Vision Lecture Series Presents Work and Thoughts of Mason’s Distinguished Faculty

Posted: September 10, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Roger Wilkins
Roger Wilkins, Robinson Professor of History and American Culture, will lead off the second annual Vision Series on Sept. 24. with a discussion of racial equality and recent Supreme Court decisions.

Nine top Mason scholars and researchers will share their work and insights during the second annual Vision Series, which begins this fall and continues into next year. Although the subject areas are varied, ranging from issues emanating from recent judicial decisions and the war in Iraq to the latest medical research, all the lectures are relevant to people’s lives in the 21st century.

Mason Provost Peter Stearns assembled this group of outstanding colleagues and says the lectures aim to “draw from diverse sectors of the university, inspiring and facilitating creative discussion among students, faculty and staff, and the wider reaches of the community.”

The lectures will take place on Mason’s Fairfax Campus in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Reserve tickets online or visit the Center for the Arts ticket office, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information, call 703-993-8888.

Sept. 24, Roger Wilkins, Robinson Professor of History and American Culture: “Racial Equality in America: Will the Struggle Ever End? The Supreme Court’s School Desegregation Decisions in Relation to American History”

Roger Wilkins
Roger Wilkins

For almost four centuries, blacks in America have occupied a general condition that is subordinate to the power and wealth of whites. While enormous progress toward equal justice and full citizenship has been made by blacks, aided by their white allies, the struggle continues as we have been reminded recently by the decision of the Supreme Court in the Seattle and Louisville school diversity cases. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts struck a note that appeared to ignore the weight of all that history and the power of that culture. The question is: What are blacks and their allies to do about it?

Oct. 22, Susan Tolchin, professor, School of Public Policy: “A World Ignited: The Origins and Effects of Global Anger on America”

Susan Tolchin
Susan Tolchin

In this lecture, Professor Tolchin explores the surge of hatred that has swept the world in the last decade. Fed by economic disparities, wars, and deep-seated feelings of defeat and humiliation, this hatred is amplified by technology, especially television and the Internet; and made more lethal by modern weaponry and unprecedented acts of violence. Tolchin reflects on how today’s headlines reflect worldwide anger, particularly toward the United States, namely: how centuries of perceived defeat and humiliation at the hands of the West have spawned Islamic terrorism; the effect of the global economy in producing and provoking conflict; and how current leaders manipulate what the outside world sees as clashes of cultures devolve into long and bloody wars in Darfur, Sierra Leone, Kashmir and the Middle East.

Nov. 12, Ronald D. Rotunda, George Mason University Foundation Professor, School of Law: “The Development of the Law Governing Detention of Enemy Combatants: Past, Present and to Come”

Ronald Rotunda
Ronald Rotunda

The “War on Terror,” more than other wars, involves lawyers. Detained enemy combatants are now using the U.S. courts to seek release. While there are relevant cases going back to the Civil War, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued major rulings in the last few years that some suggest have dealt severe blows to the Bush administration’s claims. However, a closer look at the case law indicates the court has only imposed fairly minor and reasonable restrictions on the military. For the most part, the court has relied on interpreting statutes, not the Constitution, so Congress can change those statutes (and has done so). The court has rejected some overly broad administration claims, but those claims were not necessary to the administration’s arguments, although they served to weaken its position.

Dec. 3, Fred Bemak, director of the Diversity Research and Action Center: “A Generation in Jeopardy: Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Future”

Fred Bemak
Fred Bemak

Youth of today are our future, yet there are many questions about the growing number who are identified as being at risk. Why is there unanimous agreement that the children of today are different from the children of yesterday? Who are the youth at risk, and how did they become this way? Where are our children going and what should we do? This lecture will explore historical perspectives of youth and discuss modern-day themes that shape the identity of today’s youth culture. Using his experiences from working with children around the world, Bemak will examine U.S. youth in comparison to their global counterparts. The lecture will offer recommendations on where we need to go from here, and how we might begin to reach those youth who seem unreachable.

Jan. 28, Lynn H. Gerber, director of the Center for the Study of Chronic Illness and Disability: “Foiling Fatigue: Can We Do It?”

Lynn Gerber
Lynn Gerber

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms people report when visiting health care providers. The causes include contributions from most organs and systems such as the endocrine, musculoskeletal and nervous systems. In addition, the newer concept of central fatigue identifies significant contributions from substances produced by the central nervous system. The cross-talk between the body and brain is crucial to balance potential abnormalities. One of the antidotes to fatigue is exercise and its effects on the biochemical milieu. Better understanding of this process will help prevent and reduce fatigue.

Feb. 11, Carma Hinton, Robinson Professor of Visual Culture and Chinese Studies: “This Old Chinese House: Traditional Village Architecture and Its Fate through Revolution and Reform”

Carma Hinton
Carma Hinton

“I can’t wait to replace this old house with something modern!” complains a young man. “No girl will marry me with a house like this!” “This house was built by our ancestors. You’re not tearing it down!” declares his father. Such disputes have become common among the villagers of China’s southern Anhui province, famous for its spectacular mountains and distinct local culture. The houses in question are magnificent 300-year-old structures with carved beams and lattice windows, legacies of a merchant culture from late imperial times. Using excerpts from her films, Hinton will take the audience into these houses and explore the customs related to home, family and clan. She will discuss issues of destruction, transformation and revival of traditional culture in the context of China’s 20th-century revolution and 21st-century economic boom.

March 17, Susan F. Hirsch, director, Undergraduate Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution: “Satisfying Victims and Healing Societies: The Promises of Justice after Extreme Violence”

Susan Hirsch
Susan Hirsch

Justice meted out in domestic courts is assumed to promote social healing and quell the desire for revenge felt by victims of violence. Mass atrocity, genocide, terrorism and other types of extreme violence have spawned new approaches to justice, such as extrajudicial proceedings and international tribunals. Drawing from personal experience as a survivor of a terror attack and anthropological research on responses to extreme violence in the United States, Europe and Africa, Hirsch will explore several emerging approaches to justice that seek to fulfill the expectations of victims and societies. At this juncture, in pursuing justice for the world’s worst crimes, should we be more unilateralist or more universalist, more modest or more aggressive?

April 21, Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin, co-directors, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine: “The Dawn of the Age of Personalized Therapy: Proteomic Technologies and Strategies for Implementation”

Lance Liotta
Lance Liotta
Emanuel Petricoin
Emanuel Petricoin

The field of molecular medicine is moving beyond genomics to proteomics and a systems biology approach to disease. While DNA is the information archive, proteins do all the work of the cell and ultimately dictate all biological processes. It is the proteins themselves that are most often the drug targets, especially in the new era of personalized therapy where cellular “circuitry” is being targeted. These pathways consist of protein networks, not genes, and these networks are controlled by processes that cannot be predicted by genetic analysis. The future of patient-tailored therapy will rely on new proteomic approaches to discover and profile cellular “circuitry” within a tiny biopsy specimen. Liotta and Petricoin have developed a cadre of new technologies and approaches to translational medicine whereby ex-vivo molecular targeting takes place as an entrée into patient selection and personalization of therapy.

Write to at