The next installment of the University Advisory Council on Teaching’s
visiting speaker series will feature the youngest college president
in American history, who will discuss his vision of what education
can and should be.
Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, will deliver his lecture,
“Education and the Promise of American Culture,” Tuesday,
Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. in 208 White Hall. The event is free and open
to the public.
“UACT tries to bring speakers to campus who not only would
draw a lot of interest across the Emory community, but a large audience
from outside as well,” said UACT Coordinator Kirsten Rambo.
Botstein should be able to do that. An innovative thinker in the
area of education,
Botstein—who has appeared on national news programs as well
as The Oprah Winfrey Show—has been critical of the
country’s education system.
“Most American institutions are complacent and intellectually
uniform, “ Botstein wrote in his 1997 book Jefferson’s
Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture, which
gave next week’s lecture its name. “American institutions
are largely indistinguishable from each other, interchangeable in
terms of curriculum, faculty and basic campus atmosphere.”
In his book, as he will offer in his lecture, Botstein professes
several innovative ideas for transforming American education not
only at the college level, but at the middle and high school levels
For instance, he suggests eliminating two years of secondary school
since he says adolescents are more mature than their peers from
two or three generations ago. He also proposes smaller classes arranged
more like seminars than the traditional classroom model.
“We thought his ideas were provocative and deserve more attention,”
Since Botstein’s work applies not only to college education
but to secondary education, UACT has been promoting his appearance
to more than 30 area schools and has invited students, staff members
and parents to attend.
In 1975, Botstein was just 23 years old when he became president
of Bard College, located in Annandale-on Hudson, N.Y. In addition
to his presidency of Bard, Botstein is the musical director and
principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. In 1996
Botstein received the Centennial Medal from Harvard University for
his scholarly work.
UACT, which has representatives from each of Emory’s nine
schools, works to address issues and aspects of teaching that reach
across those schools and promotes the development of teaching centers
as well as discussion and reflection on teaching across the University.
Botstein’s appearance is the second event in this year’s
UACT speaker series. In November, Indiana University professor Craig
Nelson participated in a workshop and spoke about “Dysfunctional
Illusions of Rigor in College Teaching.”
In April, UACT will sponsor a luncheon roundtable on “Academic
Integrity and the World Wide Web.”