Coe College’s Thursday Forum speakers to present on wealth of topics

Thursday Forum

Psychology, history, science, government and the arts — Coe College’s 2019-2020 Thursday Forum lectures embrace all of these. Anyone who has wondered why people act the way they do, how museums loan out valuable works of art or what CRISPR is will have the opportunity to learn this and more by attending this year’s forum series.

Thousands of community members have expanded their knowledge and more than 150 speakers have presented at Coe’s Thursday Forum over the last 30 years. This year’s lineup also includes forums on Alexander the Great, democracies worldwide, the brain, film music and America’s history of slavery.

Thursday Forum lectures are held in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins with coffee and pastries from 8:45-9:15 a.m., followed by the lecture until 11:30 a.m. Each series concludes with an optional luncheon on the final Thursday. Please join the Coe community for the following events:

  • Four “Big Ideas” that Changed Psychology: Freud, Skinner, Piaget and the Brain Scientists: In this four-week series beginning Sept. 5, James Y. Canfield Professor of Psychology Wendy Dunn will introduce the “big ideas” that have guided research and development in the field of psychology. Each session will examine how a notable scientist or group of scientists revolutionized understandings of psychology.
  • The Life and Legacy of Alexander the Great: Associate Professor of History Angela Ziskowski will explore the ascent of the Macedonian state through the succession and legacy of Alexander the Great, one of the most famous figures from Greek history. This four-week series begins Oct. 3.
  • Populism and Democracy in Venezuela, Brazil, Turkey and the U.S.: In recent decades, democracies around the world have been weakened by populist governments. In this four-week forum beginning Oct. 31, Coe Physics Department faculty originally from Venezuela, Brazil, Turkey and the United States will explore the status and crisis of democracy in their home countries.
  • Art Loan Logistics: Following Grant Wood’s “Boy Milking Cow” From Coe to the Big Apple: Assistant Professor of Art History Ranelle Knight-Lueth will take forum participants behind the scenes to learn all that is involved in loaning valuable works of art between museums. This Dec. 5 session will focus particularly on the loan of three large panels from Coe’s permanent collection to the Whitney Museum of American Art.
  • CRISPR Technology and the Brave New World of Genetic Engineering: On Jan. 16 and 23, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology Patricia Storlie will take forum participants behind the hype of CRISPR technology to understand this exciting new biotechnology tool. The forum will explain the history of CRISPR and its technology, then examine how CRISPR is revolutionizing science and medicine.
  • The Golden Age of Neuroscience: Understanding Addiction, Stress and Brain Disorders: This four-week forum, led by faculty from Coe’s biology and psychology departments, will provide an introduction to neuroscience. The series will explore addiction and behaviors associated with it, the biological process of stress and the mechanisms that lead to brain disorders. The series begins Feb. 6.
  • Film Music, Concert Music and the Hollywood Connection: Over the course of this four-week forum beginning March 5, Instructor and Teaching Artist in Music Alan Lawrence will explore significant milestones in film music of the past century. Through film clips and music recordings, audience members will learn about important film composers and the connections between film music and concert music.
  • Slavery and the Civil War in American History and Memory: Whipple Associate Professor of History Brie Swenson Arnold will explore the United States’ complicated history and memory of slavery and the Civil War. Beginning April 2, the four-week series will shed light on broader issues in U.S. politics, culture and society — particularly Americans’ efforts to come to terms with a complicated history of race and racism.

Admission is $35 for a four-week course or $12 per week. The closing luncheon is an additional $10. 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 or visit  

Coe values its location and relationship with the Cedar Rapids community. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe’s success in offering superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities stems in large part from its location in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. As such, Coe welcomes the community to participate in this event.

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