Category Archives: Sunday Speakers

Posts about speakers in our Sunday lecture series

December 14: Zygmunt Plater, “Big Lessons From a Little Fish”


NOTE: The date of this program was incorrectly listed in the newsletter as 12/7. The correct date is 12/14.

Zygmunt Plater is Professor, Director, Boston College Land and Environmental Law Program, at Boston College Law School.

In the 1970s, the media gave extensive coverage to “The Most Extreme Environmental Case Ever”, a Tennessee citizens campaign against the last of TVA’s 68 dams, using the federal law that protected a tiny endangered fish—the “snail darter”—that the dam would kill. Still today politicians and right-wing media use the snail darter as an icon of liberal governmental foolishness; the facts and images from that notorious case will raise some very different impressions, with resonance for the current dysfunctions we see in national governance.

December 7: Anne Larkin, “Education Models that Work”

Copyright © Lesley Univ.Anne Larkin is Professor Emeritus, Lesley University.

NOTE: The date of this program was incorrectly listed in the newsletter as 12/14. The correct date is 12/7.

Dr. Larkin’s areas of expertise include autism, arts in special education, school restructuring, and early literacy.  Her talk will identify current trends to improve opportunities for students with special needs and how schools can be designed to best support these students.

November 23: Sherwood Gorbach, “The Era of Superbugs”

Dr. Sherwood Gorbach
photo © American Physicians and Friends for Medicine in Israel

Dr.  Sherwood Gorbach is Emeritus Professor of Public Health & Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine.

Superbugs, which are resistant to multiple antibiotics, have invaded our hospitals, work places and even our homes. At the same time pharmaceutical companies have reduced their discovery and commercialization of new antibiotics. Due to market pressures to reduce payments for new medicines, the incentive for developing new antibiotics that may be used for one to three weeks discourages development. The future outlook is dire – increasing need facing declining innovation.

November 16: Fred Gordon, “Addressing the Climate Crisis at (almost) No Cost with a New Type of Building”

Fred Gordon photoFred Gordon works at Second Street Associates, a developer of environmentally advanced buildings.

Addressing the problem of climate change is typically either from the supply side—how to develop new technologies which produce energy without polluting, or the load side—how to achieve the benefits (comfort, work) with as little energy as possible.  Gordon works on the load side, specifically on buildings which cut energy loads by 70% or more but which are more comfortable, healthful, and no more expensive. The standards and technologies of Passivhaus, a building standard developed in Europe, and which the American architectural community has been unable match are utilized by the company. This talk will identify how these buildings work, and how to make it possible to clear design thresholds that had limited American energy efficient buildings. It also will explain the science generally and how we employ it in our 200,000 square foot 65-unit residential development which we’ve broken ground on in South Boston. Continue reading

November 9: Jacqueline Cooke, “The 21st Century Workforce and the 21st Century Workplace”

Jacqueline Cooke photoJacqueline Cooke is Regional Administrator, NE Women’s Bureau, US Department of Labor.

Ms. Cooke will discuss the recent White House National Summit on Working Families, the six lead up regional Women’s Bureau Forums, and the follow up initiatives in Washington, D.C. and across the country. Women comprise nearly half the workforce, but still hold a majority of the minimum wage jobs. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a paid leave law. Both women and men face challenges bonding with a new baby, caring for children, and helping aging parents. Ms. Cooke will discuss how families, businesses, and the U.S. economy can all prosper and thrive in the 21st century.

November 2: Sue P. Stafford, “Climate Change Ethics”

Sue P. Stafford, Professor Emeritus, Simmons College
photo © Simmons College

Sue Stafford is Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, Simmons College, and member of

Climate change is happening; temperatures are rising across the globe, weather events are becoming extreme, ice caps are melting, species are migrating or becoming extinct. Scientists tell us that human activity plays a major causal role. What should we do about it? And who’s “we”?  This talk will explore the ethical responsibilities of both societies and individuals.

October 26: Boston Book Festival – Jennifer Haigh’s “Sublimation”

onecityonestoryAndrea Perrault will facilitate a discussion of “Sublimation”, by Jennifer Haigh, this year’s selected short story for the .

“Sublimation” is a story that explores the intergenerational dynamics in one family as they tackle topics of gender nonconformity, emotional connection, and the existential crises that accompany aging.  As we have for the past several years, ESB members will discuss the Festival’s featured story.  Copies of the story will be distributed at October ESB meetings. Or, you can click to download the story in PDF format.

Members can attend the Festival in Boston’s Copley Square on October 23-25. For more, click .

October 19: Daniele Levine, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors: An Overview of Community Cooks”

DL Photo 11-13Daniele Levine is Executive Director of .

Community Cooks is a network of over 580 volunteers (including individuals, businesses, civic and faith-based organizations) offering nearly 2,700 home cooked meals to vulnerable populations seeking assistance from 26 human service agencies in the Greater Boston area every month.

Ms. Levine will provide an overview of the work of the organization – its history, its model and services. She’ll also talk about how members of the Ethical Society can become involved.

October 12: Ben Hellerstein, “Massachusetts Goes Solar”

Ben_Hellerstein_photoBen Hellerstein is Field Director at .

Long seen as a niche power source, solar energy has quickly become a real alternative to dirty forms of energy like coal and gas. Massachusetts is helping to lead the way, with a more than 150-fold increase in solar energy capacity since 2008. This talk will explore how grassroots activism has helped make Massachusetts a solar leader, and what citizens can do to take solar to the next level in our state. Continue reading