West Virginia University’s 2001 Festival of Ideas lecture series begins Monday, Feb. 19, with a talk by African American scholar Dr. Cornel West.

The eight-event lecture series continues through March 21, and is designed to expose students to a variety of”timely, thought-provoking issues presented by speakers from today’s headlines,”said WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. Hardesty, who initiated the series in the 1960s as a student leader and brought the idea back during his administration.

Along with West, the series features: ivillage.com co-founder Candice Carpenter on Tuesday, Feb. 27; physicist and best-selling author Dr. Brian Greene on Tuesday, March 6; and Ronan Tynan of The Irish Tenors on Monday, March 19. Also slated to speak is author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou on Tuesday, March 13 and Ben&Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield on Thursday, March 15.

Festival of Ideas audiences will also hear from experts on two panels. The first,”Lessons from the Frontline,”is set for Thursday, Feb. 22 and will focus on success tips from prominent WVU alumniW.Va. State Tourism Commissioner&Bureau of Commerce Chief Alisa Bailey; WVU Foundation Board member and president of Craig Underwood Consultants, Craig Underwood; and OraSure Technologies Senior Vice President Bill Hinchley.

The second panel,”Big Story: The Extraordinary Path to Winning the Pulitzer,”will be on Wednesday, March 21 and feature Pulitzer Prize winners David Halberstam, Liz Balmaseda, Tom French and Terry Wimmer.

Dr. West’s Feb. 19 lecture,”Race&Democracy,”begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. He is the author of 15 books, including the best-selling”Race Matters.”

In his talk, West educates his audiences in the ways in which poverty, paranoia, despair and distrust encourage racial divisions. He discusses how these racial divisions ultimately weaken a democracy.

All Festival lectures are free and open to the public. They begin at 7:30 p.m. and are produced by WVU students. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call (304) 293-SHOW (7469) or visit Arts&Entertainment Online atwww.events.wvu.edu.