Flip through the channels on television this weekend and you just might see some familiar faces discussing politics from the fifth floor of the student center.
Last semester, Garrett Sheldon, the John Morton Beaty Professor of Political Science, received a grant to bring in outside scholars to speak to students interested in government. An opportunity for the campus, it led to other ambitions as well — namely a CAV-TV program called “Thoughts & Talk.”
“Since I was bringing in these guys, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to do something on CAV-TV with them for the whole college and community to benefit,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon brought his idea to Keith Fowlkes, the college’s vice chancellor for information technology, who now serves as the show’s director, producer and editor.
Fowlkes welcomed the vision of a program modeled after conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Firing Line,” which ran on PBS from 1966 to 1999.
The idea was like Buckley’s show — to primarily interview a guest through Socratic dialogue with a panel of students asking questions after the main discussion.
After the initial two episodes featuring the two outside scholars — Dr. Jeffry Morrison, Associate Professor at the School of Government at Regent University, and Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, professor at American University in Washington D.C. — Sheldon decided to continue the program, while changing the focus of those interviewed.
“I figured we would start doing our own college faculty,” he said. “People doing books and interesting projects, which is all related back to my field — political theory.”
The show’s topics are typically related to political thought as well as a guest’s field of study. The most recent guests have had concentrations from economics to information technology.
Sheldon said he’s interested in merging political and social sciences with modern topics.
“I want to do [an episode] on music, but it wouldn’t focus on contemporary music or any one type of music,” he said. “For example, Aristotle said that music reflects human emotion. What’s the theory behind that and music’s effects on society in general?” he said.
In the six episodes filmed so far, the student panelists have brought diverse majors as well, including history, administration of justice, government and economics.
Sheldon said he welcomes students interested to become a panelist or just to come watch a taping.
“It’s interesting to see professors talk about subjects like students and not as professors,” he said. “We are not lecturing … we’re thinking, we’re questioning. I think students who have been involved have enjoyed it so far and I think others would, too, seeing their professors really being academics.”
He joked: “I always enjoyed it when my professors were arguing with each other.”
The most recent episode of “Thoughts & Talk,” a discussion with professor Wendy Welch on her new book “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap,” can be viewed on CAV-TV on channel 55 Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. and online at uvawise.edu/tntprogram.
Viewers can expect another episode over winter break, Sheldon said. The program is set to resume filming next semester.
For more information or if interested in participating, contact Sheldon at firstname.lastname@example.org.