Spring 2011 Colloquium Series

All Colloquia are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Some additional information on the Colloquia announced below may be added from time to time and some new Colloquia will certainly be as well, so do make sure you check this site regularly for any additions or changes. Thank you

February 14, 2011
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Campus Center Ballroom A

The Constitution as an Exploding Cigar - And Other Historians' Heresies about a Constitutional Orthodoxy

Dr. Richard Bernstein 
Professor of Law, New York Law School

R.B. Bernstein was born in New York City.  An alumnus of Stuyvesant High School, Amherst College, and the Harvard Law School, he completed his graduate study at New York University.  The author, co-author, and co-editor of over twenty books on American legal and constitutional history, focusing on the founding era, he is now Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School, where he has taught since 1991.  His books include The Founding Fathers Reconsidered (Oxford, 2009), Thomas Jefferson (Oxford, 2003), Amending America (Times Books, 1993), and Are we to be a Nation: The Making of The Constitution (with Kym S. Rice; Harvard, 1987).  He is now completing The Education of John Adams (Oxford, forthcoming). 

For a generation now, originalism -- which means interpreting and applying the U.S. Constitution to modern issues and problems by reference to the Constitution's original intent, understanding, or meaning as of its framing and adoption in 1787-1788 - has become a constitutional orthodoxy.  The problem with this orthodoxy, however, is that it is vulnerable to a wide array of challenges on historical grounds.  Building constitutional law on bad history is like building on sand.  In his lecture Professor R. B. Bernstein will explore several of these "historian's heresies," showing how they undermine the usefulness and credibility of originalism.  In the process, Professor Bernstein will show how the framers and ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution were not the all-knowing founding fathers of popular legend, but real human beings, with human strengths and frailties. In addition they were deeply divided on fundamental issues of constitutional government, just as we are today.  We cannot solve major constitutional problems by deferring to the wisdom of the past, particularly as the founding fathers did not do that in devising the Constitution itself.  Instead, they engaged in a creative argument between past and present about the future - an enterprise that is at the heart of Professor Bernstein's argument about interpreting the Constitution today.

February 16, 2011
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Campus Center Atrium

New Sound at NJIT : The Klang String Quartet

Klang” means “sound” or “tone” in German, and on February 16 the Klang String Quartet will be bringing their unique blend of musical interests and influences to NJIT as part of the Technology and Society Forum’s celebration of creativity in all its forms. Performing will be Matthew Goeke (cello), Rieko Kawabata (violin), Yi-Ping Yang (viola) and Gregor Kitzis (violin).

The individual members of this exciting new ensemble have performed with early music groups such as the Arcadia Baroque Ensemble, the New England Bach Festival and the Grand Tour Orchestra, with major symphony orchestras, and with rock, jazz and pop icons ranging from David Bowie, Enya, David Byrne, Iggy Pop and Mixx 22 to Don Byron, Anthony Braxton and the George Gee Swing Orchestra. They have also recorded on a number of labels, and their TV appearances include Saturday Night Live and the David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Rosie O'Donnell and Jay Leno shows.

Members of the quartet have had stellar careers as solo performers and with other ensembles for many years. Now, after numerous appearances that include national and international chamber music and jazz festivals, they have united to greet audiences together  with a resounding Klang

Co-sponsors: NJIT Technology and Society Forum Committee, Albert Dorman Honors College, Sigma Xi.

February 23, 2011
2:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Campus Center Ballroom A

The Graduate’s Odyssey: Charting One’s Course to Success

Richard Russo
President / CEO of Endomedix, Inc.

Richard Russo is a native of New Jersey who has lived and traveled throughout the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia.  Richard earned a BA from Boston College in philosophy, and continued his studies of philosophy at the Université de Fribourg in Switzerland before earning an MBA at Columbia Business School in New York.

While at Columbia, Richard was a consultant for New York City Ballet and a regional opera company through the New York State Council on the Arts.  Since graduating from Columbia, Richard has spent his professional career in the medical products and services industry, working in sectors that ranged from tissue for transplantation to bone growth stimulators to hospital management services.  His functional assignments have included sales and sales management, product management & marketing, clinical research and regulatory affairs, strategic planning and general management.  Richard is currently CEO of Endomedix, a medical device start-up located in the EDC.  Before coming to Endomedix, Richard was président directeur général of OST Développement SA in Clermont-Ferrand, France and of OsteoCentre Bulgaria in Sofia, Bulgaria, and President-International of Osteotech, Inc., a NASDAQ firm specializing in the processing of human tissue for transplantation.

When not focusing on business, Richard enjoys hiking, chamber music, reading and travel, and is socially active as an executive committee member of the Morris County Branch NAACP.

About the Colloquium

"Cheshire Puss”, she began,…."Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to”, said the cat.

"I don't much care where”, said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go”, said the cat.

                                                          Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Many students may spend years developing a set of  specialized skills and technical knowledge. Are these skills and knowledge adequate for the task always at hand, the piloting of our careers and lives?   How do we develop the armamentarium of skills and knowledge to get us past ‘first base’, so we can achieve our strategic goals?  Which capabilities are likely to spell the difference between  success and unhappiness in our careers and personal lives?  Students  may have arrived at university with specific goals and plans; under what circumstances do they need to reconsider these goals and plans?  The situations facing graduates today are typically so different  from those that they had anticipated only a short while ago; how can we plan to navigate between our opportunities and challenges?  Despite our careful planning about our world as we understand it at the moment, we all run straight into a fact that is as true today as it was 2600 years ago when Heraclitus pointed out that “Change alone is unchanging”. 

The Colloquium will focus on setting objectives and strategies for success, both while at university and after graduation.   Through a fast-paced series of exercises, we will address the development and use of tools to help us achieve individual success. We will consider the development of the tools for the achievement that most people desire.  The approaches and issues that Richard will describe are those that he has himself encountered first hand and observed in the successful careers of others, in both large multinational corporations and small groups.

February 24, 2011
4:00 - 5:45 p.m.
Campus Center Ballroom A

Passing the Torch of Knowledge Roundtable
Networking with Alumni

This is a Colloquium that offers honors students an unusual and valuable opportunity to interact face to face with individual alumni of the Dorman Honors College.

Why unusual and valuable? Because we have invited Honors alumni and alumnae who would like to share their wide experience with you and whose professional careers are in fields of interest to a whole number of you:  medicine, law, engineering, science, management and architecture. These men and women who studied at NJIT will each sit at a separate table with their names and areas of specialty clearly posted. So, it is completely up to you to choose at which table you would like to start networking – there will also be opportunities to move around to other tables during the event.

You can ask the alumnus or alumna at your table of choice, for instance, to explain how their education at NJIT has helped them personally in their professional development and careers.  You may also want to ask their advice on what in their view would be the best steps you should take now  while still a student to enhance your own career prospects.  Whether there are certain other outside interests you should cultivate and whether experience in other countries and knowledge of other languages would make you more attractive to future employees are other examples of the many subjects you could discuss with them.  Incidentally, the Colloquium can also help you to widen your network of professional contacts for the future, another advantage not to be underestimated.

February 28, 2011
11:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Campus Center Atrium

Entrepreneurial Singularity              
Cesar Bandera                                                       
Cell Podium

Dr. Cesar Bandera is co-founder of Cell Podium, an m-learning company whose products and services are used by universities, museums, and government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, and the Liberty Science Center.  He received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and Ph.D. in Biomimetics (digital systems that mimic biological designs) in 1990 from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Dr. Bandera’s work in the field of multimedia has yielded a 2007 New Jersey Entrepreneur award, a NASA Space Act award, Small Business of the Year Nomination from the US Air Force, and various patents.   He maintains active in academia, and has published extensively and directed six Ph.D. dissertations.

Scientists in the esoteric field of artificial intelligence refer to the event in which a machine gains self-awareness as “the singularity.” A similar event is required of the successful entrepreneur.  Aspiring entrepreneurs commonly misperceive the likelihood of their success as being determined by the novelty of their idea (“build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”).  This idea, invariably based on the aspiring entrepreneur’s educational background, becomes the seed of a fledgling company.  In contrast, successful entrepreneurs commonly share the humbling realization that their original idea may have been among the least significant contributions to the company’s success and that expertise other and better than their own is prerequisite.

This colloquium is a case study of Cell Podium, a telecommunications start-up company in the NJIT Enterprise Development Center (incidentally the largest business incubator in the country).  Cell Podium began as a service that pushes educational videos to cell phones, but has since entered multi-disciplinary markets unforeseen by the company’s founders.  Fortunately, the incubator provides an ingredient more important to start-up success than the initial idea: a critical mass of entrepreneurs from diverse professions.  In fact, Cell Podium is a joint spin-off from two incubator tenants: BanDeMar Networks (the speaker’s first company in the incubator) and Schmitt and Associates - a company founded by German-raised Dr. Peter Schmitt whose character, fortunately for Cell Podium, is the opposite from that of the Spanish-raised Dr. Bandera.

We will discuss where the entrepreneur can find landmarks to validate the direction the company is heading in, the effect of  entrepreneurial singularity, and the most important need for disciplined diversity and humility in every corner of the company.


March 3, 2011
7:00 p.m.
Jim Wise Theatre                     
Kupfrian Hall


Directed by Michael Kerley

Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Music by Stephen Flaherty. Based on the novel My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy, the musical is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid set in the French Antilles in the Caribbean Sea.  

Once On This Island's book is a playful, romantic mishmash of tales and myths. Four gods shape action that is related by a storyteller to a young girl. Set on a Caribbean island, it’s about an orphan, Ti Moune, who cannot understand class boundaries on an island where light-skinned means privilege and dark-skinned designates peasants. She rescues Daniel from a car crash and magically nurses him back to health, but is  then not allowed to love him, despite a fundamental and irrational attraction aided and abetted by the gods.             

March 7, 2011
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Campus Center Ballroom A

How Your Habits Work for You:  An Ethics of Automatic Behavior
Dr. Michael Brownstein,

Michael Brownstein is assistant professor of philosophy in the Department of Humanities at NJIT. His research agenda aims to develop a clear understanding of “unreflective activity.”  This includes all the skills we have that do not require deliberation or consciousness of oneself.  Examples of unreflective activity are motor skills like bicycle-riding, practical skills like driving home from work while thinking about what to cook for dinner and social skills like knowing how far to stand from other people in an elevator.  In all of these cases, we are doing something skillful but often without recognizing the operative skills at our disposal.  Dr. Brownstein is interested in showing why the study of unreflective activity has important social, political and scientific ramifications. 

In his talk, Dr. Brownstein will draw upon recent work he has done with Alex Madva of Columbia University.  They teamed up to explore Tamar Szabó Gendler’s promising concept of “alief,” an associative and a-rational mental state different from belief.  Alief represents, among other things, an attempt to make sense of so-called “automatic” behaviors.  In social psychology, the study of automatic behavior is a lively area of research.  Automatic behaviors are those that you perform without conscious control.  Reflexes are automatic behaviors, but more interestingly, so are many of the ways that you make moral evaluations and pursue and set goals.

The Colloquium  will address in particular the regulation and reformation of automatic behavior.  How do you control or change your “sticky” habits, like eating unhealthy food or the tendency to date the wrong kind of people?  In addition to examples like these, Dr. Brownstein will  discuss implicit racism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other kinds of emotion-driven automatic behaviors.  Gendler suggests that aliefs – our automatic behavioral dispositions – become more trustworthy and beneficial by being brought in line with our beliefs.  So, according to Gendler, if you believe that double bacon cheeseburgers are bad for you, but you continue to eat them anyway, the thing to do is to simply force your habits to “catch up” to your beliefs.

In constrast, Dr. Brownstein will  argue that this approach is limited.  It overlooks how our automatic behaviors often get things right. He and Alex Madva take the attunement to an environment that aliefs provide to exemplify the normative structure guiding our automatic dispositions.  Dr. Brownstein will  explain what it means to have a “normative” relationship to an environment and will argue that an “ethics of alief” is more successful and illuminating when it recognizes that our automatic dispositions guide the operation of both our wanted and unwanted behaviors.  Understanding how to control and change our automatic behaviors means understanding what a good alief actually is.

March 14, 2011
10:00 a.m.
(During Spring Break).


The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)

A Behind-the-Scenes Study Tour

The State of New Jersey decided to build a world-class performing arts center in 1986.  The committee charged with the planning chose Newark over other cities in the State because of the density of the population in the areas surrounding it, its proximity to New York City, the extensive highway and rail access to the site and the spurt of revitalization fit would give  the city.  The site chosen for the Center was also superb:  just across the street from the historic Military Park and only a block away from the Passaic River – and we might add here just a few blocks from University Heights and NJIT.

$187 million dollars and 11 years later, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center opened in 1997. It is the sixth largest performing arts center in the United States, as well as  the home of the Grammy-Award winning New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.  Dubbed “New Jersey’s Town Square”, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the State’s and the world’s best artists – to name just a few: Yo-Yo Ma, Julian Lloyd Webber, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Vienna Boys Choir.  Like the Prudential Center – where we also have an annual Study Tour – NJPAC has played a catalytic role in returning nightlife and economic activity to New Jersey’s largest urban community.

A major component of NJPAC’s multi-faceted mission is to develop into a world-class cultural complex  not just showcasing the best artists or national and international acclaim, but also with a declared educational focus:  through its extensive Arts Education program, it is also shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts.

Since opening its doors in 1997, NJPAC has attracted over six million visitors (more than one million of them children) and works hard on nurturing meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. [For more information, visit www.njpac.com]

We will be privileged on our Study Tour to get an insider’s view of NJPAC and what it is all about. 


March 18, 2011
(During Spring Break).

From Drawing Board to Finished Arena ─ An Inside Look at Prudential Center, Home of the NJ Devils 

Prudential Center is the cornerstone in the revitalization and renaissance of downtown Newark. In addition to the arena, Newark will soon add scores of condominiums, restaurants, themed bars, and mixed retail establishments. Prudential Center will be recognized among the finest arenas in the country and is New Jersey’s home for hockey, college basketball, indoor soccer, concerts, family shows and special events. A public/private partnership between the City of Newark and Devils Arena Entertainment made the $375 million Prudential Center a reality that is changing the face of downtown Newark and making it a destination place for sports and live entertainment in the region. The Prudential Center hosts the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall Men’s Basketball, MISL’s New Jersey Ironmen indoor soccer team, concerts, family shows, and NJIT events as well as other professional, collegiate and amateur sporting events. Tour agenda includes:

• Tour of the facility with a focus on the architecture, construction, amenities, and technology.

• Discussion of the business plan – capital, facility and operational expenditures, and revenue.

• Why did the Devils’ organization choose Newark and how do they envision the Devils’ future and its impact on the greater Newark community?

March 23, 2011
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Campus Center Ballroom A

The Art of Choice
Sheena Iyengar
Lee Professor of Business at Columbia Business School

Sheena Iyengar is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology, and the Research Director at the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business.

Sheena's primary research interest is how people perceive and respond to choice, and for her research on this topic she has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the prestigious Best Dissertation Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology in 1998 and the Presidential Early Career Award in 2002.  She is currently recognized as one of the world's leading experts on choice.  Her work is regularly cited in the popular press, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Time magazines, the BBC and National Public Radio, as well as in best-selling books such as Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  She has recently written her first book, The Art of Choosing, which explores the mysteries of choice in everyday life. Sheena currently resides in New York City with her husband Garud and their son Ishaan.

About the Colloquium:

A MAC store customer asks for the latest iPhone in black, but he sees everyone else buying black and suddenly changes his preference to white.  When a resident of a former Communist country is offered a fizzy drink from a wide selection, he picks at random; soda is soda, he says.  Though the child knows she shouldn't press the big red button (absolutely not!), she finds her hand inching towards it.  A young man and woman decide to marry knowing that the first time they meet will be on their wedding day.  How did these people make their choices? How do any of us make ours? We use choice as a powerful tool to define ourselves and mold our lives, but what do we know about the wants, motivations, biases, and influences that aid or hinder our endeavors?

In The Art of Choosing, Columbia Business School professor Sheena Iyengar addresses such questions and provides answers drawn from her award-winning, discipline-spanning research.  Here, you will learn about the complex relationship between choice and freedom, and why one doesn't always go with the other. You will see that too much choice can overwhelm us, leading to unpleasant experiences, and discover how our choices both mundane and momentous are shaped by many different forces, visible and invisible.  Perhaps most important, you will learn how we build our lives: one choice at a time.

The Colloquium is an event in the Seminar Series organized by the College of Science & Liberal Arts.  It is co-sponsored by the Albert Dorman Honors College, Sigma Xi and  the NJIT Technology and Society Forum.

March 28, 2011
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Campus Center Atrium