Reclaiming conversation: Sherry Turkle featured speaker at Founders Day

Publication Date

Noted scholar and author Sherry Turkle, an expert on the psychology between people and technology, will deliver the keynote address at Founders Day Thursday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

The event commemorates the 221st anniversary of the College’s charter.

Turkle’s talk is free and open to the campus community and the general public.

The Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, Turkle is the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. This research center focuses on the evolving connections between people and artifacts.

Often referred to as the “Margaret Mead of digital culture,” Turkle has investigated the intersection of digital technology and human relationships from the early days of personal computers to the current world of robotics, artificial intelligence, social networking and mobile connectivity.

“We are honored to welcome a renowned scholar like Dr. Turkle to campus as we celebrate our founding,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay. “She is one of the pre-eminent thinkers on how technology impacts our lives, and we are excited for the opportunity to hear her message.”

Turkle is the author of numerous books, including “Computers and the Human Spirit,” “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet,” and “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” which was a featured talk at TED2012.

Her latest, “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” was published last October. To read a review in the New York Times, click here.

Turkle has been profiled in the New York Times, Scientific American and Wired magazine, and has been a featured commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CNN, the BBC and NPR, among others.

She was named a “Woman of the Year" by Ms. Magazine and included in Esquire’s list of the "Forty under Forty" who are changing the nation.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Also at Founders Day, the College will present the Gideon Hawley Teacher Recognition Award. Named for the 1809 graduate of Union who was New York state’s first superintendent of public education, the award is given to secondary school teachers who have had a continuing influence on the academic life of Union students.

The Stillman Prize for Excellence in Teaching for 2015 will be presented to Claire Bracken, associate professor of English. The prize was created by David I. Stillman ’72, Abbott Stillman ’69 and Allan Stillman in honor of Abraham Stillman, father and grandfather. It is given annually to a faculty member to encourage outstanding teaching.

As part of the Founders Day festivities, campus groups will be holding a week-long series of events. Monday is School Spirit Day, and members of the Union community are encouraged to wear their Union gear. On Tuesday, Breakfast for Dinner will be hosted in Upperclass Dining at 9 p.m.. On Wednesday during common lunch, there will be a balloon pop and macaroni and cheese in the Reamer pit. Before the Founders Day ceremony, there will be a birthday bash from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in Reamer Campus Center, which includes lunch, a DJ and limited edition t-shirts. The events are co-sponsored by The Garnet Society, Office of Donor Relations and the President's Office. Co-sponsors include Minerva programs and Student Forum.

Past Founders Day speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Richard Russo and James M. McPherson; Paul LeClerc, retired president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library and a former professor at Union; Alfred Sommer ’63 global leader in public health whose pioneering work in studying vitamin A deficiency has helped to save millions of children’s lives and eyesight; and Martha Nussbaum, noted author and philosopher.