Saturday, March 07, 2009

Enlightening Friday

Yesterday at the university, I had two out-of-the ordinary and edifying experiences:
  • I attended a workshop on the topic of diversity. Dr. Aaron Thompson of Eastern KY University was on campus to facilitate discussions about the diversity at our university and the opportunities we have to capitalize on it: in our classes, in activities across campus, for our students' benefit, for our own development, etc. He set a pleasant, interactive tone and engaged us in so much getting-to-know-you conversation that we ran out of time to hear everything that he had prepared for the presentation itself. I hope that this will be the first in a series of such events and not just a one-time effort at "diversity training" to be checked off (e.g., "There, we covered diversity. Next issue?").
  • I attended a discussion on John Steinbeck. It was the final event in a week-long series of Steinbeck-focused presentations and discussions as part of the 4th annual Albers Humanities Festival. Self-described "public humanities scholar" Clay Jenkinson led us in conversation spurred by his sharing a few examples of Steinbeck's writing (in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, in The Grapes of Wrath, and in Travels with Charley). I love Steinbeck and had hoped to attend several of this week's events, but I had too much work to complete until I finally decided to put it on hold for at least last night's session. I enjoy listening to Jenkinson's radio program The Thomas Jefferson Hour; on it and during other public presentations, he speaks so intelligently on a wide variety of topics, both historical and current, both political and literary. It was fun to hear him and others talk about Steinbeck's writing and to be reminded why I enjoy reading Steinbeck's work.

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