UA Little Rock Downtown lecture series kicks off Feb. 6

UA Little Rock Downtown

UA Little Rock Downtown kicks off its lecture series on Wednesday, Feb. 6, with Chancellor Andrew Rogerson giving the inaugural lecture.

The weekly lecture series will feature UA Little Rock faculty discussing issues in science, health, community, the arts. and other topics. The lectures will be presented on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. at UA Little Rock Downtown, 333 President Clinton Ave.

Dr. Rogerson’s lecture – “Tales of A Wandering Microbiologist,” – will give attendees the opportunity to discover the enthralling life of microbes. Before becoming chancellor of UA Little Rock, Rogerson spent 30 years as a researcher and professor at eight universities and two government laboratories.

He has worked on a diverse range of research projects all united by the fact they have involved microbes. Rogerson’s research was funded by various federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 13 – “The Art of Positive Communication: How Small Behaviors Create Your Best Moments,” Julien Mirivel, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Communication

This talk is an introduction to the art of positive communication. It is built on the premise that “the spoken word, spoken honorably and well, can make a difference that no other form of communication can equal.” In the talk, Mirivel shares a simple model to inspire audience members to communicate more positively. With personal examples and stories, the talk will invite everyone to practice concrete behaviors that will have a positive effect at work, at home, and in the community. By the end of the talk, every person in the audience will be able to create their best moments and to connect with others more deeply.

Feb. 20 – “Poverty, Food, and Nutritionism,” Don Willis, assistant professor of sociology

Food is more than its nutritional and caloric content. It can shape our identity, our social relationships, and even act as a resource to blur or distinguish people across social categories. Dr. Willis will discuss a particular form of poverty—namely, food insecurity—and how it impacts lives and health through social, or non-nutritional pathways, such as one’s sense of social positioning in an unequal world. In asking this question, he also grapples with more fundamental questions about the character of food itself, and its role in shaping social experiences such as trust and belonging. Come for a fresh take on the role of food in shaping unequal lives.

Feb. 27 –  “Nonprofit Capacity Building Strategies,” Kirk Leach, assistant professor, School of Public Affairs

Dr. Leach will discuss collaboration and social entrepreneurship in the context of nonprofit capacity building. The goal for the discussion is to engage nonprofits in a shared learning environment, to learn with, and from each other.

March 6 – “Religion and Community Engagement in Little Rock,” Rebecca Glazier, associate professor, School of Public Affairs

Attendees will learn about religion, politics, and community engagement in Little Rock. Using data from more than 2,000 congregants and 200 clergy in Little Rock, Dr. Glazier will share information about the benefits of faith-based community engagement and take suggestions for questions and topics for the 2020 Little Rock Congregations Study survey of congregants.

March 13 – “Deviant Mobs of the Internet: Bots, Trolls, and Misinformation,” Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Information Science

Social media platforms are widely used for sharing information. Although social media use is generally benign, such platforms can also be used for malicious activities, including the dissemination of propaganda, hoaxes, and fake news to influence the public. The availability of inexpensive and ubiquitous mass communication tools has made such malicious acts much more convenient and effective. This talk will touch upon various research efforts that demonstrate how disinformation campaigns work, examine the critical link between blogs and other social media platforms (viz., YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, VKontakte, etc.), and the different media orchestration strategies. Using socio-computational models that leverage social network analysis and cyber forensics, prominent information actors, and leading coordinators of disinformation campaigns are identified. Further, the talk will highlight tactics, techniques, and procedures used by the deviant groups to propagate disinformation. The talk will further illustrate application of the research methodology to prominent cases of massive disinformation campaigns in the Baltic region and NATO’s military exercises, conducted primarily through blogs but strategically linking to a variety of other social media platforms.

March 27-  “The Climate Reality Project: Need for Change and Reasons for Hope,” Dr. Jessica Scott, assistant director of the Donaghey Scholars Program 

Must we change? Can we change? Will we change? These three questions will be the focus of Dr. Scott’s presentation on climate change and the work of The Climate Reality Project. Although climate change is often misunderstood by the public, more than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that it is real and caused by the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. Understanding climate change can be overwhelming because our atmosphere, oceans, soil, and weather are driven by a complex network of interconnected factors. Dr. Scott’s talk, targeted at non-scientists, will not only summarize the evidence for climate change, but will also give an overview of what we know about its impacts and the policy and industry changes that experts predict will be necessary to mitigate these effects.

All lectures are free and open to the public; however, individuals are encouraged to RSVP by emailing For more information, contact Ross Owyoung, UA Little Rock Downtown director, at 870-501-2700 or

More information is available online.

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