Bestselling novelist and mideast professor to speak

This week’s lectures bring internet activists, a bestselling novelist, and a professor of Islamic studies to the podium.

Title: “Bridging the Technological Divide in Guatemala: A Tale of Community-Building, Mud, Chickens, and the Internet”

The Basics: Randall Shea and Juana Pérez Gómez, volunteers with the San Carlos Foundation, and Jeff Taylor, founder of, will speak about an Internet project to educate village students in Guatemala. Originally from Guatemala, Pérez Gómez moved to Mexico with her family in 1982 to flee the country’s armed internal conflict. She returned home after 14 years in a refugee camp and now teaches in a village middle school. Her husband, Shea, created an educational program for the village youth in Guatemala after leaving his job as an auditor with the Campbell Soup Company. Now advising the newly created village computer center, Shea and his wife will speak about the challenges that came with developing the center, which trains village students in basic computer literacy and internet access. Taylor will also discuss the conception of Guatemala’s Internet project and the challenges of implementing it.

Where: Baker Hall 136A (Adamson Wing)

When: Today at 4:30 p.m.

Subject: New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara

The Basics: Jeff Shaara writes historical fiction about the nation’s most important battles. His father, Michael Shaara, was also a novelist, and the movie Gettysburg was based on his book The Killer Angels. Shaara, following in step, wrote his first novel, Gods and Generals, as a prequel to the film. The novel spent 15 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. Shaara writes from the perspective of historical figures. Shaara will speak as part of the Drue Heinz Lecture Series. In addition to the Civil War, he has written about the Revolutionary War in Rise to Rebellion, World War I in The Last Man, and World War II in his latest novel, The Rising Tide.

Where: Carnegie Music Hall

When: Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Student tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures office at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

Title: Israel and Palestine: Is Peace Possible?

The Basics: Moshe Ma’oz, professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is currently a visiting scholar at Robert Morris University. He received his B.A. and M.A. in history of the Middle East and Arabic language and literature from Hebrew University, and his Ph.D. in history of the Middle East from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, England. He has authored seven books, including Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria and Syria and Israel: From War to Peacemaking. He has also written numerous articles on Israeli-Palestinian relations, political and social issues of the area, and integration and conflict. Ma’oz will talk about the prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine, including plans for peace, and the obstacles and background of the issue.

Where: Porter Hall 100 (Gregg Hall)

When: Wednesday at 7 p.m.