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Lawrence B. Dumas Domain Dinners/Dialogues

Facilitating Interdisciplinary Connection and Collaboration


Originating in 1998, the Lawrence B. Dumas Domain Dinner series has featured hundreds of faculty presenters and engaged thousands of guests. While presentation topics have ranged greatly since the series' inception, the mission has remained the same: to stimulate faculty interactions across departments and disciplines and to highlight Northwestern's distinctive interdisciplinarity.

In general, approximately every quarter during the academic year, faculty from across the University convene for an interdisciplinary panel presentation, followed by a question-and-answer segment with the presenters. The event generally includes informal networking during a cocktail reception and may also include a formal dinner at which additional conversation occurs at tables intentionally organized to encourage cross-campus dialogue and connections. The traditional format for the event includes dinner and is called a “Domain Dinner.” A virtual format is being piloted as of Fall 2020 and will be called “Domain Dialogues.”

Co-hosted by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Administration and Planning, the events have served as a launching point for various endeavors at the University and catalyzed numerous other existing research initiatives. Most recently, events have convened faculty around topics related to quantum information science, the human-computer frontier, migration, neuroscience, music, water insecurity, and global poverty.

Due to space limitations, attendance at Domain Dinners or participation in the virtual Domain Dialogues is by invitation only and is designed primarily for tenure-line and other research-active faculty at Northwestern. 

Winter 2023 – Domain Dinner on February 13, 2023

"Research Innovation for a Sustainable Future" 

Sustainability is at the forefront of public and private research investments, policy, and the public consciousness. One driving force of this attention is the urgency of avoiding the most destructive aspects of climate change which requires driving global CO2 emissions to net zero by mid-century. Society has less than 30 years to revolutionize core societal systems such as energy generation and provision, transportation and goods movement, manufacturing, agriculture, and the built environment. Moreover, other challenges threaten sustainability including decreases in water quality and availability and growing volumes of plastic waste. Collectively, these challenges merit a holistic and aggressive research program in sustainability that achieves technological advances and major contributions to designing policy and business frameworks that underpin effective and equitable approaches to sustainability.

At this Domain Dinner, three faculty contextualized their research within the framework of sustainability and explore opportunities for collaboration and expansion of Northwestern’s standing nationally and internationally in sustainability research. Meghan Busse (Associate Professor of Strategy in Kellogg) spoke about climate change drivers and approaches to achieve net zero emissions that are rooted in effective policy and business strategy. Ted Sargent (Professor of Chemistry in Weinberg and of Electrical and Computer Engineering in McCormick) explored chemistry that uses carbon dioxide to make products that would otherwise be made from fossil fuels. Jennifer Dunn (Associate Professor of Chemical Biological Engineering in McCormick and Director of the Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience [CESR]), examined the social and environmental effects of acquiring minerals for the lithium-ion batteries that are used in electric vehicles. Mike Wasielewski (Professor of Chemistry in Weinberg and Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern [ISEN]), provided opening remarks to frame the presentations, and Omar Farha (Professor of Chemistry in Weinberg) summarized the presentations and moderated the question-and-answer session following the presentations. In addition to providing a venue to discuss the research that is presented, this event also explored how the research community at Northwestern might unify and amplify efforts to advance Northwestern’s standing as a leader in sustainability research.