Last February, the Honors Program invited scholar, Sharon Schuman, to campus to discuss her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.
As I described in a post after the event, Schuman extends Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is dialogic. The more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.
This event was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and members of the Eugene community. During the Q&A session, a student who was not in the Honors Program commented that Schuman seemed to think that polarization was a bad thing. She asked a thought-provoking question: “What’s wrong with polarization?”
Schuman was so intrigued by the student’s question that she continued thinking about it and whether there were positive aspects to polarization. Several months later, she wrote an essay in response. It was published in today’s Register-Guard newspaper as a Guest Viewpoint: “Polarization is Easy; Seeing the Other Side is Hard.” She will also post it on her website, Dialogic Freedom, and I’ll link to that post, as well, once it is up.
The Schuman event and follow-up essay exemplify so much of what is valuable about honors education at community colleges and specifically at Lane Community College:
- encouraging student engagement in intellectual and creative activities with prominent scholars;
- creating spaces for learning outside the classroom;
- bringing together members of the Lane and Eugene communities to consider contemporary scholarship that is highly-relevant to today’s world;
- engaging diverse perspectives; and
- leading to increased critical thinking and broadening the discussion to a significantly wider audience.
In short, the event supported the college’s Core Learning Outcomes and its Core Themes. It is one of many examples of how honors contributes to mission fulfillment and of the valuable service that Lane Community College provides to our community.