Campus News

Eddie Glaude Brings Crowd to its Feet at Inaugural Common Hour Lecture

Story posted September 03, 1999

The Common Hour got off to a rousing start Sept. 3, when Eddie Glaude, assistant professor of religion and Africana studies, gave the inaugural lecture, "Bowdoin's Public and its Problems," to an overflow crowd in the Chapel.

The weekly Common Hour was established as a way to allow a free exchange of ideas among all members of the campus community on a wide range of topics. The schedule includes a mix of faculty lecturers and people brought to campus. To encourage attendance, no classes or labs are scheduled between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. each Friday.

Glaude called the Common Hour a good first step.

He argued that Americans’ characteristic individualism fosters a lack of community, which threatens the very democracy Americans hold so dear. He cited, as one of the causes, a lack of real, courageous conversation "without the burden of (politically correct) talk." But looking around the Chapel, he joked that his point had been contradicted by the very presence of the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who packed the hall.

Glaude talked about the College’s stated purpose to use an education for the "Common Good," but he said that has come to mean, "what is good for me". "
Are our habits and hearts in the right place?" he asked.

Glaude’s overriding message came in the form of an intellectual call to arms: He challenged students to "demand the quality educational experience here at Bowdoin that will prepare you for a democratic life." He challenged the faculty to keep their passion alive, to get so excited about what they teach and what they learn that they get goose bumps, and then show the goose bumps to their students so they know how truly exciting the subject is. And he challenged the administration to pay for the academic flexibility and the stream of visiting intellectuals that that kind of environment demands.

"Bowdoin needs to be alive every single day so you can be excited about the life of the mind," said Glaude, who received a standing ovation from the crowd.

In the end, Pres. Robert H. Edwards agreed, offering "a ready heart and hand and checkbook" to anyone who can maintain that passion and organize the kinds of activities Glaude suggested.

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