Libraries sponsors 2018 Computers and Writing Conference

The University Libraries is pleased to be a sponsor of the 2018 Computers and Writing Conference, which will take place May 24 – 27 at George Mason University.

Computers and Writing is an annual conference dedicated to the study of the intersections between digital technologies, literacy, and writing. The theme for this year’s conference is Digital Phronesis: Culture/Code/Play. Often described as “practical wisdom,” phronesis represents an enactment of good judgment guided by both learned knowledge and lived experience. Phronesis comes from our histories, our education, and reflections on our experiences.

In addition to the Libraries providing sponsorship and space in Fenwick Library for conference sessions, Jen Stevens (Lead, Arts and Humanities Team) and George Oberle (History Librarian) were members of the planning committee for the conference.

Registration, schedule, and additional details at http://candwcon.org/2018/computers-and-writing-2018.

Mason Author Series: Bryan Caplan

Join us for our last Mason Author Series event of the spring semester on Thursday, May 3, at 3 p.m. in the Fenwick Main Reading Room. Our featured faculty author is Bryan Caplan, who will be discussing his recent book, The Case Against Education.

In this explosive book, Bryan Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity—in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

Caplan draws on the latest social science to show how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers. He explains why graduation is our society’s top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability. He advocates two major policy responses. The first is educational austerity. Government needs to sharply cut education funding to curb this wasteful rat race. The second is more vocational education, because practical skills are more socially valuable than teaching students how to outshine their peers.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided.

About the Author: Bryan Caplan is professor of economics at George Mason University and a blogger at EconLog. He is the author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun than You Think and The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (Princeton).

About the Mason Author Series: The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. For more information about the Mason Author Series, please contact John Warren, Head, Mason Publishing, jwarre13@gmu.edu.

Earth Day & Environmental Resources

For Earth Day, check out online resources at the Mason Libraries! Interested in up to date information on environmental issues like climate change, air quality, deforestation, endangered species, or more?

Start with our Sustainable Goals and Climate Change Infoguides. These will help you identify background information, relevant articles and books, and reputable news sources. Want to dig a little deeper? Check out ScienceCinema and Docuseek’s Earth Day Sampler that will both inspire you and make you think!

Interested in learning more about Earth Day? Be sure to visit the Library’s ENVIROnetBASE and GreenFILE databases to learn more about the relationship between human beings and the environment, with topics including global warming, recycling, alternate fuel sources, and more.

Fenwick Fellow Lectures: April 25

Join the University Libraries on Wednesday, April 25 at 2 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room, when Professors Edward Rhodes and John Turner will discuss their research findings from their 2016-2017 fellowships.


Edward Rhodes, Professor, Government & International Affairs, Schar School of Policy & Government

Lecture Title:  “Normalcy”: Rediscovering the Curious Brilliance of Warren G. Harding

Abstract: Dismissed by biographers as an intellectual nullity, mocked by critics for what H.L. Mencken famously described as his “Gamalielese” prose, and remembered in history texts principally for his notably corrupt Secretary of the Interior and for his illegitimate daughter, Warren G. Harding has escaped serious academic scrutiny, living on largely as an easy target for late-night comedians. Harding’s own writings –which were generally in the form of speeches – have gone not only unread but uncollected. For the most part they are, even in this time of widespread digitization, extremely difficult to locate or to access. This is unfortunate because a close reading of Harding reveals not only a clear, sophisticated, and internally consistent vision of America but a deep understanding of the challenges facing a liberal, democratic republic in a period of rapid economic and social change. Forgotten, too, is the fact that Harding was, in his three years in office, extraordinarily successful in advancing his policy agenda, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. Even more interesting, however, is how strongly some of the key elements in Harding’s vision and strategic approach resonate in today’s world.


John Turner, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Lecture Title:  Plymouth Colony and the Making of American Liberty

Abstract: Over the last two centuries, Americans have celebrated “the Pilgrims” as the progenitors of democracy and liberty. At the same time, the Mayflower leaders and their successors in Plymouth Colony imprisoned, tortured, and expelled religious and political dissenters. Were the Pilgrims rank hypocrites, denying others the freedom they desired for themselves? The answer is more complicated. The Pilgrims had a very specific understanding of “Christian liberty,” which essentially meant an obligation to have church according to their understanding of the Bible. While their leaders did not favor a broader “freedom of religion,” Plymouth Colony was riven by debates over the meaning and extent of liberty over its seventy year history.


About the Fenwick Fellows: The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to Mason faculty member(s) to pursue research project(s) that use and enhance the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in the faculty members’ field. Applications for the 2018-2019 fellowship are currently being accepted; the deadline is May 7, 2018.