Recent Colloquia

28 October 2014

Laurie Zoloth
Professor of Religious Studies, Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Northwestern University
The Ethics of Translation
Power, Exchange, and Hospitality

Translation may be described as the central act of scholarship across a variety of disciplines: science, theology, philosophy and ethics.  

Scholars are often told that a subsidiary task of all research is translation: basic science needs to  ‘translate’ its theory into understandable public language, or to ‘translate’ research into clinical applications, and theologians and philosophers are urged to ‘translate’ philosophy into political and social policy.  Bioethicists ‘translate’ abstractions into pragmatic decisions.

What ethical judgments are at stake when we ‘translate’?  What is ‘lost in translation’ when theories of human agency are translated into practices, or when practices are re-inscribed, or translated into theory?  Where does the power in the relationship reside? 

This short presentation will explore both the underlying moral appeals in play when scholars ‘translate’ and raise questions about how to do so with both justice and generosity. 

Duration: 1h44

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14 October 2014

John Parker
Vice-President Clare Hall, formerly Director of the University Botanic Garden.
The man who knows everything
The life of John Stevens Henslow

Cambridge's pre-eminence in science began in the early 19th century. Prominent at the time was John Henslow who was a mathematician, naturalist, superb field geologist and founder member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.  By 29, he was Professor of Mineralogy and of Botany.

He is remembered for recommending Darwin to the Beagle expedition but his research is less well known – the nature of species through understanding natural variation.  

His life changed dramatically in 1837 when he became Rector of a Suffolk parish. He refocused research to the application of science in agriculture and he helped poor labourers in the depressed agricultural economy of the time. His enduring legacy is his championing of universal education and the creation of the University Botanic Garden.

Duration: 1h17

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A Midnight Modern Conversation (Detail)
Engraving by
William Hogarth, 1732

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Updated  Oct.15.2014