Sharing ideas and perspectives is critical to a community of passionate problem-solvers. Since 2018, WPI’s Critical Conversations Series has invited community dialogue around the tough questions posed by the world’s myriad complex issues. This ongoing and constantly evolving series provides a forum where faculty, students, and staff can explore emerging topics using expert panels and audience participation through moderated questions, with an emphasis on timely topics that bridge various academic disciplines.
Artificial Intelligence and Your Health: The Future is Now
Is Artificial Intelligence replacing our physicians? Can Artificial Intelligence help diagnose, predict, or prevent diseases? What is the potential role of Artificial Intelligence Digital Health in healthcare? How can Artificial Intelligence researchers help physicians make better decisions? These questions and more were asked by students, faculty, and staff to a panel of faculty members and special guests David McManus who is the Professor and Chair of Medicine at UMass Chan Medical School and Edwin Boudreaux who is the Professor of Emergency Medicine and Vice Chair of Research at UMass Chan Medical School.
LGBTQIA+ Enhancing Community, Building Belonging
How do our identities show up on campus? What does being queer mean to you? Is WPI a safe space to share our identities? How can WPI be more inclusive? These questions and more were explored by our panelists of special guests, faculty, and staff. Moderated by Lisa Stoddard, WPI created a safe space for all to ask and answer the tough questions that are on everyone's minds today.
ChatGPT: A Solution or a Problem?
February 21, 2023
Is ChatGPT making life easier? How will ChatGPT change academia? What are the ethical concerns with ChatGPT? These questions and more were explored in a faculty panel discussion moderated by Computer Science Department Head Craig Shue featuring faculty panelists from WPI’s School of Arts and Sciences and The Business School.
Lighting the Spark—Science and Creativity
September 28, 2021
How can science and creativity work in tandem? What is the importance of failure in both science and reativity? These questions and the relationship between these two seemingly contrasting disciplines were explored in a faculty panel discussion moderated by School of Arts & Sciences Dean Jean King and Joseph Aguilar, assistant teaching professor of humanities and arts.
Diversity in STEM: A Social Justice Issue
September 22, 2022
WPI welcomed award-winning documentary filmmaker Kendall Moore to campus to discuss issues surrounding low representation and poor retention of underrepresented people of color in STEM. This event included a screening of Dr. Moore’s film “Can We Talk? Difficult Conversations with Underrepresented People of Color.” Dr. Moore was joined in the discussion by a WPI faculty and student panel who shared their experiences. This forum was sponsored in part by a grant from the Women’s Impact Network (WIN) in collaboration with the WPI Global Lab as part of its Artist-in-Residence Series: Reflecting Underrepresented Voices in Media.
April 21, 2021
Join our panel discussion as part of the The Global School Virtual Event Series: EUROPE with our panel from 10:40 to 11:25 am. Jean King, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, will moderate the panel that includes Adrian Burri, Head of Centre - Product and Process Development ZHAW School of Engineering, Zurich University of Applied Sciences and WPI faculty members Elke Rudensteiner, Joe Sarkis, and Mike Timko.
Student Mental Health: Surviving Isolation, Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
April 7, 2021
Many students are feeling the mental health impacts brought on by living through the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of coping with the stress and isolation of the past year. This panel will help people recognize signs of depression and anxiety in themselves and their loved ones and will help identify indications that someone should seek help. Join the discussion to find out where to turn for help and other resources and learn ways to reduce the stigma of mental health issues.
Social Media: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
March 9, 2021
What impact does social media have on people and our larger society? From fake news to deception, social media’s influence on global communities and on consumer and personal behavior is widespread. A diverse panel of WPI experts address the positive and negative power of social media.
WPI's COVID Response Science and Innovation
December 2, 2020
This event featured Rochelle Walensky, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who joined a panel of WPI experts. Faculty panelists outlined their current research and how it could be used by the medical community in COVID diagnosis and treatment. The panel was moderated by Jean King, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.
Social Justice at WPI: Technology in the Public Interest
October 7, 2020
In this Critical Conversations event, faculty from diverse disciplines shared their thoughts and answered audience questions relating to how technology can sometimes work against social justice and how it can better serve social justice. The discussion was moderated by Ben Nephew, assistant research professor, Biology & Biotechnology.
Climate: The Science of Change
February 5, 2020
The indications of climate change are all around us from rising oceans to wildfires raging across the globe. WPI’s efforts around climate change cross disciplines, and the panelists engaged students in discussion about what climate change looks like and what efforts are helping mitigate climate change.
November 6, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) impacts everything from healthcare to entertainment. Businesses and organizations use AI to predict consumer behavior, improve how children learn in school, and track potential disease spread. Even our cars use AI. This panel discussed these topics and more at this Critical Conversations event.
The College Affordability Crisis: Is Online the Answer?
September 20, 2019
With college affordability and the continued need for affordable higher education options in the news, WPI’s panel addressed the shift toward online opportunities.
Fast Forward: Global Impact of 5G Network
April 3, 2019
WPI faculty members brought the emerging 5G (fifth generation) technology to the forefront to discuss how this universal wireless connectivity of smart devices will hold a disruptive role in research, business, and society. Panelists explained how the technology works, gave examples of what it is, and analyzed its impact.
Genetically Engineered Humans
December 5, 2018
This inaugural Critical Conversations Series event focused on the scientific, societal, and ethical considerations of CRISPR technology, a tool that allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function to create genetically engineered humans.