Brown Bag Lectures

Faculty members at MCLA have for many years been engaged in research and special projects. To allow campus and community members the opportunity to learn about their interests and research, the faculty instituted a "Brown Bag Lecture Series" where faculty present and discuss their scholarly activities.

The Brown Bag Lecture Series for 2018-2019 begins in October and takes place on Thursdays at 12:00 pm in the Faculty Center located on the lower level of of Bowman Hall (121).

FALL 2018 Speakers

Thursday, October 4, 12:00 pm
Dr. Thomas Byrne

Thursday, November 1, 12:00 pm
Dr. Michael Birch

SPRING 2018 Speakers

Thursday, February 1, 12:00 pm
Dr. Gerol Petruzella: "Evaluating the Efficacy of Game-Based Learning: Frameworks and Case Studies"
Description: The recently-published Game On! Gamification, Gameful Design, and the Rise of the Gamer Educator examines 5 case studies - including Dr. Petruzella's Dungeons & Discourse curriculum - and critiques their educational effectiveness using frameworks developed by Kapp and Czikszentmihalyi, as well as a comprehensive cross-case matrix. Dr. Petruzella will talk about these analytical frameworks, how Dungeons & Discourse stacked up against them and its peers at other institutions, and what these results might mean for the future of gamified learning.

Thursday, March 1, 12:00 pm
Dr. Elena Traister: "Ecology and Management of the Adirondack Park: A new "mini" travel course"
Description: In recent years, the number of travel courses offered at MCLA has increased dramatically. While these courses provide students with "high impact" opportunities to learn first-hand about current issues spanning academic disciplines, they also carry a hefty price-tag, making them out-of-reach to many of our students. Ecology and Management of the Adirondack Park, a 2-credit course with travel over an extended weekend to upstate New York, was offered for the first time in fall 2017 and may provide a model for "mini" travel courses that are accessible to more of our students. In this presentation, Dr. Traister will discuss what we can learn by studying the Adirondack Park as well as some of the logistics involved with planning this type of travel course. Developing this course was part of her sabbatical work last year.

Thursday, April 5, 12:00 pm
Dr. Rita Nnodim: "Being Muslim in Bombay – Literary Interventions in the Contexts of Riots, Urban (Un)Belonging, and the Reimagination of a Cosmopolitan City"
Description: In the larger context of Dr. Nnodim's writing on “Re-Imagining Bombay from the Margins” (and her spring 2017 sabbatical), this presentation engages Anglophone Indian writers’ literary imaginaries of Muslim lives in the city of Bombay in the context of rising Hindu nationalism, the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1992-1993, and the contemporary spread of global Islamophobia post-Sep 11. Considering texts such as Meher Pestonji’s Pervez (2003), Altaf Tyrewala’s genre-bending No God in Sight (2005), and Anosh Irani’s The Song of Kahunsha (2006) alongside journalistic works, testimonial accounts, and trauma narratives, Dr. Nnodim investigates how fiction intervenes in discourses on trauma and social suffering, uneasy questions of guilt and innocence, and the negotiation of urban and national (un)belonging by telling stories often bracketed out in media reports, public-political discourses and personal narratives.

FALL 2017 Speakers

Thursday, September 7, 12:00 pm
Dr. Maria Bartini: "Status of Youth Sports in the U.S."

Thursday, October 5, 12:00 pm
Dr. Deborah Foss: "What Contributes to Student Success at MCLA? Moving from Anecdotal to Empirical Data"
Description: This presentation, based on sabbatical work in spring 2017, explores factors that contribute to student success from two perspectives – students who withdraw from MCLA and those who stay. This project makes use of college data for multiple years (2013-2017) augmented by self-reports from first-year students. Predictive analyses will allow us to think about explaining risk/success of students using combinations of multiple factors. Hopefully, this research will help inform the work of a number of groups and departments on campus.

Thursday, November 2, 12:00 pm
Prof. Melanie Mowinski: "We The People: How Art Has Been and Can Be Engaged With Activist and Political Causes"
Description: Can art be created from social or political ideas? Is all political art merely propaganda? What makes a work "political"? What does artistic work that is topical, informed, and critical look like? After an examination of artists who respond to current events including issues related to equal rights, women’s rights, and equality/justice, Mowinski will present The 50 Card Project, her current year-long project that is directly inspired by liberty and justice for all.

SPRING 2017 Speakers

Friday, February 10, 3:00 pm
Dr. Justin Golub: Things that go bump in our past: Evolutionary insights into how we learn to be afraid.”
Description: Much of our ability to learn can be seen in our evolutionary past. By looking at our taxonomic cousins, fish, we are able to explore the ability to learn during the early life stages. Using threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), zebrafish (Danio rerio), and guppies (Poecilia reticulate), Dr. Golub has found that fish are able to learn danger through chemical signals (taste & smell) during their pre-natal development. Evidence suggests pre-natal learning is highly plastic (flexible), and widespread. This ability to learn helps the fish avoid danger in highly variable environments, and increases survival as they grow. This research provides a pathway to start looking at our own ability to learn, and how pre-natal experiences might affect our behavior and development.

Friday, March 24, 3:00 pm
Dr. Liz Hartung: Carbon Molecules and Mathematics.”
Description: Dr. Hartung’s research area is in chemical graph theory, and uses mathematical models to understand and demonstrate properties of carbon molecules, such as nanotubes and graphene. She focuses on several parameters that are related to the stability and electrical conductivity of these molecules. Dr. Hartung will give an overview of this subfield of mathematical chemistry and her work within it. This talk will be aimed at a general audience and will include science, math, history, and some beautiful pictures!

Friday, April 28, 3:00 pm
Dr. Karen Cardozo: "Canaries or Surgeon Fish? IDST Majors as a Litmus Test of MCLA's Future.”
Description: Drawing upon ethnographic interviews with IDST Majors that utilized generative design thinking methods, Dr. Cardozo will share intriguing findings that reveal what is unique about Interdisciplinary Studies while also shedding light on issues related to student success and retention more broadly. It is her hope that this qualitative data might productively inform strategic planning at MCLA.

FALL 2016 Speakers

Friday, September 23, 3:00 pm
Dr. Dan Shustack: “Stay put, move out, or trade up: birds have options when choosing a nest site”
Description: Looking for a nicer neighborhood? Is it easier to stay put? Too risky to move? Are all the good locations taken? Are the neighbors nice? Concerned about predators? How far is it to a source of food? Are there too many people around? Birds are concerned about these and other issues when choosing a location to raise their offspring. All bird species lay external eggs and therefore face the decision of where to place those eggs during incubation and subsequent chick-rearing. Birds have use an amazing array of ecological, social, private and public information in order to help make habitat selection decisions. In this talk, Dr. Shustack will integrate concepts of avian habitat selection behavior with my review of nest site reuse from 700+ North American bird species.

Friday, October 14, 3:00 pm
Dr. Sharon Claffey: “Cinema and the Psyche: Development of a New Course”
Description: This presentation will cover one of the courses Dr. Claffey developed during her Spring 2016 sabbatical. While film courses in other departments have examined the influence of Psychology on film, often the focus is on psychopathology. However, Psychology is a broad field and covers much more than psychological disorders. The purpose of Cinema and the Psyche is for students to learn concepts from the literature of several sub-fields of Psychology (e.g., Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, etc.) and use them to analyze and critique films presented in class. During this presentation, Dr. Claffey will share the syllabus, samples from lectures, and the assignments that students will complete.

Friday, November 18, 3:00 pm
Dr. Nick Stroud: “What Undergraduates Learn by Teaching Science”
Description: As part of the Teaching to Learn project, MCLA undergraduates teach science to elementary students in North Adams. With two years of the project now complete, Dr. Stroud will share some important lessons learned from, and by, MCLA undergraduates.

SPRING 2016 Speakers

Friday, March 4, 3:00 pm
Ben Wood: Students Disclosing Mental Health Problems to Faculty

Friday, April 8, 3:00 pm
Sumi Colligan: The Forgotten Refugees: Syrians in Jordan and Turkey

FALL 2015 Speakers

Friday, September 25, 3:00 pm
Ingrid Castro: Nominating and Mentoring MCLA Undergraduate Students for Enrichment Opportunities Sponsored by National and Regional Academic Associations

Friday, October 16, 3:00 pm
Anthony Gengarelly: Southwest Journey Continued (a follow-up to Southwest Journey)

Friday, November 13, 3:00 pm
David Johnson: Improvisational Pedagogy

SPRING 2015 Speakers

February 20, 2015
Dale Fink- Elementary School Recess: Essential or Expendable? Insights from local teachers and students

March 6, 2015
Ely Janis- Building an Irish Village: Ireland, Irish America, and Representations of Ireland at the World’s Fair

April 3, 2015
Emily Maher- Seeing Invisible Particles: Neutrinos, Fermilab, and the MINERvA Experiment

FALL 2014 Speakers

September 19, 2014
Frances Jones-Sneed - Deconstructing African American Autobiography: The Life of the Reverend Samuel Harrison

October 17, 2014
Jennifer Zoltanski - Undergraduate Happiness: Some Preliminary Field Notes from the Classroom

November 14, 2014
David Langston - What anthropology taught the humanities