Oil the focus of Minerva course and lecture series

Publication Date

Historian Robin Blackburn will kick off a spring public lecture series devoted to the topic of oil on Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in Room 115 in the F.W. Olin Center

Blackburn, a professor of sociology at the University of Essex in the U.K. and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Historical Studies at the New School in New York, will discuss “Sweet Power: Global Powers and the Premium Commodity from Sugar to Oil.”

Each year the College offers an interdisciplinary course open to all students that focuses on a single topic and is taught by a variety of professors. Known as the Minerva Course, this spring’s course is entitled “Oil: A World in Short Supply.” Past topics have included presidential elections, food, technology and society, and globalization.

The 10-week course also includes lectures by accomplished guests. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Besides Blackburn, the other guest speakers in the “Oil” series include:

Wednesday, May 4, 7 p.m., Nott Memorial: Riki Ott, marine biologist, author and former commercial fisherwoman, “Exxon Valdez to Gulf Disaster: Changing the Endgame.”

Wednesday, May 11, 7 p.m. Olin 115: Michael Klare, journalist and political science professor, “The Perils of Extreme Oil: Extractive Strategies in the Twilight Era of Petroleum.” 7 p.m. in Room 115 in the Olin Center.

Monday, May 16, 7 p.m., Nott Memorial: Tariq Ali, British writer, filmmaker, political analyst and historian, “The Oil Wars and World Politics.” 7 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.

Wednesday, May 25, 7 p.m., Nott Memorial: Mia Birk, urban planner, “Pedaling toward a Healthier Planet.”

More than 100 students are enrolled in the “Oil” course, which meets twice a week. The course was organized by Teresa Meade, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture. Other professors who will participate include John Garver (Geology), Ashraf Ghaly (Engineering and Computer Science), Brad Lewis and Eshi Motahar (Economics), Jeff Corbin (Biology and Environmental Studies), Elana Shever (Anthropology), and Mark Dallas, Tom Lobe and Philip Nicholas (Political Science).

In addition, Erin Delman ’12, an environmental studies major, will show and lead a discussion on the movie, “Crude,” about the lawsuit pitting 30,000 rainforest dwellers in Ecuador against U.S. oil giant Chevron.