2012-2013 Fairfax Schedule
Center for the Arts Concert Hall
Robinson Professor, Public and International Affairs
Monday, September 24, 2012 at 7 p.m.
The Washington Post’s Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Steven Pearlstein has been teaching economics to his readers for two decades, explaining the ins and outs of health care reform, analyzing the causes of the latest global financial crisis or anticipating the challenges to the Washington area economy. Now he’s trying his hand at teaching the same economic principles, and providing the same common sense insights, to the undergraduates at George Mason University. So how is it going?
University Professor, Public Policy
Monday, November 5, 2012 at 7 p.m.
The Constitution provides that the president nominates the major officers of the U.S. government; the Senate must then confirm nominations before they take office. What was once a relatively simple process has become a complicated gauntlet through which nominees must thread their way. For nominees, what should be an exhilarating move into governmental leadership becomes an obstacle course of financial disclosure, ethics, background investigation, and Senate Committee forms often requiring lawyers and accountants. The increasing number of political appointees (numbering thousands) along with the multiplying layers of vetting, have resulted in a process that leaves the government short of executive leadership many months into a new president’s term. These difficulties also afflict presidents well into their terms who must deal continually with vacancies. Fixing the process is important to the functioning of the executive branch of government, but reforms are contentious and fraught with political roadblocks.
Associate Professor, Nutrition and Food Studies
Monday, December 3, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Iceberg lettuce has not always been the most consumed green leafy vegetable in the United States. The development of large-scale lettuce production in California’s Salinas Valley illustrates the tensions between technology and nature and provides a starting point for understanding the complexities of supplying vast quantities of quality fresh produce to consumers in distant markets. This case shows that the industrialization of agriculture was largely idiosyncratic, and the level of industrialization possible varied by crop, depending equally on the nature of the commodity and the willingness of consumers to purchase it. The emergence of lettuce cultivation during the inter-war period highlights how early growers harnessed organizational techniques, transportation infrastructures, and technological and scientific knowledge to transcend both consumer taste and the ephemeral nature of lettuce to make it the first vegetable available year round and our “favorite” vegetable.
Associate Professor, Art
Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7 p.m.
How can art be a catalyst for justice and peace in a global society and how does it contribute to building bridges between civilizations and religions? How does an artist’s emphasis on our shared human essence challenge us to embrace diversity and differences in the face of uncertainty, ignorance, fear, hatred, and division?
This presentation stems from the philosophy behind Frenn’s work: “My paintings are visual meditations on inner and outer truths and clashing realities. Human rights, justified injustice, and needless suffering influence my art, but its source is a love for humanity, an awareness of the interconnectedness of all people and nature, and a commitment to a message of hope and human dignity. My work reflects a belief that we are called to be bridges, not walls.”
Director, Center for Air Transportation
Monday, March 4, 2013 at 7 p.m.
The U.S. Airline Transportation System performs the amazing feat of operating over 40,000 flights safely each day. This system however is notoriously unreliable leaving passengers stranded or delayed costing the U.S. economy an estimated $33B a year in lost productivity. In this insightful talk, Dr. Sherry exposes the complex inter-relationship between economics, regulations, and technology that have shaped this complex, adaptive transportation system, and describes the forthcoming changes that will significantly reshape the U.S. economy and demographics over the next two decades.
Dean, School of Management
Monday, April 1, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Change focuses on behavior, whereas transformation focuses on “beingness” or culture. Transformational leadership is about shifting the organizational conversations or interpretations to create different results or outcomes. Organizational culture can become transactional, but transformational leadership is creates conversations that generate a culture of relationships, moods, and actions consistent with the desired outcomes. The axiom is that our power to transform our commitments and subsequent actions is directly determined by our ability to engage in powerful conversations – to generate transformation we must generate different conversations. These conversations utilize language, which is most commonly descriptive. However, leaders use language in a generative fashion to declare something with no evidence or authority. Using this type of language, transformational leaders create truly new possibilities.
Associate Professor, Sociology & Anthropology
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 7 p.m.
What kids eat, and who’s feeding them has sparked much debate in recent years as increasing attention has been given to the widespread phenomenon of childhood obesity. Youth food consumption increasingly occupies a morally-charged sphere of meaning where parents and advocates for junk-food free schools, members of organic and slow food movements, public health researchers, commercial food markets and the anti-hunger lobby all adjudicate the meaning of youths’ food consumption. As a nation weighs in on the meaning of youths’ food consumption, it is important we understand the meaning young people themselves assign to food, the social relationships formed around food, and the changing social landscape where they eat. This discussion examines the place of food in the lives of American youth based on multiple strategies for analysis: observation of youth food settings, community health events, and public school food reform programs; in-depth interviews and focus groups, family-food memories written by young people, and materials designed to understand the social significance of food to youth.