Hannah Beech ’95, Southeast Asia bureau chief for Time magazine, will discuss the Internet in China. According to Beech, in retrospect, it was naïve to have believed that the Internet would serve as a catalyst for democratic change across the globe: the Snowden leaks, cyber-bullying, and ISIS recruitment online all show that the Internet is hardly an unalloyed force for good even in democratic societies.

The Chinese government is selling a vision of a very different Internet. Far from a network that pulses with a free flow of information, online China is a circumscribed space where perceived threats to the ruling Communist Party are extinguished. As the current Chinese leadership cracks down on dissent of all forms, space for certain online exposés and news circulation has narrowed.

Yet partly because of the Chinese government’s blockage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., there is a vibrant online ecosystem in China populated by homegrown companies. This world within the Great Firewall is intriguing, not only for foreign companies desperate to return to the Chinese market but also for researchers tracking e-commerce trends and technological innovation. China boasts the largest online population in the world, more than double that of the United States. So what are all those Chinese doing and buying and saying? Can they innovate in a society where dissent is discouraged?

Clowns Without Borders

Brendon Gawel, a professional clown with Clowns Without Borders, will discuss the history of this innovative relief organization, offer personal insights into his journey from college to humanitarian work as a clown, and present how Clowns Without Borders fits into the psychosocial relief work of other NGOs such as Plan International.

Founded in 1993, Clowns Without Borders is a nonprofit that offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis such as refugee camps, conflict zones, and emergency situations.


Iris Anderson ’60, professor of marine science at Virginia Institute of Marine Science, will discuss clam aquaculture. Culture of bivalves, including clams, oysters, and mussels, is a rapidly growing sector of the global food-production industry. Sustainability of this resource requires a better understanding of both its positive and negative impacts on local ecosystems. According to Anderson, application of a method such as integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), in which macroalgae growing on clam beds are harvested and either used for nutrient trading or sold as fertilizer, may increase sustainability as well as profitability.

Bigelow Lab

Nick Record, senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, will discuss ecosystem forecasting. According to Record, forecasting ecosystems can be particularly useful in the ocean, where resource managers are trying to predict red tides, fishery changes, protected species, and hazards. Many lessons from the past 50 years of weather prediction can be carried over to the development of systems for ecological forecasting. Ecosystem forecasting is still in its early stages, however, and there are additional challenges and new tools, such as machine learning, to consider.


Chasing Ice follows acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog on assignment for National Geographic in the Arctic. Balog and his team deployed cameras across the Arctic to create a time-lapse record of the migrations of glacial ice, and the result is a combination of stunning images and a powerful story documenting the results of climate change. The film has received more than 30 accolades including Sundance Film Festival awards and the Environmental Media Award.


Based on Jack Kerouac’s iconic novel, On the Road tells the provocative story of Sal Paradise, a young writer whose life is shaken and ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty, a free-spirited, fearless, fast-talking Westerner, and his girl, Marylou. Traveling across the country, Sal and Dean venture on a personal quest for freedom from conformity and conservatism in search of the unknown, themselves, and the pursuit of “it”—the pure essence of experience.