Tweets, re-tweets, and other ways to think out loud. You’ve got all your great thoughts—now it’s time to share them. One of the most exciting occurrences in an academic community is getting together with others and hashing it out. Whether it’s Beowulf’s motivation, quantum cryptography, or where to get the best pizza in Boston, members of the BU community will eagerly discuss any subject. Any time. Any forum. Any topic. Keep reading...
Your assignment: Summarize the world’s eight major religions. In 140 characters or less.
Religion Professor Stephen Prothero did just that on his Twitter account last year. (Visit @sprothero. It’s pretty great.) It was just one of the countless innovative and vital ways that the BU community finds to talk, share, communicate, interact, and exchange our many, many thoughts.
Twitter isn’t just the purview of religion professors. Students on Alternative Spring Break reported their exploits from around the country to the BU community. Tweets ranged from the funny (“We’ve named our van Mumtaz Marie. The story is too long to explain.”) to the touching (“Building a wheelchair ramp for a 5yr old today...then wheelchair basketball tonight! So very excited...Love it!”).
Another place to share ideas is the new BUniverse, a website for the BU community to upload their multimedia views of the world. With a fascinating range of contributions from alumni, professors, students, and staff, BUniverse captures the BU zeitgeist in a whole new way.
Face to face works, too
The old-fashioned analog way of sharing ideas continues to be popular as well. Logging more than 20,000 visitors this year, the Howard Thurman Center continues to be a haven to learn about other people, other beliefs, other music, and otherness of all kinds. The popular new Coffee & Conversation series gives students a chance for some civil conversation—with insightful poking and prodding courtesy of Dean of Students Kenn Elmore.
If you yearn to think in a new language, the College of Arts & Sciences has begun offering free, informal introductory classes in five languages: Turkish, Arabic, Wolof, Chinese, and Hausa. And in fall 2010 three more languages were added: Dari/Tajik, IsiXhosa, and Russian. Why those languages? The money to pay for the Globally Speaking program comes via a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense and is aimed at strengthening ROTC students’ knowledge of languages deemed important to national security. Although targeted to ROTC students, the courses are open to everyone.
There’s even a new way to share issues privately and confidentially. Acting on a report by the Faculty Council on Diversity & Inclusion, BU established an ombuds office to help faculty, staff, and students bring forward matters related to life, work, or study at the University.
Making their opinions known
It’s easy to peg students as interested only in mundane issues as they share ideas: they’re flopped on the floors of dorm hallways, empty pizza boxes at their feet, joking about how slow the T runs. And while not even BU is averse to a good late-night gabfest, the reality is BU students are passionately involved in the important issues of the University.
In 2010, students worked alongside faculty and administrators in shaping policies that affected their lives inside and outside the classroom, including:
- Environmental sustainability
- Information technology and support
- Admissions practices
- Selection of new deans
- Rules governing alcohol, housing, and other quality of-life issues on campus
- Allocation of money to student organizations, clubs, and services
And that’s just to name a few. The healthy exchange of ideas—and the idea that the faculty and administration are here for our students—is alive and well at BU.