Researchers, journalists, photographers, writers and business leaders are among the many prominent speakers who will visit West Virginia University as part of the 2010 David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas.
The Festival of Ideas lecture series will feature nine events and seven outstanding professionals. The series will begin in February and continue through April.
On the roster for this year’s series are Harvard professor, author and researcher Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien; writer, lecturer, food and farming advocate Dr. Gary Nabhan; and international photographer, artist and poet Marla Mossman, among others.
The lecture series was first created in the 1960’s when former WVU President David C. Hardesty was student body president. The series was renamed in honor of Hardesty in 2009.
It was revived in 1996 after Hardesty became president and features key figures from the fields of sports, politics, business, research, entertainment, scholarship and culture.
The series is supported in part by the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas Endowment, which was established in 2007 by the WVU Foundation, a private, nonprofit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts from individuals and organizations for the benefit of WVU.
Past speakers include professor and public intellectual Cornel West, poet Maya Angelou, author Gore Vidal, filmmaker Spike Lee, journalist Judith Miller and Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
This years speakers and the dates of their lectures follows. Please visit the 2010 Festival of Ideas Web site for updates at http://festivalofideas.wvu.edu .
Byron Pitts: “Step Out on Nothing: An Evening with Byron Pitts”
Thursday, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m. in Mountainlair ballrooms
Byron Pitts, named a contributor to “60 Minutes” and chief national correspondent for “The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” in January 2009, has been a national correspondent since 2006.
During his career Pitts has covered the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Afghanistan, the military buildup in Kuwait, the Florida fires, the Elian Gonzalez story and the Florida Presidential recount, the mudslides in Central America and the refugee crisis in Kosovo. He won a national Emmy Award for his coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Pitts became a CBS News correspondent in May 1998. Prior, he served as a general assignment reporter in Atlanta, special assignment reporter in Boston, substitute anchor in Tampa, reporter in Orlando and military reporter in Virginia.
He has won numerous awards, including a national Emmy Award for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck in 1999 and a National Association of Black Journalists Award.
Pitts’ lecture is also being co-sponsored by the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism’s Gruine Robinson Speaker Series and WVU’s Center for Black Culture and Research.
Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.: “An Evening with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.”
Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m. at Clay Center in Charleston, W.Va.
Thursday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m. in Mountainlair ballrooms
West Virginia native Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
He is editor-in-chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American Studies and Africana Studies.
Dr. Gates is the author of many books and several works of literacy criticism. Most recently he wrote “Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own,” a meditation on genetics, genealogy and race.
In 2006, he wrote and produced a Public Broadcasting Service documentary called “African American Lives.” The documentary series was the first to use genealogy and science to provide an understanding of African American history.
Dr. Gates earned his master’s and doctorate in English literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge, and his bachelor’s in history from Yale University. He is also an alumnus of Potomac State College. Before joining the faculty at Harvard in 1991, he taught at Yale, Cornell and Duke. He has received 44 honorary degrees.
He also serves on the boards of the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.
Dr. Gates has been a featured speaker of WVU’s Claude Worthington Benedum Lecture Series.
Soledad O’Brien: “Diversity: On TV, Behind the Scenes and in Our Lives”
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., Mountainlair ballrooms
Soledad O’Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN/U.S. During her time at the network, where she started in 2003, she has reported breaking news from around the world and has produced award-winning documentaries.
O’Brien has reported on Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the London terrorism attacks in 2005 and the tsunami in Thailand, among others. She was part of the coverage teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody award for its Katrina coverage and an Alfred I. DuPont Award for its coverage of the tsunami.
She has received numerous other awards, including a Gracie Allen Award for her reporting on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict and her reports from the Gulf Coast after Katrina. In 2007, she was honored with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s President’s Award for her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence.
Before joining CNN, O’Brien anchored NBC News’ Weekend Today and MSNBC’s award-winning technology program The Site. She joined NBC News in 1991 as a field producer for Nightly News and TODAY.
She is a graduate of Harvard University.
O’Brien’s lecture is cosponsored by WVU’s Center for Black Culture and Research.
Dr. Gary Nabhan: “Renewing America’s Food Traditions”
Tuesday, March 2, 7:30 p.m., Mountainlair ballrooms
Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan is an Arab-American writer, lecturer, food and farming advocate, rural lifeways folklorist and conservationist whose work has long been rooted in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region he affectionately calls “the stinkin’ hot desert.”
He recently accepted a tenured professorship as a Research Social Scientist based at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona his alma mater.
Dr. Nabhan teaches geography, and interacts with faculty and graduate students engaged in creative writing and reconcilation ecology research. He continues advising or consulting with many non-profits including the Renewing America’s Food Traditions collaborative – although he will no longer serve as administrator or principal investigator on any grant-funded research or community development projects in order to devote more time to creative writing and field work.
For his literary non-fiction, grassroots conservation and community-based ethnobiology projects, Dr. Nabhan has been honored with the John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing, a MacArthur “genius” award, a Lannan Literary Award, a Pew Fellowship in Conservation and Environment, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and a Quivira Coalition award for excellence in science that contributes to “the radical center.”
Dr. Nabhan’s books have been translated in five languages, and he has lectured at universities in Mexico, Lebanon, Peru, Oman, Guatemala and Italy, including Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo.
When not gardening, caring for heritage breeds of sheep and turkeys, or hiking, he is active in the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, the Orion Society
and the local foods movement.
Marla Mossman: “Peace Caravan Journey Along the Silk Road: Afghanistan”
Monday, March 15, 7:30 p.m., room 202 Brooks Hall
Born in Detroit and raised and educated in Canada, Marla Mossman is an international photographer, artist and poet who has traveled extensively documenting the human condition for over 20 years.
Avidly interested in promoting arts and education, she co-established non-profit art organizationsMMARTS in London and Art Soup in Santa Barbara, Calif.both of which developed permanent exhibition spaces for local artists. She is the co-founder of ImagineAsia, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education and healthcare to rural Asian communities.
Her most current endeavor, the Peace Caravan Project, follows the journey of one woman from Jerusalem to China along the Silk Road, documenting the places of historical and religious significance mentioned in the Bible, Torah, Koran and Vedas.
Mossman has been to the Silk Road region four times, most recently to the Middle East where she departed from Istanbul, Turkey and traveled overland through Syria and Jordan to Jerusalem documenting the Mediterranean terminus of the ancient trade route and desert origins of the three great religions.
In 2005, she traveled to Afghanistan working with the ministers from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Education in Kabul and Bamiyan Province. She was the first foreigner and woman to visit Waras, a remote part of central Afghanistan on horseback, with donkey and mules.
On an earlier trip to northern India, Mossman hiked and backpacked to an altitude of 18,000 feet in the Himalayas to obtain her photographs. She has traveled extensively in Europe and the UK, Peru, Turkey, Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia, and has backpacked not only the Himalayas, but also the Inca Trail and the High Sierras.
She currently resides in New York.
Mossman’s presentation is cosponsored by the Nath Lecture Series.
Alan Weisman: “The World Without Us”
Wednesday, March 24, 7:30 p.m., Mountainlair ballrooms
Alan Weisman is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions. He has reported from the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Antarctica, Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle and Far East.
His radio pieces have been heard on National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. His writing has appeared in “Harper’s,” “New York Times Magazine,” “Atlantic Monthly,” “Los Angeles Times Magazine,” “Orion,” “Audubon,” “Mother Jones,” “Discover,” “Condé Nast Traveler,” “Resurgence” and in several anthologies including “The Best American Science Writing 2006.”
Weisman’s most recent book, “The World Without Us,” was translated into more than 30 languages. It was named the Best Nonfiction Book of 2007 by both “Time Magazine” and “Entertainment Weekly,” the #1 Nonfiction Audiobook of 2007 by iTunes; a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction, for the Orion Prize and a Book Sense 2008 Honor Book.
He is currently working on his sixth book, on the planet’s carrying capacity. Weisman is a professor of journalism and Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona, where he leads an annual field program in international journalism.
He has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Colombia, writer-in-residence at the Altos de Chavón Escuela de Arte y Diseño in the Dominican Republic, John Farrar Fellow in Nonfiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and a contributing editor to the “Los Angeles Times Magazine.”
This presentation is cosponsored by the Claude Worthington Benedum Lecture Series.
Thursday, April 8, 7:30 p.m., Mountainlair ballrooms
Norm Augustine is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation, and former member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Augustine was chairman and principal officer of the American Red Cross for nine years, chairman of the National Academy of Engineering, president and chairman of the Association of the United States Army, chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association and chairman of the Defense Science Board. He is also the former president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Boy Scouts of America.
He has received the National Medal of Technology and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Public Service Award. Augustine has received the Department of Defense’s highest civilian decoration, the Distinguished Service Medal, five times.
He has been awarded 23 honorary degrees and was selected by Who’s Who in America and the Library of Congress as one of “Fifty Great Americans.”
Augustine received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University.
WVU Debate Team: The Question
Wednesday, April 14, 7:30 p.m., Mountainlair ballrooms
Sharon Ryan, chair of the WVU Philosophy Department, manages “The Question” blog for the department. The Question, chosen for the lecture, will be debated by the WVU Debate Team.
In the past she has asked questions such as “What is life?,” “Do we have a soul?” and “How should we live?” The philosophical question will be displayed for students to think about prior to the lecture.
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