Covering a wide array of topics, this six-session lecture series examines a different subject for each lecture. Outstanding Rice University faculty and other experts from the arts, humanities and sciences share insights on topics ranging from the evolution of the symphony to space exploration in the 21st century. This series offers a unique opportunity to sample the diverse course content and instructors featured at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

Content was previously recorded by the instructor (originally released September 29, 2020).

Lectures Include:

The History of Travel and Travelers. Lisa Balabanlilar, Ph.D., associate professor of history, Rice University 
Back to the Moon: Space Exploration in the 21st Century. David Alexander OBE, Ph.D., professor of physics and astronomy and director, Rice Space Institute, Rice University 
A Geologist’s View: Lessons from West Antarctica for the Texas Coast. Julia Wellner, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston
The Evolution of the Symphony. Carlos Andrés Botero, M.M., musical ambassador of the Houston Symphony and artistic director of Sinfónica ISMEV in Mexico
What Darwin Didn’t Know About Evolution. Scott Solomon, Ph.D., associate teaching professor, BioSciences, Rice University
Behind the Curtain on Broadway. Debra Dickinson, M.A., former artist-teacher of opera studies, Rice University Shepherd School of Music

You may also be interested in our on campus Midweek Medley: From Houston History to the Geology of the Grand Canyon; and pre-recorded/on demand series:From Beethoven to Broadway and From Stonehenge to the Galápagos.

Course Details

Lisa Balabanlilar, Ph.D., is a professor, director of the Chao Center for Asian Studies and chair of the new Department of Transnational Asian Studies. She teaches courses on the history of India, the Mongol empire and Sufism in Islamic history, among other topics. Dr. Balabanlilar specializes in medieval and early modern Islamic history and kingship. Her most recent book, “The Emperor Jahangir, Power and Kingship in Mughal India,” was published in 2020. Dr. Balabanlilar has won several teaching awards at Rice, including the Phi Beta Kappa Sophie Meyer Farb Prize, the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching and the George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching.

David Alexander OBE, Ph.D., is director of the Rice Space Institute and professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University. He received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2004 and was appointed a Kavli Frontiers Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. He is author of “The Sun,” part of the Greenwood Press “Guide to the Universe” series. Dr. Alexander was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for services to the space industry and was named a GlobalScot by the government of Scotland.

Julia Wellner, Ph.D., is an associate professor of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and glacial processes at the University of Houston Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. A geologist who works primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Antarctica studying sea-level change and glacial history, Dr. Wellner has completed more than a dozen ocean-going expeditions collecting seismic data and sediment cores, including eight seasons in Antarctica. Dr. Wellner earned her doctorate from Rice University, where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship.

Carlos Andrés Botero, M.M., is an orchestra conductor, music education lecturer and consultant with first-level orchestras in Europe and the Americas, including the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, the Xalapa Symphony, Medellin Philharmonic and the Colombian Youth Philharmonic. He is the musical ambassador of the Houston Symphony and artistic director of Sinfónica ISMEV in Mexico. Mr. Botero has a master’s in music from the Escuela Soto-Mesa in Madrid, Spain, and a second master’s in music in viola performance from Eastern Michigan University. He has taught with the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies since 2016.

Scott E. Solomon, Ph.D., is a biologist, professor and science communicator. He teaches ecology, evolutionary biology and scientific communication as an associate teaching professor at Rice University in Houston. Dr. Solomon is also a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. He has a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and behavior from The University of Texas at Austin, where his research examined the evolutionary basis of biological diversity in the Amazon Basin. He has taught field biology at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado. Before coming to Rice, he worked as a visiting researcher with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and São Paulo State University in Rio Claro, Brazil.

Debra Dickinson, M.A., was the artist-teacher of opera studies for acting and movement at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music for nearly three decades, directing 25 productions for the Opera Studies Department. She was a professional singer and actress in New York for 15 years before starting her career as a director. She performed with Richard Burton on Broadway in “Camelot” and as Guenevere opposite Richard Harris in the subsequent national tour. Ms. Dickinson has taught master classes for Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ebony Opera, served as the acting instructor for Glimmerglass Festival, Brevard Opera and Chautauqua Opera, and was the recipient of the Marcus Bailey and Betty Graves Shelfer Eminent Scholar Chair in Music Theatre at Florida State University. Ms. Dickinson holds a graduate degree from Hunter College in New York City.

Online: Pre-recorded / on demand
This course will be delivered in a pre-recorded/on-demand format. Registered participants will receive instructions to access the course page and may view the pre-recorded lectures in any order and as often as preferred. The course page will be accessible March 1-June1, 2022.

Enroll Now - Available Sections
Section Title
Midweek Medley: From Antarctica to the Moon
Online, self paced
Mar 01, 2022 to Jun 01, 2022
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
* $135.00
Potential Discount(s)
Section Notes

The Midweek Medley series is not eligible for additional discounts due to its substantially discounted price for all community members.


Refund Policy

A 10 percent processing fee will be subtracted from all refunds. Due to the high demand for courses, registrations are considered final as of 10 days prior to the class start date. No refunds will be issued after these dates and credits will not be given for future classes. No refunds will be granted for participants who miss a portion of a program. Refund requests before the deadline must be made in writing to gscs@rice.edu.