Common Hour's monopoly on Friday lectures will soon come to an end with the start of Bowdoin Student Government's "Uncommon Hour."
The program is styled after TED talks, a series of lectures featuring thinkers who are behind breakthroughs in science and cultural studies. Student-nominated professors will share their personal stories and research on those Fridays without a scheduled Common Hour.
The idea behind the program was that students majoring in government or art history do not necessarily take classes with Bowdoin's mathematics and biology professors, and vice versa. With only eight semesters' worth of classes, it's difficult to explore every field of study.
"We all pick our major and our concentration, and often we don't get to hear from professors that are very well known in their fields," said Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) Vice President for Student Affairs Allen Wong '14, the driving force behind the initiative. "Through this vehicle, we're hoping that students will get the opportunity to hear from professors they wouldn't have otherwise."
Other colleges have started similar programs in recent years. The University of Virginia's "Look Hoos Talking" began in 2011, which features talks from eight professors in one evening. Yale University has a long-standing tradition of "Master's Teas," which are hosted at the school's residential colleges.
TED talks strive to provide innovators and thinkers with forums to share ideas in a brief, accessible manner. TED, an acronym for technology, entertainment and design, has released lectures from its conferences online since 2006, and reports that its videos have been watched over 500 million times.
In keeping with the TED value of brevity, where all lectures are limited to 18 minutes, professors will be limited to the same constraint, followed by 12-minute question-and-answer sessions. The lectures will start at 12:30 p.m. in the Shannon Room.
"I know in TED talks, abstract and heady ideas are made accessible," said Evan Horwitz '15. "This has the potential to bring learners from across the disciplines together to share their diverse knowledge."
BSG plans to collect nominations starting on Monday.
Students can submit their suggestions on the BSG website or at stations that will be set up at Thorne Hall, Moulton Union and Smith Union.
The first "Uncommon Hour" is scheduled for March 2. BSG hopes to hold three talks this semester and will treat the program as a pilot. Whether or not the initiative continues next year will depend on how successful it is this spring.
"Evaluating this program will depend on several factors. We will look at the attendance of this event, the willingness of professors to participate and the reception of the speakers by the students," said Wong. "We'll how it goes, but we'd like to see this continue and make it an annual program."