Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

A touch of school, without the homework

Do you ever miss walking into a classroom and sitting down for an engaging lecture? I know many of you are probably thinking that’s a pretty silly question, but remove the stress, the grades, the deadlines and the homework. Now are you interested?

Last week, I attended my second “WSU Vancouver Chancellor’s Seminar Series.” If you’re out of the loop, these seminars consist of an in-depth conversation about a topic of current interest or concern. A guest speaker kicks off the conversation with a lunchtime presentation and participants are encouraged to ask questions and share ideas afterwards.

Last week’s seminar, called “Regaining Control of the Food System,” featured Philip Howard, assistant professor at Michigan State University. Cathy Insler, director of supply chain for Burgerville, followed Howard’s lecture with a look at how the Vancouver-based restaurant chain sources their products.

Not only was this seminar interesting, but it served as a refreshing reminder that education can and should be fun! It’s also a good opportunity to network with fellow business leaders, elected officials and community members in attendance.

WSU Vancouver is certainly not alone in understanding that a demand for these educational, engaging conversations exists. Clark College has a quarterly “Faculty Speaker Series,” and down in Portland, OMSI has been teaming up with McMenamins (at the Bagdad and Mission Theater) to host “Science Pub.”

Whether you’re looking for the opportunity to network, learn something new or to plan a new kind of “date night,” I encourage everyone to experience one of these seminars.

And don’t worry; there will not be a pop quiz on Monday morning.

Upcoming lectures:

Monday, January 3rd: “How to Repair a Damaged Brain: From Lumps of Sugar to Spheres of Stem Cells.” OMSI Science Pub at the Bagdad Theater in Portland (these often sell out so come early).

Tuesday, January 18th: “Cataclysms on the Columbia: The Great Missoula Floods.” OMSI Science Pub at the Mission Theater (these often sell out so come early).

Tuesday, February 8th: “International Education within and from China: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Constraints.” Lectured by Professor James M. Craven, at Clark College.

Friday, March 4th: “Economic Recovery and Southwest Washington.” Lectured by Scott Baily, regional economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department, at WSU Vancouver.