College of Humanities and Social Sciences

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mason Experts Discuss Revolution

by Rashad Mulla

Revweb

As the “Arab Spring” of 2011 ushers in a new era of leadership, civic participation and governance across Arab countries and the Middle East, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University put together a seminar to describe the ins and outs of revolution.

The two-day program, entitled “Revolutions: Past, Present, and Future,” featured seven individual events. The events dealt with current revolutions as well as those throughout history, spanning the last 235 years. The experts covered current revolutions as well as American, French, Russian, Chinese, South African, Latin American and Eastern European revolutionary history.

The events were free and open to the public, and each panel drew a healthy mix of faculty, staff and students. Combined, the seven events drew about 1,000 people, including more than 400 at Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman’s speech on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Mark Katz, a professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs, spoke at a panel covering the years 1989-1991 in China, Russia and Eastern Europe. He has researched Russian foreign policy, international relations of the Middle East and a variety of revolutions throughout his career. 

“It is important to learn about revolutions since they continue to occur, as shown by the Arab Spring,” Katz said. “Revolutions are not only important for the countries they occur in, but for the broader impact on international relations that they often have.”

Jack Censer, dean of the college, served as a faculty expert on one of the panels (Comparing the American & French Revolutions) and attended the other events. The quality of the presentations was top-flight, he said. 

"I had the privilege of attending excellent presentations, and the audience questions were important and valuable," he said. "I think a lot of people really enjoyed it, and the theme generated huge interest within the university community."

Here is a complete listing of the panel discussions, dates, times and panelists. All events took place in the Edwin Meese Conference Room in Mason Hall, unless otherwise noted:

Wednesday, Oct. 26

Panel: Comparing the American & French Revolutions, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

  • Jon Barth, PhD student, History
  • Jack Censer, dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Rosemarie Zagarri, Department of History and Art History

Panel: The Russian Revolution, 3:00-4:30 p.m.

  • Rex Wade, University Professor, Department of History and Art History
  • Steven Barnes, director, Center for Eurasian Studies

Roundtable Discussion, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

  • Cynthia Kierner, Department of History and Art History
  • Eric Shiraev, Department of Public and International Affairs

The Arab Spring and Women's Leadership, 6:00 p.m., Mason Hall, Room D3

  • Tawakkul Karman, Yemeni activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner

Thursday, Oct. 27

Panel: 1989-1991: China, Russia, and Eastern Europe, and Beyond, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

  • Mark Katz, Department of Public and International Affairs
  • Mills Kelly, director, Global Affairs Program
  • Eric Shiraev, Department of Public and International Affairs

Panel: Revolutionary Echoes and New Directions: South Africa, Latin America, the “Arab Spring”, 3:00-4:30 p.m.

  • Jo-Marie Burt, Department of Public and International Affairs
  • Bassam Haddad, director, Middle East Studies
  • Les Kurtz, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Roundtable Discussion, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

  • Eric McGlinchey, Department of Public and International Affairs
  • John Dale, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Ayah Ibrahim, PhD, Political Science
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