Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon Marjorie Hines Woollacott will give Luther College's 2017 Oen Fellows lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the Recital Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther campus.
A reception will follow in the Center for Faith and Life Qualley Lounge. Both the lecture and the reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.
The lecture, titled "Near Death Experiences: Windows into the Nature and Origin of Consciousness, discusses Woollacott's experiences as a materialist neuroscientist who had a spiritual awakening. For years, scientists have debated the origin and nature of consciousness. While there's a theory that consciousness originates in the neurons of the brain, scientific studies involving near-death experiences provide evidence that its origin is independent of brain activity.
As someone who has studied meditation for four decades, Woollacott saw people who have near-death experiences and practice meditation have a lot in common, including a sense of ineffability, a noetic quality, experiences of light, feelings of being outside one's body and a sense of peace, joy and love.
Woollacott will share her research on consciousness and near-death experiences, including her own experiences questioning what the human consciousness is.
For more than three decades, Woollacott has been a neuroscience professor at the University of Oregon. She coauthored a textbook for health professionals and has written more than 180 peer-reviewed research articles. Her nearly four-decade journey studying meditation motivated her to write "Infinite Awareness," and left her with questions of what the human consciousness is.
Woollacott's visit is funded by the Religion Department's Oen Fellowship program, with financial support provided by the Luther College Lecture and Fine Arts Committee.
The Oen Fellowship, established in 1992 through a gift by Ordean and Carol Oen,
enables the religion department to invite distinguished guest lecturers to Luther biannually to explore and discuss intersections between religion, science, politics and the arts. Oen Fellows spend two to four days on campus meeting with both faculty and students to discuss issues in formal and informal settings.
Woollacott will be on campus Sept. 24-28. In addition to her public lecture, she will speak at other events and visit classes, including a public talk that shares insights from neuroscience on cello performance for music and neuroscience students at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the Jenson Music Building; a neuroscience/religion brown-bag lunch conversation 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the Centennial Union Mott Room; and a biology colloquium "Windows into the Neural Development and Control of Balance and Walking in Children," 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, in Valders 206.
A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.