Coe's Thursday Forum looks at natural disasters

Extra: Lonnie Zingula, Associate Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8613 or

2015-10-15 08:57:23 - General

Mario Affatigato
Mario Affatigato
Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics

A scientific exploration of natural disasters comes to Coe College's Thursday Forum beginning Oct. 29.

Recent events have shown that it is critical that we understand the process that generates natural disasters. Physics plays a big role in the way we attempt to model and predict the behavior of these events. Physics Professor Mario Affatigato will combine the study of science and the way in which nature affects culture and history.

How did the Krakatoa volcano help undermine Dutch colonial power in Asia? How did a cyclone and tidal wave cause a civil war that separated Pakistan and Bangladesh? Why was Japan never invaded by the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan? The people and times affected by these events will give a better understanding of the human scale of disasters.

The series begins with disasters that get their energy from the earth, with an emphasis on earthquakes and tsunamis. The second week will tackle volcanoes and then move to disasters that are powered by the sun, starting with hurricanes. This theme will continue the third week, addressing Iowa’s favorites, tornadoes and floods. In the fourth week, discussion will focus on broader trends that affect natural disasters, including global warming, and more far-fetched possibilities, like meteoric impacts.

Thursday Forum lectures are held in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins with registration and refreshments from 8:45-9:15 a.m., followed by the class until 11:30 a.m. An optional luncheon is offered at the conclusion of each series.

The courses are open to all adults. Admission to the entire four-week course can be purchased for $35 on the first day or in advance. Admission to individual lectures is $12 per week. The closing luncheons cost an additional $8. Payment can be made in person on Thursday mornings by cash or personal check. Credit card payments can be processed online only. For more information about paying by credit card or directly from your checking account, or to order gift certificates, call (319) 399-8523.

Thursday Forum schedule:

  • "The Science of Natural Disasters" - Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, 12, 19.
  • "Travels in Egypt & Morocco: Cultural and Historical Perspectives" - Dec. 3
  • "La Traviata: A Peek Behind the Scenes" - Jan. 14.
  • "A Look at our Solar System: The Sun, the Planets and More" - Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25.
  • "Asia Minor: A 3500-Year History" - March 3, 17, 24, 31.
  • "A Historical and Cultural Perspective on Travel to Cuba by US Citizens: A Century of Flux, Paradox and Contradiction" - March 10.
  • "The Evolution of 1960s Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Closer Look at Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones" - April 7, 14, 21, 28.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe’s vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.