Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., author of the bestseller More Davids than Goliaths, will kick off the remaining events in the 2011-2012 David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas lecture series at West Virginia University.

Other Festival events will feature international known entrepreneurs and authors as well as a panel discussion entitled “The Revolution will be Tweeted,” which will feature many people who have been involved in the Arab Spring. Ford will be in Morgantown on Feb. 16, with other events scheduled through mid-April.

The David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas, organized by the Office of University Events, brings key figures from politics, business, entertainment, research, sports, scholarship and culture Morgantown to share their wisdom. Speakers in the series open doors to thoughtful discussions about important issues and facilitate the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. The series is supported in part by the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas Endowment.

All lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Harold Ford, Jr.: February 16, Mountainlair Ballrooms
Ford served Tennessee in the United States Congress for 10 years. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School, Ford took office at the age of 26 as one of the youngest members of Congress ever to serve.

Harold Ford Jr

More Davids Than Goliaths, a New York Times bestseller, reflects on what Ford learned from his extended political family, the slings and arrows of the campaign trail and those across our nation who inspire him, the book explains Ford’s conviction that “at its best, leadership in government can solve, inspire and heal.” He reminds us that in America there are more Davids than Goliaths, more solutions than problems, more that unites us than divides us.

Described by President Bill Clinton as “the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century,” Ford served as the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. He is now managing director and senior client relationship manager at Morgan Stanley, a news analyst for NBC and MSNBC and a professor of public policy at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Ford’s talk is part of WVU’s celebration of Black History Month. He will sign copies of his book immediately following his remarks. The WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore will have books available for purchase at the event.

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan: March 13, The Erickson Alumni Center, Ruby Grand Hall
With few peers, Aslan addresses the topics of Islam, the Middle East and Muslim Americans with authority, wit and optimism. When he talks about modern Islam, the religion and politics of the Middle East or the rise of a sophisticated Muslim middle class, audiences listen. He speaks for a generation of Muslims who reject the fundamentalist stereotype and want to usher in a new era of Islamic democracy.

As a bestselling author and entrepreneur, Aslan has worked to show Americans a different face of Islam: a generation of change makers in America and abroad, who are solidifying relations with the West while making their own hopeful marks on the world.

Aslan is the author of the international bestseller No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, named by Blackwell Publishers as one of the 100 most important books of the last decade. As editor of Tablet and Pen, a literary anthology, Aslan uses the arts to bridge the gap of understanding between East and West. He is president and CEO of Aslan Media Inc., which runs BoomGen Studios, a unique media company focused entirely on entertainment about the greater Middle East and its Diaspora communities.

Aslan will sign copies of his books immediately following the talk. The WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore will have books available for purchase at the event.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: March 20, The Erickson Alumni Center, Ruby Grand Hall
Lemmon is a major new voice on the role of female entrepreneurs in the developing world. Her book, the bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, is a crystallization of her view that women are the unsung heroes of war-torn regions and emerging markets alike.

Centering on Kamila Sidiqi, an ingenious young Afghan who created jobs for 100 women in her community during the Taliban years, Lemmon’s book is a result of years of on-the-ground reporting and it provides an intimate, unsentimental and optimistic look into modern day Afghanistan and beyond. The book highlights the relationship between women and work, showing that leadership and empowerment can come out of even the most difficult situations. Lemmon reminds us that these women, and millions like them, represent the tenacious heart – and best hope – for their nation in the years to come.

Lemmon is a contributing editor-at-large for Newsweek Magazine and The Daily Beast, reporting on economic and development issues with a focus on women. She is also the deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program. A former Fulbright scholar, she serves on the board of the International Center for Research on Women.

Lemmon will sign copies of her book immediately following her remarks. The WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore will have books available for purchase at the event.

“The Revolution Will Be Tweeted: Social Media and Free Speech in the Middle East:” April 3, Mountainlair Ballrooms, Morgantown. Co-sponsored by the P.I. Reed School of Journalism’s Ogden Newspapers Seminar Series. April 4, The Culture Center, Charleston. Co-sponsored by The Charleston Gazette.

This moderated panel discussion will examine the impact of social media on democracy movements in the Middle East and around the world.

Panelists include:

  • Andy Carvin, senior strategist for National Public Radio’s social media desk. When a revolution began to spread across the Arab world in the spring of 2011, Carvin gathered, vetted and tweeted the breaking news in real time – from his computer in Washington, D.C. Called the “go-to curator” on Twitter, Carvin has more than 60,000 followers. He is the former director of the Digital Divide Network.
  • Issandr El Amrani, a Cairo-based writer, blogger and consultant, whose reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and many other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blogs in the region, The Arabist.
  • Jigar Mehta, a digital entrepreneur, video journalist and documentary filmmaker, co-created the crowd-sourced website documentary “18 Days in Egypt,” a collection of stories from revolutionaries across Egypt. Mehta is also the president of the South Asian Journalist Association and co-founder of GroupStream, an online collaborative storytelling platform.
  • Nasser Weddady is the civil rights outreach director at the American Islamic Congress. As one of the few activists working in both the Middle East South Africa region and the United States, Weddady has developed a unique perspective on the global struggle for human and civil rights. He has been published in the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Baltimore Sun; appeared on Hannity & Colmes, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera and Radio Liberty; and testified to Congress’ Human Rights Caucus.
  • Jillian York, director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes regularly about free expression, politics and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world. She is on the board of directors of Global Voices Online and has written for a variety of publications, including Al Jazeera, Al Akhbar, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Bloomberg.
Bob DiClerico

Dr. Robert DiClerico’s “The Last Class:” April 10, Mountainlair Ballrooms
DiClerico, professor of political science and one of WVU’s most beloved and recognizable faculty members, is retiring from full-time teaching after 40 years of service to the University. This lecture will give the Mountaineer community a chance to hear from DiClerico before he begins winding down his busy schedule to teaching just one class each semester.

Over the course of his career, DiClerico has emerged as one of the nation’s leading experts on the American presidency. He is the author of Voting in America and The American President, and co-author of Choosing Our Choices and Few are Chosen. His scholarly articles have appeared in Presidential Studies Quarterly, Society and South Atlantic Quarterly.

DiClerico was honored in 1996 as an Eberly Professor for Outstanding Teaching. In addition, he has been named West Virginia Professor of the Year, CASE Professor of the Year, WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher, Danforth Fellow and Amoco Outstanding Teacher.

In addition to his teaching and scholarship, DiClerico has given back to the University by shepherding dozens of students through the rigors of both the Rhodes and Truman Scholarship competitions, helping WVU’s best and brightest succeed in securing these prestigious awards.

DiClerico’s talk is co-sponsored by the Nath Lecture Series and the WVU Honors College.

Charles Best

Charles Best, founder of April 17, Mountainlair Ballrooms
Best founded at Wings Academy, a public high school in the Bronx where he was a social studies teacher for five years. In 2000, he thought up during a lunch conversation with colleagues – teachers like him that experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in public schools – and his students volunteered to help start the organization. collects project proposals from public school teachers across the country. The organization posts requests on its website, where potential donors can browse projects and contribute as much or as little as they can to fund projects that inspire them. Once a project is fully funded, delivers the materials to the school.

To-date, has raised more than $100 million and supported more than 255,000 projects. Of that total, nearly $300,000 has gone to 785 projects in West Virginia.

In 2010, Oprah Winfrey selected as one of her Ultimate Favorite Things. In 2011, Fast Company listed as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World, the first time a charity has received this recognition.

Best’s talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement as part of WVU’s Civic Engagement Week.



CONTACT: Liz Dickinson; Office of University Events

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