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Randy Olson, Filmmaker and Scientist

September 14, 2010


Randy Olson is an award-winning filmmaker who has a provocative sense of humor and a Ph.D. in coral-reef ecology. Through film, public lecture, and discussion, he will share his humorous, serious, and passionate insights on the challenges in today’s world of information overload of communicating accurate scientific information to people who are not scientists. His efforts in this arena include co-founding the “Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project,” a partnership between marine scientists and Hollywood to highlight the crisis threatening the oceans.

During a three-day (21, 22, & 23 September 2010) visit to campus, Dr. Olson will present screenings of his award-winning films Flock of Dodos: The Evolution–Intelligent Design Circus and including the Maine premiere of Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. He will follow these films with, respectively, a question and answer session and a panel discussion involving members of the UMaine community who are experts in climate change and its human impacts, and in film and mass communication of environmental issues.

Dr. Olson will also present a public lecture (followed by a book signing) on the topic of his acclaimed 2009 book Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Communicating Substance in an Age of Stylewhich was favorably reviewed in the major science weeklies Nature and Science, as well as in New Scientist, Oceanography, and Publisher’s Weekly.

A special event will be the (almost) 20th anniversary screening of his MPBN film Salt of the Earth: A Journey to the Heart of Maine Lobster Fishermen, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker and storytelling by the stars of the film, Brian and Stevie Robbins of Stonington. We expect the evening to be rich in humor and Downeast culture.

Finally, there will be two sessions for UMaine undergraduate and graduate students to meet and discuss with Dr. Olson. Several departments have already expressed interest and sessions have been arranged with them in mind, but other students are welcome to join these sessions.

All events are open to the public and will be in the Collins Center for the Arts. Except for the

Salt of the Earth evening, all events are free.


Tuesday, 21 September

11:00 am-12:30 pm: Flock of Dodos screening, Hutchins Concert Hall

12:30-1:00 pm: Q&A following Dodos

1:15-2:15 pm: Focus session with students (Biological Sciences and Anthropology, but all students are welcome) in Hutchins Concert Hall

4:00-6:00 pm Public lecture (Don’t Be Such a Scientist) in Hutchins Concert Hall, followed by Question & Answer period, and book signing & reception (sponsored by the President’s Office)

Wednesday, 22 September

7:00-9:30 pm: Screening of Salt of the Earth in Hutchins Concert Hall, followed by discussion &

music, and a meet & greet reception [ticketed event with $10 admission charge]

Thursday, 23 September

12:00-1:30 pm: Focus session with students (especially Marine Sciences, Earth Science, Communications & Journalism, New Media; others welcome), including “Shifting Baselines” videos

4:00-5:30 pm: Sizzle screening, Hutchins Concert Hall

5:30-6:00 pm: Panel discussion after Sizzle (R. Olson, G. Jacobson, L. Lindenfeld, D. Sandweiss)

6:00-7:00 pm: Reception (sponsored by the President’s Office), Collins Center for the Arts

This event is supported in part by a grant from the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series.

Additional support by: The Collins Center for the Arts, The President’s Office, College of Natural Resources, Forestry & Agriculture, School of Marine Sciences, School of Biology & Ecology, Department of Earth Sciences, Maine Sea Grant College Program, Sigma Xi (The Scientific Research Society), The Honors College, Center for Teaching Excellence, and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

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