The Vision Series

2013-2014 Fairfax Schedule
Center for the Arts Concert Hall

Guest Speakers from last season:

Bassam Haddad
Middle East Studies Director
Monday, September 23, 2013 at 7 p.m.

This talk addresses the causes of the Arab uprisings and the seemingly troubled aftermath. The speaker argues that while generalizing is useful, it often times obscures the particular dynamics in each case of the Arab revolutions, and goes on to address the factors that will continue to spur mass protests if elected governments do not adequately deal with them.

Ken De Jong
Professor, Research Computing Department; Associate Director, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
Monday, October 21, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Historically, the field of Computer Science has developed from the fields of mathematics and engineering. While the influence of these fields continues to be quite strong, there is an increasing interest in developing new computational techniques based on inspiration from nature. Examples include artificial neural networks, evolutionary algorithms, and ant colony optimization. In this lecture, De Jong describes some of the more popular nature-inspired techniques, illustrate their behavior through examples, and discuss some important problem areas to which they are being applied.

Joy Fraser
Assistant Professor, English,
Folklore Studies Program

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 7 p.m.

For the uninitiated, the mere description of haggis typically serves to confirm comedian Mike Myers' suggestion that "most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare." Made from sheep's offal and oatmeal, traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach-bag, haggis is among the best-known symbols of Scotland in the world today. Precisely when, how and why it came to be regarded as distinctively Scottish, however, is a matter of considerable speculation. By focusing on contrasting cultural portrayals of haggis in Scotland and England in the 1700s, this presentation explores how the dish became embroiled in an ongoing transnational debate about what it means to be Scottish. As Scotland heads towards a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom in 2014, this debate is once again at the forefront of political and cultural discourse in the UK and beyond.

Susan Shields
Director, School of Dance
Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7 p.m.

A dance is a creation that leaves no tangible object in our world. This discussion will center on why working so hard for an ethereal moment of beauty matters. For example, the color red has no breath, feels no pain, doesn't become exhausted, and doesn't need an ego boost. The color red is available to a painter at any time to utilize as a powerful form of expression on canvas. In order to dance the color red, it requires several trained athlete/artists, who sometimes are tired, happy, or sad, who need to eat every few hours, who can't work more than 6 hours a day, and generally need to feel inspired to offer their best work. It also requires pay checks, rehearsal space, musical rights, and oh yes…..a paying audience. This talk explores the choreographic process from the perspective of an artist who wonders why another dance is relevant, but continues to create.

Elavie Ndura
Professor, College of Education
and Human Development

Monday, April 21, 2014 at 7 p.m.

The enduring inter-group conflicts and violence that besiege communities around the world seem to defy the three groundbreaking declarations that the United Nations adopted to focus national and international policies and practices on building cultures of peace. The UN's charge underlying the three declarations is to develop values, attitudes, behavior and ways of life that are conducive to the promotion of peace. Education, as the hub of human socialization, provides the context and opportunities to lead this charge. Grounded in the belief that every person can contribute to peacebuilding, this discussion calls for the re-framing of educational policies and practices to raise new critical questions and engineer new partnerships across ideological orientations and academic disciplines. The discussion highlights practical strategies for infusing multicultural education principles across the curriculum to guide the transformative journey that underlies efforts to educate for social justice and peace.