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Rensselaer TALKS

Speakers from left to right: Charles Boylen, Johnson Samuel, Seth Appert, Langdon Winner, and Eddie Ade Knowles


Media Relations

May 8, 2014

Rensselaer TALKS

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Fraternity Partners with Students To Launch New Lecture Series That Showcases Thinkers and Speakers from Campus Community

In an effort to bring together world-renowned thinkers and speakers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus community, a team of Rensselaer students have worked to create a new lecture series. Rensselaer TALKS will make its official debut on Friday, May 9, in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium beginning at 1 p.m. The theme for the inaugural event is “Understanding Ourselves and the World Around Us.”

“The motivation behind Rensselaer TALKS is to create an atmosphere of excitement with collaboration, community, and transparency at its core,” said Raymond Jacobson ’16, a sophomore majoring in computer and systems engineering and computer science, who is also a member of the Rensselaer Greek Life fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, which is involved with spearheading the program.

Rensselaer TALKS stands on three pillars: exhibition, inspiration, and facilitation. According to Jacobson, the concept behind creating Rensselaer TALKS came from a “collection of students, largely – but not exclusively – from my fraternity, that saw a need for the event around campus that would be focused on developing short, biannual, TEDx-style talks given by outstanding members of the campus community. To kick off the event, our chosen speakers will each contribute their own piece intertwined with their personal narrative and experience.”

The Rensselaer TALKS program will be videotaped and content will be released online. The theme was developed as an umbrella topic to include various outlooks on “understanding” and life in general. The speakers and selected discussion topics for the inaugural event are:

  • Charles Boylen, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Associate Director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute | Considering Our Environment and Necessary Stewardship
  • Johnson Samuel, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering, and a recent recipient of the Faculty Career Award from the National Science Foundation | The Spiritual Dimension of Life: Is it Worth Investigating?
  • Seth Appert, Head Men’s Hockey Coach | Understanding Our Role as Leaders
  • Langdon Winner, Thomas Phelan Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences | Thinking Outside the Box IS the New Box
  • Eddie Ade Knowles, Professor of Practice at Rensselaer, Accomplished Musician | Connecting with the Rhythms of our Mind, Body, and Spirit

 “We hope that through TALKS, outside of the classroom setting, we will be able to exhibit some of the fantastic thinkers, speakers, and diverse topics of interest in the Rensselaer community,” said Jacobson. “Second, we hope that TALKS will inspire members in the community to look at things in a more analytical, thought-provoked manner, much in the way TED creates topics of discussion. Lastly, we hope that TALKS will facilitate dialogue within the greater Rensselaer community. Most important, we feel that this program gives Rensselaer something that is ours as well as something that we can show to the outside world.” 

The initial planning for the inaugural event started in fall 2013. The 14-member committee is comprised of students representing the Class of 2016 and the Class of 2017. In addition to Jacobson, planning committee members include: Julius Alexander ’16, Rachel Mannella ’16, Simon McCarthy ’16, Chris Hoskins ’16, Ryan Moriarty ’16, Connor Finnell ’16, Joshua Schramm ’16, Becca  Bradley ’16, Cyril George ’16, Peter Kang ’16, Alexander Garcia ’17, Chris Lamplough ’17, and Karl Meier ’17.

In developing the program, committee members were focused on aligning Rensselaer TALKS with CLASS (Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students), which launched in 2009 to provide support and co-curricular opportunities for students throughout their undergraduate years; along with the mission of the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship in the Lally School of Management, which helps to foster new generations of budding and successful entrepreneurs through outreach programs, education, and support systems; and many of Rensselaer’s departmental goals.

Overall, organizers hope that Rensselaer TALKS will become a semesterly event. “The way in which our committee has built this event makes it very reproducible, and our group of students are very passionate about continuing it,” Jacobson said. “Rensselaer TALKS started with students at a fraternity, but it is truly more of a campus event. Using our fraternity funding to kickstart TALKS hopefully has built us towards the longevity of the event.”

The Rensselaer TALKS program is also supported by the Rensselaer Union Speakers Forum, Phalanx Honor Society, and the Rensselaer Alumni Association.

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Reeve Hamilton
Director of Media Relations and Communications

(518) 833-4277

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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.