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Last Lecture Series

Dawn_Johnston-350_Feb 2012.jpg
February 13, 2012

By Casey Blais

What wisdom would you impart on an eager crowd if you knew it was your last opportunity to share? The Last Lecture Series gives the university’s very best professors the opportunity to take on this premise.

At the next lecture on Feb. 15, Dawn Johnston, a well-loved and acclaimed professor from the Department of Communication and Culture will share her thoughts on pop culture and its influence on teaching in the university setting. In her lecture, “In Defense of Pop Culture: Why the Very Worst Television Makes the Very Best Teaching Tool” she will talk about two of her favorite things—television and teaching.

The Last Lecture Series has loose guidelines. Professors can discuss any topic, but must work from the original premise and not include course content. Time is set aside for questions and discussions after the presentation, which lets students connect with their favorite professors outside of the classroom.

“For students, it is an opportunity to engage with faculty on a more personal level, and to contemplate some of the life lessons that faculty have experienced—to hear what has impacted their lives and helped make them the people they are,” says the series co-organizer, Camille de Lacy of the Office of Leadership and Student Engagement.

The concept of the Last Lecture Series gained worldwide attention in 2007 when Carnegie Mellon professor, Dr. Randy Bausch, gave an inspiring and memorable lecture after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The web cast of his last lecture went viral and now has over 14 million views on YouTube, and also resulted in a best selling book.

There have been three Last Lectures at the university since the series began in 2011 including Tamaratt Teaching professor Leslie Reid from the science department who discussed “Learning from Serendipity, Opportunity and Failure,”professor Ron Glasberg from the Department of Communications and Culture gave the inaugural lecture, followed by professor Patrick Finn from drama department.

Last Lecture presenters have been chosen from winners of the Teaching Excellence Awards, but students and community members are now encouraged to submit suggestions for presenters online.

A result of a partnership between the Students’ Union and the Office of Leadership and Student Engagement, lectures take place on the third Wed. of every month in that Empty Space until the end of term.

All students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to attend the free events.

Next Last Lecture:
Feb. 15
That Empty Space
5-6 p.m.