Department of Social Sciences

Great Problems, Great Minds Seminar Series

The Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the 21st century. At a technical school, we often forget that humans play a major role in shaping the implementation of every technical solution that is developed and applied. Major problems faced by society include climate change, food security, energy security, education, poverty, and disease, all of which have partial solutions that have been opposed by segments of society. As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, a simple solution like a mask doesn’t work if people don’t accept it.

In this series, we’re bringing in some of the world’s Great Minds to speak on the Great Problems facing society. We will discuss potential solutions, and especially the interaction of people with potential technical solutions.

For more information, contact Social Sciences Department Chair Jeff Terry.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 13, 2020: Nuclear Weapons and Society

Oct. 20, 2020: The Future of America's Nuclear Waste

Oct. 27, 2020: Protecting the Vote

Nov. 10, 2020: Human Dynamics in Smart Cities

Nov. 17, 2020: Low Carbon Energy Systems

Seminar Videos

Jeff Terry Seminar Slide Thumbnail

What happens when people, the economy, and technology clash? Social Sciences Department Chair Jeff Terry provides the kickoff lecture for the seminar series.

Ken Caldeira Seminar Slide Thumbnail

Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and a professor at Stanford University’s Department of Earth System Science. In this lecture, he considers how people’s values and goals affect decision making around climate solutions.

Bonnie Jenkins

Bonnie Jenkins served from 2009 to 2017 as Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation; a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; and teaches at Georgetown University and George Washington University.

Great Problems, Great Minds: Infrastructure Resilience Under Climate Uncertainty Presentation Thumbnail

Costa Samaras, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses stormwater infrastructure in the United States and how infrastructure managers, engineers, researchers, and policymakers can manage uncertainty and ensure climate-safe infrastructure systems for the 21st century and beyond.