A Conference of the Berkeley Institute

February 8th and 9th, 2013
315 and 330 Wheeler Hall 
UC Berkeley 

College students often experience their education as an incoherent jumble of requirements unrelated to each other or to any larger purpose, or, at best, as a course of specialized technical training punctuated by such inexplicable requirements. They are left to make what coherence they can of it; universities do not tell them, or even claim to tell them, how. So it is no surprise that many wonder what their education is for, beyond its economic payoff, and why they would bother if the payoff did not materialize. Meanwhile, the national conversation about higher education seems to focus on nothing but that payoff. What is plainly lost in both the students’ experience and in our national conversation is why and how intellectual training is worthwhile: what it is, how it hangs together, how people can shape it and how it can shape them, how it can prepare them for a life that is properly human and that is ordered toward pursuit of the good.

This conference will explore the real value of education, and suggest to students how they can begin to find coherence among the fragmentary, specialized, and sometimes partial view of their several courses. What are the principles that underlie intellectual inquiry? What is intellectual integrity? What demands are made by intellectual commitment and consistency, and how can these cohere with the demands of moral commitments and commitments of faith? Students should find some resources for making sense of their education and of their own lived experience.

Conference Agenda

Friday, February 8th

        4:00pm  Coffee and Registration

        5:00pm  Welcome and Introductory Panel

        5:30pm  Plenary Lecture: “Three Ways of Thinking about Your Education, Your Beliefs, and What They Have to Do with Each Other”

                    Steven Justice, Professor of English, UC Berkeley

        6:30pm  Dinner (Ann’s Catering)

Saturday, February 9th

        9:00am  Breakfast

      10:00am  Plenary Lecture: “Religious Commitments and Academic Knowledge”

                   Lara Buchak, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, UC Berkeley

      11:00am  Coffee

      11:30am  Discussion Panel: Practical Approaches

                   Moderator: Dena Fehrenbacher, PhD Candidate in English, Harvard University

                   Chiyuma Elliott, Stegner Fellow in Poetry, Stanford University

                   Cassandra Sciortino, Visiting Scholar in Art History, UC Berkeley

                   Keith Bouma-Gregson, PhD Candidate in Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley

                   Chad Hegelmeyer, Assistant Director for Programs, The Berkeley Institute

                   Tina Torrance, PhD Candidate in Religion, Harvard University

      12:45pm  Lunch

        2:00pm  Workshops

                    1. “On Speaking Up and Not Speaking Up”

                        Professor Steven Justice and Abram Coetsee, Junior Fellow of The Berkeley Institute

                    2. “Naturalism, Materialism, and Reductionism in Philosophy and the Social Sciences”

                        Professor Robert Koons

                    3. “Art’s Objects: A Writing Workshop”

                        Chiyuma Elliott and Nicholas Mueller, Seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of  Theology

        3:30pm  Coffee

        3:45pm  Discussion Panel: Intellectual Approaches

                     Moderator: Dena Fehrenbacher

                     Charity Ketz, PhD Candidate in English, UC Berkeley

                     Stephen Thompson, PhD Candidate in English, Cornell University

                     Michael Spicher, PhD Candidate in Philosophy, University of South Carolina

                     Nuri Kim, Biomedical Research Associate, UCSF

        5:00pm  Coffee

        5:15pm  Plenary Lecture: “Restoring the Fragmented Image: Successful Models, Potential Allies”

                     Robert Koons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas