Symposium Day to explore relationships
September 24, 2013
Augustana College will open its doors to the entire community on Thursday, Sept. 26, to talk about the meaning of relationships. Faculty and guest speakers will explore the idea from different perspectives – romance, art, science and technology – as they seek a broader understanding of relationships in every shape and form.
The event is called Symposium Day, and marks the second year the college has embraced its liberal arts roots in a way that is rare, if not unique, in the world of colleges and universities. Three times a year, Augustana gives all students and faculty the day off for the purpose of coming together around a common theme, and invites the larger community to participate.
“Many of the panel discussions are connected to technology, personal and sexual relationships, social justice, relationships with food, music, art, theater. It’s quite an eclectic collection,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain, one of the organizers and the college’s associate dean of curriculum and engagement.
Individuals outside the college are invited to start the day at 10 a.m., and wind up at 2:45 p.m. There will be four sets of one-hour presentations. Anyone who wants to participate can find the schedule of events posted on the college’s website at: www.augustana.edu/symposiumday.
One of the featured speakers is Nicci Bosco ’09, an executive with LinkedIn, a popular networking site with 225 million members. She will lead an examination of the various uses of technology in relationships, and the manner in which people now present themselves to make new connections.
Another speaker is author Daniel Libman, who wrote the book, Married But Looking, which explores fantasies about adultery, as well as monogamy that is preserved through the “sheer persistence of the human heart.”
The evolution of this public exercise in liberal arts education came about almost by accident, according to Associate Dean Kristin Douglas, another organizer. Last year, she said, construction projects around campus reached a point where it became difficult to schedule some regular classes. “So we expanded our tradition of outside speakers, and created a super-sized version,” she said. “And we are practicing what we preach in liberal arts, which is to analyze something from different perspectives, and to be involved with our community.”
The result, Symposium Day, became something she is unaware exists on any college or university campus anywhere else in the nation.
Two more Symposium Days are scheduled, and again the public will be invited. The winter term symposium on January 20 will coincide with Martin Luther King Day, and will be centered around social justice. The spring symposium on May 7 will highlight student and faculty research projects, including subjects ranging from the sciences to elementary education, music and the visual arts.
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