One of the most significant challenges we face at Austin College is making sure that our curriculum remains true to our long-held institutional values and at the same time prepares students to take on leadership roles in the contemporary world. As always, today’s Austin College students are learning to think deeply, to communicate with style and grace, and to understand diverse viewpoints. Moreover, learning here still takes place in the context of a strong relational community and in ways that connect mind, body, and spirit.
But even as those essentials remain at our core, we encourage students to adapt to new technologies, master new forms of literacy, and engage ever more deeply with ideas beyond the borders of our campus, our community, and our country.
To show you what I mean, let me take advantage of the hyper-text functions of this online format to point you to the digital stories created by our newly returned GO (Global Outreach) Fellows. These students spent the summer engaged in individual service learning projects abroad. This fall, under the guidance of Brett Boessen, associate professor of media studies, they learned to translate their experiences into brief, meaningful, documentary films. The resulting digital stories are powerful examples of the way that Austin College provides students with the complex tools they need to navigate the contemporary world. Experience the GO Fellow stories. You will be proud and delighted at what this generation of Austin College students is doing with the opportunities the College provides.
Another example of the ways in which the College is using newer types of media is the virtual campus tour. We always want prospective students to visit Austin College in person and experience for themselves the sense of community that is a hallmark. This online tour, however, provides video of the campus and allows visitors to hear from students about the valuable learning opportunities afforded them.
I, too, am adapting to opportunities to communicate in newer ways with wider audiences. I soon will participate in the 2011 Magic and Meaning conference in Las Vegas. Every year, my husband Larry and some of his colleagues from the McBride Magic School host a conference devoted to philosophical and artistic issues in performance magic. It is a unique gathering of academics and artists, and we look forward to it every year. The talks all are short—less than 20 minutes each—and like the TED (Technology. Entertainment. Design.) talks, are designed to pack “big” thoughts into “small” packages. Each must be Youtube friendly. See what I had to say about artistic style at last year’s conference.
Speaking of big thoughts, magic, and meaning, I hope to see many of you at Homecoming later this month and look forward to speaking with you between the many magical opportunities that event will hold for all of us.
Marjorie Hass, President