January 2, 2018

Professors to debate the merits and pitfalls of taking risks

UC Riverside’s annual Disciplines in Dialogue program returns with a series of discussions about various types of risk-taking

Author: Tess Eyrich
January 2, 2018

What do democratic elections and learning a new skill have in common? Both involve taking risks, said the University of California, Riverside’s Georgia Warnke.

On Jan. 16, Warnke, director of UCR’s Center for Ideas & Society(CIS), will lead the first installment of the university’s annual Disciplines in Dialogue lecture series.

Running through April 18, this year’s eight-part series, “Risky Business,” will see four pairs of UCR professors from seemingly disparate academic departments come together to consider the merits and pitfalls of various types of risk-taking.

“When considering the research we wanted to highlight in our 2018 series, we noticed the topics that intrigued us the most all related to this overarching concept of stepping into the unknown without a clear picture of what might happen,” said Katharine Henshaw, associate director of CIS, the series’ primary sponsor. “That’s where the idea for ‘Risky Business’ first developed.”

Co-hosted by the UCR Palm Desert Center and the UCR Extension branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, “Risky Business” will feature discussions of four distinct topics, with two companion sessions — one in Riverside at the UCR Extension Center on a Tuesday, and the other the following Wednesday evening in Palm Desert — devoted to each topic.

Warnke, who will return as moderator, said the sessions are formatted to take the shape of a daytime talk show. She will begin each event by introducing the topic at hand and the two UCR researchers providing their perspectives on it.

The researchers will then be given roughly 10 minutes each to offer their individual “takes” on the topic, offer rebuttals to one another’s arguments, and open the discussion up to audience participation.

“Our faculty really enjoy participating in this lecture series,” Warnke said. “It provides a more relaxed alternative to a traditional formal presentation, with an interested, alert crowd — two things that are guaranteed to result in a lot of fun.”

The “Risky Business” series is free and open to the public, and the schedule is as follows:

Electing Leaders

Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at UCR Extension

Wednesday, Jan. 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at UCR Palm Desert Center

Shaun Bowler, distinguished professor of political science and dean of UCR’s Graduate Division, and Alec Haskell, associate professor of history, will debate the risks inherent in the democratic process.


Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at UCR Extension

Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at UCR Palm Desert Center

Kate Sweeny, associate professor of psychology, and Emily Rapp Black, assistant professor of creative writing, will explore the duality of worrying about risks and the risks of worrying.

New Experiences

Tuesday, March 20, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at UCR Extension

Wednesday, March 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at UCR Palm Desert Center

Rachel Wu, assistant professor of psychology, and Bella Merlin, professor of acting and directing in the theater, film, and digital production department, will speak about the benefits and difficulties of learning new things at any age.

Tinkering With the Earth

Tuesday, April 17, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at UCR Extension

Wednesday, April 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at UCR Palm Desert Center

Jade Sasser, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies, and Francesca Hopkins, assistant professor of climate change and sustainability in the environmental sciences department, will weigh the implications of interfering with our surroundings.

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