Courtesy Photo / knpb.org
Filmmaker Ken Burns shoots a scene

Courtesy Photo / knpb.org Filmmaker Ken Burns shoots a scene

Tara Aday

As a filmmaker and producer who specializes in American history, Ken Burns will help educate Grand Valley State University students about the future of our country as a part of the university’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Burns will hold a question and answer session next Thursday at the Cook-DeWitt Center at 1 p.m., and his main lecture, titled “The Next 50 Years in the United States,” will be held at 7 p.m. at the Pew Campus’ Eberhard Center.

GVSU film and video professor Jim Schaub said Burns, who has covered subjects from the American Civil War to more recent work on national parks in his 30-year experience as a documentary filmmaker, is an authority on America’s future.

“(Burns’) ability to understand and appreciate history gives him a solid basis for looking into the future,” he said. “He does meticulous research and delves deeply into a subject and is driven to get to the core of the issue he is presenting.”

Burns is the third and final lecturer of GVSU’s Distinguished Academic Lecture series.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will consist of a discussion on the American experience. It will end with a question and answer session about the U.S., and the next 50 years.

The Ann Arbor native has earned numerous film and television awards, including four Emmy Awards.

GVSU associate vice president Jon Jellema said Burns’ work, which captures a wide range of America’s diverse history, made him a good choice for the upcoming lecture.

“Burns’ documentary films have all been backward looking,” said Jellema, who is also the head of the subcommittee in charge of selecting the lecturers. “We asked him to use the insights he has gained from looking back in our country’s history to make some observations about what the next 50 years may hold.”

Film and video professor Margo Greenlaw said Burns’ attention to detail and his background in an array of subjects logically translates into him being an engaging lecturer.

“(Burns’) work relates to many departments at GVSU including communications, film and video, broadcasting, history, American studies, anthropology and so on, which echoes Grand Valley’s model of providing students with a liberal arts education,” Greenlaw said. “Many people across disciplines know and appreciate his work, so I believe he’ll draw an enthusiastic and diverse crowd.”

[email protected]