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University seminars in Columbia University



universitetsky seminars — an initiative to which Columbia University pays special attention in education of the professors. Nearly hundred years ago Columbia University adopted the main curriculum which obliges one thousand students to read the translation of the same classical composition within the same week. It is so good to read it to be able to discuss this work in rather small audience as lectures on this course were not. Besides creation of the atmosphere of a brisk discussion in hostels where there live students, these basic courses induce fifty professors, assistants to professors and the teaching graduate students to study the same book more intensively. Slavists who had to teach Homer, Platon and Dante at least several times in a similar course, to discuss their works with the colleagues from other departments, received such preparation which the few Slavists have. Experts in classical philology and the philosophers put before need to discuss Dostoyevsky got similar experience.

Columbia University also created institutes of regional researches which force graduate students to take on the Russian literature, for example, courses on the Russian economy, history and other objects. These institutes also prepare professors of the academic specialties far from their own, but useful to expansion of the horizon of their activity. Work within basic courses or at institute trains professors in a context of their specialty. The third considerable achievement Colombian uni -

the versitet in developing the skills of professors — university seminars.

Each of eighty seminars chooses the participants who have to be professors or experts, curators, etc. About a half of seminars allows graduate students and other as guests. The majority of seminars chooses the speaker every month and gathers to discuss the scientific report. In some seminars of speakers is not present at all, in them study the text or a problem together during the meetings. All seminars are obliged to include representatives of Columbia University and from other institutions both to involve employees and to put problems, at least, of two university specialties. Some seminars have more than forty participants, but the best total about dozen of those who goes to meetings of times a month for many years and can freely discuss a subject of researches. Subjects of discussions cover all range of intellectual problems. There is a seminar across ancient China (till 500th years BC), another on genetic epidemiology, one more according to Shakespeare, the fourth in Slavic history and culture. Each seminar has the speaker and the graduate student of Columbia University who sends notices, reserves audiences and makes minutes of each meeting. The seminar across the Middle East often is more open, thanks to providing minutes of the meetings for private use. The seminar on ecology and water resources just published the thirty seventh volume of the annual protocols.

Frank Tennenbaum, outstanding and vigorous professor of history Colombian

Robert L. Belknap University seminars in Columbia University

the university, based the first three seminars in 1945. Seminars on religion and on world problems still hold meetings every month as well as a half of others which were based for these years. Tennenbaum believed that the voluntary, unpaid, working groups can solve such intellectual and practical problems for which solution the official institutions are too sluggish also kosna that to cope with them. He convinced the president of Columbia University that it is necessary to protect these seminars from the inevitable accompanying evil of administration — monotony. Therefore each seminar elects the chairman, defines a form and a subject of the meetings and addresses the director of university seminars only when funds for the invitation of the speaker, subsidies for a conference, either the publication, or consultations on special problems are required. At the same time as the director is appointed the president of Columbia University, is chosen and instructed by the Big Committee consisting of the president, the rector of the university and chairmen of eighty seminars. Only after university council approved the document guaranteeing independence of seminars, Tennenbaum allocated the essential sum for their work.

This form of scientific and educational process perfectly works at the university. Many of the most fascinating opening happen not in the studied areas, and on a joint between them where seminars succeed. Seminars can fill gaps in the university program. After achievement of leadership in the sphere of teaching, since 1750th years, Columbia University reduced the program in teaching the ancient Middle East. We do not teach Hebrew or ugaritsky language any more, but the university seminar across the ancient Middle East does Columbia University by the place of constant meetings of experts in this area. On the other hand,

university departments have to be sympathetic to the latest technologies and calls of the present. The large university needs judgment of new techniques and calls, and even anticipation that will follow them.

Thirty years ago to the doctors treating obesity, medical institutions treated with gentlemen's contempt, but the university seminar on healthy food already conducted work on biology and sociology of food. When obesity became a national and world problem, Columbia University conducted this work already throughout the whole generation. Of course, it is easier to identify the current intellectual fashion, than future, but faculties seldom afford wrong forecasts which can lead into a blind alley. University seminars go on intellectual risks which faculties cannot and should not undertake. Residents of New York will not waste the time; the seminar which subject becomes uninteresting just breaks up without any feeling of defeat, he just performed the work.

Seminars cooperate with other institutions and independent experts. They attract every month hundreds of former graduates in the university, maintaining their involvement which contributes to the versatile development of Columbia University. Members of a seminar and guests from other universities train professors of Columbia University and study in turn. The dean of faculty of history of one New York University told me that she could employ the africanist whom it involved with the offer of good work plus a possibility of intellectual friendly communication at a seminar of Columbia University across modern Africa. Other universities have faculty seminars, but any of them is not so ambitious as seminars of Columbia University, partly because nobody finances them in such

degrees in other places, partly and therefore that their independence seems threat to some university administrations, partly and therefore that New York — one of very few cities in the world where three thousand people are keen and inquisitive so to participate in similar university seminars.

Here the list of the continuing seminars — dates in parentheses are specified year of foundation. Headings — only for simplicity of references.

LITERATURE, RELIGION AND ART of the Research of religion (1945)

Ancient Middle East (1966)

Studying Jewish Bible (1968) Art of Africa, Oceania and America (1971) *

Cinema as cross-disciplinary interpretation (1974)

Shakespeare (1982)

Studying Iran (Iranistik) (1987) Studying Buddhism (1990)

American religion (1997)

Studying jazz (2000)

Romanticism and its consequences (2004)

CULTURAL SCIENCE Ecology and culture (1964)

Israeli and Judaic researches (1968)

Slavic history and culture (1968) Culture, power and borders (1972) Irish researches (1973) Research of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey (1974)

Learning Arabic (1977)

Studying neoconfucianism (1979) Studying problems of physically disabled people (2003)

Modern Greece (2005)

POLITICIAN Problema of the world (1945)

Law and policy (1963)

Studying political and social thought (1968)

Political economy and modern social problems (1971) Globalization (1998)

REGIONAL RESEARCHES Studying Modern Africa (1956) Modern East Asia: China (1957)

Modern East Asia: Japan (1960)

Researches of modern Italy (1966) Latin America (1971)

Middle East (1971)

Brazil (1976)

China: the international business (1982) Southeast Asia in the world relations

(1982)

Southern Asia (1964)

Post-communism (2005)

EDUCATION AND MASS MEDIA of the Innovation in education (1970)

Ethics, moral education and society

(1983)

History of Columbia University (1998)

New means of teaching and study (2000)

SOCIETY Contents and methods of social sciences (1947)

Organization and management (1951)

City (1962)

Computers, person and society (1966) of the Woman and society (1974)

Drugs and society (1975)

Human rights (1978)

Full employment (1987)

National health and scientific policy (1993)

Resolution of conflict (1997) Sexuality, floor, health and human rights (1999)

Children's and family policy (1999) Urbanism and health care (2001) Ageing and health (2003)

SCIENCE

Pollution and water resources: scientific and institutional aspects (1967) Social and preventive medicine (1970)

Death (1971)

Biology of the population (1971)

Healthy food (1972)

History and philosophy of science (1973) Genetic epidemiology (1982) Informative and behavioural neurology (1985)

Scientific competence (1987)

Cancer (1988)

Legal, economic and social problems of the environment (1990) Psychoanalytic researches (2000) Language and knowledge (2000)

Science and religion (2002)

HISTORY

Renaissance (1945)

American researches (American studies) (1954)

Medieval researches (Mediyevistika) (1954)

Classical civilization (1957) European culture of the eighteenth century (1962)

Early American history and culture (1967)

Traditional China (1967) Economic history (1969)

Policy and society of the twentieth century (1992)

Out of history and memory (2001)

Early China (2002)

Modern British history (2004)

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