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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Pub talk participation at all time high



This year, Grinnellians have the opportunity to experience TED Talks with a new twist. Last semester, the staff of Lyle’s Pub organized Pub Talks, giving faculty and staff the chance to speak on a variety of topics in a more relaxed setting. This semester, the participation for Pub Talks is at an all-time high, and students are now allowed to participate in the presentations.

These informal TED-style talks have quickly become a staple at Lyle’s. “Grinnellians come to things where they can be casually academic,” said Events Coordinator Becca Heller ’16. “We all have our nerdy side to us at Grinnell, and this is a fun way to show that without the academic pressure.”

This semester’s impressive upturn in participation means that Lyle’s will host talks nearly every week. “We have a Pub Talk scheduled every Thursday from 9 p.m. except for midsems week and hell week,” Heller said.

Manager Ben Doehr ’15 got the idea for this event when he was abroad in the fall of 2013. “I remember the moment I was sitting on my couch in my flat in London thinking about events for the Pub, and I was like, ‘Oh, what about Pub Talks?’” he said.

Student participation got off to a good start earlier this month.

On February 12, Emily Hackman ’16 and Nirabh Koirala ’17 were the first students to speak.

“Nirahb [was] one of my econ mentees, and he came to us last fall wanting to do a talk,” Doehr said.

After a conversation with Hackman, Heller decided that it would be a good idea to allow student participation.

“I was talking to Emily about her summer internship at a marijuana law firm, and I was like, ‘That’s really cool and no one else knows you did this, why don’t you talk about it?’” Heller said.

In her talk, Hackman laid out a 10 step plan in starting a cannabis business in a state where it’s legal. “I was pretending that my audience was interested in owning a cannabis business and I was their attorney,” she said.

Hackman enjoyed the experience. “This is a topic that I am passionate about, and it was fun to share it with other people,” she said. “The pub gave me a free beer, so that relaxed some nerves,” she added with a laugh.

Student-led talks have yielded similar turnouts to those led by professors and staff. “I’d say there were over 30 people,” Doehr said of the student presentations.

“There were the speakers’ friends, but there were [also] people who definitely weren’t related to the speakers,” Heller said.

This Thursday, Professors Mark Montgomery, Economics, and Leif Brottem, Political Science, gave Pub Talks.

“You get to give something on anything you want,” Montgomery said. “It’s usually more interesting than the stuff you lecture on in class.”

Additional student Pub Talks have not yet been scheduled, but Heller and the staff of Lyle’s are in the process of organizing more student presentations.

“We’re still in the preliminary stages of deciding whether their [potential topics] would be interesting or not,” Heller said. “My main concern with students is that [they] tend to put things last minute. If we’re going to have a tab, have people come and pay staff, I want it to be good.”

Students who are interested in giving Pub Talks can email [pub] for details. “Even if people have an idea they want to do but haven’t solidified it, I can [help] brainstorm and work it out,” Heller said. “Students are so interesting, so why don’t we know more about what they do?”

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