In order to create opportunities for Collinsites to learn from the leading thinkers across IU and to discuss issues pertinent to them within the university, the Board of Educational Programming, in conjunction with other student leaders, puts on a number of fireside chats each year. These fireside chats take the form of informal conversations where IU Faculty members share their research, thoughts, and/or goals about learning, teaching, and researching at IU.
This year has been particularly busy for our Fireside chats, with past highlights including Dean Paul Gutjahr (Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities and Undergraduate Education and Ruth Halls Professor, English) in October and Dr. Lizzie Grennan Browning (Co-Director of Sustain Collins and Associate Director, Integrated Program in the Environment) in February. During the week of February 28th, we were able to continue this exciting series with two very prominent guests.
On Tuesday March 1st, Collins welcomed IU President Pamela Whitten for a Fireside chat. Over the course of 90 minutes, Collinsites had the opportunity to explain all the intricacies of Collins, its goals, and its important place in the university to the president and to hear President Whitten’s vision for the future of IU. Collinsites were able to ask President Whitten about her goals and ideas on a number of the most pressing issues for students today, including the future of liberal arts education, campus environmental sustainability plans, new visions for student-facing resources, and the continued use of public health measures. This conversation was a meaningful opportunity for Collinsites to think about IU and the past, present, and future of the university and academia.
Shifting from the most important issues facing the university to the most important issues facing the world, on Thursday March 3rd, Dean Padraic Kenney, the Associate Dean for Social and Historical Sciences and Graduate Education and Professor of History and International Studies came to discuss the current political situation in Ukraine. With Dean Kenney, Collinsites learned about the political history and relations between Russia and Ukraine over the past three decades and discussed how history can be helpful and how history can be limiting in understanding the current conflict. Dean Kenney answered questions about Ukraine’s relationship with Europe and Russia, the United State’s role in the conflict, and what students in the US can do today to help. This chat with one of our own former directors was a timely way to consider how historical studies may or may not be helpful in understanding modern conflict.
While these two Fireside chats have been particularly exciting and high-profile, there are several other fireside chats to look forward to in the coming weeks, including: Daniel Kearns (Professor, Biology), Lara Kriegel (Associate Professor of History and English and Director, Collins Living-Learning Center), and a special meet and greet with the Collins Faculty Curriculum Committee.