Lattman Lecture to focus on ways improve our social and political discourse

October 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Alex McKiernan will give the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ 2019 Lattman Visiting Scholar of Science and Society Lecture. His talk, titled “Truth, Trust, Relationships, Progress: The Work of Unfracturing,” will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in 22 Deike Building.

Following the talk, a reception will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in the EMS Museum & Art Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

McKiernan will discuss how science can lead to better decision-making.

“We can all seek to understand basic facts and then apply our social, ethical and religious values to plot a course forward together,” McKieran said. “Of course, this isn't where we appear to be headed now, so how can we improve the way we talk to each other? In order to uphold the ideals of an inclusive democracy while still moving forward productively, we need to address what needs to change in our communities and our country.”

About the speaker

McKiernan is a lifelong rock climber who is recovering from a permanent, debilitating spinal cord injury he sustained during a car accident in 2014. He studied geology and geophysics at the University of Wyoming and Penn State, and has had a varied career as a biofuels expert, mechanic, arborist, farmer, firefighter and EMT. He lives in Nebraska, where he owns and operates Robinette Farms with his wife, Chloe Diegel.

His volunteer and speaking work looks at ways of improving how we tackle divisive issues. He recently founded the Lydia Foundation for Social Engagement, which seeks to promote productive conversation through projects like the podcast series "Science For the Rest of Us,” and “Good Talks for the Good Life,” which is a public, moderated discussion series about controversial topics.

About the Lattman Lecture

The Lattman Visiting Scholar of Science and Society lecture series was created to engage undergraduate students in a broad range of scholarly issues. It was endowed by friends and associates of Laurence Lattman, a geosciences educator who taught at Penn State from 1957 to 1970. During that time, he developed a geology course for non-geology majors, Geological Sciences 20: Planet Earth, which he taught to more than 24,000 students.

Lattman also served as chair of the Department of Geology at the University of Cincinnati, dean of the University of Utah’s colleges of Mines and Mineral Industries and Engineering, and president of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from City College of New York and a master’s degree and doctoral degree in geology from the University of Cincinnati.

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Last Updated October 21, 2019