Third Annual Vision Series Spotlights Mason Scholars

Posted: September 4, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

vision series logo

Eight top Mason scholars and researchers will share their work and insights during the third annual Vision Series, which begins Sept. 15 and continues into next year.

Although the subject areas are varied, taking audiences from workforce issues to landmine detection, presidential politics to art history and many other topics in between, 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 be presented on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. A reception with the speaker will follow each presentation.

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.15: The Young and the Restless: How Generation Y Is Changing Our Workforce

Michelle Marks, Associate Professor of Management, School of Management

Michelle Marks
Michelle Marks

Members of Generation Y are different in many respects, from their upbringing to their use of technology to their politics. But it might be their effect on the workplace that makes them truly exceptional — more so than any other generation of twenty-somethings that we have seen yet. They are ambitious, demanding and high-maintenance, yet they are creative and high performing.

Michelle Marks will discuss the character-shaping events and perspectives that distinguish four generations in today’s workplace, and the socio-economic conditions that make generational clashes more likely now than in previous times. She will elaborate on generational conflict in the workforce today, and share organizational strategies and practices for recruiting, retaining and motivating the younger generations.

Oct. 6: Endgame: The Last Month in Presidential Elections, This Year and Every Time

Jeremy D. Mayer, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy

Jeremy Mayer
Jeremy Mayer

The 2008 election is fast approaching, and many records are being broken. Never have so many Americans donated money, nor have as many participated in the primaries. After all the months and months of campaigning, advertising, fund raising and debates, we are on the verge of electing a new president. And we will either inaugurate the oldest president in American history or the first man of African American descent.

Jeremy D. Mayer will compare this election with previous contests, discuss how the media and the parties are changing and look at the most recent polling data. He will conclude with predictions for the presidential election, the Virginia outcome and the balance of power in Congress.

Nov. 10: Themes and Variations in Evolving Systems

Robert Hazen, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Earth Sciences

Robert Hazen
Robert Hazen
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Evolution, the natural process by which systems under selective pressure become more complex, has long been a lightning rod for antiscience rhetoric. Such attacks are usually reserved for discussions of biological (Darwinian) evolution, but complex evolving systems also operate in many other natural and human contexts: the formation of chemical elements in stars, diversification of minerals, development of languages and progress in material culture. In each of these systems, the “species” evolves through selective mechanisms.

Robert Hazen will explore these disparate evolving systems, which point to general principles of emergent complexity, and underscore the power as well as the plausibility of biological evolution.

Dec. 8: Preventing Genocide

Andrea Bartoli, Drucie French Cumbie Chair, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Andrea Bartoli
Andrea Bartoli

Sixty years after the signing of the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, we are still struggling to understand genocidal trends and to respond to threats appropriately. Too many times, signs of impending genocides were not identified, appreciated and acted upon, which created conditions for a re-emergence of new forms. Preventing genocide is a collective enterprise of knowledge management, strategic ingenuity and political will.

Andrea Bartoli delves into this urgent issue, examining the tremendous challenges facing the prevention efforts, and the progress and failures that have resulted thus far.

Jan. 26, 2009: Pompeii, Naples, Mt. Vesuvius and the Grand Tour

Carol Mattusch, Mathy Professor of Art History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Carol Mattusch
Carol Mattusch
Photo by Evan Cantwell

For wealthy Romans, coastal Campania was a magnet in the spring and summer. In country homes in modern-day Naples, inhabitants could admire each other’s art collections, read and write, stroll in their gardens and enjoy the views. Mt. Vesuvius was legendary for its delightful climate, lovely mountains and lush, fertile landscapes. Its eruption in AD 79 was entirely unexpected. Whole towns disappeared until the 18th century when the Spanish Bourbons began to excavate the ancient sites, revealing Roman riches in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. Naples was soon a major stop for Grand Tourists, classical art became a scholarly discipline and Pompeiana was the rage in art, interior design and Western culture during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Carol Mattusch, curator of a current major exhibition on this subject, offers a “grand tour” of this window of classical antiquity.

Feb. 16, 2009: The Language of Landmines: Motivation to Remediation

Kenneth Hintz, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering

Kenneth Hintz
Kenneth Hintz

Landmines are a worldwide humanitarian tragedy because of the difficulties associated with removing and disabling them after they have been emplaced during a conflict. Current efforts to detect and remove them are costly, ineffective and slow. While most efforts focus on eliminating or reducing their future usage, detection and remediation of existing landmines remains a difficult technical problem.

A new, fast and highly effective method of landmine detection has been developed at Mason based on the use of ground-penetrating radars to characterize landmines as strings. These strings form a language of mines that can be interpreted by a language recognizer. After a brief introduction of the landmine problem and elimination efforts, Kenneth Hintz will explain this new approach and its use in landmine detection and removal.

March 16, 2009: The War Against Art: Where Are We Now?

Suzanne Carbonneau, Professor of Art and Visual Technology, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Suzanne Carbonneau
Suzanne Carbonneau
Photo by Evan Cantwell

When it was first exhibited, a single photograph instigated a political firestorm that had momentous consequences for the arts in America. From the floor of the U.S. House and Senate, politicians targeted art as a wedge issue, transforming public perception of the arts virtually overnight.

Suzanne Carbonneau will discuss the impact that these attacks have had and continue to have on American art. Tracing the origins of these controversies over the nature of art itself and its role in free society, she suggests that the cultural maturity of the nation depends upon a rapprochement between artists and the public.

April 20, 2009: A Glimpse into the Writer’s Workshop

Alan Cheuse, Professor of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Alan Cheuse
Alan Cheuse

Aside from writing novels and nonfiction, Alan Cheuse has published dozens and dozens of short stories in magazines as diverse as The New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, the Antioch Review and the Southern Review. In an informal commentary on one of his recently published short stories, he guides us through the various stages of invention and composition, baring all that comes to bear upon the production of a work of short fiction, from the first glint of the story through the actual writing and revision.

Ranging from personal history to modern history, aesthetics and, among other things, the daily life of the working writer, Cheuse will place his particular art in a broad context, with the goal of making the reading of fiction an enlivening art in itself.

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