At the Intersections of Intellect
September 20, 2015
You’re discussing the role of the doctor in society. The conversation shifts from ethical to literary considerations, then to biomedical and political issues. You’re with 12 students—impassioned, enthralled, and gathered around a well-worn table in one very historic space—a 193-year old pavilion on the Lawn, designed by Thomas Jefferson and permeated with his ideals.
Welcome to your Pavilion Seminar.
Designed to provide innovative liberal arts seminars on topics with contemporary, multi-disciplinary relevance to small groups of engaged students, the Pavilion Seminars Program launched in spring 2011, thanks to a Jefferson Trust grant. With additional gifts from several donors, the seminars have expanded and are drawing more students. The Trust, supported by alumni and donor-trustees, awards grants to various areas of the University each year.
Held in the Academical Village setting of pavilions on the Lawn, the seminars are taught by distinguished faculty from departments within the College of Arts & Sciences and other areas across the University, including an expert on global health from the School of Medicine.
The seminars bring together students from varied majors and intellectual backgrounds for stimulating discussion of vital questions of ethics, human nature, politics, aesthetics, nature, law, space, survival, and more. With enrollment limited to 15 third- and fourth-year students per class, the seminars cultivate an environment of intellectual intimacy and interdisciplinary learning, aligned with Jefferson’s original plans for the University and the Academical Village.
Spring 2015 seminars included such topics as the following:
- Is Democracy Possible Everywhere?
- The Doctor
- Global Islam
- Celebrity & Human Condition
The program has had a clear impact on the academic life of both students and participating faculty:
“This was an amazing class. It was really eye opening and even landed me a research position this summer.”—student in Geometry and Imagination, taught by Slava Krushkal, professor of mathematics.
“I can’t say enough about how great this course was . . . the diverse group of opinions in the class caused me to reevaluate my initial opinions and appreciate the complexity of issues such as nuclear proliferation . . . stem cell research and biological warfare.” —student in Science and Politics, taught by Seunghun Lee, Commonwealth Professor of Physics.