Actor Richard Dreyfuss to Speak Twice at U.Va. on Monday

November 12, 2009

November 12, 2009 — Actor and activist Richard Dreyfuss will discuss the importance of teaching civics in schools at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs on Monday at 11 a.m.

This event is free and open to the public. However, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. This event will be webcast live at the Miller Center Web site.

Dreyfuss' speech is part of the Miller Center's Forum series and will be held at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, located at 2201 Old Ivy Road in Charlottesville.

Dreyfuss also will speak at 3 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the Mary and David Harrison Institute/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Clips from his movies will be shown, and a question-and-answer session will follow. Refreshments will be provided.

Since 2006, Dreyfuss has organized and promoted campaigns about what he considers to be the potential erosion of individual rights. He serves on the National Constitution Center's Board of Trustees in Philadelphia. Dreyfuss frequently speaks and writes in favor of privacy, freedom of speech, democracy and individual accountability.

During a recent interview with KPBS in San Diego, Dreyfuss said that "civics" has become a byword for "boring," but Americans shouldn't turn their backs on the subject.

"We are citizens of the only nation bound by ideas only," he said. "And those ideas, which are known as Western civilization or American ideas or the ideas of the Enlightenment, are not only unique to us as the foundation upon which we stand and know who we are, but by not teaching it, we drift off into the netherland of not knowing right from wrong and good from evil."

Dreyfuss has starred in dozens of movies over a career spanning more than 40 years, including "American Graffiti," "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Mr. Holland's Opus." He won an Academy Award for best actor in 1978 for "The Goodbye Girl."