Yesterday I held my first lecture of the fall, but the starting gun really goes off next week. After Monday I will be extraordinarily busy for the next three months. It’s going to be my tightest schedule since moving to
The students I met yesterday were eager and interested. And while I realize week-one of your typical freshman year will result in an exaggerated state of eagerness and interest, the discussion I took part in during the break was encouraging.
The break was 15 minutes long. Students got up, went into the hall, got a coffee, stretched their legs, and then came back to chat. Some of them wanted to chat with me.
I had been checking my email, but I suppose if I had wanted privacy I should have gone to my office. So I negotiated some small talk for a bit. Then one student asked about a book on my desk, “The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier. It is a book about poor countries and the effort to help them.
A ton of copies were sent to our university. The academic director left a copy in my mailbox. Of course to my student from
Don’t get me wrong, I might read the book. I am interested in the subject, but it isn’t my usual fare.
Anyway, the student, I’ll call her Sara, commented on how the subject interested her. She wanted to hear some new ideas on how to approach the issue of global poverty. This got a response from a Serbian student who had been listening in. Let’s call her Laura.
No solution brought from the wealthy nations will help poor nations.
That is the gist of what Laura had to say. She spoke of US intervention in the
Sara and I played optimistic devil’s advocates. Then more of the Serbs joined in the conversation. Someone brought up
I managed to get people to agree that such issues cannot be stated in absolutes, and that part of the reason we were at a university was to give such issues a hard look before passing judgment. That felt like the professorial thing to do, but I wanted to dance on the tabletop.
A group of 18-year-olds vigorously debating the merits of Western intervention in the Balkans and the
What I mean by that is: most of these kids aren’t going to become academics. They are in business school. So my job is to get them to understand the heft of these questions they’re asking, get them to see that even when they enter the private sector, these questions shouldn’t fall by the wayside. It looks to be exciting work.