2011-2012 Fairfax Schedule
Center for the Arts Concert Hall
Kim Blackwell, Professor, Molecular Science; Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
Monday, September 19, 2011 at 7 p.m.
What do Parkinson’s disease, addiction and habit learning have in common? Dopamine-- a molecule produced by the brain in response to reward. Just as the repeated reward of particular actions leads to habits in behavior, dopamine reinforces the response of brain cells to environmental stimuli. Drugs of abuse strongly activate dopamine production; thus addiction represents a very strong habit. In contrast, a lack of dopamine causes Parkinson’s. Individual brain cells learn habits as an activity-dependent strengthening or weakening of pathways between brain cells. Furthermore, understanding how dopamine modifies brain cells’ response can illuminate normal habit learning, addiction pathology and Parkinson’s. In her talk, Dr. Blackwell will discuss the role of dopamine in Parkinson’s, addiction and memory storage in the brain. She will also explain how experiments and computer simulations advance our understanding of dopamine, with the potential benefits of developing novel treatments for Parkinson’s and addiction.
Eden King, Assistant Professor, Psychology
Monday, November 14, 2011 at 7 p.m.
The emergence of an increasingly diverse American workplace highlights an important question: What happens when people from different backgrounds have to work together? Provocative social science findings offer unique insights into how diverse employees and their employers can maximize the benefits of diversity. Dr. King’s presentation will describe research on the contemporary workplace experiences of men and women and mothers and fathers from diverse ethnic, religious and age groups. In addition, strategies for improving these interactions will be discussed.
Linda Monson, Director, Keyboard Studies;
School of Music
Monday, December 5, 2011 at 7 p.m.
Is there a way to effectively teach certain concepts in both music and math through an investigation of the common elements in these two seemingly diverse disciplines? Music, which incorporates emotion, expression and creative spontaneity, also emphasizes patterns, logic, order, structure and form. And while some characterize mathematics as rational and abstract--emphasizing numbers and calculations--mathematicians realize the inherent beauty and elegance in working out proofs. Furthermore, the creativity realized in tackling complex mathematical problems might indeed be similar to the creativity involved in composing or performing a complex musical work. Dr. Monson’s lecture will demonstrate many similarities and connections between music and mathematics that can be taught in the classroom setting including concepts of consonance and dissonance, tuning, Fibonacci numbers, and the relationship of the golden ratio to musical climax in composition. Arguing that both should be taught as complementary disciplines rather than opposing cultures, she will illustrate these corresponding concepts by performing musical examples at the piano.
Dan Cohen, Director, Center for History & New Media
Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7 p.m.
What happens when the historical record is digitized, and when the events of the present are recorded only in electronic formats? Do we risk losing historical information? The potential for loss of information does exist, and we are unsure whether we can preserve today’s documents for future generations. However, exciting new possibilities for research and teaching are beginning to emerge. Dr. Cohen’s talk will explore the promise and perils of a new era of history based on computers and networks, including vast digital libraries and archives, tools for saving and communicating history, and what the coming decade will hold.
Keith Clark, Associate Professor, English
Monday, February 27, 2012 at 7 p.m.
In a literary world dominated by such luminaries as Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison and Pulitzer prize winner Edward P. Jones, novelist and short story writer Ann Petry remains an undervalued--if not wholly undiscovered--treasure of African American literature. Primarily known as the sole woman member of the “Richard Wright School of Social Protest,” Petry has garnered attention almost exclusively on the basis of her 1946 novel The Street, a work that superficially conforms to the dictates of “Black Protest” fiction. This lecture will address how gender and the politics of literary expression account for her relative invisibility in African American/American literary studies. In addition to exploring her life and prodigious literary output, Clark will discuss his current research project, “The Radical Fiction of Ann Petry: From Gangsta to Gothic.”
John Paden, Robinson Professor, International Affairs
Monday, April 2, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Much of the current media coverage on Africa focuses on protracted conflicts, which often have an economic, political and/or ethno-religious base, as well as various external factors. While much of the current tension lies within ethno-religious zones, the mixed zones are of special interest, in part because of their wider significance in a world populated by approximately 1.3 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims. The question is whether “religion” will provide an increasing excuse for conflict, or whether the Abrahamic monotheisms will figure out ways to cooperate and manage ethno-religious tensions. Within this context, the case of Nigeria—which is about half Muslim and half Christian—is of special importance. Dr. Paden’s talk will address the challenges of managing ethno-religious diversity in Africa and, more specifically, in Nigeria.
Mark Rozell, Professor, School of Public Policy
Monday, April 30, 2012 at 7 p.m.
In 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised to reverse former President George W. Bush’s concentration of executive powers and to respect the constitutional role of Congress. As president, Obama instead has learned the utility of exercising various unilateral powers and has stiff-armed the legislative branch in the using of war powers, appointing unconfirmed czars and even issuing a signing statement to negate a part of an act of Congress. Dr. Rozell’s presentation will examine the constitutional-based controversies surrounding Obama’s expansive use of certain executive powers.