Student Government debuts 'Flash Lectures'

Angie Hattery, director of the women and gender studies department, delivers her flash lecture to students on the quad March 28. (Jake McLernon)
Angie Hattery, director of the women and gender studies department, delivers her flash lecture to students on the quad March 28. (Jake McLernon)

Student Government is debuting a Flash Lecture series this semester, inviting professors and performers to deliver a 15-20 minute "lecture" to students on campus. The goal of the lectures is to engage students on different topics in an informal atmosphere.

“Let’s talk about domestic violence,” shouted Angie Hattery, director of the women and gender studies department, outside Fenwick library on the quad. Students walking by had no idea what was going on.

For 15 minutes, Hattery spoke on the effects that domestic violence has on families. The talk was given as part of a Flash Lecture series organized by Student Government this semester.

“I think I've seen things out here [on the quad], but I assumed it was for a class,” senior anthropology major Sarah Elliot said.

In the same spot, Dr. Cortney Hughes, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, gave her own flash lecture on Tuesday, April 3. Hughes discussed her field work in Morocco, looking at the relationship between Islam and its views on contraception and technology.

“I was actually really nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hughes. “I’m glad I did it. It was so relaxed and informal that it provided a warm atmosphere.”

SG Secretary Leslie Cook said she began organizing the Flash Lecture series last fall by reaching out to professors by email to find out if they would be interested in lecturing for 15-20 minutes on different topics. Cook said the goal of the lectures is to provide students with the opportunity to learn about different topics in an informal setting.

According to Cook, students can expect flash lectures to occur once or twice a week between Tuesday and Thursday, but each lecture is only announced on the Student Government website and Twitter feed (@MasonStudentGov) 15-30 minutes before its start. During the lectures attendees are encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #gmuinaflash.

“My senior thesis project involves analyzing data from social media, specifically Twitter,” said Cook in an email. “I'm kind of all wrapped up in social media these days and was very interested to see how announcing an event strictly via social media would go at Mason.”

While flash lectures are new to Mason, other institutions such as the University of Virginia and Duke University have hosted them as well.

Flash lectures will continue throughout the rest of the semester. Student hip-hop group UrbanKnowlogy 101, English professor Mark Sample and an unnamed presenter on the topic of zombies are among a list of scheduled flash lecturers.

“If I have an interest, I have that opportunity to get a little ten minute snippet and learn something,” said Hughes. “That’s a really cool thing.”

C2M Managing Editor Adam Sylvain contributed to this story.