Great Conversation Masthead

Table Topics

If you enjoy talking about ideas with colleagues and friends (old and new) in an extremely inviting environment, join us for the ninth annual Great Conversations on Thursday, October 24th. Please sign up early for this special event; our previous Great Conversations dinners sold out in advance leaving many people disappointed.

This year's engaging topics are listed below. Sign up for the conversation of your choice today!

  1. The Reality of Science
    Hosted by Dr. Tom Moore, Chancellor of USC Upstate
    Detailed description
      
  2. Making First Impressions
    Hosted by Dr. Andrew Beer, Associate Professor of Psychology
    Detailed description
      
  3. The Tudors—Truth is Stranger than Showtime
    Hosted by Dr. Catherine Canino, Professor of Shakespearean Studies
    Detailed description
       
  4. The Future of Religion—What Will the World Believe Next?
    Hosted by Dr. David Damrel, Associate Professor of Religious Studies 
    Detailed description
      
  5. Forgotten History in 19th Century Upstate South Carolina
    Hosted by Dr. Paul Grady, Associate Professor of History and
    Dr. Rob McCormick, Associate Professor of History
    Detailed description 
     
  6. The Truth About Lying
    Hosted by Dr. Scott Meek, Assistant Professor of Psychology
    Detailed description  
        
  7. Inside the Actor’s Craft
    Hosted by Professor Lee Neibert, Assistant Professor of Theatre
    Detailed description
        
  8. Lone Wolf Conspiracy: The JFK Assassination Revisited
    Hosted by Dr. Reid Toth,  Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
    Detailed description
      
  9. The Arab Spring Three Years Later
    Hosted by Lizabeth Zack, Associate Professor of Sociology
    Detailed description

Table Topic Descriptions

  1. The Reality of Science

    Discussion at this table will focus on how we think about the nature and meaning of scientific descriptions of the material world. Most of us assume that science describes things as they are and over time with much effort, science creates a truer and truer description of the material world. We will explore what such a perspective looks like at the most fundamental levels of matter and whether alternate perspectives on “The Reality of Science” might deserve consideration.

    Dr. Tom Moore will be your host for the evening.  He grew up in Alabama and has degrees in chemistry from Huntingdon College and the University of South Carolina.  He has taught chemistry at three institutions of higher education, has participated in National Endowment for the Humanities seminars in history of science and in philosophy of science, and has developed interdisciplinary programs at the undergraduate and the graduate levels.  Tom became Chancellor of USC Upstate in August of 2011.

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  2. Making First Impressions

    Dinner parties are really the ideal setting in which to discuss the accuracy of our first impressions of others. The way we interpret social information on the fly can determine important outcomes in our life, such as whom we marry, whom we hire, or whom we avoid on the street. Table participants will discuss the origins of first impressions of others’ personalities. What do we look for? What do we care about? Are we any good at this? Why or why not? Participants should be prepared to discuss personal successes and failures in evaluating people as a springboard for this discussion.

    Your table host will be Dr. Andrew Beer, Associate Professor of Psychology.  Dr. Beer has written extensively in the area of personality and first impressions and his Personality courses are very popular among Upstate students. 

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  3. The Tudors—Truth is Stranger than Showtime

    Were you mesmerized by Showtime’s The Tudors? Are you an avid fan of Philppa Gregory?  Are you starting to become addicted to “The White Queen?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have developed a fascination with the Tudor period because of these shows and novels—and for good reason. They depict one of the most exciting and significant periods in English history—a time when, more than once, a pretty girl completely changed the destiny of a nation. But how much is true, and how much is “Hollywood?” Was Elizabeth Woodville really a witch? Was Henry VIII really a hunk? Was Anne Boleyn really a seductress? To find the answers to these, and other provocative questions, come join our conversation! Whether you are a history buff, a historical romance fan, or a cable series junkie, you’ll find yourself becoming “Tudored.” 

    Dr. Catherine Canino is a Professor of Shakespearean Studies and Director of the Honors Program at USC Upstate. She has published a book and numerous articles on Shakespeare and Renaissance England. Dr. Canino is currently working on a book comparing the Elizabethan times to the Cold War period in the US, and has taught several classes on 1950s films and society.

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  4. The Future of Religion—What Will the World Believe Next?

    This table will explore some of the rising trends in major world religions—particularly Christianity, Islam and Buddhism—and ask the question "What will these faiths look like in 50 years?" Can the experiences of religious communities in the past help us look into the future?
     
    Your table host will be Dr. David Damrel, Associate Professor of Religious Studies.  He joined the USC Upstate faculty seven years ago and teaches Comparative Religion, with a specialty in Islam and Religions in India. He spent 2008 in Indonesia developing a comparative religion program with the support of a very prestigious Fulbright Fellowship.  More recently he became a part-time research consultant with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in Britain

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  5. Forgotten History in 19th Century Upstate South Carolina

    Have you wondered why Upstate South Carolina history was neglected when you were in school? Are you curious about local history that was important to the development of South Carolina? Come and discuss late nineteenth century Upstate South Carolina history with Dr. Paul Grady and Dr. Rob McCormick, both contributing authors to"Recovering the Piedmont Past:  Unexplored Moments in Nineteenth Century Upcountry South Carolina History."

    Your conversation leaders for the evening will be Dr. Paul Grady and Dr. Rob McCormick.  Both are Associate Professors of History. Dr. Grady specializes in American History. He teaches courses on Colonial America through the Early American Republic, the History of American Indians and Colonial Latin America. He is the author of Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in Colonial Southeast America, 1650-1720 and a contributing author and co-editor of "Recovering the Piedmont Past: Unexplored Moments in Nineteenth-Century South Carolina History." Dr. McCormick teaches courses and conducts research on the topics of war, genocide and nation building. He has recently published on genocide in World War II Croatia and on the 1884 evolution controversy in South Carolina. His forthcoming book "Croatia under Ante Pavelić:  America, the Ustaše and Croatian Genocide" will be published by I.B. Tauris in March 2014. Dr. McCormick is a popular speaker before community and civic groups, primarily because he has a particular talent for explaining complex world events in a lively and understandable way.

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  6. The Truth About Lying

    How good are humans at detecting a lie? Popular media has always been fascinated with the ability to determine a liar from their facial expressions and behavior, but humans employing these methods of deception detection are highly unreliable. What if instead of relying on such behavioral measures we could just ask the brain itself, “Did you just tell a lie?” Modern methods of lie detection are attempting to do just that by measuring electrical and metabolic activity in the brain when people lie versus tell the truth. Join this table for an interesting conversation on the state of deception detection (often referred to as credibility assessment) in the field as well as the potential ethical implications of measuring the brain directly.

    Dr. Scott Meek is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and has published several articles in the field of deception.  He has also completed grant work on deception with the Department of Defense and the Army.

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  7. Inside the Actor’s Craft

    Have you ever wondered how Meryl Streep consistently mesmerizes audiences? What skills and qualities do audiences attach to performances that are considered outstanding? What work does the actor do in preparation for a role in order to achieve truth and honesty in performance? Ever since Constantin Stanislavski introduced the psyche into the acting process in the 1890s the acting process has undergone a major transformation. From Clark Gable to Denzel Washington, how have critical standards for acting changed? How far is too far in the lengths that actors will go to achieve sublime performance? How do we all “act” on a day to day basis? These and many other questions will be considered in this informative discussion about the actor’s process.

    Your acting coach for the evening will be Lee Neibert, Assistant Professor of Theatre (acting and directing). Lee has over 20 years of experience as an actor and director. He most recently played Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Spartanburg Little Theatre and directed USC Upstate’s production of “All About Ives” for the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston upon Thames, UK and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" by William Shakespeare on the USC-Upstate campus.

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  8. Lone Wolf Conspiracy: The JFK Assassination Revisited

    As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. approaches, new analyses of well-worn conspiracy theories have emerged. Many of these analyses are based on reinterpretation of evidence using modern forensic science techniques not available at the time of the assassination and the follow-up investigation. Please join us for a lively discussion on popular conspiracy based perspectives such as “the second shooter theory,” “the pristine bullet theory,” “the Mafia hit theory,” and others.

    Dr. Reid C. Toth will lead the discussion.  She is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and the Chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Women Studies. She appears regularly as a crime analyst and commentator on WSPA and other news outlets.

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  9. The Arab Spring Three Years Later

    In late December 2010, a Tunisian man named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against government treatment. This event helped launch what has come to be known as the Arab Spring, the wave of protest movements that swept across the Middle East leaving in its wake fallen dictators, civil war and violent government crackdowns. This table will assess the Arab Spring nearly three years after it started. We’ll discuss the varying political dynamics across the region, the conditions shaping the current situation and speculate about where the region is heading.

    Your table host will be Dr. Lizabeth Zack, Associate Professor of Sociology. Dr. Zack has published and lectured on various topics related to the Middle East. She spent a year in Jordan as a prestigious Fulbright Fellow, where she taught university classes and conducted research on environmental issues and activism.

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Event Information

Registration Information:
Shawn Masto
864-503-5492

Sponsors 

 South State Bank  

Contact Us

College of Arts and Sciences
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CASB 114
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Phone: 864-503-5700
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