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'Utopia' conference includes broad range of disciplines

The University of North Georgia (UNG) College of Arts & Letters biannual conference, set for Feb. 28-March 2 on the Dahlonega Campus, will feature discussions and presentations about "Utopia in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences." The conference is open to the public, with partial, full and graduate student registration packages available.

"Led by Dr. Rebecca Johnston in the Department of Music, the program committee has once again offered an opportunity to consider a significant theme in new and creative ways for faculty and independent scholars from multiple disciplines," said Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts & Letters. "This conference represents an exciting opportunity for students, faculty, and staff. It is through sharing research and creative activities in a stimulating setting, both intellectually and in terms of the senses, that we advance knowledge and push the boundaries of our disciplines."

This year marks the third time UNG has hosted the conference. The call for submissions resulted in more than 100 abstracts from around the world; 50 presenters, including experts from Austria, Australia, Brazil and France, were selected for the conference. Colleges and universities from around the state and the country are represented, including Boston College, Georgia Tech, the University of California, Syracuse University, Western Kentucky University, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina, and UNG.

Though all address the conference theme of utopia, areas of discussion are widely varied, and include politics, language, visual and performing arts, history, literature, foreign policy, technology, spiritualism, and economy.

"Typically academic conferences draw multiple academic experts who are speaking about the same area of specialty," Johnston said. "While those conferences are good for people in those disciplines to attend, our conference provides a unique opportunity to access a very high level of scholarship in a broad range of fields."

The keynote speaker is Dr. Angela Jones, an assistant professor of sociology at Farmingdale State College, State University of New York. Her research interests include African-American history, gender, sexuality, and social movements. She has written three books: African American Civil Rights: Early Activism and the Niagara Movement, The Modern African American Political Thought Reader: From David Walker to Barack Obama, and A Critical Inquiry into Queer Utopias

The opening reception, featuring Jespersen speaking on "Utopia and the American Impulse," is set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 and sessions begin at 9 a.m. on March 1.

The graduate student rate for the event is $60, which includes the Friday reception dinner and keynote on Saturday. Also, those only wishing to attend Saturday's academic panels only (no meals, reception or snacks) can pay a $30 registration fee, but must register Saturday between 8-11 a.m. Check in and registration is available from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28 in the university's dining hall and 8-11 a.m. on Saturday, March 1 at the Health & Natural Sciences Building. For more information about the conference, including registration packages, visit the website at http://blog.ung.edu/ungal-conference/.

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