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Attendees listen to Debra Thompson's speech. Thompson, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon, speaks about her personal experiences with race on Feb. 5, 2020. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

For ages, college students have been shotgunning beers, getting way too drunk and talking about life in crowded dorm rooms. Now, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History is trying to turn this age-old tradition into an organized event.

In 2015, the museum kicked off “Ideas on Tap,” a monthly event in which students, professors and the general public can get together and have a craft beer while talking about society’s pressing issues.

“We started it in January of 2015 as a way to increase awareness about the museum and to broaden the communities that we serve,” said Lauren Willis, the program manager. Ideas on Tap provides community members with fun, informative presentations focused on topics related to natural and cultural history.”

The location of the events has since changed, but the mission has remained the same ‒ to quench the thirst of participants with both knowledge and beer.

The event is hosted on the first Wednesday of every month at the Viking Braggot Company Southtowne Pub, located off West 25th Avenue and Willamette Street. The pub, which was founded by Perry Ames and Dan McTavish, offers a wide range of seasonal brews.

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Attendees applaud as Debra Thompon finishes her speech. Thompson, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon, speaks about her personal experiences with race on Feb. 5, 2020. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

Much like the brews offered at the pub, the Ideas on Tap topics and discussions vary widely each month. From “Race, Democracy, and the Boundaries of Belonging in North America” to “The Truth About Dishonesty: The Role of Deception in Our Daily Lives,” the event is sure to provide real food ‒ or drinks ‒ for thought.

Even though it’s held in a pub, the Ideas on Tap discussions aren’t meant to turn into an argument ‒ or a brawl. “Ideas on Tap is designed to be a casual, fun, audience-driven conversation,” Willis said. “Our speakers give a brief (about 30 minutes) presentation to introduce the topic and provide context. The audience’s comments and questions drive the remainder of the discussion.”

As for upcoming events, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History has three speakers already booked for the next Ideas on Tap. 

On March 4, UO human physiology professor Andy Karduna discusses proprioception, or how we know where our body is in space. 

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Debra Thompson, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon, speaks about her personal experiences with race on Feb. 5, 2020. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

The following month, David Markowitz, an assistant professor at the UO School of Journalism and Communications who has an extensive background in deception research, gives a talk about how lies and deceit play a part in our everyday lives, and why detecting deception is so difficult.

“I'm excited about this event because it provides an opportunity for published research to be communicated to those who might not have access to journal publications,” Markowitz said. 

On May 6, Courtney Cox, an assistant professor of race and sport at the University of Oregon, will be talking about how sports are using quantitative data to predict and enhance athletic performance.

“You know, I have this saying that delivering a thoughtful, entertaining course lecture has all of the pressure of standup comedy without the two-drink minimum,” Cox said. “So I'm grateful that I finally get the chance to test out my ‘material’ in a boozy environment for the first time. Like the classroom, I hope it will be a place for us to share ideas, our personal relationship to sports and maybe even a little trash talk.”