Ask the average Brown undergraduate how much influence he or she has in determining the policies and actions of Brown University, and the answer is likely to be somewhere along the lines of “little to none.” The response is typical for an institution where much of University policy is said to be dictated by the 12 members of the much-discussed Corporation, which has been responsible for overseeing Brown’s future since it was first established in the 1764 Charter of the University. Even UCS, an organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate communication between the student body and the university, has come under fire before for its low student participation and its perceived lack of influence in University policy. A more recent column in the Herald specifically criticized UCS’s selection policies for President Paxson’s strategic planning process, which in turn prompted a rebuttal from UCS President Anthony White ’13. The message is clear: more than ever, many students have felt that their ideas for the University’s present and future go mostly unacknowledged.
But some of these students resolved to do something about it. The Brown Conversation was established in 2012 as an organization whose purpose was to create meaningful discussion about Brown’s educational attitudes and philosophies, particularly those stemming from the implementation of the New Curriculum back in the late 1960s. In their its words: we “are a group of students brought together by the belief that education can and should be engaging, flexible, and relevant. In the spirit of the student architects of Brown University’s New Curriculum, our goal is to enhance the university’s approach to education through ongoing conversation, critical introspection, and concrete projects.” With President Paxson currently in the process of creating and implementing her plans for the future development of the University, Brown Conversation’s aims are more relevant than ever.
Interested in adding your voice to the discussion? Brown Conversation will be holding a dinner this Saturday from 6 – 8 p.m. in Smith-Buonanno 107. Lasagna will be served—suggested donations are $3 to $5—but we’re pretty sure that the tastiest dish of all will be the stimulating discourse on the educational goals and future of Brown University.