Thompson Forum to explore creative solutions to global challenges

· 5 min read

Thompson Forum to explore creative solutions to global challenges

Color illustration of puzzle-piece globe with several pieces next to it

The 34th season of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will feature five mainstage speakers, as well as a scholar-in-residence. The 2022-23 season is organized around the theme “Creativity to Solve Global Challenges.” As the world faces complex challenges related to health, water and climate, the series will elevate people and ideas addressing these concerns with vision and innovation.

The season opens Sept. 28 with the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, “A Clear and Steady Eye: Storytelling and Our Shared History,” featuring New York Times bestselling author Candice Millard.

Other speakers in the 2022-23 series include Dr. Ali S. Khan, scholar of emerging infectious diseases; Tyler Riewer, creative director at charity: water; Martha Schwartz, landscape architect and urbanist; and Jane Chen, social entrepreneur. All lectures will take place at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Each presentation is free and open to the public.

Tickets can be reserved through the Lied Center by clicking here, calling 402-472-4747 or visiting the Lied’s box office, 301 N. 12th St. Forum events are general admission, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

In mid-February, the Thompson Forum will host Amy Herman as a scholar-in-residence. Herman is an art historian and lawyer who uses art to teach people how to hone perceptions and visual intelligence to find solutions to problems. Herman will offer workshops for students and community members.

The mainstage schedule:


  • Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m.: Candice Millard, “A Clear and Steady Eye: Storytelling and Our Shared History” — Millard’s talk will touch on her four New York Times bestselling books. Her most recent book, “River of the Gods: Genius, Courage and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile,” focuses on English explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke. Millard tells a story of courage and adventure, set against the backdrop of the race to exploit Africa by colonial powers. The book also profiles Sidi Mubarak Bombay, the formerly enslaved local guide who played a pivotal role in the expedition. Millard’s essays have appeared in the Guardian, National Geographic and TIME. This event is the 27th Annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities presented by Humanities Nebraska.


  • Oct. 11, 7 p.m.: Dr. Ali S. Khan, “Putting the Public Back in Public Health: A Global Perspective” — Khan is dean and tenured professor of epidemiology in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health and a retired assistant surgeon general. He served at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 23 years before retiring as the director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. At the CDC, Khan led and responded to numerous high-profile public health emergencies, including Ebola, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina. In 2016, he published “The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers” with William Patrick. The lecture is part of Community Climate Awareness Week.


  • Nov. 7, 7 p.m.: Tyler Riewer, “The Craziest Thing We Can Do is Nothing” — Riewer is creative director at charity: water, a nonprofit organization that uses data and storytelling to connect donors to their impact and dream up new ways to think about sustainability in the water sector. Charity: water has funded over 91,000 projects to bring clean and safe water to nearly 15 million people. Riewer leads a team of designers and storytellers and travels the globe capturing stories about local partners. He studied advertising and journalism at Nebraska and started his career at marketing agencies Archrival and Grady Britton. This event is presented in partnership with the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.


  • Jan. 23, 7 p.m.: Martha Schwartz, “The Urban Landscape and The Future of Cities” — Schwartz is a landscape architect, urbanist and climate activist. Her work and teaching focuses on the urban public realm landscape and its importance in making cities “climate ready.” For more than 40 years, Martha Schwartz Partners has completed projects around the globe, from site-specific art installations to public spaces, parks, master planning and reclamation. Schwartz is also a tenured professor of practice in the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and recently founded Mayday.Earth, a nonprofit focused on communications and education about nature-based and geoengineering solutions. The lecture is part of the Hyde Lecture Series presented by the College of Architecture.


  • March 28, 7 p.m.: Jane Chen, “How Design Thinking Saves Lives — Lessons on Innovation, Leadership and Resilience” — Chen is a globally recognized entrepreneur, inventor and speaker. She is co-founder and CEO of Embrace Global, which developed a groundbreaking, low-cost infant incubator that has saved over 350,000 babies. Embrace has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, Newsweek, the Guardian and ABC’s “20/20.” Chen is a TED speaker and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. She was selected for Forbes’ Impact 30, the Economist Innovation Award and the Fast Company Innovation Award, and was recognized as the World Economic Forum’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Chen also served on the Board of Directors of the Center for Humane Technology. This event is presented in partnership with the College of Business.

Event summaries and additional information on each speaker are available here.

Events are streamed on the Thompson Forum website and available on Nebraska Public Media, LNKTV City and LNKTV Education. Events are also accessible on campus channel 4 and KRNU radio 90.3 FM. All talks will have closed captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is a cooperative project of the Cooper Foundation, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lied Center and University Honors Program. The series was established in 1988 with the purpose of bringing a diversity of viewpoints on international and public policy issues to the university and people of Nebraska to promote understanding and encourage discussion.

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