Explorations in Empowerment | Eastern North Carolina Now

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Lacey L. Gray.

The 2021–22 season of Harriot College’s Voyages of Discovery Series focuses on explorations in empowerment.

From top left, Dr. Moogega Cooper, Yamiche Alcindor, Jill Heinerth and Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer | Photos: Contributed
    East Carolina University's Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences soon will launch the 15th season of its signature Voyages of Discovery Series, focusing on explorations in empowerment and featuring four experts who will address the topics of scientific explorations, personal empowerment, social issues and sustainability.

    The season opens Oct. 7 with an in-person event featuring Dr. Moogega Cooper, a planetary protection engineer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who will discuss "Diversity in STEAM from a Real-Life Guardian of the Galaxy."

    Cooper is the planetary protection lead of the NASA 2020 Mars mission, with its highly viewed landing of the Perseverance rover on Feb. 18. She is responsible for keeping the red planet safe from any of Earth's contaminants, and her work is integral to the ongoing mission to discern whether Mars could be habitable for humans.

    On Nov. 18, Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for "PBS NewsHour" and moderator of PBS' public affairs show "Washington Week," will visit campus to discuss "Truth in Journalism: Reporting on Politics and Identity in America."

    Alcindor looks at political issues facing America and shares her experiences reporting on international, national and local dynamics. She offers her observations and thoughts on how social justice issues impact the country's future. She also discusses how economic and racial segregation have impacted America and how her own story — that of a young woman whose family immigrated to the United States from Haiti in the 1970s — has influenced how she covers the world as a journalist.

    On Feb. 17, 2022, ECU will welcome Jill Heinerth, cave diver, author, photographer and filmmaker. Heinerth, who had to overcome fear to go where no one has gone before, will discuss "Explorations in Excellence."

    Heinerth's bestselling book, "INTO THE PLANET — My Life as a Cave Diver," details her journey into the extreme world of underwater cave exploration. As the first person to dive inside iceberg caves, Heinerth leads expeditions into extreme environments to advance scientific and geographic knowledge.

    According to filmmaker James Cameron, "More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the places Jill Heinerth has gone right here on earth."

    On April 14, the series will conclude with a virtual, live-streaming event featuring Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, distinguished teaching professor and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Kimmerer, mother, scientist, decorated professor and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, will discuss "The Honorable Harvest."

    Her interests include restoration of ecological communities and restoration of our relationships to land. In 2015, Kimmerer addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of "Healing Our Relationship with Nature."

    Kimmerer's event is co-sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Whichard Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, held by Native American literature specialist Dr. Kirstin L. Squint. This year, the Whichard professorship is hosted by the Department of English and the program in Gender Studies, housed in the Department of Sociology.

    "This year's exciting slate of speakers was selected with input from a steering committee coordinated by Ms. Debby Diffenbaugh, Harriot College's engagement and outreach specialist," said Dr. Allison S. Danell, dean of Harriot College. "In addition, one representative was named by the college's Staff Council, the Council on Anti-Racism and Equity and the Undergraduate Council. The steering committee was comprised of a Harriot College Distinguished Professor and a student from the IMPACT Team, Harriot College's student ambassador group. The enthusiasm shared and time invested by the committee will benefit all of us in the year to come."

    The Voyages series will resume special-access speaker receptions prior to its first three evening presentations. Receptions will have limited attendance. Season tickets to the discussions, and individual tickets to receptions and discussions are available through the ECU Central Ticket Office by calling 252-328-4788 or toll free at 1-800-328-2787, or by visiting the Voyages ticket website.

    All event dates, times and locations are subject to change. Individuals requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should call 252-737-1018 or email ada-coordinator@ecu.ecu at least 48 hours prior to the event.

    Each Voyages presentation is free for ECU faculty, staff and students (reception not included). Tickets are required. To receive a free ticket, visit the ECU Central Ticket Office, located in the Main Campus Student Center, and present a valid ECU 1 Card.

    The series is made possible through contributions from Harriot College's Dean's Advancement Council, WITN, other university organizations and many additional friends and supporters. For more information or to contribute, visit Support the Series.
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