About the FVCC Honors Symposium

The Flathead Valley Community College Honors Symposium offers FVCC students and members of the community five opportunities in February and March to hear experts address various topics that support this year’s theme, “The Next America: How Millennials are Changing Everything.”  The college brings these free lectures to the community to provide credible and substantive information on important topics of public interest.

2015 Lecture Schedule

All lectures are free and open to the public. Lectures will take place at 7 p.m. in the
FVCC Arts and Technology Building large community meeting room (AT139) on the Kalispell campus.

  • Monday, February 23 – Generation Me and the Rise of Individualism: Understanding Generational Differences
  • RESCHEDULED TO Thursday, March 26 – The Rise of the ‘Nones’: Why More Americans are becoming Non-religious
  • Tuesday, March 10 – Obamacare and Legalized Recreational Marijuana
  • Tuesday, March 17 – Polarization, Fragmentation, and Culture Wars: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Monday, March 23 – The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

“The Next America: How Millennials are Changing Everything”

Like it or not, America is changing: “The story is best told through the prism of the two big generations with competing interests: the Baby Boomers, who’ll be crashing through the gates of old age in record numbers for the next two decades, not nearly as well fortified financially for the journey as they’d hoped; and the Millennials, twenty-somethings who have landed back in their childhood homes in record numbers because they haven’t been able to get launched in a hostile economy” (Taylor, 2014, pp. 5-6).

This lecture series “aims to illuminate demographic, economic, social, cultural, and technological changes that are remaking not just our politics but our families, livelihoods, relationships, and identities. These shifts have left no realm of society untouched. . . . Many of the young are big government liberals; most of the old are small government conservatives (but hands off Social Security and Medicare!). The young are comfortable with the dizzying array of new lifestyles, family forms, and technologies … ; the old for the most part are disoriented by them. The young are the least religiously connected generation in modern American history; the old are the most devout believers in the industrialized world” (Taylor, 2014, pp. 4-5).

Five regional and national experts have been invited to FVCC to share their insights about how America is changing. Our keynote speaker will describe how these self-absorbed millennials approach key issues they’re facing in the 21st century. This will be followed by discussions of changing perceptions on religion, health care, and drug policy, as well as a consideration of the implications of increased political polarization and changing attitudes on family and gender roles.

Some may be elated that these changes are finally happening; others troubled that these changes may be permanent. Our nation is facing huge challenges that seem to threaten some of our most cherished foundations. Join us as we take some time to examine the next America.

1. Taylor, P. (2014). The next America: Boomers, millennials, and the looming generational showdown. New York: Public Affairs.


“Generation Me and the Rise of Individualism: Understanding Generational Differences”

Monday, February 23

Dr. Jean Twenge – Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, San Diego, California

TwengeThis lecture will provide a behind-thescenes look at generational differences and cultural changes, based on a dataset of 11 million young people. The trends include shifts in positive self-views, narcissism, religious beliefs, attitudes toward equality, civic engagement, and of course, technology and social media. The common theme: A rise in individualism, or more focus on the self and less on social rules.

Dr. Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and the books Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before and The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (co-authored with W. Keith Campbell). Dr. Twenge frequently gives talks to college faculty and staff, high school teachers, military personnel, camp directors, and corporate executives. Her research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post. She has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC, and National Public Radio. She holds a BA and MA from The University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from University of Michigan.


“The Rise of the ‘Nones’: Why More Americans are Becoming Non-religious”

RESCHEDULED TO Thursday, March 26

ZuckermanDr. Phil Zuckerman – Professor of Sociology and Secular Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California

Back in 2012, Time Magazine listed the growth of irreligion as one of the 10 most important trends changing American society. Why are more and more Americans —
especially those under 30 — walking away from religious congregations and losing interest in religious faith? What trends account for this recent wave of secularization? The main causes and potential consequences of the rise of the “nones” will be discussed.

Dr. Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is the author of several books, including Living the Secular Life, Faith No More and Society Without God. Dr. Zuckerman writes the regular blog, “The Secular Life,” for Psychology Today, and his work has been published in various scholarly journals, such as Sociology Compass, Sociology of Religion, and Religion, Brain, and Behavior. He lives in Claremont with his wife and three children.


“Obamacare and Legalized Recreational Marijuana”

Tuesday, March 10

DavisDr. Gregg Davis –  Professor of Economics at Flathead Valley Community College, Kalispell

A pair of issues will be addressed in this lecture. The first, Obamacare, arouses both disgust and elation in different segments of the public. The baby boomers tend to reject it because of its costs, bureaucracy, and unavoidable inefficiencies. The millennials tend to embrace it. The media firestorm was reignited this fall when MIT economist Jonathan Gruber suggested that the health care law was designed to capitalize on the stupidity of American voters. The second, legalized recreational marijuana, will center on the social experiments being carried out in Colorado and Washington and how they will serve as a living laboratory for the efficacy of this issue. Several other states appear to be on the threshold of passing similar legislation. Few issues have divided the baby boomers and millennials more than these. This lecture will explore the issues in terms of where the country seems to be heading.

Dr. Gregg Davis is professor of economics and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Flathead Valley Community College. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Montana in anthropology and economics respectively, and a Ph.D. from West Virginia University in economics. He was associate professor of economics and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University prior to coming to FVCC in 1994. In 2009, he relocated to Missoula to become professor and director of health policy research within the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at The University of Montana. He returned to FVCC in 2013.


“Polarization, Fragmentation, and Culture Wars: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

Thursday, March 17

MusteDr. Christopher Muste – Associate Professor of Political Science at The University of Montana, Missoula

The idea that America is gripped by a “culture war” of polarized politics dominates our current national political conversation. Yet, beneath this drumbeat lies fundamental disagreement about what polarization is, who is polarized, and what issues polarize us, making it difficult to understand whether polarization really exists and how severe of a problem it is.

Dr. Muste’s talk will examine recent trends in polarization along the lines of political parties, issues, and social groups. He also will explore the prospects of future polarization and implications for the political system.  Dr. Christopher Muste received his doctorate from University of California, Berkeley in 2001 and taught at Louisiana State University prior to UM.  He served as senior polling analyst at The Washington Post during the 2004 general election campaign and worked in private sector polling and public opinion survey organizations for nine years. Dr. Muste is associate professor of political science at The University of Montana, where he has taught since 2005.  His research focuses on American public opinion, emphasizing the politics of group identity, social group competition, immigration, and polarization.


“The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap”

Monday, March 23

StephanieStephanie Coontz – Professor of History and Family Studies at The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington

Coontz will address the history and structure of the typical American family and the changes that have been documented over the last several decades. She will discuss the state of marriage and family life today and address current sociological trends related to the publics’ perceptions of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and serves as director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families. She has authored seven books on marriage and family life, including A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s; Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage; and The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. Coontz is a frequent guest columnist, research analyst and consultant for numerous national and global news sources and publications and academic journals. A former Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Coontz taught at Kobe University in Japan and University of Hawaii at Hilo. She received the Work-Life Legacy Award from the Families and Work Institute and was awarded the Council on Contemporary Families first-ever Visionary Leadership Award and the Dale Richmond Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics


NewLogoHMWebSmThis project is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Montana, an affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities .The Flathead Valley Community College Honors Symposium is supported by FVCC, Humanities Montana, Kalispell Branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW), FVCC Alumni & Ambassadors and the Theodore Chase Endowment Fund. We welcome donations to this fund. Your contribution will ensure the future for innovative honors programs and activities at FVCC.


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Last modified: February 26, 2015