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Nancy Webber
Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculties

Last modified: Friday, April 4, 2008

Michael Bess inaugural speaker for Chancellor's Professors' Distinguished Masters series

April 4, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Chancellor's Professor of History, Michael Bess, will speak about "The Virtues of Selfishness as a Teacher" in the first lecture of the new Indiana University Chancellor's Professors' Distinguished Masters Invited Lecture Series on Monday, (April 7) at 4 p.m. in the Moot Court Room of the IU Law School. There will be a reception following the lecture in the Federal Room at the Indiana Memorial Union.

Michael Bess

Michael Bess

"This new lecture series gives our Chancellor's Professors the opportunity to bring distinguished scholars who share their passion for teaching and learning to our campus, to speak about engaging students in the inspiration of discovery and creative pursuit," said Jeanne Sept, dean of faculties and vice provost for academic affairs at IU. Each year former Chancellor's Professors from Indiana University Bloomington will recommend an outstanding colleague from another university to speak.

Michael Bess is a specialist in twentieth-century Europe, with a particular interest in the social and cultural impacts of technological change. He is the author of three books -- Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II (Knopf, 2006); The Light-Green Society: Ecology and Technological Modernity in France, 1960-2000 (2003), which won the George Perkins Marsh prize (2004) of the American Society for Environmental History and an Honorable Mention (2004) from the Pinkney Prize committee of the Society for French Historical Studies; and Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud: Four Activist Intellectuals and Their Strategies for Peace, 1945-1989 (1993). He is currently writing a research monograph entitled Icarus 2.0: Technology, Ethics, and the Quest to Build a Better Human.

Bess has received fellowships from the National Institutes of Health/National Human Genome Research Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Fulbright research grants program, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

Bess received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989, and has been teaching at Vanderbilt ever since. He teaches undergraduate courses on World War II, twentieth-century Europe, and Western Civilization, as well as specialized seminars on environmentalism, the boundaries of the human, or utopian thought. His graduate courses include a survey of the historiography on twentieth-century Europe, and a semester-long workshop to train graduate students for teaching history at the college level. Bess has been awarded the Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the Chair of Teaching Excellence.

For more information on Professor Bess, see . For more information about the lecture, e-mail