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UNC-system happenings for March 27, 2017

Author of "Hidden Figures" to give UNCG commencement

Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the book “Hidden Figures” from which the movie of the same name is based, will be the commencement speaker for the UNC-Greensboro graduating class of 2017.  

“Hidden Figures” tells the story of three African American women who, while suffering discrimination due to both their gender and skin color, worked for NASA during the space race, solving intense mathematical equations that helped the United States execute a number of space exploration missions. 

Jeff Shafer, UNCG associate vice chancellor, said Shetterly was chosen because of the salience of her book’s message; that if given the opportunity, anyone can achieve great things. He said he hopes Shetterly’s story will inspire the graduating class to achieve their goals in life and empower them to overcome life’s obstacles. 

App State professor publishes study on relationship between future planning and risk taking

Appalachian State University Psychology Professor Andrew Monroe recently published a study that found that thinking about the future, even with an optimistic outlook, may cause people to behave pessimistically and make risk-averse decisions. 

He found there was a mismatch between people’s optimistic ideas of what their futures would look like and their capacity to trust others and make high-risk high-payoff decisions.

Monroe said in an email that the results initially surprised him.

“You might expect that these types of positive thoughts would motivate people to be more trusting and risk-tolerant. (Yet) focusing on this bright and promising future appears to make people more worried about making mistakes or losing out on their desired, imagined future.” 

When asked how future-oriented college students should interpret this finding, Monroe said that, while thinking about the future is critical to success, merely imagining one’s ideal future is not enough. 

“Mistakes are bound to happen, but thinking about how you’re going to get from your present to your future will help you minimize mistakes and seize opportunities.”

Artist to display 'Gun Show' installation at UNC-Asheville

Artist David Hess will be displaying his installation, “Gun Show”, at UNC-Asheville’s third annual art festival on April 8.

Originally part of a collection to highlight the violence of the Persian Gulf War, Hess began making more faux guns in response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. 

By making these "tools of violence” out of common household and industrial materials, such as shoes, crutches and kitchen appliances, Hess said he hopes to highlight how deeply integrated gun culture is into the everyday life of American society. 

Hess, himself a gun owner, said on his website his goal is not to polarize the debate in the U.S. regarding specific gun regulation policies.

Rather, he said his mission is to inspire political and social dialogue with his work.

"The bodily, tactile, and psychic experience of this work allegorically addresses the abstraction of war and the monumentality of modern day violence," he said. "The myth of mechanized warfare has inspired an imaginary detachment from violence."

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