Serious Talks for Silly People!

Join GIV’s spokescat Westley and a talented cast of experts and alumni in this delightfully weird webinar series!

What is “Serious Talks for Silly People?”

The short answer is that it’s a series of hour-long interactive webinars exploring the balance of serious learning and silly conversation – hosted by a cat!

The slightly longer answer is that “Serious Talks for Silly People” is GIV’s commitment to making learning fun and accessible while still challenging Vermonters to think deeply and expand their horizons. It features a panel of GIV faculty, staff, and alumni who are experts in their fields of study, which are as broad in range and discipline as GIV itself!

Each webinar is a conversation between these panelists and the audience, designed to invite all sorts of question and answer and lively discussion. The ultimate goal is to have fun learning new things and meeting cool people!

… did we mention our spokescat has a bowtie?

Meet Our Host!


Westley is a cat. He enjoys rabbit-flavored wet food, vigorous chin scratches, and falling asleep on people’s heads. Westley is both a dedicated physicist and formidable short distance runner. He is fond of combining these disciplines, often engaging in highly scientific “knock things off the counter” research trials paired with “sprint across the apartment” training drills. When he isn’t hard at work, Westley can most often be found sleeping on a sun-soaked window sill with his brother Yam. His philosophy on life, the universe, and everything therein and after can be summed up neatly in his oft-repeated mantra: “meow.”

Episode- Meditations on Math and Music

How creative is math? How logical is music? Are they really so different?

In this talk, Spotify artist Myra Flynn, Computer Science student Stephanie Joseph, and GIV Math Institute alums Henry & Nathan Wu dispel some of the myths of being a “math or music person” and talk about the relationship between structure and creativity.

Episode- Designing the Future: Tech and Design

The worlds of technology, design, and engineering move pretty fast. How do engineers and techies make sure they’re taking care of the planet (not to mention themselves) while keeping pace?

In this talk, college students and humanitarians Alden Ducharme and Brielle King plus a panel of three brilliant GIV alums explore sustainability in tech and engineering – both for the world and for oneself.

Episode: The Human Body in Medicine and Dance

How do we collaborate with each other and stay creative during a global pandemic? And are health professionals and artists so different in their pursuit of connection and resilience?

In this talk, professional dancer Corey Harrower, Northern Vermont AHEC Executive Director Nicole LaPointe, and GIV Health & Medicine alum Rory Anderson explore those questions, providing their unique perspective on what it means to be human when you’re a tiny square on someone else’s screen for a year.

Other Topics Coming Soon...

It’s no secret: saving lives and changing the world is hard work. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, too!

In this talk, activist-filmmaker Abbie Steckler, medical student Shubi Joshi, and GIV alum Acadia Cook explore what it takes to keep on having a good time, even as one handles life’s sourest lemons. They also spend some time talking about The Office. Naturally.

Recording coming soon!

The Earth is a strange and beautiful place. And it needs our help!

In this talk, University of Vermont researcher and geologist Paul Bierman, podcaster and theatre educator Tim Steckler, and GIV Global Issues & Environmental Science alums Gloria Kigonya, Tenzin Mentsang, and Addy Budliger get together for a discussion on environmental science and arts activism. Where science, art, and activism collide, positive change is sure to follow!

Recording coming soon!

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