Bridging the Humanities to the Professions

Howard Gardner to speak on creativity and leadership at upcoming Duke Colloquium

When college students focus on acquiring skills to become
doctors, lawyers and financiers, they sometimes lose sight of the importance
that fields such as music, literature and history can have in helping them
reach ethical decisions or live life to the fullest. The Duke Colloquium, a
university-wide initiative dedicated to bridging the humanities and the
professions, brings that philosophical emphasis back in play by inviting
leading scholars to meet with students in small group settings.  

On April 11, the colloquium will host
developmental psychologist and Harvard professor Howard Gardner, who has written extensively about intelligence, creativity,
leadership and professional ethics.

Last year, the colloquium brought Leon Botstein,
a conductor and the president of Bard College, to campus. The public finale was
a conversation led by three students in the Rare Book Room who interviewed
Botstein on the topic of "Intellectual Curiosity and the Professional
Life: Will Your Elite Education Fall Short?"   

David Malone, director of undergraduate studies
in Duke's Program in Education, praised the colloquium as a great opportunity
for students and faculty to reflect together on the purpose of a liberal arts
education and how we should evaluate success.

colloquium represents what college should and can be -- learning in its truest
sense, collaboratively and reciprocally, without those aspects of school that often
impede the learning process," Malone said. "I am excited to continue
these deeply engaging conversations with Howard Gardner."

The colloquium began in 2009 as the brainchild
of Dr. Andrew T. Huang, a Duke Medical School professor and CEO of the Koo
Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center in Tapei, in collaboration with Provost
Peter Lange and a faculty advisory board.

A new
student component of the program -- the Duke Colloquium Fellows -- is
recruiting undergraduate leaders to connect the mission of the colloquium with issues that
are important to Duke students, said sophomore Patrick Oathout, president of the
organization.  To
date, 33 students have been selected and are working in teams to select themes
for future colloquium series. 

"The fellows are
proactive, introspective and inquisitive -- every member is a stakeholder on
campus," said Oathout, who majors in public policy and philosophy. "They
are students who are at ease conversing in a public
forum. They're willing to devote time to thoughtful advance preparation and have
demonstrated an interest in becoming productive members of a global society."

The student
response and commitment to fostering intellectual interaction is gratifying,
said Stephen Nowicki, the dean and vice provost for undergraduate education who
serves as faculty adviser for the new student group.

"A lot
of students are looking for this kind of out-of-class community to share their
interest in some of the bigger questions about what an education should be
about," Nowicki said. "I commend Patrick for his leadership is this

For more
information about Gardner's visit or the fellows program, visit For more
information about the humanities at Duke, see the Humanities Writ Large website.