Hanging out with professors at downtown coffee shops isn’t just for kiss-up students anymore, thanks to Adam Torgerson, Associate Director of Media Relations at Willamette University. The program started out as a “Science Pub” and a partnership with OMSI, but since the talks were popular, the program has expanded and is now billed as “U Think.”
“Attendance is fantastic. Some of the same folks come back and new people join us,” says Torgerson. “The professors are really enjoying the presentations. We switched to better reflect the broad offerings at Willamette.”
The upcoming U Think on September 14 at Brown’s Town Lounge will feature Seth Cotlar, Willamette University History professor. He will discuss the historical accuracy of the Tea Party claims about America’s founders. “While the Tea Party tends to favor state over federal power, the men who wrote the Constitution were the centralizers of their day, and almost all of them distrusted the states,” says Cotlar. “James Madison, the ‘Father of the Constitution,’ went so far as to suggest that the federal government should have the right to veto any state law it found unacceptable. This talk will suggest some new ways to think about what the founding era can – and cannot – teach us about contemporary politics,” says Cotlar.
So far Willamette Valley thinkers like the format and the opportunity to interact with professors. “It varies, but we have about 130 people show up,” says Torgerson. Amber Davisson, assistant professor of rhetoric and media studies at WU, spoke about Lady Gaga, and how she uses the media. “It was a lot of fun. I got a lot of good questions that helped me think about what I was doing,” says Davisson. “The audience was very receptive to the ideas and the concept.” Davisson appreciated the ability to have to explain her theory. “It forces you to take the time and really explain it. When you work with something for a long time you become familiar with it. It’s nice to put it out there to another audience. I am hoping to do it again. There is a chance that I will do another one during the presidential election.”
The talk begins at 6:30 p.m. The series features topics from the sciences and humanities. No background knowledge is necessary, and a question and answer session follows each presentation. The venue is open to adults 21 and over, and it is in the heart of downtown Salem at 189 Liberty St. NE. Willamette U Think is free, so arrive early to eat, drink and ensure you get a seat.