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Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series 2016-17

Envisioning the Future

This year, the Sharp Viewpoint Speaker Series will ask an economist, a politician, and a science blogger to share with us their view of what the world will look like, fifty years from now.

Jonathan WightJonathan B. Wight
Reading the Tea Leaves: Predicting the World in 50 Years
February 9, 7 p.m.
Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium

Jonathan Wight explores the failures and successes in economic predictions.  What do past predictions tell us about future predictions?  Will the U.S. economy be eclipsed by China?  Will global warming and environmental decay wreak havoc with a sustainable economy?  What is the future of ISIS versus the West?  Will changing immigration policies help or hurt the U.S. economy?  Will the aging Baby Boomers destroy Social Security by 2050?  Sit back and explore these and other vexing questions.

Jonathan B. Wight is Professor of Economics and International Studies in the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond, where he has been since 1982.  He was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Africa and Latin America. He earned his undergraduate degree at Duke University and spent a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Portland, Oregon before going on to receive his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University.  

Wight is the author of Ethics in Economics: An Introduction to Moral Frameworks (Stanford University Press, 2015), three other books, and numerous journal articles. Previous books include Saving Adam Smith: A Tale of Wealth, Transformation and Virtue (2002), an academic novel that brings the founder of economics back to life in the present. Wight received the In-Character Award from the John Templeton Foundation and the Distinguished Educator Award from the University of Richmond.  He is past-President of the Association for Social Economics and co-founder of the blog, Ethics and Economics.  He enjoys hiking, biking, reading, and photography.

Jennifer McClellanSenator Jennifer McClellan
Adapting Policy to Changes in Technology
March 29, 7 p.m.
Queally Center Pavilion, Queally Center for Admission and Career Services

Jennifer McClellan was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2017. She serves on the Senate Transportation, Local Government, and Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committees.  She also serves on the Virginia Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the Capital Region Caucus (Co-Chair), the Women's Health Care Caucus, and the Legislative Advisory Council of the Southern Regional Education Board. Prior to being elected to the Senate, Jennifer served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 11 years, where she was a member of the House Education, Commerce & Labor, and Courts of Justice Committees, the Virginia Crime Commission, and the Ethics Advisory Council.  Jennifer serves on a wide variety of community, non-profit, and health care provider boards, and is Assistant General Counsel at Verizon Communications.

Rose EvelethRose Eveleth
The Future is for Everyone
April 3, 7 p.m.
Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium

How do we build futures and imagine tomorrows that include everybody? Why do kitchens of the future still imagine women staying home and doing the cooking? Who really wants to live forever? Too often our imagined tomorrows are intellectually monochromatic. This talk will explore where futurism comes from, where it has taken us so far, and how to open the door for people who are imagining futures for everybody. 

Rose Eveleth is a journalist who covers how humans tangle with science and technology. She’s the host and producer of Flash Forward, a podcast about the future, and has covered everything from fake tumbleweed farms to sexist prosthetics. In her spare time, she makes paper automata and day dreams about hanging out with a pack of foxes.

About the Sharp Series

The Richard L. Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series was established in 2011 in honor of Richard L. Sharp, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, to present competing views on topics crucial to our nation and global society.

Sharp was a recognized thought leader and an exemplar of personal and professional integrity who served as a mentor to aspiring business and community leaders. His professional career included the founding of Applied Systems, Inc. in 1975. In 1982 he joined Circuit City as executive vice president and led its development as a national consumer electronics retailer from 1984 to 2002 and also served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board. Under his leadership, Circuit City developed into one of the nation’s Fortune 500 businesses.

Throughout the 1990s he masterminded Circuit City’s venture into CarMax, which revolutionized the automotive retail industry, growing it into the nation’s largest retailer of previously owned cars. He retired as chairman of the board in June 2007. Most recently he served as chairman of the board of Crocs, Inc. from 2005 to 2010. He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in late 2010 but continued to demonstrate his values of leading by example, helping shape the landscape of Virginia through his personal philanthropy, and by inspiring and motivating others to give back to their community. Sharp passed away on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at his home.