Sierra College Insights brings intellectual discussion, networking to North Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Sierra College Insights brings intellectual discussion, networking to North Lake Tahoe

Experts and professors in psychology, brain sciences and architecture convene to host a series of thought-provoking and discussion-encouraging meetings among North Lake Tahoe locals and visitors.

Sierra College Insights is a no-cost monthly program held on the Tahoe-Truckee campus that will spotlight a different topic over four seminars from Sept. 8 through Dec. 8.

"The Insights Series has been offered for the past nine years as an intellectually stimulating way to serve the community that funded our bond-supported campus," said Dr. Kim Bateman, executive dean of Sierra College, Truckee-Tahoe.

"Each month, the public is invited to participate in interactive presentations facilitated by academics on topics ranging from "Understanding Afghanistan" to new developments in neuroscience. This month, we are pleased to host Christopher Old, MFT and his highly acclaimed Positive Psychology talk,"

Bateman said there is often a focus on what's wrong with us and our society, and that this presentation invites us to consider what is working and teach us how to build on those strengths to thrive, adding that she finds the topic fitting for such an active, growth-oriented culture that characterizes the Truckee-Tahoe culture.

Christopher Old, counselor and professor at Sierra College will lead the first lecture of the series this Sept. 8, and says that he hopes by attending the interactive presentation that people will understand the broad scope of study in the field of Psychology.

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"More importantly, I would encourage people to attend because they will enjoy the positive interaction and discussion. They will also leave with practical tools they can incorporate into their lives and teach to their friends to help everyone flourish," Old said.

In his session, Old will discuss the opposite spectrum of typical psychology research, focusing on what goes well for people rather than what is wrong with them.

"The lessons learned through Positive Psychology help people go beyond symptom relief and experience the good that life has to offer and really thrive. The ideas we will be covering are research-backed concepts that have been shown to increase overall well-being, not just alleviate negative symptoms. We sill explore these concepts and discuss practical tools people can implement in their own lives each day to help increase their overall well-being," he said.

These no-cost sessions are a fantastic way to meet other intellectuals and broaden your understanding of an array of topics.

"I love that we have a small program that encourages discussion," Sierra College Insights program consultant Nicole Cheslock, said.

"The speakers are enthusiastic about what they do and experts at presenting information in an interesting way. I love the diversity of attendees … vacationers and visitors who attend often tell me that they like that they can engage in a bit of culture and interact with an intellectual community when they visit Truckee where most of the emphasis is on outdoor recreation," she added.

These evenings exist as an avenue to explore new topics, network with locals and visitors of the area and enjoy an evening that doesn't include alcohol.

Many may be surprised at how accessible topics in psychology can be, as Old explained, psychology doesn't have to be all about what's "wrong" with you as he had previously learned was a typical field of study in graduate school.

"Most of what I learned was about what goes wrong with people. In fact, in graduate school it seemed as if the message was that there is something wrong with all of us and if we don't admit it then we are just deceiving ourselves. There was such a focus on the negative that it almost seemed as if the field of psychology did not believe that someone could have a happy childhood, enjoy healthy relationships, create success, feel positive emotion, and thrive," he said.

Since those ideas didn't fit with his own life, he gained excitement focusing on positive psychology and wants to share those thoughts with others to focus on ways of bettering themselves.

The next session in October features Dr. Marian Berryhill, a professor in brain sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno. Based on input from frequent attendees, this session is about memory and will include research about saving or helping memory function as people age.

Bateman always draws a large crowd during her seminars, and will speak in November on the psychology of humor. The series will conclude with a visually rich presentation by architect Todd Mather on California architecture.

According to Bateman, the series will do so much more than simply entertain people

"It will make you think and feel and laugh and do. Insights is not a passive experience, you are actively engaged. You will leave with a better understanding of yourself and those around you," she said.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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