A morning filled with activities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and a keynote address focused on the implications of brain science are among the ways that Hope College is commemorating this year’s National Brain Awareness Week.
The keynote address, “The Sacred Brain,” will be presented on Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in room 1000 of the A. Paul Schaap Science Center by Dr. Francis X. Shen of the University of Minnesota. The talk will explore how rapid advances in the brain sciences, which offer tantalizing yet incomplete insight into how humans think, feel and behave, are not only changing law and policy but also leading to renewed dialogue between science and religion.
The children’s “Brain Day Open House” event will take place on Saturday, March 3, from 9 a.m. to noon in the A. Paul Schaap Science Center. The morning will feature a variety of brain-related activities designed for K-12 students, including controlling a robotic arm with one’s brain, brain crafts, testing one’s memory and the opportunity to hold a real brain. Participants will also have a chance to win Hope- and neuroscience-themed prizes.
The public is invited to both events. Admission is free.
In addition, Hope professors and students will be visiting middle school classrooms as well as the Step-Up after-school program at Hope to talk about the brain and provide entertaining activities. Members of the faculty are also developing a brain-focused lesson plan that will be available for local teachers.
Shen is an associate professor of law and McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota. He is also the Senior Fellow in Law and Neuroscience at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School; an affiliated faculty member at the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; a visiting professor in the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech; and executive director of education and outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.
He directs the Shen Neurolaw Lab, which conducts empirical and legal research at the intersection of law and neuroscience. He has published many articles, and co-authored three books, including the first “Law and Neuroscience” casebook. At the University of Minnesota, he is a faculty affiliate of Anselm House, which fosters Christian community for students and faculty, and he also serves as the faculty advisor for the St. Thomas More Catholic Students Association.
Shen received his B.A. from the University of Chicago, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.
The activities at Hope are scheduled in advance of National Brain Awareness Week, which is running Monday-Sunday, March 12-18, this year. Launched by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the week is designed to highlight brain science advances and the importance of brain-related research.
Brain Awareness Week is being supported by the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience; the DANA Foundation; and the college’s Cultural Affairs Committee, Department of Biology, Natural and Applied Sciences Division, Social Sciences Division, Neuroscience Program, Department of Philosophy and ExploreHope program.
The A. Paul Schaap Science Center is located at 35 E. 12th St., at the corner of 12th Street and College Avenue.