2009 Weekend Seminar

Richard Schlesinger  
  Dr. Richard Schlesinger, Associate Dean and professor, discusses the impact of science on society at the retreat.  

Over the Halloween Weekend approximately 40 students, alumni/ae, and faculty members gathered at the Warwick Center in western New York for the 29th Society of Fellows of Dyson College Weekend Seminar. Over the three days and two nights, participants debated the role of science in contemporary society.

The conference entitled, “Science and Society: The Social, Political and Ethical Impact of Science on Contemporary Society,” was co-led with humor and insight by JaimeLee Rizzo, PhD, Assistant Chair of Chemistry and Physical Sciences, and Judith Pajo, PhD, Sociology, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies. Deborah Poe, PhD, English PLV, opened the conversation with a reading from her forthcoming collection of poems, Elements.

A Philosophical Debate on Science
At the faculty panel on Saturday several topics were laid on the table for discussion, including an overview of the current spread of the H1N1 flu virus, the role of perception in risk assessment, and the use of the scientific method in exploration and discovery, especially in a laboratory environment. The pre-eminence of the scientific method as a tool for discovery was challenged by Robert Chapman, PhD, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Environmental Studies, during his panel discussion “Moral and Ethical Dimensions of Science Education,” which led to a robust debate between himself and the faculty panelists, Ellen Weiser, PhD, Chemistry and Physical Sciences, Associate Dean Richard Schlesinger, PhD, Biology and Health Sciences, and Daniel Strahs, PhD, Biology and Health Sciences, with the other participants at the Seminar weighing in on both sides of the issue.

Two very special events took place on Saturday afternoon and evening.

  Nira Herrmann and Diane Cypkin
    Diane Cypkin, PhD, Media and Communication Arts presents Dean Nira Herrmann, PhD, an award by on behalf of the Dyson faculty in recognition of her dedication to Dyson College.

Herrmann and Foster Honored
First, Dean Nira Herrmann, PhD, was presented an award by Diane Cypkin, PhD, Media and Communication Arts, on behalf of the Dyson faculty in recognition of her dedication to Dyson College. Then, later in the evening, a very moving memorial service was held for Ruthven “Vinnie” Foster, an alumnus of Dyson College who passed away over the summer. Vinnie’s long and active participation in the Society of Fellows stretched back over 20 years, and he was regarded as both friend and mentor by a great many members of the Society of Fellows, several of whom were in attendance at this year’s weekend retreat.

After wrapping up the seminar on Sunday morning, the participants left the Warwick Center with renewed appreciation of their shared academic heritage and a strengthened commitment towards their intellectual and academic futures.