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Spring 2005 | Volume 28, Number 1 | Campus

How the Brain Learns: February Event Links Brain Science and Education

WHAT DOES BRAIN SCIENCE have to do with education? That was the question at the center of Seattle Pacific University’s President’s Symposium on How the Brain Learns, held February 7 and 8, 2005.

During the two-day winter President’s Symposium, John Medina spoke to 60 visiting academicians about the brain and learning, and delivered two public lectures.

John Medina, featured speaker for the event, is a developmental molecular biologist and founding director of the Talaris Research Institute, a Seattle-based brain research organization. Medina has studied the brain for most of his professional life, yet is the first to admit that brain science doesn’t currently have much to say to educators. “Since nobody really knows how this organ works,” he says, “there is a large part of our identity that truly lies beyond our understanding. That mystery represents some of the most compelling questions in science today.”

But Medina is hopeful that brain scientists and educators can pioneer a new mode of communication. “What I hope we will work toward,” he says of his partnership with the faculty of SPU, “is the creation of a research environment where educators and brain scientists routinely get together and figure out how to optimize learning environments.”

In a step toward such a partnership, Seattle Pacific welcomed more than 60 college and university presidents, administrators, and faculty members from across the country to the two-day event. Participants heard six lectures by Medina on topics as varied as “What Classrooms Can Learn From Babies” and “Sleep Issues and the Toxic Afternoon.”

Medina’s two public addresses on February 8 — “What Did You Say? Research on Attention Spans” and “What Educators Should Know About the Human Memory” — drew area residents, in-cluding educators from elementary and secondary schools. “It isn’t surprising that educators showed a great deal of interest in this symposium,” says Bill Rowley, dean of SPU’s School of Education. “Any insights educators can glean that increase their effectiveness in the classroom are of great importance to them.”

The event was the second in a series of three symposia hosted by SPU President Philip Eaton. Last fall, internationally renowned civil rights leader John Perkins was the keynote speaker for the President’s Symposium on Reconciliation. In May, Seattle Pacific hosts the President’s Symposium on The Gospel and Cultural Engagement with N.T. Wright.


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From the President
Can a university change the world? To reach such a goal, says Presi-dent Philip Eaton, “we've got to intensely sharpen our focus on the vision that drives us as a university.”

The Results Are In! [Campaign]
The Campaign for SPU raised $55.8 million, breaking all of the Uni-
versity's previous fundraising records.

Behind the Scenes [Faculty]
An exhibition celebrates SPU set designer Don Yanik in a retro-
spective showing 20 years of creative genius.

Engaging Artists [Alumni]
Medallion Awards go to three gifted alumni whose artistry “engages, provokes, and rattles the senses.”

Candid Camera [Books & Film]
Documentary filmmakers capture glimmers of hope for children in the Red Light district of Calcutta, India.

Making Memories [Athletics]
The Falcon women's basketball team reached the NCAA title game for the first time in the team's history.

My Response
For 1966 graduate Chi-Dooh “Skip” Li, the tragic case of Terri Schiavo hit close to home.

Back-Cover Art [New]
Response's popular back-cover
art makes its online debut with a painting by an SPU adjunct professor of art.

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