Two Events that Changed History: the British in 18th Century Iraq & the CIA in Iran

Date:  October 26, 2014
Speaker:  Rick Alvarez, Ph.D.

Rick Alvarez, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, earned a PhD in Middle East History at the University of Utah. He served as a US Navy fighter pilot flying the F-4 and F-14 in the 1970s and as a F-14 instructor for Grumman Aerospace in Isfahan, Iran until the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. He taught World History and Latin American History at the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College.

History surveys often focus on larger than life personalities and events immortalized by multiple re-tellings, while seemingly unimportant or under-reported events, as well as nameless or long forgotten characters, have affected world history significantly. This presentation will discuss two incidents that have received little historical attention in recent times, yet both have helped influence the world in which we live today. The “Great Game” played out for control in central Asia in the early 18th century, and CIA involvement in Iran in the 1950s, have generally been under-reported and will undoubtedly help shed some light on current world politics.

Speaker Suggested Resources:
Hopkirk, Peter, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, Kodansha, NY, 1992.
Barry, John M., The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, Penguin, NY, 2004.
Abrahamian, Ervand, The Coup: 1953, The CIA, and The Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations, The New Press, NY, 2013.
Headrick, Daniel R., The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945, Oxford, NY, 1991.


A Community and Space for Social and Environment

Date:  October 12, 2014
Speaker:  Soren Simonsen, President, Impact Hub Salt Lake

Soren Simonsen is an urban designer, architect, educator and community builder. He received a Master of Arts in Community Leadership at Westminster College, with a focus on public policy and community organizing. He previously earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis in environmental and urban design. Cities and towns were once places where people came together. Social interaction led to invention and innovation. Today, many aspects of large cities isolate us, from the way we travel to the places we work. Our early learning is social in nature. Learning is experienced in group settings. Collaboration builds social capital. Social capital is a key to innovation. With big challenges we face today, we need social innovation more than ever. Bill McKibben, in Deep Economy, explores the social engagement we often lack in consumer environments. In “big box” retail stores, like Wal-mart, we experience very little social engagement and stimulation. Farmer’s markets and public markets, on the other hand, are places for high social engagement.

Impact Hub Salt Lake is a work space oriented toward productivity, casual individual and group interaction, inspiring events, and development and promotion of best practices. Even for those who don’t use the space as a work place, it also function as event space to promote community, environmental and cultural causes, and celebrate accomplishments.

Speaker Suggested Resources:
Impact Hub –
Salt Lake Impact Hub –
Deep Economy by Bill McKibben • Learning as a Way of Leading by Stephan Preskill Stephen Brookfield
The Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb