Title of Project: Bridges Lecture Series

Year of Competition: 2010

Grant amount: $2100

Project Duration: Single Year

Type of Report: Final

Period Covered: January 2011 to December 2011

Description of Activity:
The Bridges Lecture Series is composed of four public lectures, each given jointly by a mathematician and a non-mathematician. The first talk, given by Charbonneau (Math) and Bednarski (History) on September 22, was titled "Getting medieval with Math: Gerbert d'Aurillac and Nicolas Oresme, two beacons of light in the so-called Dark Ages." The second talk, given by Hewitt (Math) and McGee (English) on October 13, was titled "Paradigm Shifts: Brecht and Galileo." The third talk, given by Charbonneau (Math) and Seljak (Religious studies) on November 3, was titled "Dimensions of transcendence: Flatland and the unseen order." The fourth and last talk, given by Furino (Math) and Acton (English) on November 24, was titled "Breaking Code(s): the Invasion of Normandy from Bletchley to the Beaches." The series is explained in more details on www.sju.ca/bridges.html .

Assessment of Effectiveness:
As stated in my proposal, the goal was to attract a mixed crowd of math enthusiasts and people that typically do not care about mathematics. All the lectures were a success in this respect, with an attendance of respectively 65, 55, 85, and 130 persons. A poll of the audience taken at each lecture reveals that roughly 40-55% have a math/sciences/engineering background, 30-45% have a arts/humanities background, and 10% consider themselves as part of the two categories. It was very exciting to see non academic staff and members of the community at large showing up from one talk to the next.

Future Plans (if any):
The goal was to use this year as a test ground for the interest of the general public in such a lecture series. The Academic Dean of St. Jerome's has already committed, in principle, to funding in part a future iteration of the series. While he has not committed to any specific number, I know it will not be enough to fund a whole series, especially if we invite external speakers. Other sources of funding will be explored, both at the University of Waterloo and externally.

My plan at the moment is to have 3 or 4 lectures in the academic year 2012-2013, subject to funding. I am currently looking for potential lecturing teams.

My hope is to make this series a regular public lecture series at St. Jerome's University and the University of Waterloo.

The Dean of St. Jerome's university contributed $1500 to the budget for the series, giving a total budget of $3600. I have hired Geai Bleu Graphiques for the graphical design of the posters of the series and adaptation to create eight posters (2 for each event) at a cost of $968.36. The printing of the posters was done by the company Ed Green at a cost of $204.67. The cost charged by the University of Waterloo Federation of Students for a poster run of 130 posters through campus is $34 for each event, for a total of $136. The large auditorium at St. Jerome's where the lecture take place had to be set-up for each lecture as this room is used as a classroom. The hiring of the students that do this conversion was overall $517.05 for the four lectures. The sound technician and recording of the lectures was about $60 a lecture, I have not received the final bill yet. I have also not received the final bill for the four receptions following the events. It appears that the t! otal food bill will be in the vicinity of $1600. Overall, out of an opening balance of $3600 ($2100 from CMS and $1500 from St. Jerome's Dean), the current balance at the time of this report is $1066.73 and roughly $950-$1050 expenses have not been billed and paid yet. At the end of the month, I expect the actual balance to be close to zero.

Contact Name: Benoit Charbonneau

[December 7, 2011]