By Hannah Alvarado
Web Content Contributor
Each year, a different theme is selected for Texas State University’s series of academic lectures, film screenings, panel discussions, philosophical dialogues, art exhibits and more, also known as Common Experience. There is also a gallery hosted by Common Experience tucked within Lampasas Hall at Texas State University as well, free for viewing.
The overall program allows for opportunities to interact with some of the world’s leading voices. During the fall and spring semesters, there are often more than 150 total events. On Monday October 8th, 2018, furthering this year’s theme of “Innovation,” hosted author of “Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution,” Scott Solomon, lectured and signed copies of his book for those in attendance.
Solomon, according to his bio on Rice University is a “biologist, professor, and science writer.” He is currently teaching ecology, evolutionary biology, and scientific communication as an Associate Teaching Professor at Rice University.”
The book discusses how “modernization—including longer lifespans, changing diets, global travel, and widespread use of medicine and contraceptives—affect our evolutionary future” according to Yale University Press. Solomon presents the possibilities of where we as a species could be headed with all these modern affects working on our species and what it means for our future.
Twister Marquiss the Director of the Common Experience at Texas State University, was in attendance of the lecture and had this to say about how the book’s focus on “evolutionary forces are still affecting humankind today,” was received by the audience of the Gallery. “We’ve had around 70 events so far this semester with audience sizes ranging from just six people to a packed house of 700-plus (twice).” Marquiss said, “Because our speakers are aware of these diverse audiences and varying levels of expertise in subject matter, they usually adapt their presentations. In Dr. Solomon’s talk, he explained the parts that required more scientific background and used a fact-insight-storytelling style to connect with the entire audience.”
When asked about his favorite part of the lecture, Marquiss said “My favorite parts were all the moments I learned new things. I learned about the ‘Stinky T-shirt Experiment’ and the potential for radiation to cause mutations in humans who might colonize Mars — all in the same lecture!”
Allison Johnson, Digital Content Developer of the Common Experience at Texas State University, was also in attendance of Solomon’s lecture on October 8th. Johnson also commented on how the Stink T-shirt Experiment was her favorite part as well. “[Look this up] you might remember learning about it in psychology! Basically, women used to find mates based on their smell. Now we go to smelly bars and use tinder!”
This year’s theme is labeled as innovation which can mean different things to different individuals. When asked how this year’s theme for Common Experience, innovation is related to Solomon’s lecture, Johnson said “It relates to innovation because our genomes are constantly changing.” Johnson said, “Our children will have 60 different mutations when they are born. Our bodies are adapting to new reproductive skills with each generation so we can continue reproduction.”
The Future Humans Lecture is one of many events that are on the official line-up for Common Experience this year. When asked what should anyone who who may have missed the lecture, need to know about future events, Marquiss said, “There are dance performances coming up, along with exhibitions and other speakers, as well as the Shared Studios Portal (through mid-December). We’ll be adding more events that will continue all the way through the spring semester.”
If you did happen to miss this event, don’t want to be left out of the loop for any further events, Marquis commented “We’ll have more about the event in our new blog series, which is featured on the Common Experience website, both on the homepage and under the “Stories” navigation tab. Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming events.” No matter if it is the discussion of how our species is currently being affected by evolution or if it is a dance performance, Common Experience has a interesting and innovating topic for you.
Featured image by Hannah Alvarado.