far, and what is the outlook for the rest of the 115th Congress?


Bridging the School-Community Divide

Presenter: Catherine Squires, communication studies

Getting secondary students into hands-on, culturally relevant work improves educational outcomes like GPA, attendance, and graduation rates. However, traditional curricula and school leadership are often estranged from communities of color, which impedes this work. One way to begin solving this problem is make real opportunities for community members to be part of the school day as trusted partners in students’ education. Professor Catherine Squires will talk about a U of M partnership with Gordon Parks High School in St. Paul that invites the community in.

Space is limited. Registration deadline: February 17, 2017