Join some of Middlebury’s expert and engaging faculty members for interactive talks—from home.

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Faculty at Home extends Middlebury’s academic reach to our community around the world. This webinar series invites you to engage in the digital space, to stay connected with faculty members, with big ideas, and with each other.

Moderated by Caitlin Knowles Myers, John G. McCullough Professor of Economics, Sarah Stroup, associate professor of political science, and Bert Johnson, professor of political science, this series stimulates thought-provoking online conversations for the benefit of the Middlebury community far and wide. Faculty at Home is supported by numerous offices at Middlebury including the Office of the Provost, Advancement, Media Services, and Communications.

Generally, we open up the webinar 5 – 10 minutes ahead of the start time. This offers attendees the chance to let everyone know (via Zoom chat) that they are present and where they are joining from. Zoom settings only allow attendees to see the chat activity from the time they log in, so if you’d like to say hello, consider logging in early.

Recordings are posted about two weeks after the live event. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A Critical Citizen's Guide to ChatGPT  

Phil Chodrow
  • Phil Chodrow

Large language models (LLMs) power modern chatbots and text generators. How do they work and what do they mean for human society? We’ll begin by describing next-token-prediction and reinforcement learning with human feedback, the two technical tasks that underlie contemporary LLMs. We’ll then turn a critical eye toward claims about the capabilities of LLMs, especially those propagated by large tech corporations. We’ll close with a discussion of the impacts of LLMs on labor, the environment, artistic production, and cultural representation.

Phil Chodrow is an assistant professor of computer science at Middlebury College. His interests include network science, models of social systems, data science, and critical computing pedagogy. He received his PhD from MIT and his BA from Swarthmore College.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Landscape and Memory: Examining the Flow between Person and Place  

Megan Mayhew-Bergman
  • Megan Mayhew Bergman

In Vladimir Nabokov’s memoir of estrangement—Speak, Memory—he writes: “I see again my schoolroom in Vyra, the blue roses of the wallpaper, the open window… . Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die.” This talk examines the flow between person and place—how we are shaped by the landscapes we inhabit, and how, in turn, they shape us, physically, emotionally, and creatively. We will discuss the impact that loss and environmental degradation can have on one’s sense of place and belonging, and how that change might register in memory and creative output.

Megan Mayhew Bergman is an assistant professor in creative writing and director of the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference at Middlebury. She is an award-winning fiction writer and climate journalist who has been published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the New York Times, and has published three books with Scribner. She recently founded Open Field, a nonprofit geared toward increasing the accessibility of environmental storytelling and advocacy skills, and is the cofounder of GreenStory, an environmental narrative agency.

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