In the Scholars Program, students are encouraged to think, process, and express in their own unique way. Immersive learning is key.

The Spring 2024 Scholars’ Seminar theme is "transcendent beauty". Each session of the class explores experiences of beauty in the world, however one chooses to define it, that can pull us out of our everyday lives even if just for a moment. It allows us to transcend the mundane and experience the universal, however one chooses to define or characterize that. Seminar instructor, Dr. Eric Marx, has brought in guest lecturers to round out the compelling curriculum. 

On Tuesday, April 2, the class welcomed Dr. Kate Kogut, Dean of the School of Integrative Studies and wearer of many other hats, whose expertise in beauty extended beyond the classroom to her own gardens--with a particular nod to her love for daffodils. As a writer and long-time professor, Dr. Kogut likened gardening to teaching. “You plant seeds,” she said, “and you nurture them. The rest is kind of up to the hardiness and determination of the plant.” 


Inspired by the vibrant blooms of spring, Dr. Kogut's session wasn't your typical lecture. Instead, she invited students into her world, sharing insights into gardening and the cultivation of floral beauty. With clusters of daffodil roots in hand, the classroom transformed into a mini garden as students learned the art of admiring blooms, nurturing plants, and dividing bulbs. 


This hands-on experience wasn't just about gardening; it was a reflection on the transformative power of beauty in our lives. As students left with their daffodil bulbs, they carried with them a tangible reminder of the beauty they had encountered and the importance of nurturing it. 

The seminar's exploration of Transcendent Beauty has been diverse. Earlier sessions featured now-retired arts and humanities professor Jim Terry, who explored 19th-century transcendentalism in art and literature. Through his analysis, scholars gained a deeper understanding of how beauty has been perceived throughout history. 

Additionally, Kris Somerville, Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing, offered a unique perspective on beauty in urban environments. By examining aesthetics within cityscapes, Somerville challenged traditional notions of beauty, prompting scholars to reconsider their surroundings. 

This semester, as always, the Scholars Program aims to foster intellectual curiosity. Through engaging seminars like this one that employ all the senses, students are not only expanding their knowledge but also enriching their lives with the timeless allure of beauty, in all its forms. 

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