Portrait of Tamim Ansary and Book Jacket for Games Without Rules
December 12, 2012

Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Born in 1948, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tamim Ansary is a writer, lecturer, editor, and teacher based in San Francisco.  He directs the San Francisco Writer’s Workshop, teaches through the Osher Institute, and writes fiction and nonfiction about Afghanistan, Islam-and-the-West, democracy, current events, social issues, and as he says, "my cat, and other topics as they come up."

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November 19, 2012

City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

A blimp in flames crashes through the roof of a busy downtown bank; a racial incident at a hot, crowded beach spirals into one of the worst urban riots in American history; a transit strike paralyzes the city; the body of a missing young girl is found, the victim of a gruesome murder. The Great Fire of 1871 holds a notorious place in Chicago history – but these incidents over 12 balmy days in 1919 shaped the city in profound ways and paved the way for the birth of the modern American city.

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November 08, 2012

Interview With Historian and Geographer David Harvey

Historian and Geographer David Harvey is a leading theorist in the field of urban studies, whom Library Journal called “one of the most influential geographers of the later twentieth century.”

He is a Distinguished Professor of The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, and the author of a number of books. His most recent work is Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution.

David Harvey will give the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities “Revolution” Theme Lecture on November 8, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium.

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November 02, 2012

Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color

Living Color investigates the social history of skin color from prehistory to the present, showing how our body’s most visible trait influences our social interactions in profound and complex ways. Nina G. Jablonski begins with the biology and evolution of skin pigmentation, explaining how skin color changed as humans moved around the globe. She explores the relationship between melanin pigment and sunlight, and examines the consequences of rapid migrations, vacations, and other lifestyle choices that can create mismatches between our skin color and our environment. This book explains why skin color has come to be a biological trait with great social meaning— a product of evolution perceived by culture. It considers how we form impressions of others, how we create and use stereotypes, how negative stereotypes about dark skin developed and have played out through history—including being a basis for the transatlantic slave trade. Offering examples of how attitudes about skin color differ in the U.S., Brazil, India, and South Africa, Jablonski suggests that a knowledge of the evolution and social importance of skin color can help eliminate color-based discrimination and racism.

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September 07, 2012

Why Does the World Exist?

Guest: Jim Holt.

Author Jim Holt is not satisfied with the regular responses to the question "Why are we here?" There are many more possible answers, says Holt, than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation with Holt about his new book Why Does the World Exist? He'll talk about his correspondence with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk in his quest for big answers.

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August 17, 2012

The Accordian Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition

Katherin S. Newman, Ph.D., James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Kieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

Host: David Inge

In the U.S. and in other affluent nations, growing numbers of young adults in their 20s and 30s are living with their parents. Sociologist Katherine Newman says that while this kind of doubling-up has long been seen in families that were less well-off, the middle class has never before needed to provide a long-term economic safety net for their grown children. We’ll explore this change with Katherine Newman, author of "The Accordion Family." The book looks at the ways global economic conditions have redefined family life.

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 10 am

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August 15, 2012

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, Stern School of Business, New York University

Host: David Inge

As we pass through life, we make snap judgments about other people and the things they do. To us, these judgments feel like self-evident truths, making us certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Jonathan Hite calls this moral intuition. He says it varies across cultures, including the cultures of the right and left. We’ll explore the ideas in Jonathan Hite’s new book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion."

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 10 am

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August 13, 2012

Satisfaction Not Guaranteed: Dilemmas of Progress in Modern Society

Peter N. Stearns, Provost and University Professor, George Mason University

Host: David Inge

In the affluent, industrial societies of the world today, life is good.  Most people live long lives, without fear of plague, famine or war.  So why is there depression, anxiety, unfulfilled longing? In short, why has abundance not led to greater happiness? That’s the question we’ll take up with our guest, historian Peter Stearns. We’ll talk about some of the ideas in his book "Satisfaction Not Guaranteed." The book looks at the ways people in the past thought about progress, and asks whether we can be truly happy in the modern world.

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 11 am

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