AUTUMN LECTURE SERIES



WOW is celebrating its 15th season and still going strong! This year, we’ve sought out some of the area’s most distinguished and visionary thought leaders for a series that promises to be one of our best yet—see 2016 lineup below. If you’re a longtime WOW subscriber, we’re thrilled to welcome you back for our Tuesday morning lecture series. Never experienced WOW? Why not start a new autumn tradition that will expand your social circle and change the way you think about the world?

After each Tuesday morning lecture, join us for a catered lunch and conversation with a dynamic community of friends old and new.

Registration alert: Our 2016 WOW lecture series is an online-registration-only event. Online registration will be available by August 10. Please register early; our lectures sell out quickly.

Please register by Monday, September 19, to avoid a late registration fee. Beginning Tuesday, September 20, a late registration fee of $20 will apply.

Questions? Please contact Joan Schniedwind at 847.920.2765 or jschniedwind@loy.org.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

  • 2016 Season at a Glance
  • Sep 20
  • Sep 27
  • Oct 11
  • Oct 25
  • Nov 8
  • News

The 606Tuesday, September 20

The 606: An Insider's Look
Motor Coach Tour

A 2.7-mile walking tour of The 606 park and trail system, followed by a tour of St. Mary of the Angels Church and lunch at Piccolo Sogno
Tour Guides: Staff from The Trust for Public Land

 

Shane LarsonTuesday, September 27

Black Holes and Gravitational Waves: LIGO's New View of the Cosmos
Shane L. Larson, PhD

Research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, gravitational wave researcher at Northwestern's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) and Adler Planetarium astronomer

 

Kristian HammondTuesday, October 11

The New Machine: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
Kristian Hammond, PhD

Professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University and cofounder and chief scientist at the artificial intelligence company, Narrative Science

 

Mei FongTuesday, October 25

One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment
Mei Fong

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist and fellow at the Washington, DC-based think tank, New America

 

 

Steve PembertonTuesday, November 8

The Advantage of Disadvantage: Transforming Adversity into Action
Steve Pemberton

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance

The 606Tuesday, September 20

The 606: An Insider's Look
Motor Coach Tour

A walking tour of The 606 park and trail system, followed by a tour of St. Mary of the Angels Church and lunch at Piccolo Sogno

Please Note: We will be walking 2.7 miles on a concrete trail with limited shade. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.

TOUR GUIDES: Jamie Simone, interim state director of the Trust for Public Land, and her staff

  • 8:45 a.m.—Motor coach departs from Loyola Academy
  • 9:30 a.m.—Arrive at the western trailhead of The 606 at Cortland and Ridgeway for a guided walking tour of The 606 elevated trail
  • 11:45 a.m.—Guided tour of St. Mary of the Angels Church
  • 12:30 p.m.—Lunch at Piccolo Sogno
  • 2:30 p.m.—Motor coach arrives back at Loyola Academy

TOUR FEE: $65

*Our 2016 motor coach tour is available to WOW registrants who sign up for two or more lectures. It is not available as a stand-alone event.

Registration is limited. Please register early to reserve your spot.

Are you ready to be WOWed while getting a good walking workout? Join us as we hit the road and then hit the trail for a walking tour of The 606, the remarkable $95 million urban renewal project that has transformed a gritty remnant of Chicago's industrial past into an elevated urban oasis.

The 606 park and trail system—which sits on the site of a former elevated freight line that runs through Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park—is a classic case of "build it and they will come."

Since The 606—named for the city's shared 606 zip code prefix—opened in June 2015, joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, pedestrians and local residents in search of a carless commute to work have flocked to the 2.7-mile Bloomingdale Trail at the heart of the park and trail system.

As we stroll along the Bloomingdale Trail, staff from the Trust for Public Land, the lead private partner and fundraiser for the project, will give you the inside scoop on the history of this repurposed public space.

You'll learn about the freight line's beginnings just after the Great Chicago Fire, when the city granted permission to build a rail line on Bloomingdale Road; its heyday in the middle of the 20th century when companies shipped a wide variety of manufactured goods along the rail corridor; its eventual demise as trucking rendered the rail line obsolete; and its ultimate transformation from a crumbling piece of industrial infrastructure into an alternate transportation corridor, a vibrant recreational space and an urban garden for the 80,000 Chicago residents living within a 10-minute walk of The 606.

When we reach the eastern end of the Bloomingdale Trail, we'll descend to ground level for a guided tour of St. Mary of the Angels Church, located just two blocks from The 606. Dedicated by Cardinal Mundelein in 1920, this breathtakingly beautiful landmark is recognized as one of the finest examples of Roman Renaissance architecture in the U.S.

After the tour, well exercised and appetites whetted, we'll head over to Piccolo Sogno for a taste of Tuscany in the city's West Loop. During our luncheon, Jamie Simone, interim state director for the Chicago office of the Trust for Public Lands, will talk about her experiences as project manager for the buildout of The 606 — the most ambitious project the trust has ever undertaken.

Bring a guest if space permits: Motor coach tour participants are invited to bring a guest for $65 if seats are still available one week prior to the tour date. Please contact Joan Schniedwind at 847.920.2765 or jschniedwind@loy.org after September 13 to inquire about availability.

Shane LarsonTuesday, September 27

Black Holes and Gravitational Waves: LIGO's New View of the Cosmos

Shane L. Larson, PhD
Research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, gravitational wave researcher at Northwestern's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) and Adler Planetarium astronomer

  • 9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
  • 11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

For millennia, mankind used visible light to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos. In the 20th century, scientists expanded that view by building telescopes that could detect light not visible to the human eye. Today, virtually everything we know about the universe has been gleaned from the study of light in its myriad forms, from visible, infrared and ultraviolet light to radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays.

At the dawn of the 21st century, an international team of roughly 1,000 scientists and engineers unveiled the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). More than 40 years in the making at a cost of $1.1 billion, LIGO was designed to enhance our understanding of the universe by confirming Einstein's century-old theory that gravity travels across spacetime in the form of gravitational waves. Referred to as "gravity's messengers," these ripples in the fabric of spacetime carry information not in the form of light or particles, but in the form of gravity itself.

Last September, a long-awaited gravitational wave signal came booming out of the sky, triggering the twin LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington State. The signal was the signature of two black holes merging to form a new, larger black hole more than a billion years ago, before multicellular life existed on Earth. The gravitational wave generated by that event rippled outward at the speed of light, reaching our planet—and LIGO's detectors—1.3 billion years later on September 14, 2015, at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

In this fascinating foray into the secrets of the universe, Dr. Larson will give you an insider's account of this monumental scientific event—what LIGO saw, how we found out about it, what it taught us about the universe and its implications for the future of cosmic exploration and discovery.

Shane L. Larson, PhD, is a research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is a member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), and an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics and specializes in the study of compact stars, binaries and the galaxy. His work in gravitational wave astronomy includes the ground-based LIGO project and the development of space-based detectors for NASA. Dr. Larson earned his BS in physics from Oregon State University in 1991, his MS in physics from Montana State University in 1994 and his PhD in theoretical physics from Montana State University in 1999. An award-winning teacher and a fellow of the American Physical Society, he contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi.

 

"The inspiring stories and unique perspectives of WOW's featured speakers challenge me to think critically about the important issues of our time."
—WOW PARTICIPANT SINCE 2008

Kristian HammondTuesday, October 11

The New Machine: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Kristian Hammond, PhD
Professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University and cofounder and chief scientist at Narrative Science, an artificial intelligence company

 

  • 9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
  • 11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

We are living in a brave new world—a world in which artificial intelligence is no longer a distant dream or a science fiction fantasy, but a part of our everyday reality. While we may not yet have robots at our beck and call, we may soon be sharing our lives with machines that are smarter than we are.

"Artificial intelligence has been a far-flung goal of computing since the conception of the computer," wrote one reporter in a March 2016 Forbes article, "but we may be getting closer than ever with new cognitive computing models."

What exactly is cognitive computing? It is the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model. Through the use of self-learning algorithms that continually acquire new knowledge by mining data for information, as well as pattern recognition and natural language processing programs, computers can now mimic the way that the human brain functions.

The goal of cognitive computing, which draws from cognitive science (the study of the human brain and how it works) and computer science, is to create automated IT systems that are capable of solving problems without human intervention. Used in a wide variety of artificial intelligence applications—including robotics, natural language programming and virtual reality systems—cognitive computing will have far-reaching implications for our private lives, our healthcare systems, our careers and more.

Signs of the rise of artificial intelligence are everywhere, from systems that can recommend movies to machine learning programs that can predict our shopping behavior to evidence-based reasoning systems such as Watson—the IBM supercomputer best known for outperforming the winning human contestants on the game show Jeopardy!

As we struggle to comprehend and cope with these new, highly intelligent machines, we are faced with a new challenge: How do we adapt to a world in which we are not the smartest kids in the room?

In this fascinating presentation on the evolution of artificial intelligence, Dr. Hammond will discuss the current landscape of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence and take you beyond the hype and fear to offer a balanced perspective on the way that these systems work and the profound impact that they will have on our lives.

Kristian Hammond, PhD, is a professor of computer science and journalism at Northwestern University and cofounder and chief scientist at Narrative Science, an innovative artificial intelligence company. Prior to joining the faculty at Northwestern University, Dr. Hammond founded the University of Chicago's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research has focused primarily on artificial intelligence, machine-generated content and context-driven information systems. He previously sat on a United Nations policy committee run by the Institute for Disarmament Research that focused on policy issues related to the use of autonomous lethal weapons. He was also named 2014 Innovator of the Year by the 2015 Best in Biz Awards and Technologist of the Year by the Illinois Technology Association. He holds a doctorate from Yale University.

 

"Our children have graduated from Loyola, but I still look forward to WOW's annual fall lineup and the opportunity to engage in a thoughtful dialogue over lunch with friends."
—A LONGTIME WOW SUBSCRIBER

Mei FongTuesday, October 25

One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment

Mei Fong
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist and fellow at New America, a Washington, DC-based think tank

 

  • 9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
  • 11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

When Communist Party leaders in China instituted the one-child policy in 1980, they predicted that declining birthrates would help lift China's most destitute families out of poverty and enhance the country's global stature.

But the world's largest experiment in social engineering failed to deliver on its promise. Thirty-five years later, confronted with a population that had grown "too old and too male," China announced that it was shifting to a two-child policy.

In this riveting presentation, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Mei Fong will share the stories of the people she met while traveling across China to conduct research for her critically acclaimed book, One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).

You'll gain insights into the one-child policy's human costs and unintended consequences as you learn about the unauthorized second children ignored by the state, the only children trying to support aging parents and grandparents on their own and the villages overflowing with bachelors who cannot find brides.

Finally, Fong will raise questions that have major implications for China's future, such as whether China's generation of "Little Emperors"—the country's coddled cohort of only children—will be fit to lead the world's second largest economy and how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over the age of 65.

You won't want to miss this timely and informative discussion of Fong's investigation into the one-child policy, which has been described as one of the most invasive and inhumane laws ever devised.

Mei Fong is currently a fellow at New America, a Washington, DC-based think tank. Previously, she taught at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and worked for more than a decade as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. While covering Hong Kong and China for the Journal, she won a shared Pulitzer for her stories on China's transformative process prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her stories about China's migrant workers also won a 2006 Human Rights Press Award from Amnesty International and the Hong Kong Correspondents Club, as well as awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is a graduate of the University of Singapore and holds an MA in international relations from Columbia University.

 

"Some of my closest friends are women I've met through WOW."
—PAST WOW PARTICIPANT

Steve PembertonTuesday, November 8

The Advantage of Disadvantage: Transforming Adversity into Action

Steve Pemberton
Vice president of diversity and inclusion and global chief diversity officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance

 

  • 9:30 a.m. — Lecture in the Loyola Theater
  • 11:30 a.m. — Lunch in the Marillac Room

Taken from his mother as a toddler, Steve Klakowicz lived a terrifying existence for the next 11 years. Caught in the clutches of a brutal and abusive foster family, the young boy survived in the only way that he could, by escaping into the world of books.

The child welfare system in Massachusetts seemed to have forgotten about him, and no one could tell the fair-complexioned child with the blue eyes, the curly Afro and the Polish last name who his real parents were or where he came from.

"Home is the place where our life stories begin," Pemberton reflected in his memoir A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past and How He Found a Place Called Home (Harper Collins, 2012). "It is where we are understood, embraced and accepted. It is a sanctuary of safety and security, a place to which we can always return. Down in the dank basement, amid my moldy, hoarded food and worm-eaten books, I dreamed that my real home…the place where my story had begun, was out there somewhere, and one day I was going to find it."

Pemberton's bestselling book chronicles his extraordinary quest to escape his foster home, find his biological family and solve the mystery of his identity. After the book's publication, at speaking engagements and book signings across the country, people reached out to Pemberton again and again to tell him how his life story had inspired them. Their questions were often the same: "How did you do it—and how is it possible for me to find my own chance in the world?"

In this soul-stirring presentation, Pemberton—now a global executive at one of the world's largest corporations—will draw on his own life experiences, as well as the stories of others who have triumphed over adversity, to answer these questions. In the process, he will shed light on the true nature of heroes, the attitudes and behaviors of those who have overcome adversity and the life lessons that are applicable to us all.

Steve Pemberton is vice president of diversity and inclusion and global chief diversity officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led health and well-being enterprise in the world. Before assuming his global responsibilities, Pemberton served as the first chief diversity officer in Walgreens' history. Under his leadership, Walgreens reached record levels of performance on nearly every measure of diversity and inclusion. He has also served as a public ambassador for the company on issues related to the employment of people with disabilities. In this capacity, he has represented Walgreens' employment model at the White House and on Capitol Hill. In 2015, he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor to serve on the Advisory Committee for the Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities. His dedication to public service and personal and professional achievements have earned him honorary doctorates from Winston-Salem State University (2014), Boston College (2015) and Mount Ida College (2016). In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious U.S. Congress Horizon Award for expanding opportunities for all Americans and setting an exceptional example for young people. He serves on several nonprofit boards, including Bernie's BookBank, New Yorkers for Children, the United States Business Leadership Network and UCAN. He is a graduate of Boston College.

 

"I feel privileged to be a part of this invigorating intellectual and social adventure!"
—2015 WOW ATTENDEE