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The York Circle returns with another Lecture & Lunch

The York Circle returns with another Lecture & Lunch

Can you blame the financial crisis on mathematicians? What exactly is a Canadian utopia? Why is walking such a balancing act? And is there something to be learned from Halloween’s contentious history?

Four York University professors will address these questions as part of the next York Circle presentation on Saturday, Oct. 29. As with previous York Circle Lecture & Lunch events, there is plenty being offered for inquiring minds. Organizers have planned a full day of inspiring lectures by some of the University’s leading thinkers.

"Our new season opens with a torrent of new ideas and useful knowledge," says York President Emerita Lorna R. Marsden, coordinator of the York Circle."Come to the Lecture & Lunch to hear these York professors and find out why students don't want to miss a single class."

For full details, visit the Lecture & Lunch webpage on the York Circle website.

The event kicks off with a welcome and overview of what's new on campus by Gary Brewer, York's vice-president finance & administration. Brewer will provide an update on the progress of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Can you blame the financial crisis on mathematicians?

During the 2008 financial crisis, some commentators blamed the problem on “too many math PhDs”. York mathematics Professor Thomas Salisbury (right) has something to say about that point. Join Salisbury as he unravels the basis for this claim and considers whether it is actually fair or not. He will describe the role of sophisticated modern mathematics in today's financial sector. Salisbury will also comment on his own work involving a new generation of retirement savings products that combine traditional insurance with the tools of mathematical finance. 

A professor and former department chair in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Salisbury teaches financial engineering at York, is director of analytics for the Quantitative Wealth Management Analytics group (QWeMA), and leads the Finsurance project at MITACS. He chaired the task force that initiated the 2007 revision of the Ontario grade 12 curriculum and subsequently served on the Ontario Minister of Education's curriculum council. Salisbury has also served terms as the deputy director of the Fields Institute and as president of the Canadian Mathematical Society.

Canadian Utopias: A Short History

The utopian history of the United States began with the Puritan settlers in Massachusetts and includes a wide variety of utopian attempts throughout the country’s history. The histories of Canadian utopias are less studied. In his presentation to York Circle members, Professor Colin Coates (right) will examine the Canadian experience of utopian endeavours, exploring the themes which link these attempts from the 17th-century to the 1980s. This historical review will include a look at a number of utopian settlements in Canada since the 17th-century, including the counter-reformation settlement at Ville-Marie (Montréal), the Hutterites and Doukhobors in Western Canada, and a range of socialist and agrarian settlements.

Coates holds the Canada Research Chair in Canadian Cultural Landscapes at Glendon College, where he teaches in the Canadian Studies Program. In July 2011, he became director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University. He is also president of the newly formed Canadian Studies Network – Réseau d’études canadiennes, an association dedicated to the scholarly study of Canada. A specialist in the history of early French Canada and environmental history, he has been conducting research on Canadian utopias since coming to York University in 2003.

When did walking become such a balancing act?

Over the past century, intense research and debate has attempted to address the question: How do we bipedal animals stand and walk so well? Standing and walking are not nearly as simple as they may appear. Both emerge from a complex organization of neuromuscular commands that originate from the top of the brain to the bottom of the spinal cord. These commands are shaped by our voluntary intentions to move, by involuntary responses that are elicited by events like being bumped, and by sensory information that is constantly flowing in from the eyes, the ears, the skin, the muscles, and the joints.  

Join York health Professor William Gage (right) as he explores why older individuals are at greater risk of falling than younger individuals, and what we know about changes in standing and walking that occur with age. He’ll examine how osteoarthritis and joint replacement surgery affect walking and why muscle strength and walking performance never return to “normal” post-surgery. And he will look into new technologies that are changing the way researchers think about standing and walking, and how they are measured.  

Gage is the associate dean of research and innovation in York’s Faculty of Health and a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, where he teaches a graduate level course in biomechanics and neuromuscular control of posture and gait. He holds scientific appointments as an associate scientist in the Centre for Stroke Recovery at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, and as scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Gage is particularly interested in how balance and walking are affected by age, by joint disease (arthritis), and by stroke.

Pagans and Parties: The Haunting History of Halloween

History Professor Nick Rogers (right) is well known for his study of British social history, but he has also written a book on Halloween. In this talk he explains why Halloween has been a contentious holiday in the last two centuries and why trick-or-treating is a tame, American version of what Halloween is really about. In the last 50 years in particular, Halloween has been at the centre of debates about the use of urban space, sexual politics, Latino identities, and the rampant commercialism of horror. He concludes with a discussion of Halloween after 9/11, when the issue of terrorism posed problems for a holiday that specialized in scary thrills. Throughout, he will draw on the Canadian experience of the holiday as well as the United States. You do not have to come in costume! 

Rogers is one of the world’s leading scholars of the political culture of 18th-century British and Atlantic worlds. He has explored a remarkably diverse range of topics, from reactions to press gangs in British ports to religious conflicts amongst London’s crowds, from food riots to public reactions to blunders made by admirals, and even the genealogy of Halloween festivities. In 1999, Rogers was awarded the Wallace Ferguson Prize for his book Crowds, Culture and Politics in Georgian Britain, a study of 18th-century Britain that transformed our understanding of early modern Britain. In June 2011, Rogers was named a distinguished research professor for his sustained and outstanding scholarly, professional or artistic achievement largely accomplished at York.

This free series includes two events annually – in the spring and fall each year – and provides opportunities for learning and networking in a relaxed environment.

Lecture & Lunch events are open to members of the York Circle and their guests. New this year is a selection of lunches sourced from local farms that are available for purchase at the event, or you can bring your own lunch.

The York Circle receives generous support from York's Alumni Office (program partner) and Toronto Community News and York Region Media Group (print media sponsors).

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.