Emory Report

September 13, 1999

 Volume 52, No. 4

Frye examines the possibilities for 2000-01 'Year of Reconciliation' at Emory

Focusing on reconciliation as a central theme for research, teaching and service during 2000-2001 provides Emory with opportunities to fulfill University goals articulated in Choices & Responsibility, according to Chancellor Billy Frye.

A Universitywide exploration of reconciliation "provides opportunities for building community and encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue, teaching and research," said Frye. The theme also reflects some of the main strengths and interests of the University and provides an opportunity to showcase the work of its faculty, he added.

The initial idea to explore reconciliation arose from discussions Provost Rebecca Chopp had with Dean Woody Hunter of the law school, former theology Dean Kevin LaGree and other faculty.

"The idea was for a symposium on reconciliation, but it quickly became apparent that the range of activities and programs on this theme could not be squeezed into a two-day event," Frye said. A consensus developed that reconciliation should be the focus of the entire 2000-2001 academic year, capped by a major symposium. A specific date for the symposium has yet to be set, pending approval by the keynote speaker.

Chopp and symposium co-chairs Frye, Robert Agnew, John Stone and Steve Kraftchick have been and will continue to discuss the theme with deans, faculty, staff, students across the University. "We hope these discussions and President Chace's announcement will stimulate many to come forth with their own ideas," Frye said. "They need not be tied to our program, centering around the symposium, but can be developed however different units and individuals would like. We are ready to give advice and coordinate whenever that would be helpful."

The four co-chairs will be assisted by a small steering committee and a larger advisory committee. "We hope these groups will not only help develop and critique ideas for the symposium but serve as avenues of communication-about the year and the symposium-across the entire University," said Frye. Most major units in the University are represented on the advisory committee, but as the year develops, some units may designate their own teams to develop and implement ideas.

In the academic realm, Frye points to two recent books on reconciliation that might serve as catalysts for interdisciplinary conversation. Concilience by E.O. Wilson "is based on the thesis that there is one ultimate 'true' explanatory system of our universe, and therefore that while there may be different legitimate approaches to true explanations of things, they all must be internally compatible," Frye explained.

The second book, Rocks of Ages by Stephen Gould, takes a different position, at least with respect to science and religion, said Frye. Gould argues "that we are dealing with two different ways of understanding our universe that have nothing to do with one another . . . and thus explanations of the universe provided by the one cannot be assessed against those of the other because they occupy completely different explanatory realms."

While Frye finds Wilson's position more compelling personally, he stressed that "both are worth considering and epitomize in their own ways what scholarship is all about."

-Elaine Justice

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