February 1, 2012

Knox reads, prepares for talk

For alumni who are reluctant to let distance inhibit their connections to the college, the new KnoxReads blog provides an opportunity to engage in conversation surrounding this year’s inaugural Stellyes Distinguished Lecture in Global Studies.

The blog (knoxreads.knox.edu), which launched on Feb. 1, serves as a run-up to a talk at Knox by acclaimed journalist Robin Wright, whose book “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World” will be the main subject of the blog.

“I would like alumni to feel that they’re participating in a discussion or a back-and-forth,” Professor of History Michael Schneider said. Schneider, who also directs the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies, is serving as the blog’s moderator.

Schneider, along with four other Knox professors, will create initial content for the blog, potentially linking topics in “Rock the Casbah” with current affairs in the Middle East. Alumni and students will then be able to comment on posts, creating a dialogue designed to generate questions for Wright’s talk.

“In an ideal world … the faculty would launch a certain amount of initial content, but then the comments produce the material for future comments, so hopefully we’ll get the faculty commenting on some issues or questions that are raised,” Schneider said.

Even though the blog is targeted toward alumni, Schneider hopes that students will get involved as well by reading the book, which illustrates the public rejection of Islamic extremism by many Muslims, and commenting on the blog.

“There’s a Middle East Politics class going on right now, and I’m hoping even they will produce some content,” Schneider said. “For students, I would say come check out the blog and see how it evolves.”

The KnoxReads blog is part of a broader effort to involve alumni in events going on at Knox, which began last spring with a panel on the Middle East with Professor of Economics Roy Andersen and Professor of Political Science Robert Seibert ’63, which was broadcast over Livestream and featured questions submitted by alumni.

“We did consider the possibility of doing another video chat, but since we had just done one, we figured, ‘Okay, let’s try something a little bit different,’” Schneider said.

Schneider stressed that the blog is very much an experiment, and how it will evolve will be determined largely by the time professors are willing to devote and the interaction that alumni and students have with the blog.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Andersen, a KnoxReads contributor, said. “For the professors, if there’s a great response, it becomes time-consuming … but I’d like to have alumni especially get involved with this thing.”

Content will continue to be posted on the blog at until Wright’s talk on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Recital Hall. For those who are unable to be on campus for the event, the lecture will be broadcast on Livestream at www.livestream.com/knoxcollege.

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