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Duke Forward stops in San Francisco

March 26, 2013

Duke University alumni, parents and friends in San Francisco immersed themselves in some of the best experiences the university has to offer when Duke Forward came to town on Saturday. The event, attended by more than 500 people, was part of the campaign’s “On the Road” series celebrating the Duke community and showcasing outstanding student experiences, classes, research, and faculty. Other stops this spring include New York, Washington, D.C., and London.

The San Francisco program included a keynote address from behavioral economist Dan Ariely, lectures and demonstrations (including surprise animal guests!) by faculty from the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences about the new science of friendship, a discussion about how Duke fosters a culture that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, and a course on “Motown and Musical Meaning” that included live piano tunes–but no exams. A student panel also talked about what it was like to be part of some of Duke’s most innovative programs.

In the evening, President Richard Brodhead interviewed on stage Eddy Cue ’86, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, about topics ranging from innovation to basketball.

Cue discussed the role of athletics in elevating the profile of the university, sharing that he applied to Duke because he was inspired by watching the 1979 basketball team, and praised how far the school has come in the quality and depth of its education and achievements.

“If we look around the room, most of us can’t get into Duke today,” he joked, then adding: “The caliber of students that Duke is able to attract now is truly amazing.”

The evening concluded with a “strolling supper” during which attendees mingled with speakers they heard from earlier in the day.

“I really enjoyed hearing about the vision, passion, and energy around the university,” said Dan Scheinman ’87. “As an alumnus, it’s so great to reconnect and feel that sense of measure. That Duke has a clear mission and a clear goal of excellence is so refreshing to me, and it made me feel wonderful about the future of the university and about Duke Forward.”

The next “On the Road” event is on April 26 in New York City. The celebrations in Atlanta, the first stop, and San Francisco were the largest ever for Duke in their respective regions.

A few highlights of Duke Forward in San Francisco:

Dirt-flavored jelly beans and dogs at the “Friendship & Your Brain” session by Duke Institute for Brain Sciences faculty and students. Undergraduate Emily Du ’15 wore a chef’s hat as she encouraged attendees to eat jelly beans flavored like strawberries and dirt as part of a demonstration on how people are influenced by social cues.

At the same session, Brian Hare, associate professor of evolutionary anthropology, surprised everyone by bringing in two dogs to demonstrate how canines solve problems, and how the results of his research with bonobos give us insight into the biological basis of human behavior.

Anthony Kelley, associate professor of the practice of music, wowed his audience on the piano during a session on “Motown and Musical Meaning,” in which he explored the societal and musical factors that gave rise to the distinct and dynamic hits from the Motown era. 

“I’m listening, I’m tapping my feet, I’m playing the chords with my hands and I think ‘Wow! I want to go back to Duke to study music!’” said Crick Waters B.S.E.’83, M.B.A.’92. “Engineering was good but music is so much more fulfilling!”

A Q&A session with Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics, that touched on ego, lying – and the role of conflict of interest in a variety of fields, including dentistry. “If your dentist finds a cavity, get a second opinion!” he advised.

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