Carleton Convos

The Carleton College convocation program is a weekly lecture series that bring fresh insights and perspectives from experts in a variety of fields. The program has a rich history, dating back several decades. The selected convocation speakers assist the liberals arts mission of centering thoughtful conversation within education and beyond.

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Tuesday May 28, 2024

The Carleton community gathered in Skinner Chapel on Friday, May 24 at 3 p.m. for Honors Convocation, a celebration of Carleton students’ academic excellence and the culmination of the 2023–24 academic year. Honors Convo is the final event in the convocation program. Honors Convo also features the Bubble Brigade at the beginning and end of the program, where Carleton seniors blow bubbles from the Chapel balcony over the faculty’s processional and recessional. Read the full program from the event at

Monday May 13, 2024

Jill Conklin, director and strategic officer of the international nonprofit Food for Soul, delivered the Carleton convocation address titled, “Feeding the Future” on Friday, May 10 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel.
Food for Soul was founded by Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore to cultivate a more just and sustainable food system by saving food from waste and reducing barriers to food security. Conklin directs the organization’s global advocacy efforts, including the Refettorio project expansion and coordination of the Refettorio Network of Partners, whose collective impact has helped transform more than 2,100 tons of food waste into 3.591 million nourishing meals.
Food for Soul developed its first Refettorio project in 2015 during the World Expo in Milan, Italy. The project began as a cultural initiative to raise awareness of food waste’s correlated effects on the planet, social isolation, and the hunger crisis. Since then, the Refettorio project has evolved into a community-based model centered around civic engagement that brings together eco-conscious design, beauty, and hospitality to enable social, environmental, and economic change. Each week, the Refettorio culinary team rescues surplus imperfect foods from landfills, transforming ingredients into nutritious menus that return the economic value of food back into communities. Conklin joined the team officially in 2019 after guiding the organization’s expansion research in San Francisco and Oakland, California, which led to the launch of Food for Soul’s nonprofit 501(c)3 United States arm.
As a former restaurant and research chef and business development executive, Conklin possesses a dynamic set of skills, knowledge, and experience that cuts across the sectors of gastronomy, culinary arts, technology, public health, and strategic development. As a graduate of Johnson and Wales University, her culinary degree in food applied science and nutrition has led her to a career of accomplishments, including a decade of research and cookery of the  Mediterranean spice trade routes and Italian Sephardic Jewish diaspora in Italy. She has held positions in public policy and civic leadership, working to improve domestic and global child nutrition and school food programs. Prior to joining Food for Soul, Conklin specialized in bringing healthy foods to market through environmentally conscious technology and packaging solutions, improved USDA commodity processing, menu development, and marketing conceptualization. She has led food safety and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training programs across commercial and noncommercial markets, and worked eight years in food start-up ventures with a focus on sous vide technology.
Conklin’s personal passion for giving back began at the age of 12, when she worked as a camp counselor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She was inspired by the resilience of the young people in the camp and the overwhelming gratitude they had for volunteers and helping hands. Every year thereafter, Conklin has dedicated time to support those most vulnerable. Over the last 34 years, she has found a unique path that blends her passion for food and culture with her commitment to improving food security, nutrition, and wellness around the world. Conklin is also acting program advisor to SuperChefs Cookery for Kids in British Columbia, Canada, helping to advise on the nonprofits’ summer cooking programs and international Westin “Kids Eat Well” menu. 
Aside from her nonprofit philanthropic work, Conklin has also acted as chair of the Kids in the Kitchen interest section of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP); chair of The Culinary Trust; chair of the Chef’s Table Committee for the School Nutrition Association (SNA); ad-hoc member of the SNA Industry Advisory Board; public relations co-chair for the USDA and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move, Chefs Move to Schools” campaign; chair of the IACP’s Awards of Excellence; chair of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) Forum for Ethiopia; and part of the Acting Nominations Committee for GCNF’s Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award.
A few of Conklin’s culinary experiences and accolades include: sous chef at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina; executive chef and culinary educator for Walters Restaurants and ICC education programs in Rhode Island; chef trainer for Kids in the Kitchen and Kids First in Rhode Island; trainer with USDA National School Food Safety and HACCP; U.S. domestic sales manager for Winston Industries, a leading manufacturer of precision temperature cooking equipment; and food development incubator for VC investments for a series of top-tier food manufacturing and processing companies as well as hospitality and cruise brands, including culinary development with celebrity chef and entrepreneur Carla Hall.
Conklin is the recipient of a 5 Star Dining Award, Euro-Toques Nomination, James Beard House Event Recognition, and food and recipe styling recognition for Flavors + Knowledge. She is also an Emmy winner for PBS New England’s Holiday at the Breakers, Marian Esposito’s Ciao Italia, and the Food Network. She received the 2011 Industry Member of the Year award from SNA.
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Tuesday May 07, 2024

Pipo Nguyen-duy ’83, professor of studio art and photography at Oberlin College, delivered the Carleton convocation address titled, “A Dust of Life,” on Friday, May 3 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel.
Nguyen-duy was born in Hue, Vietnam. Growing up within thirty kilometers of the demilitarized zone near the 18th parallel, he describes hearing gunfire every day of his early life. He immigrated to the United States as a political refugee.
Nguyen-duy has taken on many things in life in pursuit of his diverse interests. He has competed as a national athlete in table tennis, spent time living as a Buddhist monk in northern India, and majored in economics at Carleton. While living in New York City’s East Village, where he worked as a bartender and later as a nightclub manager, his interests turned to art after meeting people such as musician Don Cherry and artist Keith Haring. He then earned an MA in photography, followed by an MFA in photography, both from the University of New Mexico–Albuquerque.
Nguyen-duy has received many awards and grants over the years, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography; a National Endowment for the Arts grant; an En Foco grant; a  Professional Development Fellowship from the College Arts Association; a National Graduate Fellowship from the American Photography Institute; a fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission in Salem, Oregon; a B. Wade and Jane B. White Fellowship in the Humanities at Oberlin; and two Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council in Columbus, Ohio. Nguyen-duy has been an artist-in-residence at Monet’s Garden through the Artists at Giverny Fellowship from Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund as well as at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California through the Light Work Artist-in-Residence Program. He has also lectured widely and his work has been exhibited and is in public collections in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
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Monday Apr 29, 2024

Teaching artist Brian Sostek ’90 delivered the Carleton convocation address on Friday, April 26 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel. His address, “Fear, Failure, and Catastrophe: How To Talk with Strangers,” pulled from his experience as a writer, choreographer, director, performer, and teacher who brings the best practices of his performing arts career to bear on academic research, writing, and interpersonal communication.
Currently, Sostek works with undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota through faculty members in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, the School of Nursing, the School of Medicine, the University Honors Program, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, among many other departments, schools, and programs. In every context, Sostek teaches his students how to talk with strangers.
In 2023, Sostek was recognized by the University of Minnesota for Outstanding Faculty Contribution to Honors Education, and was nominated for the John Song Distinguished Mentoring Award for exceptional contributions to the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. With his wife and co-creator Megan McClellan, he has received numerous accolades for their work on stage, the coolest of which — according to Sostek — might be the one and only Ivey Award for playwright and choreographer for their two-person show Trick Boxing. Sostek graduated from Carleton in 1990 with a BA in English.
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Monday Apr 22, 2024

Foreign policy expert Fiona Hill delivered the Carleton convocation address on Friday, April 19 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel. Her address, “Navigating a World in Turmoil,” pulled from her years of experience, extensive research, and multiple publications on issues related to Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, regional conflicts, energy, and strategic issues. 
Hill is a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution, and in November 2022, was appointed chancellor of Durham University, U.K., a high-profile ceremonial and ambassadorial role. Hill is also currently a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. She served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the U.S. National Security Council from 2017 to 2019, and as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia on the National Intelligence Council from 2006 to 2009. In October and November 2019, Hill testified before Congress in the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. She is the author of There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century and a co-author with Clifford Gaddy of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.
Prior to joining Brookings, Hill was director of strategic planning at the Eurasia Foundation in Washington, D.C. From 1991 to 1999, she held a number of positions directing technical assistance and research projects at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, including associate director of the Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project, director of the Project on Ethnic Conflict in the Former Soviet Union, and coordinator of the Trilateral Study on Japanese-Russian-U.S. Relations.
Her first book with Gaddy, The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold, was published by Brookings Institution Press in December 2003, and her monograph, Energy Empire: Oil, Gas and Russia’s Revival, was published by the London Foreign Policy Centre in 2004.
Hill holds a master’s in Soviet studies and a doctorate in history from Harvard University, where she was a Frank Knox Fellow. She also holds a master’s in Russian and modern history from St. Andrews University in Scotland, and has pursued studies at Moscow’s Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages. Hill’s Reith Lecture on “Freedom of Fear” for the BBC was broadcast in December 2022 to an audience of over 200 million. That same month, Hill was awarded the Insignia of Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland.
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Monday Apr 08, 2024

Françoise Baylis CM, ONS, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, FISC delivered the Carleton convocation address on Friday, April 5 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel. Her address, “Altered Inheritance: The Era of Designer Babies,” discussed the ethics surrounding human genome editing and delved into her work on the subject.
Baylis is distinguished research professor, emerita at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a philosopher whose innovative work in bioethics, at the intersection of policy and practice, has stretched the boundaries of the field. Her work challenges people to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science, and biotechnology, and aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenges.
Baylis is the author of Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, which won the 2020 PROSE Award in Clinical Medicine. In a review of the book for The New York Review, Natalie de Souza wrote, “She offers an authoritative, comprehensive guide to the ethical issues around CRISPR, and her central message is clear: heritable human genome editing shouldn’t be treated as inevitable, and the decision to undertake it should be a collective one.” In a review of the book for Science, Adam Hayden wrote, “Commitments to justice, responsibility, accountability, and consensus building are features of a socially just science and bioethics. Toward this end, Altered Inheritance is a foundational tool in the path ahead.”
Baylis was a member of the planning committees for the first and third International Summit on  Human Gene Editing (2015 and 2023), a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing (2019–21), and a member of the WHO Working Groups on a Global Guidance Framework for the Responsible Use of the Life Sciences (2021). She is a member of the governing board for the International Science Council and vice chair of its Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science.
Baylis is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as an elected  Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and the  International Science Council. In 2022, she was awarded the Killam Prize for the Humanities,  Canada’s most distinguished award for humanities scholars.
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Tuesday Apr 02, 2024

Inspirational speaker Steve Hanson delivered the first convocation address of spring term on Friday, March 29 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel. His address, “Your Time is Now,” is a reminder that everyone has the power to affect positive change and make a difference. Centered around the concept that time is both an asset and a commodity, Hanson’s work emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and encourages his audience members to consider how they can spend their time to live meaningful lives. In his address, he shared personal experiences of pain, struggle, and joy in order to empower and uplift his audience. As a self-described “man on a mission,” he is determined to open a dialogue that welcomes candid conversations about the challenges everyone faces and how those challenges impact esteem and abilities at school, in the workplace, and even at home.
Hanson’s life experience motivates his work as an inspirational speaker. As a young child, he experienced severe bullying, which resulted in anxiety and low self-esteem. As an adult, Hanson was able to transform his life through a journey of self-discovery that taught him self-acceptance and vulnerability. In his work, Hanson shares the wisdom he has gained through that journey to encourage his audiences to change their lives for the better. Hanson provides his audience members with tools to combat fear, guilt, shame, and self-doubt in order to let go of what is holding them back from embracing their unique gifts. 
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Monday Feb 26, 2024

Jaylen Smith, the youngest African American mayor in U.S. history, delivered the final winter term convocation at Carleton's Skinner Chapel on Friday, February 23. Smith was elected as mayor of Earle, Arkansas in December 2022 at just 18 years old, making him one of a select few teenagers to take office in U.S. history, and the youngest African American to ever become a mayor. A lifelong resident of Earle, Smith based his campaign on revitalizing the economy and infrastructure, in particular attracting a supermarket to the small city and increasing safety resources throughout the police and fire departments. Smith’s trailblazing career has attracted attention from national media, including appearances on CBS News, ABC News, The Jennifer Hudson Show, The Towanna Murphy Show, and a feature in The New York Times, among many others.
Prior to his term as mayor of Earle, Smith was president of Earle High School’s student government, class president, and was involved with the community and high school in numerous other ways. Smith graduated from Earle High School in 2022 and now attends Arkansas State University Mid-South online after completing his mayoral duties each day. Smith was also recognized with a President’s Award at the King Kennedy Awards of the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus in 2023.
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Friday Feb 23, 2024

Actress and author Gin Hammond ’93 delivered convocation at Carleton's Skinner Chapel on Friday, February 16. Hammond’s address, “Returning the Bones,” covered her award-winning play turned novel by the same name. In its theatrical format, Returning the Bones is a one-woman show, with the protagonist inspired by the extraordinary life of Hammond’s aunt, Carolyn Beatrice Hammond Montier, whom she affectionately refers to as Bebe. In the play, Hammond portrays the ups and downs of Bebe’s life as a pioneering Black doctor in the mid-twentieth century, facing racism and prejudice to pursue her passion for helping others. In an interview with The Seattle Times, Hammond revealed that it took her a decade to interview her aunt and collect the “jaw-dropping” information about her life that inspired the play. Returning the Bones has received significant praise from critics as well as nominations for the Gregory Awards, including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Director, and Outstanding Sound Design. Hammond’s book adaptation of the play was published in 2023 and will be available for purchase before the start of her convocation address.
Beyond her work on Returning the Bones, Hammond is an award-winning actress who has performed at venues including The Guthrie, Arena Stage, The Longwharf Theatre, The Pasadena Playhouse, the ART, The Berkshire Theatre Festival, and The Studio Theatre in Washington D.C., where she won a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for her performance of The Syringa Tree. Hammond has also received a Kathleen Cornell award and Washington state grants from Allied Arts, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Artist Trust, and 4 Culture, as well as from the NEA, and has recently been nominated for a Washington State Governor’s Arts & Heritage Award. She has also performed internationally in Russia, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, and Belgium. Hammond has taught voice, voice-over, public speaking, dialect coaching, and has appeared on commercials, in audiobooks and radio plays, and in video games including BattleTech, Dota 2, State of Decay and its sequel, and Halo 3: ODST. She was also the director and dialect coach for the video game Post Human W.A.R. and has begun working in the field of motion capture.
After earning her BA at Carleton, Hammond went on to earn her MFA at Harvard University/Moscow Art Theater. She is also a certified Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework™. Hammond currently lives in the Seattle area, where she is deeply involved in the city’s theater scene, including with ACT Theater, Seattle Children’s Theater, Book-It Repertory Theater, Washington Ensemble Theater, 5thAve. Theater, Seattle Rep, Taproot, Village Theater, and various Sandbox Artists Collective productions as well as various film projects.
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Tuesday Feb 13, 2024

Dudley Edmondson—nature photographer, filmmaker, author, and advocate for nature—delivered the convocation address, “My Career Working with the Natural World,” at Carleton's Skinner Chapel on Friday, February 9. His talk detailed his unique personal experiences sharing and living in nature.
Edmondson has spent more than three decades as a photographer of nature and wildlife. His passion and love for the outdoors motivated him to create his groundbreaking book, Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places (2006), which profiles the lives of many African Americans who are deeply connected to nature. Edmondson’s work highlighting Black outdoor role models contributes to his goal of helping more people of color explore the outdoors. 
Edmondson’s belief that nature has an innate ability to heal the mind and the body has led him on a life path of sharing his love and passion for nature with others. He has worked with a multitude of communities across the country in order to help urban youth and youth of color to experience the beauty of the natural world. His first-hand experience watching the ways that young people’s lives are changed for the better with exposure to nature has reinforced his desire to inspire people to discover their personal understanding and respect for everything that nature has to offer. 
“In wilderness the ability to embrace freedom and be your true self is the healing medicine the mind needs,” Edmondson explains on his website. 
Edmondson is also the author of What’s that Flower: A Beginner’s Guide to Wildflowers (2013), which breaks down the most common wildflowers of the eastern United States. Over the course of his career, his work has been featured in over 100 publications and his photographs have been showcased in a plethora of national galleries. 
Edmondson attended Ohio State University and now calls Duluth, Minnesota home, where he is an avid outdoorsman, enjoying several recreational activities including birdwatching, mountain and fat biking, fly fishing, and trail running, among many others.
About Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places:
Written after four years of crisscrossing America, the book contains interviews with people from all walks of life. In speaking with a spectrum of people from private citizens to working biologists and even national park rangers, Edmondson fulfills the book’s purpose to create a set of “Outdoor Role Models” for the African American community. Readers can identify and connect through seeing someone who reflects how they look but also be inspired through reading about their passion for nature and love of the outdoors. Each copy of the book includes a children’s version on the inside back cover, for sharing with a child in your community or household.
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Carleton College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college of 2,000 students in Northfield, Minnesota. The nation’s top college for undergraduate teaching, Carleton is known for its academic rigor, intellectual curiosity and sense of humor!

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