Header image

2023-2024 Season:

Title & Video Link


Date Presented


Game Changer: NIL and the Re-invention of College Sports


Tanyon Boston

September 18, 2023

The digital sports news site, The Athletic, has called NIL (“name, image and likeness”) the most significant change in college sports in a century. Law Professor Tanyon Boston has examined NIL in details and published her findings. As with any change, there are pros and cons, including how NIL impacts gender equity in college sports as assured by Title IX. Will female athletes benefit from NIL to the same degree as male athletes? Will secondary sports see the same level of benefits as the marquee sports of basketball and football? Learn more about this transformation’s impact now and it prospects for more change in the future both nationally and for our local sports scene. Presented from the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

Black Holes – Smaller But No Less Mighty


Dirk Grupe

October 11, 2023

Astrophysics is the science of demystifying a mysterious place: the universe. That sort of makes the universe Dirk Grupe’s office. In his research, he uses images and signals from deep space to see what he can learn. In a stunning development, he and his international collaborators recently discovered that one of the universe’s most massive black holes, located nearly 5.1 billion light years away, is the size of 100 million solar masses instead of the previously believed 10 billion. But smaller doesn’t mean less impressive. It just means black holes pack their punch in more compact configurations.  What does that mean to our understanding of the universe?

Journalism in the 21st Century: Rising to the Challenge


Julie Pace, Associate Press

December 7, 2023

Who, what, where, when, why and how. Those journalism tenets are as fundamental today as ever. But the Digital Age has coupled them to a new set of challenges. Once trusted sources of news face accusations of bias and get labeled “fake news.’”

Newspapers, a daily ritual in 20th century American homes, are fewer in number in the 21st century. Digital versions struggle to find the resources required to cover City Hall or the school board. Agenda-driven websites have moved into the void. And, now, a new player has come on stage: A.I. With 20 years of experience as a journalist, Julie Pace has had a front row seat for this revolution.

Now, as the top editor at the Associated Press, Ms. Pace is leading the AP’s adaptation to the challenges, even as she oversees the new service’s coverage around the world. Ms. Pace is our 2023 AP speaker, continuing a 15-year tradition of bringing an AP journalist to campus to discuss current events, public affairs and how AP covers them.

Augusta and Abolitionism: A Story of Courage


David Childs, Eric Jackson, Alicestyne Turley

January 26, 2024

Border state Kentucky was a house divided, with adamant defenders of slavery and equally adamant proponents of liberation. In Augusta, on the banks of the Ohio River, a microcosm of this divide played out as the nation moved toward Civil War. Augusta College, chartered in 1822, would stand squarely with those who favored the abolition of slavery. Some of those affiliated with the college and with the town’s founding were active conductors for the Underground Railroad. Augusta also produced powerful voices for freedom among its Black citizens, including former slave Sarah Thomas. Three historians whose research has taken them deeply into the story of American race relations will discuss the importance of what took place in Augusta in the larger context of America’s struggle for freedom and Kentucky’s role in that struggle.

This presentation was held at  Echo Hall, which was a dormitory for Augusta College. It opens with an original dance, created and choreographed by NKU’s dance program and interpreting the Augusta story.

Co-hosted by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Mind-Over Matter: Brain-Controlled Systems




Mahdi Yazdanpour

March 13, 2024

The rapid advancements in neuroscience and bio-mechatronics have paved the way for the development of brain-computer interfaces and mind-controlled systems for human-machine interaction. Professor Mahdi Yazdanpour and his research team in the Mechatronics Research Lab have designed and developed a Hybrid Electroencephalography (EEG)-based Brain-Computer Interface and a Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm.

This project aims to create an accessible, customizable, and non-invasive bionic arm for individuals with limb amputations, empowering them to perform a variety of delicate everyday tasks and enhancing their overall interactive experience.

2022-2023 Season:

Title & Video Link


Date Presented


Cybersecurity of US Elections


James Walden

September 21, 2022

The introduction of computers to election systems has introduced both new features and new risks to the electoral process. We will examine the cybersecurity of the election process starting with voter registration and continuing through the tabulation of votes, identifying where the greatest weaknesses lie and explaining how we can improve the cybersecurity of election systems.

A Short History of Distance: A Human Story of Time, Space, Power, and Privilege



Jonathan Reynolds

October 19, 2022

This discussion will take us on a grand tour of the changing relationship between humans and distance from roughly 100,000 years ago to the present. Amongst life on earth, humans are unique in our ability to challenge distance. This means that our relationship with distance has changed radically as humans have developed cultures and technologies that have allowed us to not only cross great distances, but to even warp and compress time and space. Just centuries ago it took weeks to cross the Atlantic, but now this once harrowing journey can now be completed in a matter of hours. Our discussion will take us from the global migration of the human species, through the maritime and industrial revolutions, and to the modern tensions between technologies that shrink distances.

Psychology of a Pandemic



Cecile Marczinski

November 9, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a multi-year global disruption to our lives. Both vaccinations and behavioral methods have been vital for stemming the spread of infection so that we can return to normal living once again. However, psychological factors have played a major role in vaccine hesitancy prolonging this current pandemic. In this talk, Dr. Marczinski will present findings from two published studies from 2011 and 2012 that investigated vaccine hesitancy during the outbreak of a novel strain of influenza (H1N1) that reached pandemic status in the spring of 2009. Then, she will present data gathered the spring of 2022 examining vaccine hesitancy and substance abuse during the continuation of the multi-year COVID-19 pandemic. The talk will conclude with some empirically supported methods for addressing some of the issues that have arose, so that we can better plan for a healthy future.

What Do You Meme?



Stacie Jankowski

January 18, 2023

Funny, snarky, silly, dumb — internet memes may fall into all of these categories. They also are important ways of storytelling, political participation, and identity and culture creation. Memes are particularly important in modern political life, as voters and citizenry create and view, legitimate and delegitimate. This presentation discusses the importance of memes as it examines two recent projects about memes and political communication. The first examined how memes framed Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s leadership during the first week of Covid shutdowns in March 2020. These memes found a leader who was framed through leadership archetypes of a warrior, a politician, and a nurturer. Beshear was also framed as an object of lust. Through the memes we saw the importance and repackaging of official communication and shared culture. The second project examined the memetic storytelling created during the limbo period between the 2020 presidential election day and when the race was officially “called” for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. These memes showcased a spontaneous, collaborative, and evolving moment of meme-based storytelling that mirrored the classic five-act storytelling structure. Memers collectively created a storytelling experience as they memed the shared tale of a distinct political moment as moods shifted, plot twists emerged, and unlikely heroes came to the forefront.

Associated Press: Climate Change


Peter Prengaman, Journalist with the Associated Press

March 22, 2023

Discussion of AP’s enhanced commitment to covering climate chance.  Presentation of some of the major stories he and his team have reported on over the past year-plus, since the team was formed.

Artificial Intelligence and Creating Art


Nicholas Caporusso

April 5, 2023

The intersection of Artificial Intelligence and creativity has been a hot topic this year, raising a myriad of questions – beginning with: Is it art? You might also wonder: How’s it done and why? NKU Professor, Dr. Nicholas Caporusso talks about these questions and more in this timely talk related to his research, his practice, and his teaching. Prepare to be awed by the power of this technology.

2021-2022 Season:

Title & Video Link


Date Presented


Perspectives on Populism


Panel Discussion With: Jonathan S. Cullick, Philip Moberg, and Jeffrey Williams

Moderated By: Jennifer Kinsley

September 30, 2021

Populism has a storied history in America, as it does in the world. It has, at times, driven progress but it also has, at times, elevated the nation’s negative impulses – including racism and anti-immigration. Our panelists will look at populism through the lens of history, psychology, and literature. Dr. Jeffrey Williams, now retired, was chair of NKU’s Department of History and Geography, and will talk about populist threads in American history. Dr. Philip Moberg directs the graduate program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at NKU. He’ll discuss the concept of “toxic leaders” and how followers can counteract their potential impact, an important area of emerging research. And Dr. Jonathan S. Cullick, professor in the Department of English, will describe the rhetoric of populism. He has written extensively on “All the King’s Men,” Robert Penn Warren’s iconic novel on populism’s toxic effects in American politics. Our panel will be moderated by Jennifer Kinsley, J.D., associate dean and professor in the Chase College of Law where her research focuses on First Amendment right of free expression.

Democracy & Race:

Honoring the Margaret Garner Family Story



Joan Ferrante

January 27, 2022

Dr. Joan Ferrante, the founder and director of the Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories (MCRC) Project will share how dancers, musicians, poets and visual artists collaborated to tell the story of an enslaved family --Robert and Margaret Garner and her four children in her project “Let Our Loss Be Heard.”

Democracy & Art:

How to Be a Person Who Stands


Tracey Bonner

February 22, 2022

NKU Dance Professor Tracey Bonner talks about the importance of the arts in raising awareness about civil rights and other issues in our democracy. She is joined by NKU dancers Maiya Caldwell, Arianna Catalno, Madisyn McLaughlin, Lavette Patterson and Kasey Weinfurtner who interpret Bonner’s talk through choreography.

Democracy & the Press:

Associated Press


AP Journalists: Julio Cortez, Kim Johnson Flodin, and Andrew Harnik

March 3, 2022

A conversation about how the free press plays an essential role in creating an informed democracy.

Democracy & Public Buildings:

Architecture of Freedom in a Threatening World


Jocelyn Evans

March 22, 2022

The security of capitols predates the events of January 2021. Political violence led to increased security in public buildings and seats of government. From foreign terror threats to biohazards to pandemic to domestic political violence, the symbolic homes of American democracy have been altered and continue to be altered to ensure the safety of the public and its government. The early 21st century led to lasting changes in existing civic buildings. Additionally, new structure design guidelines have increased securitization while seeking to ensure safety against the needs of a free society. We use the U.S. Capitol and select state capitols to tell a story of balancing security with freedom, and the relationship to how Americans think about democracy and public spaces.

Democracy & Engaging Community Voices:

Community Writing in Over-the-Rhine


Chris Wilkey, Brian Bailie, Bonnie Neumeier, Gabriela Godinez Feregrino, Katelyn Lusher, June Alexander, Janiah Miller

April 14, 2022

Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is organized with a rich history of grassroots activism embodying a vision of social justice for the future. Over the past fifty years, the Over-the-Rhine People’s Movement, an ensemble of loosely affiliated organizations based in social service, community education, the arts, welfare rights and affordable housing development, have consistently addressed issues of racial equity and social justice as well as provided needed services for residents.

2020-2021 Season:

Title & Video Link


Date Presented



Email connect@nku.edu to request a recording of this lecture.

Thea Tjepkema

September 15, 2020

African Americans made their mark in Cincinnati Music Hall from its inception: builders, politicians, athletes, and performing artists of all kinds. Jazz greats, from Duke Ellington to Billie Holiday, as well as the earliest R&B and rock musicians immortalized on King Records, performed in the South Hall--one of the nation’s premier ballrooms. In the North Hall, World Heavyweight Champion Ezzard Charles fought some of his most important bouts, while in Springer Auditorium 19th-century stage shows and 20th-century operatic divas helped break the color barrier on the main stage. Experience the history of African Americans whose determination and artistry helped forge the ethos of our city and laid the foundation of American music.


Anthony E. Chavez

October 20, 2020

The United States has a long history of policies designed to impact its citizens’ voting strength adversely. Initially, these policies limited the persons who could cast votes. Even after the federal government expanded the franchise, states adopted new means to prevent voting by certain segments of society. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 addressed many of these devices, but new means have arisen. Furthermore, policies that determine voter registration and the times and methods of voting unnecessarily limit voter participation. Examples from several states and other countries suggest changes that could increase voter participation in the United States.


Luis Sierra

November 17, 2020

The only southern white women to ever become leading abolitionists, Sarah and Angelina Grimké worked tirelessly to expose the prejudices of American society in the 19th century. The Grimké sisters left comfortable lives as part of the Planter elite in the American South, they converted to Quakerism, and they dedicated their lives to reform. Their compelling story offers revisions to both the history of women's suffrage and abolition. This lecture will focus on the Grimké sisters' lives, their advocacy, and situate their compelling story within the broader context American historical context.


David Childs

December 15, 2020

Dr. David J. Childs, Associate Professor of Social Studies Education and History at Northern Kentucky University, will place the recent deaths and violence against Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake by the hands of law enforcement within a historical context. Household names such as Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Hannah Williams, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Botham Jean and Eric Garner are a part of state and community sanctioned violence against African Americans that goes back nearly four hundred years. Childs’ Six@Six presentation will help people understand how the recent deaths fit the definition of lynching; a phenomenon that has long been an unfortunate part of US history. Resources for teachers will be discussed in order to guide meaningful conversations in middle grade, high school and college classrooms around the subject of racial violence.



Eric Jackson

January 19, 2021

During this time of heightened racial and ethnic divisions and tensions in our nation, this presentation rests on how the making and construction of this anthology provides will people with selected readings that encourage a more fruitful, informative, and open dialogue about race, ethnicity, and immigration in the United States. This presentation also will explore the vast impact of immigrants to the economic, political, and social systems of the nation, as well as modern attitudes and perceptions toward ethnic and immigrant populations.



Steve Luxenberg

February 16, 2021

Author Steve Luxenberg’s talk and Q&A discussion on his critically-acclaimed 2019 book, Separate, a myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced "separation" and its pernicious consequences.
Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the Nineteenth Century, and northern Kentucky played an important role in how that story unfolded.
Steve’s talk will explore the origins of racial separation, the people caught up in the Plessy case (including a fascinating Kentuckian, Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan), and why the reverberations of the Plessy case are still felt today.  https://www.steveluxenberg.com/



Cheli Reutter & Jonathan Cullick

March 16, 2021

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most beloved novels in the United States. Published in 1960, it received the Pulitzer Prize, and the movie starring Gregory Peck swept the Academy Awards. More than forty million copies have been sold, and it is frequently taught in high school classrooms. However, in 2015, HarperCollins announced the discovery of Go Set a Watchman, another manuscript by Harper Lee, which had been concealed in a safe deposit box for fifty years. Immediately, questions emerged about its publication and its revelations about the hero lawyer Atticus Finch. Cullick and Reutter will discuss the value of reading, teaching, and engaging in community conversations about Harper Lee's classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, and her hidden gem, Go Set a Watchman. They will trace the provenance of the novels, consider the joy, inspiration and harm of To Kill a Mockingbird, and propose new ways for teachers, students, and community readers to approach Harper Lee in the era of Black Lives Matter. Ultimately, they conclude that studying both of Harper Lee’s works is timely. Find out more about the book Mockingbird Grows Up at the University of Tennessee Press website https://utpress.org/title/mockingbird-grows-up/.  





Danielle McDonald & David Singleton

April 20, 2021

NKU Professors Danielle McDonald and David Singleton as they discuss how people experience sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry differently based on their race, ethnicity, class, and gender along with what is being done to address these inequities.



Robert Wallace

May 11, 2021

Dr. Wallace will present highlights from the book he is currently writing on Frederick Douglass, Cincinnati Antislavery, and the Abolitionist Origins of the Republican Party. After establishing the key elements of this story on the Ohio side of the river, he will briefly discuss Douglass’s responses to the Margaret Garner tragedy, the antislavery journalism of W. S. Bailey in Newport, and the political career of Salmon P. Chase, for whom NKU’s law school is named.

Black Business Activism in the Mid-Twentieth Century South


Brandon Winford

May 18, 2021

Lecture discusses John Hervey Wheeler's leadership as a bank president and civil rights lawyer in the mid-twentieth-century South. It will especially highlight his activism and interest in fulfilling the ideals of New South prosperity through an emphasis on black economic power and full citizenship.

2020 Spring Season:

Title & Video Link Presenter Date Presented Lecture
Joan Ferrante April 21, 2020 Sociology Professor Joan Ferrante has guided an ongoing project examining the history of racial categories in America, “Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories.” Learn more at http://TheMCRCProject.org.
Central to the project is student interpretations of this history in various art forms – dance, poetry, sculpture, prose and music. Last June, the MCRCP team performed the dance  “Let Our Loss Be Heard” as part of the 2019 Contemporary Dance Theater’s Area Choreographer Festival at the Aronoff Center.

For this talk, Dr. Ferrante will show a film of that stunning performance, then discuss the film and the overall project – and take your questions.

“Let Our Loss be Heard” interprets the 1856 story of Margaret and Robert Garner who fled slavery with their children. Margaret Garner took the life of one her children rather than see her returned to slavery.
John Bickers April 28, 2020

Chase College of Law Professor John Bickers has been researching the story behind paper money and that bold assertion on every bill in our wallets and purses: THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.

What we take for granted now was not always the nation’s consensus. As paper money was first being issued in Civil War, its constitutionality was challenged and overturned by the Supreme Court in an opinion written by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase (yes, the same Chase for which our law school is named).
The decision sent shock waves through the American economy and, upon reconsideration with new justices to vote, the decision was reversed.

Within this story is intriguing constitutional question. Chase argued that paper money was not permitted by the text of the Constitution. The second ruling embraced a more flexible Constitution.
Professor Bickers will take you through the history and the legal arguments that surround our nation’s use of “legal tender.”

John Gibson May 12, 2020 NKU Electronic Media and Broadcast Professor John Gibson’s 2013 film, “Revelation Trail,” follows the travails of an Old West preacher, whose life is destroyed when a gruesome power consumes the land. He can give into the ruin or fight the mysterious undead. Gibson will talk about making the film, the reaction to it when it was released – and what lessons it might have in today’s COVID-19 world. 
We invite you to watch “Revelation Trail” before the lecture. It is available on Amazon Prime; and the trailer is on YouTube for free: https://youtu.be/gsJMv6bUhKk.

More recently, Professor Gibson has completed a shorter character-based drama that has screened at a few festivals and is now online. “Half Finished” stars NKU theater professor Charlie Roetting and Paul Morris (also from “Revelation Trail”). Themes include loss and coping with grief – two things that are also prevalent in today’s trying times.

Here’s a link to view “Half Finished” at no cost: https://youtu.be/f-nkCnyuxT8
Kristine Yohe May 19, 2020 English Professor Kristine Yohe will discuss selected works of former Kentucky Poet Laureate and co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, Frank X Walker.

The writer of 10 books of poetry, Walker has four that reexamine historical but often overlooked African Americans, specifically York, the enslaved man who accompanied Lewis and Clark; Isaac Murphy, an early jockey and winner of multiple Kentucky Derbies; and Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was assassinated by a white supremacist.

Dr. Yohe will share selections from Walker’s poetry and show how his historical poems reanimate forgotten, hidden, and disempowered African American figures. Based on her forthcoming book about Walker’s historical persona poetry, this lecture will show how these works promote racial healing through reexamining prior injustice, connecting the past to today, and striving towards an anti-racist future.

Paul Tenkotte June 9, 2020 Northern Kentucky women were influential in both the Kentucky and national movements for women’s suffrage.

In celebration of the centennial of national women’s suffrage, join us in restoring the names and actions of these brave women to the hallowed halls of history.
Our presenter is a leading researcher and writer on our region’s history. History Professor Paul Tenkotte has edited or authored 14 books, contributed chapters to eight additional books, and written hundreds of articles for a wide range of publications.

He is co-editor The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky; and Gateway City: Covington, Kentucky, 1815-2015. He also edits the weekly “Our Rich History” column in the NKyTribune. Dr. Tenkotte also has been a contributor to 16 television documentaries, including Where the River Bends: A History of Northern Kentucky.