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Speakers announced for Fall 2011 Faculty Luncheon Series

Jay Clayton

The Florida State University Faculty Luncheon Series has a long tradition of enlightening attendees with the interesting and relevant insights of a diverse group of speakers. This fall's lineup will continue and expand that tradition.

The theme of the upcoming fall series, "Unity in Diversity — An Academic Community Reflects on the Three Cultures: The Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences," was inspired by a 1959 lecture by scholar C.P. Snow that explored the cultural divide between the natural sciences and the humanities, as well as a 2009 book by Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan, "The Three Cultures: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities in the 21st Century."

"This semester's theme is designed to promote a greater unity among the sciences and the humanities at Florida State University," said Robert Ross, the organizer and moderator of the Faculty Luncheon Series. "We want to demonstrate how each academic culture may inform, and be informed by, the other two cultures in order to create a more coherent university that will be better able to engage the world's pressing problems and contribute to their solutions."

The first luncheon will feature Jay Clayton, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in the Department of English at Vanderbilt University. Clayton will address "How the Humanities May Inform, And Be Informed By, The Social and Natural Sciences." Professor Clayton has previously received funding from the National Institutes of Health to research how the humanities may be involved in formation of national science policy.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held:


548 W. PARK AVE.
Elaine Howard Ecklund
Neal Lane

The remaining speakers for the semester are:

Elaine Howard Ecklund, assistant professor of sociology at Rice University, who will visit on Tuesday, Oct. 4, to discuss "How the Social Sciences May Inform, And Be Informed By, The Humanities and Natural Sciences." Ecklund's focus of study involves how individuals develop cognitive schema — ways of interpreting the world that are at odds with the institutions that constrain them. (She will also deliver a lecture to the FSU Department of Sociology on Oct. 3 on "Women in Science." Ecklund's book "Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think," which is also the title of a lecture to the Department of Religion on Oct. 4, was published by Oxford University Press in May 2010.)

Neal Lane, senior fellow in science and technology policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, and a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, all at Rice University, will speak on Tuesday, Nov. 8. He will discuss "How the Natural Sciences May Inform, And Be Informed By, The Humanities and Social Sciences." Lane served as an assistant to President Bill Clinton for science and technology and as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from August 1998 to January 2001. He also served as the director of the National Science Foundation and as a member (ex officio) of the National Science Board from October 1993 to August 1998.

Joseph Gabriel
Pamela Keel
Meegan Kennedy
Thomas Miller

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Faculty Luncheon series will host a panel discussion on the three culture theme. The panel will involve esteemed faculty members from across Florida State University, including Assistant Professor Joseph Gabriel of the Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Medicine; Professor Pamela Keel of the Department of Psychology; Associate Professor Meegan Kennedy of the Department of English; and Professor Thomas Miller of the Department of Biological Science. The panel will discuss "Implementing a Three-Culture Dialogue at Florida State University."

* * * Please Note: Luncheon reservations may be mailed to the Presbyterian University Center, 548 W. Park Ave., Tallahassee, FL, 32301, with a check made out to the Presbyterian University Center and clearly marked "Faculty Luncheon Series." The amount of the check should be $9 for one luncheon or $36 for the series. Alternatively, reservations may be made by calling the center at (850) 222-6320 or sending an email to Payment may then be made at the door. All reservations must be made by noon on the Thursday preceding each Tuesday luncheon. Seating is limited, and early reservations are strongly recommended. All luncheons will be webcast live and made available as an archive. WFSU-TV will also televise each luncheon several weeks after each event on cable channel 4.

For more information on the speakers, along with information on how to make reservations, visit the Faculty Luncheon Series website at

Webcasts will also be linked to this site.

By Nathan MacDonald
2 September 2011