West Virginia University’s Festival of Ideas lecture series continues Thursday (Feb. 16) with a presentation by author and financial columnist James Surowiecki.

The presentation,The Wisdom of Crowds,based on his best-seller, is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms and will look at group dynamics in the decision-making process.

Surowiecki’s column,The Financial Page,is published twice monthly in The New Yorker and incorporates insights from economics, sociology, and business history to make new connections between business and current trends in economics, society and politics.

At the heart of Surowiecki’s book and talk is an explanation as towhy the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business, economies, societies and nations.

Instead of relying on a single person for a good decision, Surowiecki argues that organizations should open up the decision-making process and collect the information and intelligence that’s usually scattered across its different parts. The best decisions will emerge from organizations that value independent judgment by individuals andthe wisdom of crowds.

Surowiecki has written for a wide range of publications on a variety of topics, ranging from what the study of primates can teach us about the economic importance of fairness to the fundamental organizational changes that are propelling America’s current productivity boom. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, and other major publications.

Coming Up:

The Festival of Ideas will also host Judge William H. Webster Monday, March 27. Webster is the Homeland Security Advisory Council vice-chair and a consulting partner in Milbank, Tweed, Hadley&McCloy LLP ’s Washington office.

He served as the director of Central Intelligence from May 1987 until September 1991, where he headed all the foreign intelligence agencies of the United States and directed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Judge Webster has also served as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1978-1987), judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (1973-1978) and judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (1973-1978).

His presentation,ForensicsGuardian or Threat to Our Civil Liberties,is part of the West Virginia Law Review’s annual spring symposium entitled”Brave New WorldDeveloping the Legal Frontier in Light of Forensic and Biometric Advances.This two-day event takes place at the WVU College of Law.

Next up is CNN anchor Anderson Cooper onComing Full Circle : A 360 Degree Look at World Eventson Monday, April 17.

Cooper presents world news from the perspective of both a seasoned journalist and a humanist onAnderson Cooper 360,an unconventional, wide-ranging news program airing on CNN /US weekdays. He provides in-depth coverage of justice, politics, health and pop culture, and does not shy away from challenging issues and hard-hitting stories.

Some of the major breaking news stories Cooper has covered for CNN include the network’s overnight coverage of the war in Iraq as news of the military conflict was unfolding live in Baghdad . He also anchored much of CNN ’s live coverage of the DC-area sniper story and the coverage of the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion. ForAmerica Votes 2004,he moderated a democratic presidential candidate forum that the network jointly sponsored withRock the Vote.

Closer to home, Cooper covered the recent Sago Mine tragedy in Upshur County .

Previous speakers in this year’s series have been Homer Hickam, best-selling author ofRocket Boys,the basis for the critically-acclaimed filmOctober Sky;and James McBride, award-winning writer, composer and saxophonist, who’s landmark memoirThe Color of Waterspent two years on The New York Times bestseller list.

Journalists from CNN , CBS , USA Today , the New York Daily News , the Charleston Gazette and the Poynter Institute also addressed media coverage of the Sago Mine disaster. The panel discussion,Searching for a Miracle: Media Coverage of the Sago Mine Disaster,was coordinated by the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism and will be broadcast on C-SPAN at a later date.

Festival History

The Festival series, now in its 11 th year, is designed to provide WVU students the opportunity to address timely, thought-provoking issues of the day outside of the classroom environment.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. initiated the series in the 1960s while he was a student and brought the idea back to campus during his current administration.

All Festival of Ideas presentations begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballroom. Seating is limited on a first-come, first-served basis.

Festival of Ideas is produced by WVU Arts&Entertainment. For more information, call 293-SHOW or visitwww.events.wvu.edu.