Single Classes

Spring Semester 2021

Why GMOs Are Better for You and the World

Approximately 50% of American adults believe GMOs are bad and organic foods are good for their health.  This simplistic and under-informed view, however, is not backed by science.  This presentation will share data and facts to change your mind.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Dr. Tian Xiuchun (Cindy) Tian, Professor of Biotechnology, Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, UCONN Stem Cell Institute

corn on green background

CLICK HERE to watch the recording of this class!

From Chipmunks to Van Gogh’s Bookworm: Reflections on the Art of Seeing

Visual art requires above all, seeing.  In this class, artist Pat Miller explores some of the ways we can see the world around us, drawing on photographic subjects that range from the concrete to the abstract; creatures, flowers, and sunsets share the stage with shadows, magical orbs, and pandemic-era window reflections.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Pat Miller, well-known local artist and former UCONN English professor.  Her work is available at Swift Waters Artists’ Cooperative, 866 Main Street, Willimantic or online at

person viewing art on a wall

Benefits of Older Age During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Getting older is often associated with increased likelihood of negative life events (e.g., declining health, death of loved ones). However, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that older age is associated with better emotional well-being, which may be particularly beneficial for coping with life stressors. This talk provides an overview of the theoretical and empirical evidence supporting better emotional health with age and discusses the implications for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Natalie Shook, Associate Professor, School of Nursing

older person getting vaccine shot

Building Back Democracy in a Post-Trump Era

Professors Libal and Mitoma share insights and examples of the transformative role human rights can play in fostering democracy, equity, and the rule of law.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Kathryn Libal, Director, Human Rights Institute & Assoc. Prof. of Social Work and Human Rights, UConn; Dr. Glenn Mitoma, Director, Dodd Research Center


US capital building

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Power of Education, and Message for the Moment

This talk focuses on the power of education in shaping Dr. King from his youth to his educational influences at Morehouse College, Crozer Seminary, and Boston University.  The presentation will also focus on his discussions with young people of college age.

Thursday, May 6, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Stacey Close, Associate Provost/Vice President for Equity and Diversity, ECSU

Martin Luther King jr

Why Snakes Flick Their Tongues, Tadpoles Suck Bubbles and Dogs Lick Their Noses:  the Amazing Adaptations of Everyday Animals 

David Attenborough notwithstanding, one needn’t travel to Amazon rainforests or East African savannas to find astounding animals that do amazing things. They are all around us—in our yards, the wetland down the road, and even our homes. In this talk Dr. Schwenk shares some examples of astonishing animal adaptations from his own work on the functional morphology and biomechanics of local species. You may never look at your dog the same way again. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Dr. Kurt Schwenk, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UConn 

dog and cat sleeping

CLICK HERE to watch the recording of the class!

Rethinking the Garden: Creating a Beautiful and Sustainable Space

Creating garden spaces is not only about what the gardener wants but also about creating habitat for the birds, insects and other fauna that are part of a balanced ecosystem. Form and function go hand in hand when we design for best ecological impacts, creating spaces that are beautiful, low-maintenance and welcoming to pollinators, feathered friends and other wildlife. UConn Extension Master Gardeners will share their gardening best practices to achieve these results.

Thursday, May 20, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

UCONN Master Gardener Program

walkway in garden

Conservation, Behavior, and the Ecology of Fear

A presentation of research examining the intricacies of predator recognition and avoidance for the imperiled aquatic salamander, including a brief discussion of the broad implications of behavioral research for conservation efforts.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Kristen J. Epp, Professor of Biology, ECSU

aquatic salamander

“It’s Not a Lie if You Believe It”: Truth-Making and Identity in a Digital World

This presentation explores the growing tension between two ideas that previously seemed united: what is “true” and what is “reliable.”  Drawing upon work in the philosophical study of knowledge, we’ll look at what it means to believe things in a world of deep fakes, Facebook updates, and 5G conspiracy theories. What’s the future of truth?

Thursday, June 3, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Jordan Youngblood, co-director of New Media Studies, Assoc. Prof. of English, ECSU

screen of an iphone

Viruses and Vaccines

Social media gives mixed messages on the pandemic.  From SARS-2 to Covid-19, Professor Murdoch offers a much-needed examination of the coronavirus that has taken over our world, discussing how science has been coping and the future control of pandemics.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 1:15-2:45 p.m. 

Barbara Murdoch, Assoc. Professor of Biology, ECSU

covid virus

The Pandemic Mirror

The focus of this talk is the idea that pandemics are mirrors of deep underlying social and ecological questions:  They reflect the social logics of relations among people in a given society and they also reflect the relationship between society and nature, in terms of economics and public effect.   This talk unpacks these questions by way of close readings of literary texts that treat of pandemics.  Works of fiction themselves reflect the pandemic mirror. Everything happens in the literary work as a matter of refraction, degrees of light and angles.

Friday, June 11, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Jerry Phillips, Professor of English, UConn

mask on person