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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Professor Jay Mechling to discuss ‘the Millenials’ tonight

You can hardly recall what life was like before the Internet, you text-message at a fervent pace and you probably remember exactly where you were the moment the World Trade Center towers fell.

Professor Jay Mechling of the American studies department will give a lecture on the generation that fits this descriptionthe Millennials, born between 1982 and 2000.

Mechling’s talk, titled “You Millennials Aren’t as Bad (or as Good) As Everyone Says You Are, is part of the Last Lecture Series, sponsored by ASUCD’s Academic Affairs Commission. The talk will take place today at 6:10 p.m. in Griffin Lounge in the Memorial Union.

The idea behind the Last Lecture Series is to have a professor give a talk as if it really was their last lecture, said Daniel Stevens, junior political science and economics double major and Academic Affairs Commission member.

“[Professors] are free to talk about anything they wantit can be something they are teaching or anything else they want to talk about,Stevens said.

“[Professors are asked], ‘If you could only talk about one other thingwhat would it be, what’s the most important thing you would like to share with an audience?’” said Marcus Tang, junior political science and communication major and chair of the Academic Affairs Commission.

For this installment, Mechling said he chose to speak on the Millennials because youth culture is one of his main research interests and teaching topics.

Mechling said he feels that older generations tend to always complain about today’s youthsomething he has little patience for and plans to explore in his lecture.

“I take the folklorist’s approach to understanding youth cultures, which is to say that I like a fieldwork-based approach where I get to see the youth cultures through the eyes and ears of the participants,he said in an e-mail interview.

He also will delve into the way new media has impacted the current youth culture.

“Most interesting to me is the effect of electronic communication on the long-established patterns of friendship groups [and] gender roles,he said.There may even be some important cognitive consequences of the new media.

Tang said the Last Lecture Series is just one of the ways the Academic Affairs Commission tries to give students a greater appreciation for the university.

“Professors are doing so many different things, they’re so knowledgeable, [this event is] a way for students to see a professor outside of the classroom context,he said.

The commission nominates professors to speak at the events.

“[The commission] picked Professor Mechling because other members of the commission [and I] have had classes with him and found his style of lecture engaging. Also, he has a great sense of humor,said Jack Zwald, vice chair of the Commission and sophomore international relations major in an e-mail interview.

Participating in the Last Lecture Series is fitting for Mechling, as this is his last academic year teaching at UC Davis.

“[The Last Lecture Series] is a classic formatmy last time to talk about big ideas with students,he said.

Upon retiring from teaching, Mechling said he still has a variety of writing projects to complete, including his first attempt to write a mystery novel.


ANNA OPALKA can be reached at campus@theaggie.org


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