Making Sense of African-Brazilian History, With Isis Barra Costa

Isis Barra Costa is an Assistant Professor in Contemporary Brazilian Cultural and Literary Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with research interests in Brazilian literature and culture, cyber literature and art activism in the Americas performance studies, and Latin American cinema, among others. Her research started with the question of how religious men and women from different parts of the African continent would explain what happened historically in the new world and how it changed expressions like sacred oratory. On this week’s Voices of Excellence, she discusses with host David Staley how to gain recognition for the best parts of the culture that are not recognized by historiography or in literature.

Examining the Complexity of Ethics With Tristram McPherson

Tristram McPherson, Professor of Philosophy, examines foundational philosophical questions about ethics, specifically meta-ethics; epistemology; and conceptual ethics. He looks at whether there are ethical facts that answer ethical questions and what the relationship is between God and ethical claims, among other areas.

What Can Minions Reveal About Child Language Acquisition? John Grinstead Explains

John Grinstead, Professor and Interim Chair in Spanish and Portuguese, researches developmental linguistics, developmental semantics and pragmatics, and children’s comprehension of syntax. Ten years ago, he began using stop-motion movies in his experiments on language development, and the Despicable Me “minions” were a well-known and experimentally useful choice. For more about how minions reveal the workings of language acquisition, listen to his discussion with David Staley on this week’s Voices of Excellence.

Virginia Rich Looks At How the Earth’s Biosphere Will React to Climate Change

Virginia Rich, Associate Professor of Microbiology and the Director of the eMERGE Biology Integration Institute, studies global change microbiology, microbial meta-omics, and “Genes-to-Ecosystems” inquiry. She’s spurred on in her work by the problem of not knowing how the biosphere as a whole will respond to climate change.

“History Is Detective Work,” Says Historian Sam White

Sam White, Professor of History, studies environmental history and uses natural and human records to reconstruct past climate variability and extreme weather. He discusses the methods that historians use to get a more complete picture of the past, such as how an intense drought and famine impacted the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s.

David Steigerwald Asks, “How In Control Are You of Your Life?”

Professor of History David Steigerwald teaches courses in 20th-century American history from World War I through the 1960s. He also researches and writes about alienation, a composite term that refers to the sense people have of not really being in control of their everyday lives. His emerging book argues that post WWII power structures pushed toward a hyper organization of society that devalued individuals.