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Feb 19

Learning in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Posted on February 19, 2019 at 1:56 PM by Whitney Slightham

We often rightly tout the vast array of arts and outdoor offerings in our area, but it seems that we, at times, forget about our community’s abundant access to higher education institutions.  In this case, I am not talking about football, basketball or volleyball - though we certainly have those!  In this instance, I am referring to the lectures and presentations we have access to.  I hope to highlight just a few in this week’s post.

The Big School

Naturally, as the largest institution in our area, Virginia Tech offers the greatest number of events and lectures.  These range from presentations of work by students and faculty to lectures by internationally renowned experts in various fields.  Recently, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies hosted economist and futurist Jeremy Rifkin, who has advised the governments of China, Germany, and San Antonio on how to adapt their regional and national economies to accommodate emerging technologies and address climate change.  A quick scan of events and lectures that lie ahead also include a lecture on refugees and Confederate exiles after the U.S. Civil War, a lecture on urban agriculture from an expert based in Los Angeles, a presentation on the treatment of LGBT persons in Uganda and South Africa, a discussion about Manakin songbirds, and an address by the Vice-Commander of Air Force Space Command - and that’s just over the next couple of weeks!

A Bit Closer

Even closer to home are offerings from the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.  This week’s Maury Strauss Distinguished Public lecture series welcomes Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, an expert in sustainable economic development.  This lecture series has brought experts in Alzheimer’s treatment, heart failure research, and neuroscience.  In addition to Dr. Sachs, there are also five more lectures scheduled on a wide variety of topics for the remainder of this year.

Roanoke College, Hollins University, and Virginia Western Community College each offer additional lectures, presentations, readings, and events.  Roanoke College presents the Henry H. Fowler lecture series, which will host Jon Meacham, an expert on America’s long-standing struggle between our higher callings and worst conduct, in March. A second series, Women’s Forum, brings speakers discussing the complex story of the U.S Civil War and a poetry recital where women express their views on gender equality.  Hollins University is hosting lectures on 18th Century literary culture and capital punishment in industrialized nations along with a presentation by newly appointed Council member Trish White-Boyd.  Virginia Western Community College will be hosting a conference on woods and wildlife for area property owners.  Similar offerings are available at Radford University, Jefferson College of Health Sciences, and the Roanoke Higher Education Center.

And a Few Others

These institutional offerings are matched by a series of presentations and lectures presented by various organizations affiliated with the city, including the annual CityWorks Xpo, focusing on speakers and presentations around urban design and place making, in addition to various offerings related to technology and entrepreneurs at the CoLab and through the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.

As you can see, just as there is no shortage of arts, cultural, and outdoor activities in Roanoke, there is also a plethora of intellectual pursuits available essentially every day in our region.  Each of these educational entities maintains and updates an event calendar on their websites, linked above, which are worth checking out.  What a great benefit to living in Virginia’s Blue Ridge!

- Bob Cowell


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