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Arts and Letters to foster student discussion

Matthew Smedberg | Thursday, October 9, 2003

The College of Arts and Letters is looking to revive the “Residing in a World of Ideas” initiative that began two years ago to foster discussion of important events and ideas in a non-classroom setting.

The initiative, started under the direction of then-Associate Dean Greg Dowd and now under the direction of his successor, Hugh Page, provides support for students who wish to bring members of the campus community together in the residence halls to discuss current issues.

The program is part of the College’s commitment to fostering not only first-class scholarship and undergraduate education, but also to promote a culture of “learning outside the classroom,” applying the information gained in a formal academic setting to the real-world problems which surround us.

Under the program in Spring 2002, students organized a discussion of the issues in the Middle East, particularly the Israel-Palestine conflict. That event covered three evenings: discussion panels in Keough and Walsh halls and a Seder meal (the traditional Jewish Passover supper) in the Hesburgh Center.

The panels consisted of three or four professors each and two students, but the College visualizes this as a student-run and student-driven undertaking. It is the responsibility of students to submit the applications to the College and set the agenda for the discussions.

“What are students passionate about at Notre Dame?” asked Page. “What is pressing in their lives? This program is designed so that we can have more meaningful dialogue in our community.”

The Office of Student Affairs is assisting the initiative with financial support.