Forum Speakers

Each Commencement, we present a wide range of academic and topical colloquia led by faculty, alumni, and distinguished guests. This year's forums will take place on Saturday, May 28th.  Come explore the breadth of knowledge and experience in the Brown community, and help celebrate Brown's many triumphs in education, research, and service. 

Below you will find more information regarding the 2016 Commencement Forums. Please continue to check this page as the information may change. 

Saturday, May 28th

9:00 am

Lessons from Apple vs. FBI on encryption and privacy
Timothy Edgar, Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs; Academic Director, Law and Policy, Executive Master in Cybersecurity
Panelists: Stewart Baker '70, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Daniel Kahn Gillmor '98, Staff Technologist, ACLU; Anna Lysyanskaya, Professor of Computer Science; Associate Faculty Director, Cryptography, Executive Master in Cybersecurity
Is law enforcement “going dark” as more companies and users adopt strong encryption by default? FBI Director James Comey and Apple CEO Tim Cook were locked in a fierce battle over security and privacy due to the government’s demand that Apple help it hack an iPhone.  Government officials complained they were locked out of data, even with a warrant, while many privacy advocates and computer security specialists warned that a backdoor into devices was a cure that was worse than the disease.
In this forum, faculty from Brown’s new Executive Master of Cybersecurity (EMCS) program and other experts will dissect the issue from a technical, policy, legal and societal perspective.  Should Apple have broken its phone?  How?  Should it have had too?  And now that it is "resolved", what’s the privacy impact on all of us? Following the discussion, faculty will be on hand to answer questions relating to EMCS.
Sponsored by the School of Professional Studies and the Executive Master in Cybersecurity
IBES, Room 130, 85 Waterman Street

Democracy on the Defensive: The Global Spread of Illiberalism
Edward S. Steinfeld, Howard R. Swearer Director of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, director of the China Initiative
Panelists: Margaret Weir, Watson Institute Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs • Mark Blyth, Eastman Professor of Political Economy and faculty fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs • Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University and director of the Brown-India Initiative at the Watson Institute for International and Publis Affairs
Democracies around the world — including the United States, India, and core EU members such as Germany and France — all find their core values under siege. This panel of experts will discuss how civil rights, equality, and tolerance are not just being challenged, but are also being treated in some political circles as impediments to security and growth. A light breakfast will be served after the forum.
Sponsored by the Watson Institute for International Studies
Watson Institute, Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer St. 

Robotics and the Destruction of the Human Race
Ayanna Howard '93, professor, Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair in Bioengineering, School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Iris Bahar, professor of engineering
Michael Littman, professor of computer science and co-director of Brown's Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative
The Robots are coming! The Robots are coming! The Robots are already…. here. In recent months, there has been an upsurge in the attention given to robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and their inevitable destruction of the human race if we are not watchful. Whether your opinion sits on one side or the other, the fact remains that robots have already become a part of our society and, in some cases, an integral part. Not to argue against being vigilant (because ethical considerations of the inclusion of new technology in society should always be a part of the discussion), but coupled with the doom-and-gloom messages of robots and AI, robots, with intelligence, are also being seen as beneficial, life-saving machines for assisting us in our everyday lives.  So, what’s the next step? In this talk, we open up the discussion about both the pros and cons of having robots as members in our society.
Metcalf Research Laboratory, Friedman Auditorium, Room 101, 190 Thayer St.

9:30 am

The Stroke Care Revolution
The Ruth B. Sauber Distinguished Medical Alumni Lecture
Karen Furie ’87 MD’90 RES’94 F’95, P’19 MD’23
In the last year, approaches to stroke prevention and acute stroke treatment have been transformed. We are entering a new era in which novel paradigms will enable us to reduce the devastating consequences of stroke.
Smith-Buonanno 106, 95 Cushing St.

11:00 am

It is Possible: Innovations in Patient Centered Healthcare
: Judith D. Bentkover, MA, PhD, professor of the practice, Health Services, Policy and Practice; executive director and academic director, Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership
Panelists: Timothy Bain, DC, FAAIM, CCSP, EMHL’16, co-founder, Bain Complete Wellness and medical director, Saddlebrook Sports Performance  • Byrdie Lifson-Pompan EMHL’16, co-founder and CEO, Clear Health Advisors
Despite advances in medical research, diagnosis and treatment, the fact remains that in the exceedingly complex arena of healthcare delivery and management, patient-centered care is often lost.  This oversight can take a significant toll on patients, and lead to inefficiency, higher costs and misdiagnosis. This forum will feature two case studies developed by students graduating from Brown’s Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) program. Dr. Timothy Bain and Byrdie Lifson-Pompan will illustrate the innovative approaches they have taken within the confines of the traditional healthcare infrastructure to design business models that ensure for patient-centered delivery of care.
Following the discussion, Jay Flanagan EMHL’16, assistant dean for Healthcare Programs, will be on hand to answer questions relating to EMHL.
Pembroke Hall, room 305, 172 Meeting St.
Sponsored by the School of Professional Studies and the Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership

Getting Reel: Brown Women in Documentary Film
Moderator: Betsy West ’73, P’17, Fred W. Friendly Professor of Professional Practice in Media and Society, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Panelists: Marcela Gaviria ’91, filmmaker, Chasing Heroin; producer, writer and director, RAINmedia  •  Rory Kennedy ‘91, filmmaker, Last Days in Vietnam; co-founder, Moxie Firecracker Films • Alison Klayman ‘06, filmmaker, Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry; director, AliKlay Productions • Debbie Lum ‘91, filmmaker, producer and writer, Seeking Asian Female
Introduced by: Jean E. Howard Ph.D. ’70, trustee emerita, Corporation of Brown University; chair, Pembroke Center Associates Council; Honorary Degree Recipient
Brown alumnae continue to take the documentary film field by storm, capturing some of the most prestigious prizes. No issue – from race to gender roles to religion – is off-limits.  Join these award-winning alumnae panelists for a no holds barred conversation about how they inspire, provoke, and engage their audiences.  Learn about the motivations that stir them and the roadblocks they face in the world of documentary film.
Sponsored by the Pembroke Center Associates and the Women’s Leadership Council of Brown University.
List Art Center, Auditorium, 64 College St.

Healthcare 5.0
The Charles O. Cooke, MD, Distinguished Visiting Lectureship
David M. Carlisle MD’81, president,/CEO, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Schience (CDU)
Dr. David Carlisle, a 1982 M.D. graduate, has spent his professional life caring for the underserved, promoting diversity in the health professions, and advancing systems change in an effort to address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities in health.  
Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106, 95 Cushing St.

Particle Physics Going Global
Maurice and Yetta Glicksman Forum

Nigel S. Lockyer, director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), professor of Physics
While the field of particle physics has long been international – as evidenced by the Tevatron collider at Fermilab, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and the bottom quark program in Japan – work done in other fields like sociology are beginning to cross national boundaries in new and dramatic ways. How can basic scientific research unite conflicting nations, such as the U.S. and Russia, as they work towards a common purpose? Together we’ll discuss how now more than ever, the world's next wave of scientists and researchers are embracing globalization.
Metcalf Research Laboratory, Friedman Auditorium, Room 101, 190 Thayer St.

Word/Image/Text: Reading for the Philosophers' Stone in Atalanta Fugiens

Tara Nummendal, associate professor and director of Graduate Studies, History Department
As part of Brown University's new Digital Publishing Initiative, Professor Tara Nummedal will discuss her upcoming publishing project, Project Atalanta, which aims to bring to life a 17th century text, Michael Meyer’s Atalanta Fugiens, in multimedia form. Atalanta Fugiens, published between 1617 and 1618, is an alchemical emblem book that re-casts the myth of Atalanta – the fleet-footed virgin – as a series of fifty emblems. Comprised of text, image, and music, each emblem engages sound, sight, and intellect. Read together, these emblems are an interlocking guide to alchemical theory and the production of the philosophers’ stone. A collaboration of historians, musicians, rare book curators, linguists, scientists, artists, and other scholars, Project Atalanta aims to bridge gaps between today’s readers and their 17th century counterparts. The University Library invites visitors to learn about this unique multimedia text, and explore along with Professor Nummedal the implications of reading across time, cultures, and technologies.
Rockefeller Library, The Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, 10 Prospect St.

Creating a Participatory Archive
Moderator: B. Anthony Bogues, director, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice
Panelists: Karida Brown PhD ’16, EKAAMP founder • Biff Hollingsworth, collecting and public programming archivist at University North Carolina, Chapel Hill • Bernetaie Reed, University of North Carolina
How do scholars, professionals, and institutions help communities preserve their histories? What are the ethical considerations? This forum will explore the idea of the "participatory archive" and what it means to the public humanities by focusing on the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP), which collects and documents stories of African Americans who migrated from the rural South to make their home in the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky.
Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice
IBES, Room 130, 85 Waterman Street

What's Old is New Again:  Personality, Party Conflict, and Big Money in Election 2016
Wendy J. Schiller, professor of political science and international & public affairs and chair, Department of Political Science
This forum will feature a talk by Brown University Professor Wendy J. Schiller about the dynamics of Election 2016 and draw parallels to how politics operated during the Gilded Age especially in choosing U.S. Senators.  Examining the period prior to the 17th amendment and the direct election of Senators, Schiller will talk about the role of money, party politics, and personal ambition, based on her book Electing the Senate:  Indirect Democracy before the Seventeenth Amendment.  She will compare that to contemporary Senate elections as well as presidential elections and discuss the difficulties of crafting institutions that are accountable to the people, and whether constitutional change can fall short. After her talk Professor Schiller will answer audience questions.
Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 001

Compassionate Leadership
Antonia Hernandez, president and CEO, the California Community Foundation
The goal of higher education is to prepare students as leaders who will guide our workplaces, our communities, and the country into the next century. They must be confident, enthusiastic, and visionary. But in today’s world of great needs and great challenges, how will we also nurture the qualities that the most successful leaders embody: humility, empathy, and compassion?  Find out how these qualities, especially compassion, drives people to take action toward creating positive social change and is the heart of philanthropy.
Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts,Martinos Auditorium, 154 Angell St.

Alumni Reunion Forum - Diplomacy in a Changing World: Reflections of Brown Alumni in International Affairs
Moderator: Jessica Ashooh '06, deputy director, Middle East strategy task force, Atlantic Council
Panelists: Dana M. Brown ‘96, political and economic counselor, U.S. Embassy, Havana; the Honorable Rufus Gifford ‘96, U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark; the Honorable Matthew McGuire ‘91, United States executive director, World Bank Group; the Honorable Richard Olson ’81, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
With the Middle East in violent turmoil, the European Union threatening to split at its seams, a resurgent Russia, a rising China, and more refugees worldwide than during World War II, the global system is more unsettled now than at any time during the post-war era. Brown alumni are working in the top levels of government and international institutions to navigate these changes and work with international partners to steer them in a more peaceful direction. The panelists will explore how global events can change for the better. With the United States fatigued from war and facing a range of domestic challenges, why should Americans care about foreign affairs? How do perceptions about the practice of diplomacy differ from reality? And in what ways did a Brown education prepare these alumni for the challenges of a career in diplomacy?
MacMillan Hall, 167 Thayer St. (G7)
Sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations

12:30 pm
Responding to Existing and Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Public Health Perspective
Mark Lurie, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology, International Health Institute •  Matthew Mimiaga, MPH, ScD, professor of behavioral and social sciences, epidemiology, and psychiatry and human behavior; director, Institute for Community Health Promotion •  Terrie Fox Wetle, MS, PhD, professor of health services, policy and practice; dean, School of Public Health
Both longstanding and new infectious diseases threaten global population health. How do we understand the factors involved in disease emergence, prevention, and eradication? Experts from the Brown University School of Public Health will discuss infectious diseases from Zika to HIV/AIDS – how transmission occurs and how we can minimize the impact on human suffering.
Metcalf Research Laboratory, Friedman Auditorium, Room 101, 190 Thayer St. 

Transforming Media/Transforming Brown
Rodney Evans ’93, film director, writer and producer
Homay King ’94, professor of history of art, Bryn Mawr College
Yoruba Richen ’94, documentary filmmaker
Christine Vachon ’83, co-founder, Killer Films
Four Brown alums working in and on media will discuss a critical concern of today’s students: diversity and inclusion on campus and in society. These alums, who have addressed these issues so insightfully in their production and/or scholarship, will place current student demands in a historical context that addresses both struggles within Brown and media more generally.
Salomon Center for Teaching, DeCiccio Auditorium, Room 101

The following films will be shown throughout the day in association with this forum:

The New Black   (Yoruba Richen, dir, 2013, 80 min, USA)
The New Black documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church.  
Saturday, 10:45 am – 12:05 pm, Salomon Center for Teaching, DeCiccio Auditorium

The Happy Sad   (Rodney Evans, dir, 2013, 87 min, USA)
CAST: LeRoy McCain, Sorel Carradine, Charlie Barnett, Cameron Scoggins
Two young couples in New York—one black and gay, one white and heterosexual—find their lives intertwined as they create new relationship norms, explore sexual identity, and redefine monogamy.
Saturday, 1:45 pm – 3:15 pm, List Art Center, Room 120

Carol   (Todd Haynes, dir, 2015, 118 min, USA)
CAST: Cate Blanchett, Mara Rooney, Kyle Chandler
A chance encounter in a Manhattan department store sparks an extraordinary friendship between two women: a young department-store clerk and a beautiful older woman stuck in a depressing marriage of convenience. Adapted from the 1950s best-selling novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.
Saturday, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm, MacMillan Hall, Room 117

Arts and Culture, a Means to an End?  A Theoretical Approach to Arts and Culture as a Key Strategy for Responsible and Equitable Community Development
Umberto Crenca, founder of AS220/artist
Working from the belief that art is a vehicle for social change, Umberto 'Bert' Crenca will highlight the importance of physical, virtual, and conceptual space for the exchange of ideas. Using AS220's 30 year history as an arts organization helping to build a vibrant Providence community, Bert will discuss how fostering opportunities for free creative expression impacts the growth of dynamic, healthy urban environments.
Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Martinos Auditorium, 154 Angell St.


The Vietnam War: Our Veterans' Stories
Moderator: Beth Taylor, co-director, Nonfiction Writing Program
Panelists: David Taylor '66, captain, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1971; real estate developer • Barry Kowalski '66, 1st lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1970; special counsel for Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice •  Elaine Zimmer Davis, widow of Jerry Zimmer '66, captain, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1969, MIA, 8/29/1969, Vietnam • Augustus A. White, III, ’57, MD, PhD; captain, Medical Corps, U.S. Army, 1966-1967; orthopaedic spine surgeon and professor of orthopaedic surgery; Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Harvard Medical School.
Some served to fulfill their ROTC scholarship. Some volunteered. All went to the war before the campus protests. Come hear the surprising stories of Brown’s Vietnam veterans and join a discussion with alumni whose lives were changed forever by those difficult times. The Vietnam Veterans of America will present the University Archives with personal artifacts of John Brooks Sherman ’62 (1st Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1962-1966, d. 1966, Vietnam), recently unearthed in Vietnam. Learn about the newly curated Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive and website -- featuring flight jackets, commissioning photos, military documents, and love letters.
​Sponsored by the Brown University Library, Brown Alumni Association, and Nonfiction Writing Program, Department of English.
Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect St.

3:30 pm

Successful Aging: New Horizons
The Frank and Joan Rothman Lecture

Bill Hall, MD, Fine Professor of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine
Americans are adding years to life, but are we simultaneously adding life to those years? Unprecedented advances have been made through the nation’s medical schools that have enhanced the scientific and sociological components of “Successful Aging”. Yet, as always, let the buyer be aware of commercial claims for remedies that may be useless or even harmful. Dr. Hall will review highly effective strategies to improve our quality of life, and develop personalized strategies to help us find our way to more creative aging.
Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Martinos Auditorium, 154 Angell St.