The Pizza with Profs speaker series is designed to give Honors students a chance to interact with professors and other speakers in an informal, relaxed setting that encourages a free exchange of ideas about a particularly relevant topic of discussion. This is just one of many ways in which the Honors College builds community outside the classroom and exposes students to a range of diverse speakers and ideas. As always, the pizza is free and the discussion lively. In addition to the annual fall Pizza with Profs meeting on graduate school, past sessions have been devoted to topics like terrorism, the film industry, the notion of wilderness, and perceptions of America from abroad. Students must RSVP to the Honors director to secure a spot in these lunches.
Dr. Jay Jacobson, chief of medical ethics and humanities at the University of Utah School of Medicine, talked about how and why doctors make mistakes. He led a lively discussion that asked students to think about what we mean by the word "mistake," how the medical profession is getting better at asking hard questions about rates of error, and what patients can do to decrease the possibility that they might suffer the consequences of a medical blunder.
The Film Industry
Hollywood lead camera operator Paul Babin—who has shot over 20 films, including Magnolia, Bugsy, Terminator 2, and the Abyss—met with Honors students in a Pizza with Profs session to give an insider's view of the film industry. He told students about his own climb up the Hollywood food chain and shared a number of charming stories about filming on the set, including being kissed by Julia Roberts.
The Science and Psychology of Avalanches
Computer science chair, experienced backcountry skier, and field observer for the Utah Avalanche Center, Professor Greg Gagne, educated Honors students about the nature of avalanches, the science of snow, and the potential dangers of heading into the backcountry without being aware of the risks. He gave an extensive presentation—which featured dramatic pictures—and led Honors students Marie Robinson and Seth Simonds through a mock rescue using avalanche beacons in the hostile environment of Nunemaker.
Perceptions of America from Abroad
Hildy Benham, Fatima Mujcinovic, and Kelvin Willoughby—who have spent more than 50 years living and working in countries like Bosnia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and China—met with Honors students to discuss the various ways in which people around the world view America and its inhabitants. They highlighted the massive influence of American popular culture abroad and the various misconceptions that hegemony sometimes engenders.
Wilderness and Exploration
Chair of the English Department and avid mountain climber, Jeff McCarthy, presented a slide show that historicized American notions of wilderness. He also placed his discussion in a contemporary setting by sharing stories about his own expeditions around the world, including tales of flying through One Shot Pass in Alaska and outfoxing national park rangers who were trying to impede his climbing.