Jefferson Society

W. Heywood Fralin speaks to the Jefferson Society

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Nov 092008
 

Picture of Heywood Fralin, RectorW. Heywood Fralin, Rector of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia, gave a “state of the University” address to members of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on October 31, 2008.

Mr. Fralin revisited his undergraduate experience of 50 years ago before outlining the Board’s long-range plan for the University. He then took questions from the audience, who sought his opinions on matters ranging from the role of social networking technology to the honor system. Mr. Fralin also fielded questions about the extent to which the University should bind itself to Mr. Jefferson’s original vision, how state government affects long-term planning at the University, and the ideal balance between an emphasis on research and on improving the undergraduate experience.

00:20:00 Who are the University of Virginia’s closest competitors?

0022:00 Please describe a First Year dorm experience from 50 years ago.

00:25:00 Have you observed that students today are not making deep connections with each other, and what role does the University play in this process?

00:28:00 Will the University of Virginia become less of a public institution as it attains great autonomy from the state?

00:30:00 A question about funding for graduate students.

00:32:30 To what extent should we bind ourselves to Mr. Jefferson’s vision for the University? Can we do so and remain competitive today?

00:35:00 Does undergraduate teaching suffer when there is a “publish or perish” emphasis on research?

00:36:30 Given the good-will alumni have toward the University, why is their giving rate relatively low?

00:38:00 How do officials in state government influence long-range planning at the University?

00:41:00 Are there ways to involve graduate students in undergraduate training?

00:43:00 How do you see the apparent disconnect between the Darden School of Business and the rest of the University?

00:45:00 What are your thoughts and opinions on the single-sanction honor system?

Jefferson Society speaker addresses “Why Should You Bother to Vote?”

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Oct 212008
 

Professor Loren E. Lomasky of the University of Virginia’s Program in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on October 17, 2008, on the question: “Why Should You Bother to Vote?”

Professor Lomasky addressed many of the reasons put forward for voting, and found that they fell into three main lines of argument: Utilitarian considerations, the generalization argument, and the expressive argument. In the course of his presentation, Professor Lomasky came to some surprising conclusions about our civic duty to vote. A lively discussion followed.

Loren Lomasky is Cory Professor of Political Philosophy, Policy and Law, and Director of the Political Philosophy, Policy and Law Program. Professor Lomasky is best known for his work in moral and political philosophy. Lomasky has been the recipient of many awards including the 1991 Matchette Prize for his book Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community.

Photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson speaks to Jefferson Society

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Oct 172008
 

Award-winning photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson showed images from his coverage of the Iraq War and described the war’s toll on the homefront to a meeting of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on October 10, 2008. This presentation was jointly sponsored by the Jefferson Society and the Virginia Quarterly Review to mark the publication of his article, “The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce,” in the Fall 2008 issue of VQR.

Following his talk, Gilbertson took questions from the audience:

0:32:00 How did you find Noah’s story?

0:37:00 In covering the war, did you encounter any resistance from the military or from soldiers’ families?

0:42:00 Have you met any soldiers who have gotten effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder?

0:46:00 What was your relationship with the soldiers who were protecting you while you were on assignment?

0:51:00 To what extent do you think the military is sweeping PTSD under the rug?

0:53:00 How do the Iraqis feel about the war?

0:57:00 How did your photography change as a result of your change of opinion about the war?

1:00:00 What can we learn from the Coalition Forces?

1:03:00 What problems do we face in transitioning veterans back into society?

1:06:00 Would the leadership of this country benefit if our leaders had experience in war?

1:08:30 Who did you work with in Iraq? How are soldiers of different ranks handling PTSD?

Dr. Strangelove in the Caucasus; Or, How Saak Goes his War Game On

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Oct 102008
 

Nicolai PetroNicolai N. Petro is professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar and member of the Jefferson Society. In addition to authoring eight books on Russian politics, he has served as special assistant for policy in the US State Department, and as advisor to the mayor of the Russian city of Novgorod the Great. In addition to commenting in the International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and Asia Times, he writes an occasional blog devoted to Russia at OpEdNews.com.

On September 26, 2008, Petro addressed the Jefferson Society on the topic: Dr. Strangelove in the Caucasus; Or, How Saak Goes his War Game On. Visit Mr. Petro’s website for a detailed timeline of the recent crisis in the Caucasus.

Jefferson Society: Books that Changed History with Charles Bryan

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Oct 052008
 

Charles Bryan of the Virginia Historical SocietyCharles Bryan is the President and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society. On October 3rd, 2008, Mr. Bryan appeared before the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society at the University of Virginia to discuss books that have changed history.

Forbes and Strawn address Jefferson Society on technology and society

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Sep 272008
 

Nancy Forbes, author of Imitation of Life: How Biology is Inspiring Computing, and George O. Strawn, CIO of the National Science Foundation, spoke to the members of the Jefferson Society on the topic of “The Development and Dangers of Technology in Society.” Their presentation took place on September 19. 2008. A question-and-answer period followed.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

0:00 — Nancy Forbes: The Future of Information Technology

0:08 — Evolutionary algorithms

0:12 — Neural networks

0:14 — DNA computing

0:16 — Computer immune systems

0:24 — George O. Strawn: The Future and Information Technology

0:35 — IT over time

0:42 — New IT applications

0:51 — “Education’s End”

0:55 — Q: How will computer algorithms be able to counter human-created viruses?

0:57 — Q: Under what circumstances should change be considered a threat to society?

1:00 — Q: Will computers develop “autoimmune” disorders?

1:04  — Q: How do you account for the disconnect between machines’ abilities and our inability to take advantage of them?

1:08 — Q: Should we be concerned about giving computers human qualities?

1:10 — Q: What aspects of technological progress worry you?

Rodney Cohen addresses Jefferson Society on historically black colleges and universities

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Sep 112008
 

Rodney Cohen is the director of Multicultural Affairs at Presbyterian College in South Carolina.On September 5, 2008, he addressed the Society on the subject of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Cohen is the author of two books on the history of Historical HBCUs: The Black Colleges of Atlanta and Fisk University along with a number of articles published about HBCUs in the International Journal of Educational Advancement and the Journal of Urban Education. He is currently researching the history and legacy of black fraternal groups, literary and debate societies prior to the 20th century.His other research interests include alumni giving traditions at historically black colleges and black alumni groups at majority colleges and universities.

Dr. Cohen received his Bachelors degree from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia and his masters from Western Kentucky University and his doctorate from Vanderbilt University. His dissertation was Black College Alumni; the perceptions, attitudes and giving behaviors of African American alumni at selected HBCUs. Dr. Cohen is an active Rotarian, a member of the National Eagle Scout Association, the Laurens County Cycling Club and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Kinsey biographer addresses Jefferson Society

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Apr 142008
 

On April 11, 2008, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society at the University of Virginia hosted Dr. James H. Jones, Professor of History at the University of Arkansas, and Author of Kinsey: A Public/Private Life and Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Mar 202008
 

On March 14, 2008, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society met to hear Dr. Francis Collins, author, University of Virginia alumnus, head of the Human Genome Project, and director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Dr. Collins earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Virginia in 1970, a PhD in physical chemistry from Yale in 1974, and an M.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1977. In the 1990s he led the Human Genome Project. This international effort to decode the entire human genome was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Dr. Collins is also the author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

During his presentation, titled, “Genomics, Medicine, and Society,” Dr. Collins discussed the revolution in medicine that has resulted from our knowledge of human genetics. Dr. Collins also raised questions about the ethical, legal, and social implications of our newfound knowledge, including issues involving patents, health insurance, disparities in treatment, and genetic discrimination. Dr. Collins also spoke to the implications of genetic research for human spirituality and the need to find harmony between religious beliefs and scientific discovery. He then took questions from the audience.

Timeline for the podcast:

  • 00:00 Introduction by Edward Ridgely, Vice President, Jefferson Literary and Debating Society
  • 02:00 Dr. Collins: “Genomics, Medicine, and Society”
  • 06:00 The Human Genome
  • 12:00 A revolution in medicine
  • 20:00 Ethical, legal, and social implications
  • 35:00 Dr. James Watson’s controversial remarks on genetics and race
  • 39:00 Genetic determinism vs. the human spirit and the need for God
  • 42:00 A glimpse of the future
  • 49:00 Questions from the audience (most questions were repeated by Collins)
  • 54:00 (This question was not repeated by the speaker) Why don’t we skip RNA, DNA, and study the expression of genes, i.e., proteins, directly? (“proteomics”)
  • 1:14:00 (This question was not repeated by the speaker) Can you cite examples of human evolution in action?
  • 1:25:00 End of presentation

This event was recorded by Elizabeth McCullough of cvillewords.com

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Penn State English Professor speaks “In Defense of Plagiarism”

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Feb 252008
 

Dr. Nicholas Joukovsky is currently a Professor of English at Penn State University. He received his A.B. from Princeton, then went on to receive his M.A from Berkeley and Doctoral in Philosophy at Oxford University. In 2001, he published the literary collection Letters of Thomas Love Peacock. His literary expertise lies in 19th century Romantic and Victorian literature, particularly Thomas Love Peacock and the Shelly circle. He is also Chair of the Academic Committee for the College of the Liberal Arts, which is appropriate given the title of his speech, “In Defense of Plagiarism.” His speech will attack the fundamentalist, societal notions that ALL plagiarism is wrong, underscoring some of its literary merits with academic communities. He wanted to emphasize that he will not be defending all forms of plagiarism

Dr. Joukovsky answered questions on plagiarism as it stands today, the Honor Code and its effectiveness at watch-guarding plagiarism, basic ethics, and literary tradition.

MIT’s aeronautics chair addresses Jefferson Society

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Feb 022008
 

On February 1st, 2008, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society began its spring season of lectures with a presentation from Dr. Wesley Harris, the Chair of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. Harris was the first African-American to finish the Engineering Honors program at the University of Virginia. Over four decades later, Harris is currently working on a new algorithm to help unlock the genetics of sickle cell anemia. But his talk at the Jefferson Society covered Harris’s efforts to encourage young people, especially minorities, to pursue career in science and math.

Dr. Harris answers questions on whether we should be sending to astronauts to Mars, the future of NASA, his thoughts on private space enterprises, and how experience at UVa shaped his life. While a student, Harris was one of the people responsible for bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to Grounds in the spring of 1963.

Slavery expert John Miller addresses Jefferson Society

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Dec 302007
 

On November 2, 2007, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society heard from John Miller, a former U.S. Congressman who is an expert on the issue of contemporary human slavery. From 2002 to 2006, Miller served as the director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. He left that position to become Research Professor in International Studies at the Elliott School, George Washington University.