The Longhorn Center for Community Engagement proudly hosts a free, monthly seminar in partnership with the Renaissance Retirement Center in Austin Texas. Invited speakers are leaders in their respective fields and represent a variety of academic departments throughout The University of Texas at Austin. Each presenter shares their recent research or academic interests and the implications of their work on society.
On Thursday, November 7th Director, Dr. Jay Banner spoke to the residents of the Renaissance Retirement Center. The audience actively participated in the presentation as they gained a better understanding of the changes our world is going through. After presenting charts and graphs of the declining vegetation in the Austin area between the last two years, residents had lots of questions and concerns of what can be done to save our city from drought and overuse of natural resources.
“Past is prologue,” Dr. Banner said. Through examination of corals, ice cores, tree rings, cretaceous rocks, caves, and other earth forms, Professor Banner explained how scientists learn about the well-being and nature of the earth by studying the past. The past also helps scientists know what to expect in the future. Residents loved interacting with Dr. Banner, specifically with samples of caves, trees and rocks which allowed them to make their own observations.
Many of the questions and comments from residents included stories from a previous drought in Texas and concerns of what our generation could do to prevent it from happening again. “I was in Midland during the drought of 1950,” one of the members stated, “and I remember having such crazy dust storms!” Others recalled the same drought and shared their experiences throughout Texas. Dr. Banner claimed the drought of 1950 to be the “Drought of Record,” and explained how it changed Texas agriculture forever. Again, examining the past to predict the future, Dr. Banner boldly stated, “Drought will be the norm in the future, which is why Texas needs a plan of action!”
Dr. Banner proceeded to explain his plan of action and his efforts to gain support from the city of Austin. After multiple court dates with the city of Austin, Banner continues to try and gain the support from Austin officials. “What can we do to help?” asked another member.
“We can encourage the younger generation.” Dr. Banner stated. “We need to get younger students more interested about science; we
should make them scientifically literate so that they’ll have a better understanding of what we can do for a better future.”
Dr. Banner announced what UT is doing to help the encouraging effort, and Renaissance members shared their interest and support in participating. Hot Science – Cool Talks is a lecture series hosted by the Environmental Science Institute. The series begins at 5pm with an interactive science fair, and is then followed by a lecture from professional scientist at 7pm. Lectures can be streamed live, online for those who are unable to travel to UT, such as many, UT Geo science Professor, and Environmental Science Institute of the residents at Renaissance. Online streamers can then text or email questions to guest speakers, and they will be answered during their lecture. Excited to be a part of Dr. Banner’s plan of action, Renaissance members hope to tune in to future lectures and to encourage family members to attend. “I think it’s a fantastic idea!” resident Janice Davis exclaimed. “I’m a firm believer in science!”
The residents weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the presentation. Dr. Banner shared how much he also liked engaging with the Renaissance members, “I was surprised at how engaged the members were! It was neat to have an audience with such perspective, some being a part of the drought in the 1950s; it was pretty special,” concluded Professor Banner. Click here to learn more about Hot Science – Cool Talks!
The Community Lecture series will be put on hold until January for the holiday break, but Renaissance Residents look forward to the continuation of the series! If you or someone you know would like to be a part of the community effort, email Katie Pritchett at Katie.Pritchett@austin.utexas.edu.