Rob Carman is the current president of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of California Santa Cruz. He is a mathematics graduate student at UCSC studying the representation theory of finite groups.
On January 23rd, Julia Galef, co-founder and president of the Center for Applied Rationality and co-host of the Rationally Speaking podcast, visited the Secular Student Alliance at UC Santa Cruz to give a public lecture entitled "How to Change Your Mind." Julia spoke of ways humans are often very irrational in our decision-making, but also how we can overcome our irrationality with critical thinking and some clever thought experiments. Some examples she covered included how to tell when a task you routinely perform is ineffective and how to rethink difficult life decisions to help determine which plan of action is most logical.
On Thursday, April 25, the Secular Student Alliance at UC Santa Cruz hosted (along with the Graduate Christian Fellowship) a formal debate between local Christian pastor Dr. Peter Payne and atheist blogger and writer JT Eberhard. The debate topic was "Does Ethics Need a Foundation in God?" and was moderated by UCSC Linguistics professor, Jaye Padgett. Both being highly skilled at formal debates, Peter represented the affirmative, and JT represented the negative. The debate -- which lasted about two hours including a Q&A session -- was held at UCSC's Stevenson Event Center in front of approximately 150 attendees including UCSC students, members of local Santa Cruz Christian and atheist groups, and even some people from out of town just looking to enjoy a good philosophical/religious debate.