One Day University with The Day (Groton, CT)

Saturday, November 14, 2020 9:30 am - 1:15 pm


10:50 am - 11:55 am
Turning Points that Changed American History

Edward O'Donnell / Holy Cross College

In the relatively short history of the United States, there have been many turning points and landmark movements that irrevocably altered the direction of the nation and signaled the dramatic start of a new historical reality. Some took the form of groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts; some were dramatic military victories and defeats. Still others were nationwide social and religious movements, or technological and scientific innovations.

What all of these turning points had in common, is that they forever changed the character of America. Sometimes the changes brought about by these events were obvious; sometimes they were more subtle. Sometimes the effects of these turning points were immediate; other times, their aftershocks reverberated for decades. Regardless, these great historical turning points demand to be understood.

Edward O'Donnell / Holy Cross College

Edward O’Donnell is a professor of History at College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of several books, including Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age. He frequently contributes op-eds to publications like Newsweek and The Huffington Post. He has been featured on PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and C-SPAN. O’Donnell also has curated several major museum exhibits on American history and appeared in several historical documentaries. He currently hosts a history podcast, “In the Past Lane.”

9:30 am - 10:35 am
Behavioral Economics: When Rational People Make Irrational Decisions

Laura Gee / Tufts University

Economics often describes a world in which consumers, workers, savers, and business managers thoughtfully and rationally pursue their own self-interest. But a wide array of work in psychology and economics shows that people often act irrationally. Behavioral economics explores how biases and irrationalities affect economic decision-making, and offers some solutions to nudge us toward better choices.

For example, people pay for gym memberships they never use. But we can increase their gym attendance if they can only watch the next episode of their favorite Netflix show while at the gym. Another problem is that people spend too much money now and save too little for retirement. But we can push them toward saving more if we only increase their retirement savings each time they get a raise, thus leaving their take home pay the same. In this class, Professor Gee will show us how behavioral economics helps us to understand why people act irrationally and how we can use those irrational tendencies to help people make better decisions.

Laura Gee / Tufts University

Laura Gee is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Tufts University. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Labor Economics, the Journal of Public Economics, Management Science and Experimental Economics. Her research has also been written about in the popular press in outlets such as CBS News, Fast Company, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune. Her research is in behavioral economics, with a particular focus on how individual decision making is influenced by group dynamics.

12:10 pm - 1:15 pm
The Musical Genius of Mozart

Craig Wright / Yale University

When asked to provide a list of “geniuses” in Western cultural history, virtually all respondents would include the name Mozart. What is it in Mozart's music that makes it among the most sublime ever written? What personal traits did Mozart possess that enabled him to create music of this extraordinary quality?

Using live music and video clips from operas, as well as from the film Amadeus, we will explore the enormous diversity of Mozart's music. At the same time, by examining color photographs of his autograph manuscripts and draft sketches, we will witness Mozart's attention to the smallest detail. Having explored his music in both breadth and depth, our attention turns finally to the enablers of Mozart's genius: genetic gifts, mentoring, motivation, concentration, self-confidence, and just plain luck. By the end of this session, we will come to see that not only is Mozart's music great, but Mozart himself was unique, and arguably the most extraordinary creator ever to set foot on this planet.

Craig Wright / Yale University

Craig Wright holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught at Yale for more than forty-five years, where he continues to offer annually “The Genius Course.” Professor Wright has published six books on music and cultural history, and his “The Hidden Habits of Genius” will appear in 2020. Yale has recognized Wright’s contribution to undergraduate teaching in the form of its two most prestigious prizes, the Sewall Prize and the DeVane Medal. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago and in 2011 was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.