CU on the Weekend Returns September 17

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By Gretchen Minekime


CU on the Weekend will welcome people back to campus when the series returns using a hybrid format in September. Free and open to the public, this lecture series showcases cutting-edge work from CU Boulder’s faculty.  

Doug Spencer, associate dean for faculty affairs and research at Colorado Law, will present America’s Broken Political Process and the Path Forward on September 17. 

Description: In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has instructed Americans to trust the political process to address problems with gerrymandering, to combat climate change, and to protect the right to abortion. What happens if the political process is broken? From redistricting to voting rules to microtargeting (the decision by campaigns about whom to contact), it can sometimes feel like those in power are wielding their influence to shape the electorate rather than having voters use their power to shape the government. Has America’s political system been turned on its head? Professor Spencer will discuss recent developments in the law, in the courts and in political campaign strategies that have contributed to growing political inequality. He will also explore several possible reforms for addressing the potential breakdown of America’s democracy. 

On October 22, Lori Peek, director of the Natural Hazards Center, will highlight the immediate behavioral responses of children and adults during disasters with What Do You Do When the Earth Shakes? Children, Adults, and Generational Gaps in Protective Action Behavior. 

Description: Many schools offer regular drills to train young people and adult staff on the appropriate recommended protective actions to take during an actual hazard event. Yet, little is known about whether this guidance is followed in schools and homes by children and adults. Understanding how people react during a crisis can help government officials and school leaders improve drills and messaging, refine risk communication strategies, and ultimately reduce injury and loss of life. 

To begin to fill the gap, a research team led by Professor Lori Peek at the Natural Hazards Center examined the behaviors of children and adults during the 2018 Anchorage, Alaska earthquake and the 2019 Ridgecrest, California earthquake sequence. Their team visited earthquake-affected school districts and conducted in-depth interviews with more than 100 school staff, students, parents, emergency managers and others. 

Peek will share what her team found children and adults did in the earthquakes, as well as the factors that shaped whether they took the correct recommended protective actions. She will also explain how the findings from this study can help inform our understanding of risk communication and preparedness for other hazards such as wildfires, floods and tornadoes. 

The Community-Engaged Scholarship Showcase will immediately follow Peek’s lecture. Audience members will have the opportunity to talk with CU Boulder faculty, staff and students conducting community-engaged scholarship related to the implications of climate change. The Office for Outreach and Engagement is producing the showcase and Peek’s lecture in partnership with RIO’s Research & Innovation Week (October 17-22). 

Both lectures will be on Saturdays at 1 p.m., and audience members can choose to attend in person or virtually.

There will not be a live stream for the showcase. After the event, posters and information will be available on the Office for Outreach and Engagement’s website.