April 29th, 2010 | Amanda French
(Note: I didn’t apply to THATCamp, but I decided that I get to propose a session anyway, since I’m darn well coming in my role as Regional THATCamp Coordinator. That’s what admin privileges do for you, heh heh.)
In E. M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, the bohemian intellectual Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, both try to connect with men outside their normal bohemian intellectual circles. It’s a rather naive idea, and it turns out rather tragically for both the bright working-class dreamer Leonard Bast and the muddled bourgeois businessman Henry Wilcox, but in the end there’s some good at least that comes of it. David Lodge played with this idea in his novel Nice Work, too, and in that novel it turns out rather better.
My idea is to spend a session simply connecting with people we don’t usually connect with, people outside our normal professional and disciplinary circles. That might mean calling a prof in the Computer Science department at your own university to see if s/he’ll come speak to your Literature class; or it might mean getting in touch with Apple to see if they’ll give your library an iPad to lend out; or it might mean arranging for someone from a community college, someone from K-12, someone from a university, and someone from business to all have lunch together for no particular reason at all. I’m often meaning to do this kind of connecting and never getting around to it — I figure we could do a little brainstorming, a little Googling, and then a little e-mailing or calling in an hour fifteen, and who knows what might come out of it?
We might also use some of the time to discuss the ethics of corporate sponsorships of academic projects, including THATCamp. Though of course that might easily be a whole separate session.