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Access to Excellence Podcast

A podcast All Together Different

Join Ƶ President Gregory Washington as he invites experts, change-makers, innovators, and thought leaders to engage in meaningful conversations about the greatest challenges of our time.

Listen and learn from audacious people from Mason and beyond who represent the diversity of insight, the agility of collaboration, and the tenacity required in the struggle for a better future that is at the essence of the Mason Nation.

hosts each episode of the Access to Excellence podcast, recorded on the campus of Ƶ.

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Latest Episode

The critical importance of shared humanity

Melissa Perry, Access to Excellence Podcast, Episode 53

Melissa Perry, dean of Ƶ’s College of Public Health, is an ardent proponent of virtual reality and AI as tools to help solve the nation’s health challenges. But, as she tells Mason President Gregory Washington, a technology overload has also helped create an “epidemic of loneliness” that has heightened the importance of a shared humanity. Perry also discusses her suicide attempt as a teenager that ultimately inspired her career in public health.

Listen to the episode

"Getting back to my point about ensuring we remain focused on access and equity, making sure we don’t create digital divides by whatever strategies we’re using AI for. We want to make sure our advancements and our improvements will benefit population health, not just privileged populations that are inclined to navigate sophisticated systems. We want to make it as accessible and level the playing field for everyone."

Melissa Perry
Access to Excellence, Episode 53

Content Warning: This story contains references to themes of suicide which some individuals may find distressing.

Melissa Perry, Dean, College of Public Health at Ƶ.
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  • November 13, 2023
    Melissa Perry, dean of Mason’s College of Public Health, is an ardent proponent of virtual reality as a tool to help solve the nation’s health challenges. But she also worries that technology has helped create an “epidemic of loneliness” that has heightened the importance of a shared humanity and “being present for each other.”
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    Karina Korostelina, a professor of conflict analysis and resolution in Mason’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, conducts remarkable research with global implications that not only applies to countries and groups in conflict but societies as well. Ukraine’s war with Russia, at its end, she says, will present enormous problems with the reconciliation of people and territories.
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    Nikyatu Jusu, an assistant professor of directing and screenwriting in Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, talks about her hit movie “Nanny,” which won the grand prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The horror genre is not all “jump-scares,” she says. Just as often, the monster is a commentary on human nature and the way we treat each other and ourselves.
  • July 8, 2023
    Andrew McCabe, the former deputy and acting director of the FBI, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor, gives a masterclass on the indictment of Donald Trump under the Espionage Act, goes deep into some of the most controversial and important moments in his career, and explains why he so appreciates teaching at Mason.
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    Lawrence Jackson says colonialism brought an end to authentic African dance. But the associate professor of dance who in 2011, co-authored a special edition on Black dance in the Journal of Pan African Studies, explains how Black dance keeps those African cultural traditions alive and is an affirmation of identity and independence.
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    Missy Cummings, one of the country’s first female fighter pilots and the director of Mason’s autonomy and robotics center, calls herself a tech futurist, charged with making tech work and helping it get better. She isn’t shy about calling out bad tech either, including the vision systems in self-driving cars and Tesla’s Autopilot.
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    Helon Habila, a professor of creative writing, and an acclaimed international author, has never shied away from important issues. The author of four novels and a factual account of the 2014 kidnapping in Nigeria of 276 young girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram, Habila says he strives to describe history through the eyes of ordinary people.
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  • October 18, 2022
    Are the midterm elections the most consequential of our time? Maybe, maybe not. Jennifer Victor, associate professor of political science in Mason’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.
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