Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Blog Has Moved!

We're still blogging - we've just moved to Tumblr! See our more recent posts, here:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jonah Lehrer to Join Creative Minds Panel!

Announcing Jonah Lehrer - Journalist, Rhodes Scholar, Author of How We Decide will be a panelist at Creative Minds on Friday, November 18, 2011

Hailed as “an important new thinker” by the Los Angeles Times and “a popular science prodigy” by The New York Times, Jonah Lehrer is the best-selling author of How We Decide, as well as a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, the Scientific American Mind, and NPR’s Radiolab. His work explores human creativity and decision-making as they relate to neuroscience, art, war, sports, politics, and more. He gathered much of the research that would become his first book while studying psychology, philosophy and physiology as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Captivating and accessible, Lehrer’s debut book, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, argues for a more intimate relationship between science and the humanities, noting that many discoveries of neuroscience are actually rediscoveries of insights made earlier by artists, novelists, poets, and other creative types. With an engaging style and his own unique perspective, Lehrer examines works of Proust, Whitman, Stravinsky and more, finding parallels between them and important scientific breakthroughs in language, neuroplasticity and memory, among others.

Lehrer is a regular contributor for The New Yorker, Nature, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal. His most recent articles include, “The Web and the Wisdom of Crowds,” “Basketball and Jazz,” “How Power Corrupts,” and “The Rewards of Revenge.” While attending Columbia University, Lehrer worked in the lab of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel and served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Review.

If you're interested in learning more, you can check out his website, read his blog, read this article he wrote for the Feb 2011 issue of Wired Magazine, or read his latest book, How We Decide.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Former Director of Policy Planning for the State Department Anne-Marie Slaughter Joins Global Affairs Panel!

The Connecticut Forum Announces:

Anne-Marie Slaughter will join Tom Ridge
at Global Affairs
Saturday, October 1, 2011

A distinguished writer, commentator, and teacher on a wide range of global affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter is a preeminent voice on U.S. foreign policy and international security. She was the first woman to hold the position of Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, where she served from 2009-2011 as the head of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private think tank. She also served as the Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002-2009, where she rebuilt the School’s international relations faculty and created a number of new centers and programs.

Named to Foreign Policy magazine’s annual list of the top 100 Global Thinkers in 2009 and 2010, Dr. Slaughter speaks and writes regularly on topics including the generational shift in politics and foreign policy, the effect of social media on global politics, and the importance of women-centric global policies. Her books include, The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World and A New World Order, in which she explores the emerging class of leaders who govern on a truly global level.

A Princeton, Oxford and Harvard graduate, Dr. Slaughter currently serves as the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Previously, she served as the convener and academic co-chair of the Princeton Project on National Security, a multi-year project aimed at developing a new, bipartisan national security strategy for the United States. She has appeared on numerous news programs, including CNN, the BBC, NPR, and PBS.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can read this opinion piece she wrote for The New York Times back in March, or you can follow her on Twitter @SlaughterAM.

Here she is on The Colbert Report:

Also, check out this video clip of a conversation about Afghanistan, The United Nations and Darfur between Dr. Slaughter and Steven Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to Join Global Affairs Panel!

The Connecticut Forum Announces:
Tom Ridge to be a Panelist at
Global Affairs

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Following the events of September 11, 2001, Tom Ridge became the first Secretary of the newly created Department of Homeland Security, heading the largest government reorganization since the Department of Defense was created in 1947. One of the first Vietnam combat veterans to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ridge was twice elected Governor of Pennsylvania, where he served as the state’s 43rd Governor from 1995-2001.

During his tenure with the Department of Homeland Security, Ridge worked with more than 180,000-plus employees from a combined 22 agencies to create an agency that facilitated the flow of people and goods, instituted layered security at air, land and seaports, developed a unified national response and recovery plan, protected critical infrastructure, integrated new technology, and improved information sharing worldwide. Ridge resigned from the position in 2005 and later wrote The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…And How We Can Be Safe Again, which recounts his experiences in the department.

Ridge graduated with honors from Harvard in 1967 before earning a law degree from The Dickenson School of Law. He has served as a senior aide to Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain, and was considered by some as a possible running mate for McCain, as well as a frontrunner for Senate Candidacy in 2010. He currently heads Ridge Global as the company’s President and CEO.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can watch him on "The Daily Show"

or you can check out his book, The Test of our Times.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eco-Entrpreneur Majora Carter to Join Our Fragile Earth Panel

The Connecticut Forum Announces:

Majora Carter to be a Panelist at
Our Fragile Earth
Saturday, May 5, 2012

Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Companymagazine, “The Green Power Broker” by the New York Times, and “The Prophet of Local” by the Ashoka Foundation’s, Majora Carter is a pioneer in economic as well as environmental sustainability. Carter, who coined the phrase “Green the Ghetto,” founded and led Sustainable South Bronx from 2001-2008 – when few were talking about sustainability, and even fewer in places like The South Bronx.

Carter views urban and rural economic renewal through an environmental lens and connects ecological, economic and social vectors in some surprising ways. Majora wrote a $1.25M Federal Transportation planning grant to design the 11-mile South Bronx Greenway which has since garnered over $50M in funding and is currently under construction. She also established one of the nation's first urban green-collar training & placement systems as well as spearheaded legislation to fuel demand for those jobs. She’s received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, as well as various awards from John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, and a Liberty Medal for Lifetime Achievement from Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

Carter currently serves on the boards of the US Green Building Council and the Wilderness Society. Since 2008, her consulting company, Majora Carter Group, LLC has exported Climate Adaptation, Urban Micro-Agribusiness, and Leadership Development strategies for business, government, foundations, universities, and economically under-performing communities.

Also, Newsweek has named her one of “25 to Watch” and one of the “century’s most important environmentalists."

If you're interested in learning more, check out her very popular TED talk

or learn more about her radio show, The Promised Land.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CT Forum Panelist Paul Bloom Chosen as TEDGlobal Speaker

Photo taken by Nick Caito

Congrats to Paul Bloom, who has been chosen as a speaker at the TED Global conference in July.

Bloom was a panelist at our Glorious, Mysterious Brain Forum in February, where this photo was taken. During one of the highlights of the evening, he spoke about the differences in liberal and conservative brains.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

John Irving's Favorite Word?!

Photo by Nick Caito

John Irving at the Forum Book Club this past Saturday. He talked about his relationship with Vonnegut and why stories featuring dysfunction are the only stories that are interesting. He referenced Melville and Shakespeare and Dickens, but then told us about being censored by The New York Times and that penis is his favorite word (you know, because it lets you get your kids’ attention in the airport). He was contradictory and spirited, funny and thoughtful.

A Forum Conversation with our Favorite Writers: John Irving, Jonathan Franzen and Azar Nafisi

Photo by Nick Caito

Writers John Irving, Jonathan Franzen and Azar Nafisi took the stage at The Bushnell Theater in Hartford on Saturday for a spirited and enlightening conversation about their craft, their lives and the world we live in.

More photos are available on our Facebook page, here.

Video from The Forum will be posted soon!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An Evening with our Favorite Authors: John Irving, Jonathan Franzen and Azar Nafisi

We've been talking a lot about our favorite books by the author panelists for Forum Book Club - John Irving, Jonathan Franzen and Azar Nafisi. I love all these authors, so it's nearly impossible to choose a favorite work by just one of them, but I can say I'm most connected to Irving's work. My mom bought me A Prayer for Owen Meany when I was in 9th grade, and since then I've read everything he's written. I'm keeping my fingers crossed Irving might sign my recent score, a first edition copy of Owen Meany.

Rereading Meany, I was reminded of this beautiful passage:

"When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time -- the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes -- when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever -- there comes another day, and another specifically missing part."

Do you have a favorite passage from one of the panelists' books?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

President Obama's Libya Speech and America's Global Responsibility

We're finalizing the topics for our upcoming Forum season, and the subject of the US role in global affairs keeps appearing - in conversations, on the results of our season ballot and in the emails we receive. The issue is divisive in a much less intelligible way than most; in a political landscape galvanized by bi-partisanship, U.S. foreign policy seems to be a wild-card that claims both conservatives and liberals on both sides of the debate.

In last night's speech concerning Libya, President Obama attempted - and mostly succeeded - in avoiding bi-partisan politics altogether, deciding to approach the issue from a purely humanitarian standpoint. His argument tread lightly on the issue of national and global positioning (the "need to protect our interests") and heavily on the moral responsibilities of the world's most powerful nation. He was also very careful not to allow too many correlations between this campaign and the two wars he inherited, citing UN sanctions and global partnerships, as well as making clear that this campaign is one of defending innocent civilians - not implementing regime change - to distance himself from GW's more vigilante approach. Clearly, President Obama wants to posit America as a defender and cautious promoter of liberty, and not the careless, heavy hand of freedom.

The question, then, becomes one of the fundamental duty of powerful, free nations of the world in protecting civilians and holding the world to a strict moral code.

Here's what a few past Forum panelists have to say about Obama's speech:

Andrew Sullivan (A Conversation Between Bill Moyers and Andrew Sullivan, 2006)
"It wasn't Obama's finest oratory; but it was a very careful threading of a very small needle. That requires steady hands and calmer nerves than I possess. But this president emerges once again as a consolidator and adjuster of the past, not a revolutionary force for the future. And one hopes that the notion that he is not a subscriber to American exceptionalism is no longer seriously entertained. He clearly believes in that exceptionalism - and now will live with its onerous responsibilities."

Bob Woodward (A World of Change, 2010)
“The president has a mammoth management problem, there is deep unhappiness – as there should be – about do we know what’s going on in these countries. The intelligence agencies are scrambling because they cover the leaders and not the revolutionaries or rebels involved in this upheaval.”

Stephen Carter (The End of Civility?, 2010)
"Over the long run, the world is unlikely to be able to handle the responsibility President Obama has handed it. This in turn leads to the unspoken moral issue with which we might one day have to deal: What should we do when the world thinks we are wrong?"

Is it America's responsibility to act as the global catalyst for moral outrage and action? Should we turn to isolationism and focus on our own problems? Is there a middle ground?

What do YOU think?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Glorious, Mysterious Brain - Another Mind-Blowing Night!

Panelist Steven Pinker tries to keep his glorious, mysterious brain in check

What a night! From press conference questions about the causes of (and solutions to) pesky "brain freeze" to weighty explorations of the brain's connection to the soul, last week's The Glorious, Mysterious Brain Forum was everything we hoped it would be and more! A sincere thanks to all of our panelists, sponsors, volunteers, board members and Forum attendees for making this night, and discussion, one to remember (it certainly helps to know that physical exercise, not Sudoku and crossword puzzles, will aid in the memory department).

Here are a few of our favorite clips and pictures from the night:

Paul Bloom - The differences between liberal and conservative brains

Temple Grandin gives fashion tips

Steven Pinker talks about brain overload

Panelists Steven Pinker, Temple Grandin and Paul Bloom
discuss The Glorious, Mysterious Brain

Moderator Mary Hynes

Members of The CT YOUTH Forum pose with panelists at
the pre-Forum press conference

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feed Your Brain Before our Upcoming Forum!

Are you feeling unprepared to be in the company of so many brainiacs at our February 25 Forum, "The Glorious, Mysterious Brain"? We've compiled some related articles so you can read up on the latest research beforehand.

If you want more, you can read one of our panelists' popular books - whether it's Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate or The Language Instinct;

Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation or The Way I See It;

or Paul Bloom's How Pleasure Works

Or, check out a video clip of any of the panelists:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Steven Pinker
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Watch it on Academic Earth

Monday, January 24, 2011

Paul Bloom Joins CT Forum Panel on The Brain

We are excited to announce that

Paul Bloom
Cognitive Scientist and Popular Yale Professor,
Author of How Pleasure Works
has joined our panel for The Glorious, Mysterious Brain on Friday, February 25, 2011.
He will be joined by Temple Grandin, renowned autism advocate and inspiration to millions, and Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works.

Paul Bloom is a distinguished cognitive scientist and award-winning author, most recently of the book, How Pleasure Works: The new science of why we like what we like and the May 2010 article in The New York Times Magazine, “The Moral Life of Babies.”
A popular professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University, Bloom’s research is wide ranging, including the study of morality, happiness, language, and pleasure.
In How Pleasure Works, Bloom argues that there are deep and surprising commonalities in the pleasures that we get from art, food, sex, stories, and consumer products.  His study of everyday morality and the factors that underlie moral conflict have addressed philosophical questions like, Where do our gut feelings about issues such as abortion, torture, and gay marriage come form? Do liberals think differently than conservatives? How much does religion matter?
Bloom believes that we can learn much about morality through the study of babies, chimpanzees, and psychopaths. In his article, “The Moral Life of Babies,” Bloom asserts that babies possess certain moral foundations, including the capacity and willingness to judge the actions of others, some sense of justice, and gut responses to altruism and nastiness.
In addition to How Pleasure Works, Bloom is the author of Descartes’ Baby: How the science of child development explains what makes us human. He has written more than 100 scientific articles in journals such as Nature and Science, and his popular writing has appeared in publications including The New York TimesThe GuardianThe American Scientist, Slate, and The Atlantic. His article in The Atlantic, “Is God an Accident?” was included in The Best American Science Writing 2006.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Obama's Call for Civility Resonates Here

Last night, President Obama made a speech in Tucson, eulogizing those who lost their lives in the shooting there over the weekend and calling for a new tone of "civil and honest public discourse [to] help us face up to our challenges as a nation..."

The speech was powerful because it was more than a memorial, but a call for a better America.

The speech resonated with us. This week we've talked together about how to process the tragedy. But we've also harbored hope, and the President's speech reminded us that we are right to do that. We believe deeply in his insistence we should use this occasion: "to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together." He reminded us that "for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us."

The Connecticut Forum believes that we are all in this together, and that when we can come together - even in disagreement - we can challenge assumptions, build bridges in our community and make the world just a little bit better. We've founded our organization on those beliefs and will continue to make them a part of what we do every day. We want to use President Obama's speech as a way to remember, yes, but also as a way to regroup and look forward.

Watch Obama's entire speech:

Or view a full text transcipt here.