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Jan. 12, 2007

Spring lecture series brings various voices to campus

by Dan Kuester, News Service

Famous names, visiting scholars and local professors highlight the spring lecture series that runs through April.

In one of the more anticipated events, the Iowa State community will get to see the person behind perhaps the most familiar voice in public radio. Terry Gross, longtime host of Fresh Air on National Public Radio, will be at Stephens Auditorium April 9. Her presentation is called, simply, "An Evening with Terry Gross."

The Peabody Award-winning Gross has been part of the NPR landscape for more than 30 years. She started hosting and producing the weekly Fresh Air in 1975 at radio station WHYY-FM in Philadelphia. It became a daily one-hour show in 1987, and is now carried by 160 public radio stations nationwide.

While Gross is known for getting guests to open up, she rarely talks about herself on the air. During her presentation at Iowa State, audience members will have the rare chance to ask her questions.

Intelligent design

Another highlight of the lecture season is the "The Debate on Intelligent Design," by Sahotra Sarkar, a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, and a leading voice in the intelligent design discussion.

Backers of intelligent design believe that nature is too complex to be explained entirely by a series of chance occurrences and natural selection. Sarkar takes the stance that intelligent design theorists, whom he describes as creationists "in a lab coat," should be kept out of the classroom.

In a recent article in the online edition of American Prospect magazine, he said that creationists are "dangerous" and that when the theory enters the classroom "even through the physicists' back door, the room for mischief is enormous."

Sarkar's lecture is March 26 in the Memorial Union Sun Room.

On April 2 in the Sun Room/South Ballroom, the university inaugurates its University Visiting Scholar lecture series with Francis Fukuyama presenting "America at a Crossroads." Fukuyama is the Bernard Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

He is a critic of the neoconservative movement in the United States. His most recent book, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and Neoconservative Legacy, deals with democratization and international political economy, the role of cultural and social capital in modern economic life and the social consequences of the transition to an information economy.

Invisible Children

Child soldiers

The movie Invisible Children: Rough Cut will be presented twice, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., on March 25 in the Sun Room. The film exposes the effects of the 20-year Ugandan civil war on the children of Northern Uganda.

In that war-torn area, children are abducted and turned into fighters for a rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army. To protect themselves, every night many children flee from the rural area where the abductions are common and "commute" to nearby villages where they sleep in public places without adult supervision.

A nonprofit agency, Invisible Children Inc., was created as a result of the film, with the aim of providing resources and care for the children who are displaced.

Following each screening, the filmmakers -- Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey -- will discuss the organization's work in Uganda.

Local voices

Two Iowa State faculty members also will give lectures this spring. Jill Pruetz, assistant professor of anthropology, will present "Primate Behavior and Ecology" March 7 in the Sun Room. It is the Spring 2007 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Lecture.

Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, will present the Spring Presidential University Lecture. In his lecture, "Interpersonal Intelligence," he will discuss his research on the ability of individuals to know when, where and for what purpose technology is appropriate and inappropriate.

Bugeja's lecture is April 4 in the Sun Room.



NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross highlights the list of speakers scheduled to visit campus this semester.