Written by Shannon Keyser
The 2021 Colloquium on the Liberal Arts will be taking place every Tuesday from Oct. 12 through Nov. 2 at Harding, exploring the topic of freedom and independence with the College of Arts and Humanities.
The events will feature guest speaker Dr. Douglass Sullivan-Gonzales — former dean of the Honors College at the University of Mississippi — and, for the first time in the colloquium’s history, student speakers.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to have voices all across campus talking about something that is fundamental to us as humans,” associate professor of foreign languages and presenter Dr. Whitaker Jordan said. “The many perspectives will help enrich all of us and give us a better understanding, a broader base, a deeper knowledge of the way that we can find freedom and independence in our lives personally but also as a community.”
The colloquium brings presenters from many different academic disciplines to foster connections between subjects.
“Students and faculty need to see the connections across disciplines,” Dr. Julie Harris, professor of history and event organizer, said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do. The colloquium provides a forum to begin to discuss these ideas and those connections. The value of this to the student is to hear the professors make those connections, but it’s also important for the faculty to make these connections.”
This year’s theme of freedom and independence was inspired by 2021 being the bicentennial of the independence of many different Latin American countries. Though Latin America will receive particular emphasis Oct. 12 through presenters like Sullivan-Gonzales and Jordan, the idea of freedom and independence will be applied in a much broader sense as well.
“[Freedom and independence] have a lot of different aspects to them,” Harris said. “[They] are really important to us, but sometimes what we can forget is that they are important to a lot of other people for a lot of other reasons, not just because they are Americans. That’s what the liberal arts does for us … we can see connections and meet lots of different perspectives.”
Walton Scholars will be presenting the stories of their home countries’ independence. They are the first students to speak at the colloquium.
“I’m really passionate about my country,” sophomore presenter Nikole Alvarado, who is from Costa Rica, said. “We have this land that is ‘pura vida,’ which is like good vibes to everything. I think it has a lot to do with independence and how we wanted to have our own culture. I’m really proud of our culture, from where we came.”
Alvarado says that the other Walton Scholars presenting are excited for the opportunity to present about their home countries.
“Everyone that is participating in it is putting in all of their commitment,” Alvarado said. “It gives us the chance to share our culture and who we are, but also for you as Americans to learn a little bit more [about] us and how we actually are. We are not just single students — we have a cultural background … that comes with us.”