47 episodes

Hosted by George Mason University President Gregory Washington, who explores the grand challenges facing students and higher education.

Access to Excellence Podcast gmu

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 10 Ratings

Hosted by George Mason University President Gregory Washington, who explores the grand challenges facing students and higher education.

    Missy Cummings: Artificial intelligence is artificial and not intelligent

    Missy Cummings: Artificial intelligence is artificial and not intelligent

    Missy Cummings, one of the country’s first female fighter pilots and director of George Mason University's Autonomy and Robotics Center, calls herself a tech futurist, charged with making tech work better and safer. In a conversation with Mason President Gregory Washington, Cummings is unflinching in her critique of AI’s strengths, weaknesses and shortcomings, as well as that of humans. There is a lot to like about AI, Cummings says, but she calls out bad tech where she sees it, including in the vision systems of self-driving cars and Tesla’s Autopilot. There's also a lot to like, Cummings says, about Mason's new Fuse building on its Mason Square Campus. When open in 2025, the building will will house R&D labs, corporate innovation centers, incubators, accelerators which will help advance the digital innovation goals of university, industry and community innovators.

    • 47 min
    Describing history through the eyes of ordinary people

    Describing history through the eyes of ordinary people

    Helon Habila, a professor of creative writing at George Mason University, and an acclaimed international author, has never shied away from important issues. In a fascinating discussion, Habila, the author of four novels, tells Mason President Gregory Washington about his process of combining compelling narratives and characters with current examples of oppression and exploitation, and how his factual account of the 2014 kidnapping in Nigeria of 276 young girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram forced him to confront his homeland as he had never seen it.

    • 39 min
    The absurd fallacy of a hierarchy of human value

    The absurd fallacy of a hierarchy of human value

    When Gail Christopher, executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and a senior scholar in George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, talks about “ensuring a future,” she’s really talking about creating a system of equity that produces opportunities for everyone. In her second podcast with Mason President Gregory Washington, Christopher expands on the idea that academic institutions are essential for shifting the cultural ethos to one that is not racist, and discusses the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Conference recently held at Mason.

    • 42 min
    Are the midterm elections the most consequential in our time?

    Are the midterm elections the most consequential in our time?

    Are the midterm elections the most important in our time? Maybe, maybe not. Jennifer Victor, associate professor of political science in George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government, and Mason president Gregory Washington wrestle with that, and you might be surprised at the answer. Want more surprises? Then hear why high voter turnout could be a double-edged sword for our democracy and how the parties misread the electorate. And just what is “thermostatic politics?”

    • 45 min
    His sound is renowned

    His sound is renowned

    Dr. Michael Nickens, an associate professor of music in George Mason University’s Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music, tells Mason President Gregory Washington how he transforms from his mild-mannered persona into Doc Nix, the flamboyant leader of the Green Machine, the nation’s No. 1 pep band. The band isn’t a mechanical process, Nix says. There are times its members are collectively “exploring the universe in that moment. And those are the moments that feel like we have really accomplished something.” Actor Bill Murray is a fan of the band, and Nix is pretty good on the tuba.

    • 41 min
    What it means to build peace

    What it means to build peace

    Alpaslan Özerdem, dean of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, talks to Mason President Gregory Washington about the keys to effective peacebuilding, whether it concerns the war in Ukraine, gun violence or local issues. And don’t miss the discussions about how the Carter School helped broker a peace accord in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and how an alien invasion could help heal the rift between Russia and the West.

    • 44 min

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