13 distinguished individuals to lecture for Assembly Series

A Nobel Prize-winning scientist and a pop-culture phenomenon are among those who will take the Graham Chapel stage for this spring’s Assembly Series.

All Assembly Series talks are free and open to the public. The lectures will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays in Graham Chapel unless otherwise noted. For the most recent information, go online to assemblyseries.wustl.edu or call 935-4620.

Bill Cosby’s recent comments about the African-American community’s ambivalence toward academic achievement for its youth set the stage for the first Assembly Series lecture. Renowned psychologist and educator Na’im Akbar will present the Chancellor’s Fellowship Lecture on “Psychology, Educational Achievement and the African-American Community” Jan. 26.

Akbar is a professor of psychology at Florida State University and is the author of several books on an African-centered approach to psychology and mental health. Among his books are Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery; The Community of Self; Visions for Black Men; and Know Thyself.

In addition, a panel discussion featuring Akbar will begin at 2 p.m. in McMillan Café, McMillan Hall, Room 115. Other panelists will be Garrett A. Duncan, Ph.D., associate professor of education, of African and Afro-American Studies and of American Culture Studies, all in Arts & Sciences; St. Louis Post-Dispatch feature writer Ron Harris; Sandra Moore, executive director for urban strategies; and Carol Camp Yeakey, Ph.D., professor of education. Call 935-6831 for more information.

Robert Kerrey has had a long, distinguished career in public service, but most recently he has served his country as a member of the 9-11 Commission. The former Democratic governor and senator from Nebraska and current president of New School University in New York City will give his thoughts on “Uncovering Truth in a Democratic Society” at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8.

The Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) has been operating since 1969 to serve as a vehicle for American scientists to provide objective analysis for scientific and environment-related public policies. As a co-founder and current chairman of the board for the UCS, Kurt Gottfried has made scientific advocacy his avocation. He will speak on “Science Meets Politics: From Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush” Feb. 9. Gottfried is a professor emeritus of physics at Cornell University.

Spoken-word artist, poet and actor Saul Williams will give a presentation for the Social Justice Center Feb. 16. Williams is a legend on the spoken-word circuit, but he also has three volumes of poetry and three hip-hop albums to his credit. He also received acclaim for his starring role in Slam Nation, a film that garnered several awards at the 1998 Sundance and Cannes festivals.

What made George Washington and his colleagues such great leaders, and could Washington be a great leader in America’s current political environment? That question and others will be addressed by the eminent historian Don Higginbotham Feb. 23 in his talk, “George Washington’s Remarkable Generation.” Higginbotham is the Dowd Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina and the author of The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763-1789; George Washington: Uniting a Nation; and George Washington and the American Military Tradition.

A generation ago, a group called the Boston Women’s Health Collective wrote Our Bodies, Ourselves and revolutionized the way women receive health and medical information. One of these women, Judy Norsigian, now executive director for the Our Bodies, Ourselves organization, will give a lecture on “The Impact of the Media on Women’s Health” March 2.

The lecture is organized in conjunction with Inside Out Loud: Visualizing Women’s Health in Contemporary Art, an exhibition on display at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum during the spring semester (see related article).

Among Murray Gell-Mann’s contributions to theoretical physics is his discovery of the quark, which led to his receiving the Nobel Prize in 1969. Since then, the California Institute of Technology professor emeritus of physics has been concentrating on the theory of “emergent complexity” at the Santa Fe Institute, a multidisciplinary think tank he helped co-found.

Gell-Mann’s talk will look back to 1905 when Albert Einstein, a hitherto unknown scientist, published several papers, each with a revolutionary idea. What do those papers tell about his creative thinking? What are the modern descendants of his papers, and how do current cosmological discoveries relate to his work?

What about today’s efforts to find a unified theory of all the elementary particles and all the forces of nature? These questions and more will be discussed at Gell-Mann’s lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 3.

To commemorate the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies’ 15th anniversary, writer Sherman Alexie will give a talk March 16. Alexie’s several books of poetry, novels and short fiction address the Native American experience. His talk is “Without Reservations: An Urban Indian’s Comic, Poetic and Highly Irreverent Look at the World.”

Each spring, the University hosts the John and Penelope Biggs Lecture in the Classics. On Thursday, March 17, Malcolm Schofield will present this year’s lecture at 4 p.m. in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge. Schofield is a professor of ancient philosophy at St. John’s College of the University of Cambridge, and has pioneered the study of pre-Socratic philosophy and ancient Greek political thought.

He has written, co-edited or contributed to a number of significant texts, including The Stoic Idea of the City and The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought.

Best-selling author and distinguished physician and surgeon Sherwin Nuland will speak March 23 on “The Human Body and the Human Spirit.” The Yale professor of medicine has written several popular books, most notably the National Book Award winner How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter, which presents death as a natural part of living and the right to die with dignity.

Seth MacFarlane, creator of television’s controversial adult cartoon The Family Guy, will give a presentation March 30 as the Council of the South 40 Lecture.

With unprecedented sales of the first DVD volume, and with reruns on the Cartoon Network climbing sky-high, McFarlane’s canceled series is proving to be more popular in its afterlife than it was when it was in active production on Fox. It is now being revived by the network, as well as another animated series, American Dad, which will premiere in February. Seating will be severely limited to the public for MacFarlane’s lecture.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture April 6 will present one of the most important figures in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, Robert Moses was teaching math in New York City when he decided to join the movement, working with the Freedom Riders and the Freedom Summer project.

Today, Moses is engaged in no less a battle for African-Americans’ civil rights, this time as the creator of the Algebra Project, which teaches inner-city youth the problem-solving skills needed to enter the economic mainstream.

Moses’ talk will be part of a two-day symposium called “Civil Rights and Citizenship: Documenting Change.” Sponsored by a number of academic departments in Arts & Sciences, it will highlight the University’s Henry Hampton collection, show episodes from Hampton’s documentary film Eyes on the Prize, and also commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

The novel Einstein’s Dreams became an international hit when it was published in 1994 by physicist/writer Alan Lightman. He wrote this and many other novels while teaching physics and writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will talk about “The Physicist as Writer” for the ArtSci Council, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi Lecture April 13.