Political discourse topic of S&E lecture

Publication Date

Diana Mutz, professor of political science and communication at the University of Pennsylvania, will kick off the Union College Distinguished Women in Science and Engineering Lecture series on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Nott Memorial with a talk titled “In Your Face Politics.”

The series is sponsored by the Skidmore Union Network, funded by Skidmore’s and Union’s NSF Advance grants.

Mutz will explore “the social, psychological and historical consequences of having politicians ‘in our face’ on a regular basis.”

She notes that Americans today experience greater proximity to politicians for two reasons. Television regularly focuses on them through tight camera angles, and televised political discourse tends to be more uncivil and impolite than ordinary personal discourse.

“I find the combination of these two characteristics to have important implications for how people respond to politics and politicians,” Mutz says.

On Feb. 11, the lecture series will feature Justine Cassell, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, at 4:15 p.m. in the Nott Memorial. She will speak on “Social Practice: Sociocultural Approaches to Identity and Culture in Embodied Conversational Agents.”

Cassell is credited with developing the Embodied Conversational Agent, a virtual human capable of interacting with people using both verbal and non-verbal behavior. She will discuss her work with children who speak several dialects of American English and the subsequent implementation and iterative evaluations of a virtual peer based on that research. The event is co-sponsored with the Department of Computer Science.

On March 9, Geraldine Richmond, professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon, will speak at Skidmore as part of the Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series. That event is being co-sponsored by the Skidmore Department of Chemistry.