Contact Us

Brian Barrett, CICC Co-Chair
Foundations and Social Advocacy Department
Cornish Hall, Room 1224


Howard Lindh, CICC Co-Chair
Performing Arts Department

Dowd Fine Arts Center, Room 214


Calendar of Events

September 18, Dr. Alice Dreger: “Who Should Count as a Woman on the Playing Field? Questions of Intersex and Trans in Sports” 7 p.m., Sperry Center Room 105 

Dr. Dreger’s talk will discuss how many sports have historically been divided by gender (man/woman), although we’ve generally pretended the division is by sex (male/female). The more that we learn about gender and sex, the more we know the drawing sex and gender divisions is not so easy. So what should happen in sports? This talk will explore this question, taking into account biology, the nature of sport (including the value of fairness), and social justice concerns. Dr. Dreger, who has consulted on this question with the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission, will parse out the issues and offer a few possible solutions.

September 23, Dr. James Strick '81: "Darwin and the Origin of Life: Public vs. Private Science” 4:30 p.m., Sperry Center Room 205 

Many people assume that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is inseparably linked to life first arising by natural chemical means. But what did Darwin really say about this? Interestingly, he said very little in public about the origin of life, and what he does say is remarkable for its apparent ambivalence. Discussing the subject in private letters with supporters, Darwin took varying positions over time. This talk will attempt to interpret Darwin’s writing on the origin of life in the context of the larger public debate over his theory of evolution, as well as Victorian debates over spontaneous generation of life, medicine, science, and the germ theory of disease. It will also draw connections to modern origin of life research supported by NASA as part of the quest to understand the potential of the universe to harbor life beyond Earth.

September 24, Margaret Leng Tan: Sorceress of the New Piano. 4:30 p.m, Sperry Center Room 104

Strumming the strings of the piano like a harp and performing Beethoven and the Beatles on a toy piano are among the surprising scenes in Evans Chan's documentary, which celebrates the trans-cultural career of Singapore-born, New York-based pianist Margaret Leng Tan. (

October 2 "Making Sense of Ferguson In and Out of the Classroom: How we can Help" Sandwich Seminar by Dr. Sarah Hobson 12 p.m, Jacobus Lounge, Brockway Hall

October 15, Temple Grandin (Film): 7 p.m., Sperry Center Room 105

Starring Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, Catherine O'Hara and David Strathairn, Temple Grandin paints a picture of a young woman's perseverance and determination while struggling with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when it was still quite unknown. The film chronicles Temple's early diagnosis; her turbulent growth and development during her school years; the enduring support she received from her mother (Ormond), aunt (O'Hara) and her science teacher (Strathairn); and her emergence as a woman with an innate sensitivity and understanding of animal behavior. (

November 7, Dr. Anthony J. Nocella II: “Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline and the Rise of Hip Hop Activism and Transformative Justice” 11:30 a.m., Jacobus Lounge, Brockway Hall 

Anthony J. Nocella II will speak about the growing attacks on youth by private and governmental agencies. This presentation examines how the school and criminal industrial complexes construct and depend upon the school to prison pipeline. The pipeline—with its many tactics, strategies, and players—is a manifestation of modern day colonialism overseen by wealthy white Christians who are raging an undeclared war against those with histories, languages, faiths, and cultures that do not meet the status quo determined by the cultural elite. Colonialism is a style of warfare that does not use guns and tankers; rather, it attacks and destroys cultures by targeting and controlling a culture’s youth, who represent the possibility for a new world order. Nocella will discuss his work for youth justice, food justice, Hip Hop activism, and his book, From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline (2014).

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Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee

The Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee (CICC) is an all-campus committee of faculty and staff appointed by the Provost. Each year members of the Committee choose a theme to frame a year-long series of lectures, discussions, film screenings, and art exhibits. This theme is meant to promote cultural life on campus and help the campus and Cortland community engage in discussions connected to issues relevant to today's world.

If you are a member of SUNY Cortland's faculty or staff and would like to participate in the CICC, please contact Brian Barrett or Howard Lindh, the committee's current co-chairs. If you are member of the student body or the Cortland community and have a suggestion for a speaker or event, please feel free to contact us as well.

2014/2015 Academic Year: R/Evolution

R/evolution image

CICC is pleased to announce R/Evolution as the theme for the 2014-2015 academic year. The theme and related programming are being organized around three books that will, together, compose a campus common reading.

We believe the common read can: create a shared academic experience, help us continue discussions of ethics, civility, and global citizenship, foster connections among students, faculty and staff, and increase cross campus participation in and awareness of the yearly theme. 

The Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee’s (CICC) intellectual theme for 2014-15, R/EVOLUTION, questions the notion that evolution always represents positive change. Please join us in reading any of our three common reads around this theme. Related campus events will also occur throughout the year. 

Inherit the Wind book coverEvolution for Everyone book coverBest Science and Nature Writing book cover

Inherit the Wind (Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee) is a dramatic rendering of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial, which saw a teacher convicted for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution, a violation of Tennessee state law at the time. At root, the play stands as a defense of intellectual freedom; as playwright Jerome Lawrence told The New York Times in 1996, “it is about the right to think.”

Evolution for Everyone (David Sloan Wilson) speaks to non-scientists and scientists alike. Rather than dwell on the debates about creationism, this book shows how evolution provides a framework for investigation in many disciplines. Wilson proposes that evolutionary biology might help us better understand religion, culture, psychology, and morality. In accessible language, the book introduces readers to recent developments in evolutionary biology and explains the role of theory in the sciences, but instructors in the humanities and the social sciences will also find provocative essays for student discussions about the still disputed role of biology and genetics in the study of human behavior. Education instructors might be interested in several pieces revealing Wilson's approach to teaching and undergraduate research at SUNY Binghamton, where he is a professor of evolutionary biology and anthropology. This collection of essays can be read in total, or individual pieces can be extracted for shorter assignments. Please visit CICC’s 2014/15 Common Read webpage for further description of the book’s individual chapters.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013 (Siddhartha Mukherjee, Ed.) includes twenty seven essays representing the best of American science writing for a general audience from 2013.  The editor, Siddhartha Mukherjee says: “Most of the selected essays share a common thread: they describe how science happens.  They don’t present facts alone (although facts are abundant in them).  They describe the extraordinary process by which scientists extract those facts from the grim soil, roots and tendrils intact, to glean knowledge about the inner workings of nature.” Please visit CICC’s 2014/15 Common Read webpage for further description of the book’s individual chapters.

For reading guides and other information, please see our Common Read website. Also, visit us on Facebook!

Past Themes

Past guest speakers have included Seymour Hersch, Jonathan Kozol, and Bill McKibben. The CICC has organized a year-long theme since 2005.

Past themes have included:

     2005-2006: Rights Inalienable in a Time of War

     2006-2007: Fundamentally Speaking

     2007-2008: Earthly Matters

     2008-2009: Inequality

     2009-2010: Walls

     2010-2011: Re-Education

     2011-2012: In/Civility

     2012-2013: In/Common

     2013-2014: Inter/Action