College Welcomes Students to Campus in a Year of Innovation

by Rashad Mulla

College Welcomes Students to Campus in a Year of Innovation

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences welcomes students back to the George Mason University campus for the fall 2012 semester.

According to data compiled by Mason's Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, the college is home to 2,011 new graduate and undergraduate students. In all, 8,940 students major in one of the college's departments or programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels - 2,093 of the college's students are graduates, while 6,847 are undergraduates.

This will be Mason’s first full semester under the leadership of President Angel Cabrera, who took office in July 2012. Likewise, much is new at the college this fall.

First, the college is pleased to welcome renowned experts to its faculty. 

  • Former Congressman Robert Inglis joins Mason as the director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a public engagement campaign operating under the Center for Climate Change Communication.
  • Laurie Robinson, former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice, is now the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society.
  • Abdulaziz Sachedina, an expert in contemporary Islamic thought and the former Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, joins Mason as the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) Chair in Islamic Studies at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies. Sachedina will teach courses in the Department of Religious Studies.
  • J.P. Singh, an authority in global policies and information technology, and a former associate professor in the communication, culture, and technology program at Georgetown University, joins Mason as a faculty member in the Global Affairs Program.

In addition, the college offers these new courses to its ever-evolving choices. Unless otherwise noted, all descriptions are from the official Mason course catalog. 

CULT 390-001 War in Global Perspective, taught by Hugh Gusterson

  • In describing this class, Gusterson noted, "This class asks how war has worked as a cultural institution in different cultural and historical contexts, how war has changed over the last fifty years, and how American war in particular has changed with the introduction of new technologies such as drones." He continued, "Many readings focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though we also read about experiences of conflict in Chechnya, El Salvador, Europe and other places."

HIST 387-010 Fascism & the Right in Latin America, taught by Benjamin Cowan

  • This course investigates the trajectories of extreme right-wing individuals, organizations, and ideologies during the twentieth century in Latin America. At the outset of the semester, we will consider questions about the nature of fascism and the possibility of applying the term to Latin American political actors and phenomena. After exploring the agendas and fates of rightists in the early part of the century and in the 1930s, we will depart from chronology and focus on the particular issues of gender, religion, left-wing counterparts, US-Latin American relations and right-wing politics during the Cold War. Throughout the course, special attention will be paid to right-wing ideas about the body, sexuality, morality, race, “progress” and nationhood.

COMM 249-001 Communication Industry Experience, taught by Mark Green

  • On-site training related to one of the five communication department concentration fields through faculty-approved field work-study programs. Related class work includes navigating in-process media workplace culture and the post-CIE progression, including refining the resume, preparing for the COMM 450 internship, and ultimately interviewing for a job.

PHIL 243-001 Global Environmental Ethics, taught by Andrew Light

  • Examines the global dimensions of environmental problems. Although environmental problems are global in reach, because different societies make different philosophical and ethical assumptions, they are understood in different ways. Examines several environmental problems, including climate change, population growth and resource depletion, from a variety of scientific, policy, and cross-cultural perspectives.

PSYC 461-008 Introduction to Human Factors Psychology, taught by Robert Youmans

  • The syllabus for this course explains that “Human Factors is a specialization of psychology that studies how humans interact with technology and how those interactions may be made better (e.g., more safe, efficient, easy to learn, intuitive, enjoyable, etc.). Today Human Factors psychologists work at companies that produce technology like Apple Computers, Google, and Microsoft Gaming, but they also work for media companies, medical device manufacturers, and in the design of automobiles and other forms of transportation. This course is designed around three core topics: (1) the history and development of Human Factors, (2) the cognitive psychology and attributes of humans, and (3) an introduction to product evaluation techniques.”

ENGH 319-002 Cell Phone Cultures, taught by Stephen Groening

  • According to the professor, “This course considers the cultural and social significance of the cellular phone. Beginning with a historical look at some of the technological predecessors to the cellular phone, we will explore issues such as the nature of talk and mediated conversation, the use of cell phones in social movements, cell phones as markers of identity and style, and the use of cell phones in schools, prisons, and the military. Many of the course assignments are completed using cell phones, including photo essays, digital videos, and texting during class.”

WMST 300-002 The Social Dynamics of Family Violence, taught by Angie Hattery

  • “Family violence is one of society’s dirty little secrets that significantly impacts, indeed alters, the lives of millions,” Hattery said, when asked about this class. “Through seminar readings, videos, assignments, and class discussions, this course will afford you the opportunity to explore the nature and dynamics of family violence from a variety of perspectives – historical, sociological, psychological – and ask you to raise critical questions about this persistent, and often invisible, social issue. Together, this course will be a personal and intellectual journey; we expect that the course will foster a deeper intellectual understanding about family violence, while we also examine our own responses to and responsibility for addressing this issue.”

The college is working with other departments and offices around Mason to introduce students to campus during Welcome Week, which lasts until Friday, Aug. 31. Three members of the college staff, John Cicchetti, director of student outreach, Liz Kalinowski, director of advising, and Katie Clare, assistant dean of undergraduate academic affairs, are leading college-specific sections of the UNIV 100 course. UNIV 100 is designed to support students during their first semester transition into college life and to familiarize them with various resources at Mason to help in their overall student success. Other college personnel volunteered on an individual level to assist with Welcome Week.

Let the classes begin!