Some of my favorite initiatives each year are the ones that involve students creating learning opportunities for each other. This year there are two “chat” series underway, one that features a professor talking with students about non-classroom topics (or, as the organizers describe it, “practical, personal insights that they may not directly address in the classroom”), and another that brings students together in our Blakeley Hall dormitory to learn from a fellow student.
The Faculty Chats series (also called “What Every Student Should Know About _____”) kicked off with Professor Sulmaan Khan whose first talk in the series promised to “challenge your assumptions, make the case for thinking like an historian, and possibly make you see whales in a whole new way.”
The second of the chats featured Professor Michael Glennon, who promised to “share some of his accumulated wisdom on work, life, and the law,” focusing on what he has learned thanks to mentorship, and experience that he wishes he’d had at the outset of his career.
The latest chat invited students to hear from Professors Monica Toft, Ibrahim Warde, and Elizabeth Prodromou. Just this past Wednesday, the three members of the faculty told stories from their careers and reflected on the question, “How did you get here?” And specifically, they discussed how the study of religion informed and impacted their work as academics and practitioners.
And now for the Blakeley Chats, which were actually developed last year after students realized that their classmates had interesting experiences worthy of sharing in a semi-formal setting. (Sort of the mirror image of the faculty chats, which create a relaxed atmosphere for faculty and students, the Blakeley Chats give structure to the standard student conversations.)
I haven’t happened to see an announcement of the first chats, but subjects are meant to include jobs, travel, projects, or anything interesting to other students. Last year, some students created presentations or photo slideshows, while others simply, well, chatted.