<p>Brown University’s 38th annual Commencement Forums will begin Saturday, May 24, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. Presenters, drawn from the ranks of University alumni, parents, honorary degree recipients and special guests, will present sessions ranging from arts and culture to history and human rights to biomedical science and planetary exploration. All sessions are free and open to the public on a space-available basis.</p>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] - Prize-winning writers, pioneering scientists, political pundits, advocates, activists and an Academy Award winner are among more than two dozen presenters at Brown University's 38th annual Commencement Forums Saturday, May 24, 2008.

An integral part of the University's Commencement/Reunion Weekend, the Commencement Forums are an outgrowth of the campus teach-ins of the early 1970s. They offer a window on the intellectual world of Brown, drawing upon the knowledge, talent and expertise of Brown alumni, faculty, parents and special guests to consider timely social, political and personal issues.

Twenty-one forums will be offered this year, with sessions running concurrently at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Each session will last 50 minutes and will include time for questions from the audience. At 12:30 p.m., a 30-minute conversation with conservationist and filmmaker Robert Redford will be held on Lincoln Field.

All forums are free and open to the public on a space-available basis.

Editors: Times and locations are subject to change. For the latest information, contact the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476 or visit the Web site (news.brown.edu) for updates.

Persons with special needs who plan to attend a forum should contact the University at least 24 hours in advance by calling University Events at (401) 863-2474 during business hours or Brown Department of Public Safety at (401) 863-3322 after business hours.

A schedule of forums follows.


9:30 a.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 115

Why Return to the Moon?

Maria T. Zuber Ph.D'86, planetary geophysics professor at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, will discuss why so many space programs have active plans to explore the Moon. Zuber, the first woman to lead M.I.T.'s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, has led spacecraft instrument investigations that have flown to the Moon, to Mars, and to asteroids.


9:30 a.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 117

Transforming Urban Places: Celebrating the 35thAnniversary of the Urban Studies Program

Sponsored by the Urban Studies Program

Marion Orr, director of the Urban Studies Program, will moderate a panel celebrating the transformation of urban communities from a variety of disciplines and vantage points. John So '87, director of Asia Pacific Fund Management for Grosvenor, will explain how historic preservation has transformed parts of Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. Kathryn Kerrigan ‘99, vice president of external affairs at the Alliance for Downtown New York, will discuss the transformation of Lower Manhattan after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Local artist Barnaby Evans '75, creator of WaterFire and a friend of Urban Studies, will describe how art has transformed Providence, a city that many Urban Studies students have explored over the past 35 years.


9:30 a.m., Salomon Center, Room 101

Brother, I'm Dying

Wendy J. Strothman ’72, Secretary, Brown Corporation will introduce author Edwidge Danticat, ’93 M.F.A. In the fall of 2004, Danticat’s ailing 81-year-old uncle, the Rev. Joseph Dantica, came to the United States with a valid visa. He was arrested at the airport and jailed, and his medication was taken away. He died in the custody of the U.S. Immigration Service three days later. Recently featured on “60 Minutes” and in The Washington Post, as well as in Danticat’s memoir Brother, I’m Dying, Joseph Dantica’s death has sparked a debate about the United States’s responsibility for immigrants in its custody. Danticat will discuss these issues as well as the specific implications of her uncle’s case.


9:30 a.m., List Art Building, Room 120

Brown Student Activism and Organizing: Reflections, 1968 and 2008

In the mid- to late-1960s Brown staked out a distinctive identity in the national student activist movement, marked by a concern for issues of local economic justice and curricular reform in addition to anti-Vietnam War activity. Today, many Brown student activists are engaged in complex activist work with campus, local, and international focuses. This forum will highlight ways in which a Brown education encourages and nurtures community involvement and how the landscape for student activism continues to evolve. Speakers will include Robert Cohen '68, Elliot Maxwell '68, Linda Gallant '68,James Dickson '68, Ariel Werner '09, Scott Warren '09, and Professor Emeritus George Morgan. The moderator will be Roger Nozaki, associate dean of the College and director, Swearer Center for Public Service.


9:30 a.m., Nathan Marcuvitz Auditorium, Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences, Room 220

Enhancing Care for Older Adults through Educational Interventions

The Frank and Joan Rothman Lecture

This forum will examine Brown's innovative training programs that incorporate concepts of aging into public health practices, health services research, and medical education. Speakers will include Richard W. Besdine, M.D., director, Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research and the Division of Geriatrics; Philip Gruppuso, associate dean for medical education; Vincent Mor, chair, Department of Community Health; and Terrie "Fox" Wetle, associate dean of medicine for public health and public policy.


9:30 a.m., Annmary Brown Memorial Gallery

Brown Has That?!

Bringing Treasures in Brown's Special Collections to Light

Sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown Center

Last fall, 50 undergraduate and graduate students in the Methods in Public Humanities course curated an exhibition featuring more than 150 items from Brown's libraries, museums, and galleries. The students researched Brown's special collections and then selected objects for display in From A.A. To Zouave: Collections at Brown. From the coffeepot that launched a thousand Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to a hand-knit cap from a Civil War Zouave regiment, an extraordinary variety of treasures are now on view at the Annmary Brown Memorial. Join us as we discuss Brown's special collections and the process of creating the exhibit. Speakers will include Rosemary Cullen, senior scholarly resources librarian, Brown University Libraries; Peter Harrington, curator, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Libraries; Steven Lubar, professor of American civilization and director, John Nicholas Brown Center; Amanda Murray'08 A.M., student curator, From A.A. To Zouave; and Samuel Streit, director of special collections, Brown University Libraries.


11 a.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 115

Dot Earth: Pursuing Progress on a Finite Planet

Sponsored by the Environmental Change Initiative and the Office of Alumni Relations

The human species has become a global-scale force, nudging the climate and shaping ecosystems in profound ways. In an illustrated talk, Andrew Revkin '78, a prize-winning New York Times reporter and author, will describe his 25-year exploration of efforts to mesh human affairs with Earth's limits, from the Amazon to the North Pole. A book signing will follow the lecture.


11 a.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 117

That's How Eye See It: The Biology and Psychology of Visual Perception

The Thirteenth Annual Ruth B. Sauber Distinguished Medical Alumni Lecture

Mark S. Blumenkranz '72, '75 M.D.,'76 M.M.S., P'05, P'08, professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University, will outline major recent advances in eye disease treatment and explore the relationship between the eye's function in health and disease and its influence on the work of selected Impressionist and modern painters.

11 a.m., Salomon Center 101

Playwright Meets Author: On Turning History into Drama

Provost David Kertzer '69, wrote the nonfiction book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, which tells the story of a Jewish boy taken by the Church's Inquisitor in Bologna from his parents in 1858 on the grounds that the family's servant had secretly baptized him. The episode became surprisingly important in Pope Pius IX's battle to fend off Italian Unification. Inspired by the story, Alfred Uhry's play Edgardo Mine was performed most recently at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Uhry '58 won a Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award for the play and filmDriving Miss Daisy, and Tony Awards for Ballyhoo and Parade

On Uhry's 50th Brown reunion, Curt Columbus, artistic director of Providence's Trinity Repertory Co., will host an hour beginning with a scene reading from the play by students in the Brown-Trinity MFA program in acting, and continuing with a discussion with Uhry and Kertzer about the challenge of turning a work of history into a successful play.


11 a.m., Salomon Center 001

Ahead of the Curve: Producing for Film & Television

Sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations

David Brown ’98, producer and manager with Sleeping Giant Productions, Amy Gossels ’83, casting director and producer, with Amy Gossels Casting, and Bob Levy ’83, producer with Alloy Entertainment take part in a panel discussion on the process of moving a film or television show from initial concept through to post-production. The process is a complex one, all the more so due to the expansion of market segmentation in Hollywood over the past few years. These seasoned alumni share their professional perspectives and comment on what it takes to be successful in today’s industry.


11 a.m., List Art Building, Room 120

Beyond Borders: Innovative Approaches to Combat Human Trafficking in the United States and Abroad

Sponsored by the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women

According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people worldwide are trafficked for forced labor or sexual exploitation every year. In the United States, an estimated 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked annually, and an estimated 200,000 American children are at high risk for joining the sex industry each year. Despite the grim statistics, progress is being made to prevent human trafficking, serve the needs of those who have been trafficked, and prosecute traffickers and their customers. Learn how non-governmental organizations, academics, and the public are addressing this vast and complicated problem. Speakers will include Katherine Chon '02, co-founder and president, the Polaris Project, and Kay Warren, the Charles B. Tillinghast Jr. '32 Professor of International Studies, professor of anthropology, and director of the Politics, Culture, and Identity Program at the Watson Institute for International Studies.


11 a.m., Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences, Nathan Marcuvitz Auditorium, Room 220

Journeys to the West: Science, Technology, Culture

Shih Choon Fong, president-elect of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and current president of the National University of Singapore, will discuss the modern significance of Journey to the West, the 16th-century Chinese classic that recounts an epic journey in search of knowledge and wisdom. European explorers launched "journeys to the West" to discover new lands, frontiers, and wealth. More recently, journeys to the West have sought scientific and technological advancement. In today's interdependent and culturally complex world, journeys to the West have come full circle to become searches for understanding of different peoples and cultures.


11 a.m., John Hay Library Lownes Room

Brown's History Goes Digital: The Brown Daily Herald Archive

For 120 years, Brown students have chronicled the University's history in the pages of the Brown Daily Herald. This spring that history debuted online in a digital archive jointly developed by the University Library and the Herald. Patrick Yott, head of the Center for Digital Initiatives, and Herald editors Anne Wootton '08 and Mary-Catherine Lader '08 discuss the process and present snapshots from these transformative years: students returning from World War I in 1918, preparing for conscription in 1941, revamping the curriculum in 1968, and protesting apartheid in 1987. The interactive project marks the beginning of a community effort to digitize the entire run of the Brown Daily Herald.


12:30 p.m., Lincoln Field Tent

The Tempered Radical: A Conversation With Robert Redford

Every great actor is called upon to play many parts, to reimagine himself again and again, and to communicate in every role new possibilities and an openness to the unknown. In his long and distinguished career, Robert Redford has applied this principle of reinvention and creative dialogue across political divides and artistic disciplines. Actor, director, producer, and environmental activist, Redford will talk about his recent projects and plans for the future, the art of politics, and the politics of art. Moderated by Ellen Rooney, professor, Modern Culture and Media.



1:15 p.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 117

Exploring the History of Climate on Mars: Lessons for Our Home Planet, Earth

Maurice and Yetta Glicksman Lecture

Recent international exploration of Mars has revealed a rich history of climate change, from early periods with streams and huge lakes to current cold and arid conditions. James Head, professor of geological sciences and a scientific consultant on NASA missions, will discuss Brown's role in this exploration and its significance for understanding change on Earth.



1:15 p.m., Salomon Center, Room 101

Crossing the Digital Divide: A Story of One Laptop per Child - And What Comes Next

Sponsored by the Graduate School

By joining even remote and less developed communities to the global conversation, universal Internet access has the potential to transform societies, inspire new forms of creation and innovation, and improve education worldwide. Mary Lou Jepsen '87, founder and CEO of Pixel Qi, will discuss the creation of the One Laptop per Child organization, the XO laptop, and drastic component cost reductions being effected at Pixel Qi.



1:15 p.m., The John Hay Library Lownes Room

Historic Garibaldi Panorama Makes its Virtual Debut

Precursors to modern-day motion pictures, panoramas were one of the 19th century's most popular forms of entertainment. The Brown Library houses one of the finest examples of this art form, the Garibaldi Panorama. Measuring 4-1/2 feet high and 273 feet long, it is one of the longest paintings in the world and was once a "moving" panorama, meaning that audiences watched as illustrations of Garibaldi's life were cranked out before them. Learn how Brown staff and faculty were able to create an innovative way to display this fragile masterpiece for the first time in its entirety through the creation of a web-based archive, Garibaldi and the Risorgimento. The presentation will be accompanied by a display of the original Garibaldi Panorama. Speakers will include Massimo Riva, professor of Italian studies and modern culture and media; Patrick Yott, director, Center for Digital Initiatives; and Peter Harrington, curator, Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection.



1:15 p.m., Sayles Hall

Election 2008: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The contest for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential campaign has been a wild ride so far, while the Republican nominee waits to learn which opponent he will face in November. Matthew J. Mallow '64, Treasurer, Brown Corporation will moderate a panel of political-campaign experts - Lincoln Chafee '75, visiting fellow in international studies and former U.S. Senator from Rhode Island; Tricia Rose '93 Ph.D., professor of Africana studies; and Darrell West, professor of public policy and political science - who will discuss why candidates do the (sometimes surprising) things they do during the race to the White House.



3:30 p.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 115

Fertility: What Women Need to Know

The Charles O. Cooke, M.D., Distinguished Visiting Lecture

Ingrid A. Rodi '76,'79 M.D., P'09, director, the Fertility Center at Parker, Rosenman and Rodi Medical Group, will give a presentation that covers the natural history of fertility, the effects of aging, and strategies of fertility preservation.



3:30 p.m., MacMillan Hall, Room 117

What's So Funny? Alumni Comedy Writers

Sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations

Have you ever wondered how comedic writers create their copy? How do they know that their writing will give you a chuckle or land you in stitches? Join Kit Boss ’83, a writer with ABC Studios, Jonathan Groff ’83, a writer and producer with 20th Century Fox, and Ian Maxtone-Graham ’83, executive producer with The Simpsons, for a panel discussion on comedic writing. The forum will be moderated by Lauren Corrao ’83, executive vice president for original program development at Comedy Central.


3:30 p.m., List Art Building, Room 120

Contemporary Design: A Conversation with Jonathan Adler '88

Sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations

Jonathan Adler ’88 first tried his hand at throwing pots at summer camp when he was 12 years old. Now the artist and designer is the owner of Jonathan Adler Studio and Stores, which feature an extensive line of pottery and home décor collections. Adler stores can be found in five cities coast-to-coast and Adler designs grace the pages of top design and fashion magazines. In 2007, Alder was the lead judge on Bravo’s Top Design. Join Adler as he talks with Sarah Medford ’83 of Town & Country Magazine about his work and the world of contemporary design.


For News Media

Additional Commencement news will be released during May. Contact the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476 or consult the Media Relations Web site for updates.

University-issued press credentials are required for any events that are open to press. Media representatives may register for credentials by sending an e-mail to [email protected] before Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at noon. Credentials require the reporter's name, organization represented, and contact information for both telephone and e-mail. Credentials may be picked up at the Office of Media Relations, 71 George St., beginning Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 9 a.m.

The Commencement Information Hotline is (401) 863-7000. It offers tickets and more specific information about many of the activities planned for Commencement weekend.