Guest Speaker: Diane Dobry on Research & Musings Behind Paranormal Television, Monday, 10/25, 4-5:30pm

Monday, 10/25, 4-5:30pm


The Education program includes occasional lectures and talks by leaders in the broad field of education.
  • Diane Dobry on Research & Musings Behind Paranormal Television, Monday, 10/25, 4-5:30pm
  • Paranormal reality television shows such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Labs, The Haunted, and Celebrity Ghost Stories, to name a just a few, have grown in popularity in recent years, with some claiming to be "probing the afterlife." Recent polls indicate that a notable number of respondents express belief in the existence of activities considered to be paranormal—including telepathy and ESP, ghosts or apparitions, communication with the dead and out of body experiences. With program content that includes personal anecdotes of paranormal activity, psychic mediums channeling messages from the spirit world, and investigation teams attempting to document anomalous activity through measurements and recordings, paranormal reality television may seem a far cry from scholarly subject matter. Yet over the years, esteemed scholars and scientists have attempted to explore these phenomena objectively, or to make connections between scientific discoveries and possible links to non-physical realities. In the spirit of Halloween, join Diane Dobry, current TC doctoral student in Cultural Studies whose research is focused on paranormal reality television, as she explores some historical and current research and musings behind the paranormal and the afterlife. On Monday, October 25th, Ms. Dobry will discuss the early research of William James and other notable scholars, including some from Columbia University, following their efforts to determine whether human consciousness survives after death and whether communications made by mediums can be studied under controlled conditions. She will examine the research of near-death experiences, reincarnation, and apparitions to address the ideas presented in paranormal television programming. Diane Dobry is a public relations/media specialist and writer who is researching audiences of paranormal reality television and the possible relationship between viewing and using these programs to understand death and the afterlife. Diane served for many years as Director of Communications in the Office of External Affairs at Teachers College, and went on to work as Director of Marketing in TC’s Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation. She was also an instructor of media studies at Queens College and an importer of Hungarian wine for several years. (Yes, her areas of interest, in addition to the media, are wine and "spirits"). Diane’s other academic interests have included the experience of college students voluntarily giving up media for a week, activities and views related to television of different generations in a Hungarian family, and wine labels as popular culture. This first talk will be followed, in the Spring semester, by Death in Popular Culture, in which Diane will explore how media represents human mourning, judgment, near-death experiences, communication with the dead, and reincarnation. Using film clips from movies like Defending Your Life, Beetlejuice, My Girl, Ghost Town, Sixth Sense, and television programs such as Six Feet Under, Ghostly Encounters, and John Edward Cross Country, Diane will discuss the possible ways that media presentations contribute to ideas about death and the afterlife. Where: 306 Russell
  • Jane Boorstein on Learning Our Way Out, Tuesday, 10/19, 4-5pm
  • Jane K. Boorstein, Teachers College alumna; Director of the Partnership for Sustainable Families and Communities at Teachers College; and Trustee of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction will speak on the innovative approach to family planning that she developed and implemented in Ethiopia. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Learning Our Way Out project was implemented in fifteen villages, reached some 90,000 people, and became a model, bottom-up multi-discipline learning approach. In the early days Jane was influenced by Robert Theobald's talks on impending environmental disasters and became motivated to deter the devastation. The approach she would take only became clear in 1971, after two events while visiting Nairobi. First, a game warden spoke about the human population which was moving so close to the park that the animals were receding. Another day she heard a native woman speak about the fact that their husbands were polygamous and having so many children. She was driven to look into the situation when she learned that the schools could no longer accommodate the growing numbers. Along came a US AID grant which allowed her to coordinate with Catholic agencies interested in "working out of the box." Upon the advice of the Council of Foundations, Jane took her interest to the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, a non-profit non-government organization aiming to improve the quality of lives of the rural poor in developing countries through sustainable, integrated, people-centered development strategy generated through practical field experience. Jane eagerly spoke with James Yen, Founder of IIRR and graduate of Yale University, to see what could be done; their conversation lasted four hours, uninterrupted by a monsoon which eliminated electricity. Jane built the LOWO concept from research in rural communities of developing countries, using seven highly regarded development principles. She realized that traditional rural women and men needed help in a way that they could understand and appreciate. Jane started with what the people wanted and tried to improve what they could do, giving them ownership of the decisions governing their human existence. She made an initial trip to Ethiopia in 1971, but went back in 1997 to try the concept in two villages. The results were significant enough to apply to the Gates Foundation and allowed her to go fuller scale with backing from Teachers College. Learning Our Way Out: Innovation for Family Planning & Reproductive Health (IIRR, 2010) describes “the holistic way of looking at the effects of large and unplanned families and their impact on the socio-economic development of individuals and communities. Unlike other approaches, LOWO focuses and relies on facilitating individuals to realize, by themselves or in communities, the issues that affect them and to come up with innovative ways of addressing those issues. LOWOS’s objective is to create an environment that generates and supports a demand for contraceptive service as an integral part of community health and well-being” Preface, p.vi). The book uses the “writeshop process” – a unique opportunity for teamwork and mutual learning -- which was pioneered by the IIRR in the early 1990s to produce a range of extension materials on diverse subjects, among them, ethno-veterinary medicine, sustainable agriculture, public awareness, health, dry-land farming, and value chain development. Introducing Jane Boorstein will be Dr. Katie Embree, Associate Vice Provost and former staff of TC Innovations/Center for Education and Innovation in Education, which supported the Partnership for Sustainable Families and Communities at Teachers College. Delving beyond her love for “green spaces,” Jane’s talk will incorporate photographs of and reflections on Ethiopia and the greater need to overcome poverty. This event is sponsored by the African Studies Working Group, Center for African Education, and Gottesman Libraries. Where: 305 Russell


Last Updated: 5:24 am, Wednesday, Sep 22 , 2010