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Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

Sen. Gary Hart to kick off Hall Center for the Humanities lecture series at KU

LAWRENCE -- Former U.S. Sen. and Kansas native Gary Hart will kick off the 2004-05 Hall Center for the Humanities lecture series at the University of Kansas with a special night that will combine a speech on national security, a presidential debate and a panel discussion.

The lecture series, which is free and open to the public, also features a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former poet laureate of the United States, a leading scholar on contemporary Islam, a KU expert on World War II soldiers and a Harvard University professor who studies human nature.

Hart, an Ottawa native, will present "Security in the New Age of the 21st Century" at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Lied Center of Kansas. Hart, who represented Colorado in the Senate from 1975 to 1987 and ran for president in 1984 and 1988, will draw on his extensive foreign policy and national security experience to discuss the future of American policy under the threat of terrorism.

At 8 p.m., immediately after the lecture, the first 2004 presidential debate will be shown on the big screen at the Lied Center. At 9:30 p.m., Hart will moderate a panel discussion on the debate.

Hart is the author of several books, including "Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in 21st Century America" (2002). A book signing will precede the lecture at 6:30 p.m. in the Lied Center lobby.

On Oct. 28, Steven Pinker, the Johnstone Family Professor of psychology at Harvard University, will present "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center. Pinker will address modern society's unwillingness to see human behavior as nature rather than nurture.

Rita Dove, the second African-American poet to win a Pulitzer Prize, will present "The Poet at the Dance" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Lied Center. Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, will read her poems interspersed with commentary, autobiography and descriptions of life as a professional writer. Her 1986 poetry collection, "Thomas and Beulah," which was loosely based on the lives of her grandparents, won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Akbar Ahmed, a leading scholar on contemporary Islam, will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union. He will draw on his most recent book, "Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World" (2002). In it he explains how traditional Islam, a non-violent belief system that values women and respects outsiders, is struggling against the fanatical elements that make up groups such as al-Qaeda. Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of international relations at the American University in Washington D.C.

The final series lecture will feature Ted Wilson, professor of history and a former director of the Hall Center, at 7:30 p.m. April 7 in the Ballroom of the Kansas Union. Wilson's lecture, "The GI Generation: Sending American Soldiers Into Battle in World War II," will deconstruct the popular image of the U.S. Armed Forces after Pearl Harbor. Wilson's books include "WW2: Critical Issues" (1974, 1994, 1998); "D-Day, June 6 1944" (1994); "Victory in Europe 1945: From World War to Cold War" (2000); and the forthcoming "Building Warriors: Selection and Training of U.S. Ground Combat Troops in World War II."


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