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University, café launch monthly Science Cabaret in Binghamton

By : Nicole Borawski

The concept of a science café is an international phenomenon, with intellectual salons found throughout Europe. Now, the trend has reached Binghamton.

In collaboration with Lost Dog Café on Water Street in Binghamton, the University will host a monthly Science Cabaret to bring together the community and enhance Binghamton’s social scene. The public will be able to enjoy guest speakers discuss science, art, religion, philosophy and more, in a casual setting.

May 1 marked the first cabaret with David Sloan Wilson, author and distinguished professor of evolutionary biology, discussing the fundamentals of Darwin’s theories of evolution.

“The idea of the cabaret is to break down the barrier that exists between scientists and non-scientists and make better the intellectual life in Binghamton as a whole,” Wilson told a full house of community members and students.

Tom MacDonald, a retired voice teacher and Binghamton community member, organized the event in hopes of bringing the University and community together in a new way. He spent 13 years abroad in Eastern Europe and Mexico, and there he found the idea of an academic café. MacDonald attends Wilson’s seminars at the University and approached him to present the inaugural session.

“This will hopefully bring intellectual stimulation to Binghamton,” MacDonald said.
The Binghamton cabaret follows one organized in Ithaca, where the public joins together for a mix of science, art and open conversation over dinner at the Lost Dog Café there.

“The cabaret is geared to the community, without any sort of patronizing because the whole idea is to learn something while having fun,” MacDonald said.

So far, he and Wilson are taking the lead in Binghamton. They are looking to develop a steering committee of community members and professors. MacDonald and Wilson are looking for guest speakers who possess a high level of expertise in their field of study.
Jason Levine, a junior political science major at Binghamton, was one of the students who attended the event. “I think Professor Wilson fielded questions well and made the audience feel comfortable by not lecturing us,” he said.

The free event is to be held monthly at the Lost Dog Café, and is open to the public.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08