Harvey ponders life in last lecture

Dr. Kerric Harvey, director of the Electronic Media Program, gave her “last lecture” to students and faculty Wednesday.

Drawing from personal experiences and her research into the influences of social and popular culture, Harvey created a lecture that explored the concept of a last lecture itself.

The Last Lecture Series invites noted members of the University community to give a lecture as if it was their last.

Harvey called the idea of giving such a lecture an “unnervingly minute retrospection on one’s life.

“The end of anything is an overwhelming concept,” Harvey said, explaining how hard it is “to be aware of life as one lives it – breath by precious breath.”

Harvey said people often foist themselves to the center of everything, blocking out the impact of their actions on other people – and making it possible to lose the ability to see from an entirely different perspective.

“The information we have is not always the wisdom we need,” she said.

“No matter what aspect of finality you may achieve, my wish is that you spend a night or two reframing your habitual world, doing things as it were your last time,” Harvey said.

Harvey admonished listeners to heed the advice of scientist Albert Einstein.

“Discover that there are two ways to live one’s life – as is everything is not remarkable, and as if everything is.”

During last lectures, any topic the speaker wants to discuss is open game – and different speakers approach the lecture in different ways. Speakers and audience members alike are invited to contemplate the meaning of their actions and triumphs in higher learning.

Harvey, who said she was “incredibly flattered” to be included on the list of speakers – which has included GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and men’s basketball head coach Mike Jarvis – took full advantage of her chance to ponder exactly what her last lecture would include.

She arrived at GW in 1991 after many successes in academia, turning down offers from the Foreign Service. Harvey received her doctorate from the University of Washington. She has been honored by the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Toulouse.

“She brought new perspectives to something that seemed so basic,” said Darryl Diamond, a junior in the School of Media and Public Affairs. “She questioned the last lecture in itself, as opposed to others who might have shared their life experiences.”

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