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Tricia HepnerBefore heading into Neyland Stadium to watch the Vols vs. South Alabama football game on Saturday, fans are invited to the Pregame Showcase to learn how faculty and students are exploring the causes, contexts, and consequences of contemporary crises.

Tricia Hepner, associate professor of anthropology and co-director of the college’s new Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights program, will present “Anthropology as a Tool for Improving the Human Condition.”

Now in its twenty-fourth season, the Pregame Showcase—sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences—gives fans the chance to hear from esteemed UT faculty prior to each gridiron matchup. This week’s showcase will be held at 10:21 a.m. in the Carolyn P. Brown University Center Ballroom (Room 213).

Free and open to the public, the showcase will feature a thirty-minute presentation and a fifteen-minute question-and-answer session followed by a brief reception. Door prizes will be awarded.

Through the new DDHR program, faculty and students are developing collaborative methods to analyze crises, from coal ash spills and refugee flows to mass grave excavations and postwar reconstruction. Hepner will talk about some of the work she’s done, as well as some of the work done by her colleagues and students.

“Anthropology is a very diverse discipline, encompassing human biology and culture in the past and present,” Hepner said. “DDHR unites cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology to generate new insights into pressing global problems.”

In addition to teaching and co-directing the DDHR program, Hepner is vice chair of the college’s Africana Studies program. She authored the book Soldiers, Martyrs, Traitors and Exiles: Political Conflict in Eritrea and the Diaspora, co-edited two books and wrote several journal articles and book chapters.

Here’s the lineup for the rest of the season:

October 5—”Tick Tock: Sleep Across the Lifespan and the Role of the Internal Clock.” Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a biopsychologist who has researched the importance of sleep and the internal clock, will talk about research that explains how sleep patterns vary across a lifetime and what is “normal.”

October 19—”Haunted Bangkok: Angry Spirits, Buddhist Power, and Popular Media in Thailand.” Rachelle Scott, associate professor of religious studies, will talk about the role of ghosts and other supernatural beings in Theravada Buddhism and how these stories continue to impart ethical lessons to Buddhists across Asia and around the world.

November 9—”Making the Cuts: Austerity Policies and Their Social Implications.” Jon Shefner, head of the Department of Sociology, will look at the effects of spending cuts, tax hikes, and other measures governments use to reduce their budget deficits during adverse economic conditions.

November 23—”Simulations of Solutions: Solving Problems Through Scientific Computing.” Steven Wise, associate professor of mathematics, will discuss the evolution of scientific computing and look at the challenges that lie ahead, including how we might—and might not—be able to solve some of our biggest problems with the help of computers.


Lynn Champion (865-974-2992,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,