Great Books, Great Questions: Interdisciplinary liberal arts education in Canada
A symposium dedicated to discussing past experiences, present realities, and future challenges
June 27—June 29, 2012
University of King’s College
Halifax, NS Canada
Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of its Foundation Year Programme, the University of King’s College, through its Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, invites scholars from diverse perspectives who share a commitment to interdisciplinary, undergraduate, liberal arts education in Canada to take part in this national symposium. For many years, Canadian universities have been the sites of remarkable initiatives that both complement and challenge traditional discipline-based approaches to undergraduate education. As well, the centrality of ‘core texts’ and ‘core questions’ in these approaches has engendered fruitful debate regarding the character of undergraduate education itself, particularly in the humanities, but also in the sciences and with respect to the relation between the humanities and the sciences. And yet many of us are unaware of what others are doing in this regard. It is time to gather and talk face to face.
This symposium will offer opportunities for (1) scholarly papers and (2) round-table discussions on topics both theoretical and practical in nature. Plenary addresses are planned to coincide with the Foundation Year Programme’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
1. Paper/Panel Proposals
Proposals for individual papers and panels could include topics such as:
• What are the liberal arts and do they have role in Canadian higher education?
• The liberal arts and the history of universities
• Does this count? Liberal arts, civic education and the politics of "accountability"
• Why read? Articulating purpose to ourselves, our students, our communities
• The Past and Future of the Great Books
• The question of ‘The Canon’ (Western or non)
• The Sciences and/vs the Humanities? Can the liberal arts span the ‘two cultures’ divide?
• The ‘End of the Tradition’
• Lost in Translation? (choosing translations)
• ‘Other’ Voices: Diversity and Intersections of Difference
• Is it just about books? The place of the visual arts, music, technology and material culture
• Text and/vs Context? The Place of ‘History’ in Great Books Education
• The Place of Religion in Great Books Education (Jerusalem, Athens, Baghdad, Rome...)
• Teaching ‘X’ (The Bible, Shakespeare, Plato...): texts that challenge faculty and students alike
Papers will be organized into sessions or panels, and should be between 20 and 30 minutes in length, depending on the number of papers per session. We will plan to maximize time for discussion.
2. Roundtable discussions
Central to the conception of this symposium is the goal of bringing together scholars engaged in this kind of educational initiative across Canada in order to ‘compare notes’ concerning the practical challenges and possibilities that we face. Several round-table discussions are envisaged that could focus on such themes as:
• Administration vs faculty? Differing models and experiences of supporting interdisciplinarity within a discipline-based university structure
• The bottom line: university finances and other practical realities we face
• Great books or great questions? Comparing approaches to interdisciplinary education
• What kind of students do we (want to) attract?
• Beyond the ivory tower: liberal arts and community engagement
• Developing credit transfer agreements; student exchange/study abroad programmes
Proposals for papers, panels and round-table discussions should provide:
• Names/institutional affiliations of those who intend to participate
• a 150 to 250-word abstract of the proposed paper/panel/roundtable idea
Conference organizers will vet proposals according to their quality and suitability for engendering fruitful discussion consistent with the goals of the symposium. All submissions and further correspondence should be directed to Dr. Ruthann Lee, Project Manager for the King’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for submission of proposals is Friday Feb 17, 2012.
Registration: Participants will be guests of the University of King’s College for meals and snacks, with the exception of the symposium banquet, for which separate registration and payment will be required. Otherwise there is no registration fee. Further information regarding accommodation and other details will be made available on the forthcoming symposium website.
Outreach: In addition, the symposium will offer participating institutions the chance to showcase throughout the symposium, through poster and other multi-media formats, their respective programmes to interested students, parents, teachers and administrators from the area of the Regional Municipality of Halifax, as well as Nova Scotia in general.
Nova Scotia is an exciting place to visit. Participants interested in combining their symposium experience with other adventures might begin their explorations by visiting http://www.novascotia.com
Ruthann Lee, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, University of King's College, 6350 Coburg Road, Halifax NS Canada B3H 2A1 Email: email@example.com
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