The Brown Bag Talks, history with your lunch

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Photo: Hannah Steyn

Hannah Steyn, Special Assignments Reporter

Run by the Utica College Center for Historical Research, The Brown Bag Lunch Hour Talks are interactive discussions about history. These talks are not based on any specific time period. Instead, they are rather varied in content and manner. 

“The idea behind them was to bring in scholars who can cover the fullest range of history possible, to interest as many people as possible, and to pique everyone’s interests,” History Professor David Wittner said.  

According to Wittner, the Brown Bag Talks tend to be fairly informal, and what’s being presented could be anything from a fully published conference presentation to a work in progress. They could be in any form, such as a methodology talk where an academic will explain how they got from point A to point B in their research. There are people presenting everything from all ends of the spectrum, which offers a wide range of informative topics to viewers.

The talks are varied, with the only constant being the time. They’re all one hour long, and that time is roughly split between the speaker presenting their work, and a question and answer session for all who wish to participate. 

Many students attend these talks for extra credit, or because they are assigned for a class they’re taking in the History department. 

“Part of it is showing what’s out there for history,” Wittner said. “We have a relatively small history department on campus, so we are limited as to what we can do and what we can show.” 

The previous talk by Dr. Clem Harris focused on the history behind the Black Lives Matter movement, just one example of the diverse nature of these talks.

According to junior Amra Becirevic, these talks are important for UC students as they will help students to understand the diversity within the school. 

“I would recommend students attend these if they can,” Becirevic said. “The human brain never stops learning; so why not teach it something that’ll help us to understand others?” 

The Brown Bag Talks take place every second Wednesday of the month from 12:30 -1:30 p.m. The next talk will be on Oct 14. The upcoming talk will be presented by Amber Shoopman, a professor at Syracuse University, whose focus is on colonial U.S. women’s history. 

The following Brown Bag talk will be presented by Utica College alumnus, Nolan Cool. Cool will talk about a property in the Adirondacks built in the 1800s by a former slave and the process of discovering what he calls “hidden histories.”

All past Brown Bag Lunch Hour Talks can be found on The Utica College Center for Historical Research Facebook page. Upcoming talks can be accessed through a zoom link for those who wish to actively participate in the talks provided by professors within the history department or viewers can watch live on Facebook.


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