Look Hoos Talking opens eyes

Professors discuss desegregation, disability, spirituality

lflookhoostalkingbarnescourtesyuniversityofvirginia

Philosophy Prof. Elizabeth Barnes discussed "disability pride" at Look Hoos Talking event. 

Courtesy University of Virginia

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Student Council’s annual “Look Hoos Talking” event provided a forum for professors to show off their passions and spark the interest of students in 15-minute talks.

Each year Look Hoos Talking attracts more than 700 students for an evening of exposure and enlightenment. This year, the event featured a guest performance by the Virginia Belles.

Topics included the history of desegregation at the University, Disability Pride and spirituality in America. Five student-selected professors spoke at the event — Religious Studies Associate Prof. Matthew Hedstrom, Chemistry Prof. Dean Harman, Commerce Prof. Thomas Bateman, Philosophy Associate Prof. Elizabeth Barnes and Claudrena Harold, associate professor of African American and African Studies and History.

Harold began the evening with a talk called “The Greatest of Generations,” referring to University students in the mid-20th century who protested racism and segregation, both on-Grounds and more broadly.

“[They were the] radical, progressive, courageous generation of students who understood that they could and should shake up the world,” Harold said. “[They] remade the University in their own image and deepened the wells of democracy.”

Following Harold, Harman shared a personal story in his talk entitled “Conundrums and Confessions of a College Chemist” to illustrate how weakness in one subject area can motivate people to find their passion elsewhere.

“By not reading or not being able to read the literature, it forced me to go into a completely different area, [chemistry],” Harman told students. “Your greatest weakness, your greatest fear, can become your greatest asset.”

In her talk, “Disability Pride,” Barnes explained her interest in the ways ideas can transform lives for the better, and how disabled people could and should frame their successes.

“Disability is a many splendored thing … [which] dramatically affects the way you navigate the world,” Barnes said. “Some of that can be enriching.”

Bateman empowered students to take control of their lives by exerting proactivity with the goal of enacting positive change in his speech entitled “The Beauty of Proactivity.”

“Proactivity involves speaking up when someone needs to speak up,” Bateman said.

Finally, Hedstrom addressed the question “Why Study Spirituality?”

“[We are] witnessing a growing gap between religion and people’s continuing desire for experiences of transcendence,” Hedstrom said.

He explained how this gap has motivated the rise of spirituality in America and left his audience with questions for contemplation, including whether spirituality could empower people to do good, rather than simply feel good about themselves.

Students left the event with new bursts of wisdom and personal insight from some of the University’s best.

Second-year College student Sydney Bradley said she appreciated the variety of subjects represented at the event. Bradley serves on the Student Council Academic Affairs Committee, which organizes “Look Hoos Talking” every year.

“I think a lot of the time students don’t really know that there’s so many academic resources and events beyond their lectures,” Bradley said. “It’s nice to have an event that you can get a little bit of every discipline, like Chemistry and [Commerce], even though I’m an English and Politics major.”

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