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Symposia days to replace convocations this year

June  26, 2012

Paul Loeb

Construction can’t stop Augustana’s tradition of convocations, but renovations to the interior of Old Main have given college leaders reason to rethink the format and schedule for convocations during the 2012-13 academic year. The faculty senate approved one day in each term – Sept. 27, Jan. 23 and April 9 – for students and faculty to participate in an all-campus, all-day symposium.

Customarily, the college set aside 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for convocations and other standing traditions. Because of renovations this academic year, less classroom space is available, and one-day events will offer a new format for the campus community to come together to think about issues and topics.

The topic of the September symposium is civic engagement, and Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen, will present a keynote address. The January symposium will focus on environmental issues, and in April, the topic will be social justice.

Themes were chosen for symposia days that can be addressed from many disciplines. Dr. Kristin Douglas, associate dean of the college, explained, “For example, with the fall theme of civic engagement, we want students to understand that civic engagement viewed through the lens of a chemist, a philosopher, or an artist, might initially appear different, but the similarities are many.”

Thinking about issues and topics from multiple viewpoints and engaging in interdisciplinary discussions is an important aspect of a liberal arts education. Dr. Douglas said, “Common experiences provide an ‘excuse’ for students and faculty in different disciplines to learn together and discuss issues with people who have different areas of expertise.

“Tackling the problems of today and tomorrow necessitate an understanding of the problem from a wide variety of perspectives and working together with experts from many fields to identify solutions. These symposia days will provide a mechanism for Augustana students to practice their skills in the presence of their mentors and peers, so that they are ready to face the challenges of the real world.”

The general public will be invited to attend the free lectures that are part of these events. Times and locations will be released closer to the event dates.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833