Orange Alert

Alumni Academy

Get an insider's view on timely topics from the comfort of your couch! The College Arts and Sciences (A&S) is home to award-winning faculty on the cutting edge of research and discovery in the arts, humanities and sciences. Alumni Academy connects our professors with A&S grads from around the world for periodic virtual conversations. You'll gain new and exciting perspectives as faculty from various departments present their research and discuss how it intersects with current affairs in an hour-long presentation followed by a question and answer period. View some of our recent Alumni Academy events below.

Are College Athletes Exploited?

Sports field with sports equipment.

Everywhere you turn, the question arises: Are college athletes being exploited by the college sports industry? How does the tradition of amateur, intercollegiate athletics balance against the commercial nature of today’s sports landscape? Professor Ben Bradley, the Allan and Anita Sutton Professor of Philosophy, will share some of the questions he poses students in his popular Philosophy of Sport class, and how he encourages those students to apply philosophical principles to thinking about and understanding current issues in the world of sports.

An Old Syracuse House, a Midlife Crisis, and American Decline: Dana Spiotta and Jonathan Dee Discuss Her New Novel, Wayward

Wayward book cover.

Professor Dana Spiotta’s novel Wayward was selected as a New York Times Top Book of 2021. A “love letter” to Syracuse, Wayward is a moving, funny, engrossing novel about mothers and daughters, and one woman’s midlife reckoning. Professor Spiotta is joined in conversation by Professor Jonathan Dee, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Privileges and A Thousand Pardons.

Jewish Humor and Satire

Ken Frieden at Gotham Comedy Club.

What began as a study of Jewish jokes and Jewish literature now culminates in stand-up comedy performances. Join Ken Frieden , B.G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies, to dive into the history and theories of Jewish humor as viewed through analyses of literary works, stand-up comedy, early Yiddish movies and American films.

(Image: Ken Frieden at Gotham Comedy Club)

The Next Wave: How Forensics Can Help Understand Virus Mutations

Hand holding a test tube.

What is a virus mutation and why does it matter? How does a variation challenge what we know about a virus, be it the coronavirus or the annual flu, and how do we plan to stay ahead of it? And how does forensics play a role in our understanding of this phenomenon?

In celebration of the College of Arts and Sciences’ sesquicentennial, join Kathleen Corrado, James Crill ’07 and Michael Marciano ’18 Ph.D. from the College’s Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) to learn more about virus mutations, and the light that forensics can shed on mutation mysteries.

Picturing the Italian Renaissance Woman: Artists, Images and Patrons

Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Aretmisia Gentileschi.jpg

Did women have a Renaissance? The answer is a resounding yes, but only relatively recently have scholars begun to explore in depth the relationship between women and the visual culture of the Italian Renaissance (c. 1300-1600). Originally presented on April 16, 2021, in celebration of the College’s sesquicentennial, Sally J. Cornelison G’93, Professor of Art History and Director of the Florence Graduate Program in Italian Renaissance Art, spoke about the role women played as patrons, viewers and creators of art during this seminal period in history.

(Image: Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi)

Black Holes and Gravitational Waves: Using Einstein's Legacy to Explore the Universe

Graphic depiction of two orbiting black holes and the gravitational waves created. Photo: R.Hurt/Caltech/LIGO

Gravitational waves are one of the most remarkable predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Einstein’s theory predicted that a pair of black holes orbiting around each other create ripples in the fabric of spacetime. Traveling throughout the universe at the speed of light, these gravitational waves tell us about the nature of black holes and contain clues about how they were formed.

Today, researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences are using the legacy of Einstein to answer some of the biggest questions in the universe including: How do stars live and die? How does the universe make elements like gold and platinum? How does gravity work?

In celebration of the College’s sesquicentennial, Duncan Brown, Charles Brightman Endowed Professor of Physics, graduate student Amber Lenon '16 and Laurel White ’21 shared how their research is re-framing and answering fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of the universe.

Reading, Writing and Teaching Stories

Reflections on inspiration and the creative process with SU professors George Saunders G’88 and Mona Awad.

George Saunders and Mona Awad.

Where does inspiration strike? How do authors go from the idea to written page? How does fiction shape our worldview, especially in troubled times?

Originally presented on March 17, 2021, George Saunders G’88, professor of English, and Mona Awad, assistant professor of English, took on these questions and more. From teaching classes, to learning along with their students, to their creative process, to their new books (George’s A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life and Mona’s much-anticipated new novel, All’s Well), George and Mona’s conversation explored the craft of writing; the methods by which they work, what “inspiration” means to them, and how the craft is to be passed on to the next generation of young artists.

(George Saunders photo credit: Zach Krahmer; Mona Awad photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe)

The CRISPR Revolution and Its Ethical Mysteries

CRISPR Gene Editing

Eradication of fatal diseases, the raising of better crops and livestock, and designer humans. CRISPR gene editing technology promises to revolutionize our lives. But, as with all new technology, with the potential for life-changing advances comes the potential for misuse as well as unintended consequences.

On January 14, 2021, Samuel Gorovitz, professor of philosophy, and Hille Paakkunainen, associate professor of philosophy, discussed some of the ethical questions surrounding CRISPR genome editing.

Tastes, Traditions and Trends of Tea

Mustache Teacup.jpg

Learn about the history of tea and explore its variety of leaves, health benefits, types, origins and tea plantations. Discover the evolution of tea, and hear about the future of a beverage that, after thousands of years, is continuing to reinvent itself.

Presenters include: Todd Rubin ’04, Minister of Evolution (President) for The Republic of Tea, which is known for its innovative blends; Tim Takacs ’92, co-founder of Marulin tea company, that specializes in Taiwanese tea; and Romita Ray, associate professor of art history in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The CRISPR Revolution

DNA Strand

In December 2020, James Hougland, associate professor of chemistry and biology (by courtesy), Kate Lewis, the Laura J. and Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and department chair of biology, and Peter Fioramonti '21, undergraduate researcher in the Hehnly Research Lab, gave an online presentation on how genome editing is transforming the life sciences.

The Art of Black Women's Wellness

tanisha-jackson.jpg

On September 10, 2020, Tanisha Jackson, Professor of Practice in the Department of African American Studies and Executive Director of the Community Folk Art Center, gave an online presentation on the art of Black women's wellness, discussing social justice and equity via the arts. Jackson examined how Black women artists facilitate wellness for themselves and others through narratives within their artwork.

K-12 Education in the Era of COVID-19

Bridget O'Neil Hier

On August 20, 2020, Bridget O'Neil Hier, assistant professor from the Department of Psychology, discussed in-person vs. remote/distance learning, the impact of educational instability and strategies to support student learning for students in grades K-12 in the era of COVID-19. Hier’s research focuses on developing effective, efficient instructional practices to improve children’s academic outcomes.

The Future is Alive - Why Physicists are Studying Biology

Jennifer Ross

On May 28, 2020, Jennifer Ross, Professor and Chair from the Department of Physics, highlighted the ways physicists are working to create new materials that have properties of living systems.