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The Second Curriculum
Virtually every day of the academic year, Yale’s paths are trod by some of the world’s most distinguished lecturers. Among them, of course, are the University’s own faculty members, but after classes end, luminaries from all points of the compass regularly take to the lecterns and add their voices and visions to Yale’s already heady intellectual atmosphere.
“This is the sizzle,” says Robert Thompson, who, as master of Timothy Dwight College, heads the venerable Chubb Fellowship. But the Chubb is only one of the best-known of the more than 100 endowed fellowships, lectureships, and other programs that have brought an eclectic mix of heads of state, journalists, scientists, theologians, CEOs, and even a country-western singer and a football coach or two, to campus. “You learn something from each one,” says Thompson, “something you can’t get in the more theoretical atmosphere of the classroom. This is 'hands-on' education.”
Henry Fernaine '99, a Timothy Dwight economics and international studies major and a regular patron of Chubb events, concurs. “The beauty of being able to hear these speakers is that they expose you to the diverse points of view we encounter in the world,” says Fernaine. “This brings history to your doorstep.”
Yale’s “second curriculum,” as some have called it, serves up a steady diet of topics in just about every area of interest, from science and technology to business and religion. For example, the Chubb Fellowship, which was established in 1936 through an endowment provided by Hendon Chubb, Class of 1895, specializes in presenting a variety of politicians, diplomats, activists, and artists involved in public service. Presidents Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush '48 have been Chubb Fellows, as have Israeli prime ministers Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan, U.S. senators Jack Kemp and Abraham Ribicoff, American Indian tribal nation leaders Richard Haywood and Wilma Mankiller, Nobel laureate writer Toni Morrison and author Norman Mailer, actor Robert Redford and director Curtis Hanson, and, most recently, Connecticut governor John Rowland, New York Times chief correspondent R.W. Apple, and U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman '64, '67LLB.
For the more scientifically oriented, there is the Tetelman Fellowship, which was endowed in 1979 by Damon Wells '58 to honor the memory of his classmate Alan S. Tetelman '58, '61PhD, a distinguished researcher who was killed in a plane crash in 1978. Gary Haller, the Becton Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and the master of Jonathan Edwards College, the Fellowship’s home base, describes the role of the Tetelman as a forum for “eminent scientists and engineers who can convey an understanding of their field to a lay audience.” Tetelman Fellows have included such legendary researchers as James Watson, who shared a Nobel Prize as one of the codiscoverers of the double-helix structure of DNA; Carl Djerassi, chemist, author, and inventor of the first birth control pill; biochemist and head of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Maxine Singer '57PhD; and Nobel laureate physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Sheldon Glashow. (The program also makes room for non-scientists, such as Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun and His Holiness the Dalai Lama; both were invited to speak because of their interests in the social implications of science and technology.)
For aspiring journalists, there’s the Poynter Fellowship. The intellectual needs of entrepreneurs and future leaders of industry are served by the Gordon Grand Fellowship. The recently established Sheffield Fellowship is designed to satisfy the interests of engineers. Ethicists have the David and Goldie Blanksteen Lectureship, while the Tanner Lectures are geared to students of human values.
One of the oldest—and best endowed—programs is the Dwight Harrington Terry Lectureship on Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy. Established in 1905 through a $75,000 gift from Terry, a Bridgeport industrialist, the lectures are intended to promote the “building of the truths of science and philosophy into the structure of a broadened and purified religion.”
The first attempt to achieve that lofty goal took place in 1923 when Scottish naturalist John Arthur Thomson, who had written widely on biology and religion, delivered an address called “Concerning Evolution.” Since that time, Terry lecturers have included a remarkable cross-section of thinkers and doers, such as educational philosopher John Dewey, psychoanalyst Carl Jung, theologian Paul Tillich, writer Rebecca West, and anthropologist Margaret Mead.
The topics are eclectic. Some speakers lean toward the “philosophical” end of the Terry charge, while others take on a more straightforward scientific topic. And despite the program’s Christian orientation when it began, the lecturers and their topics have, over the years, become more ecumenical. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz explored Islam in Indonesia, while this year’s Terry incumbent, Rabbi David Hartman, a philosopher and social activist, discussed “Struggling for the Soul of Israel: A Jewish Response to History.”
Regardless of which speakers are presented and what subjects are addressed, the fellowship programs at Yale have one thing in common: They encourage interaction. Not only do the lecturers deliver a formal address and answer questions from the audience, but they typically spend time on campus mingling with students at such events as luncheons, masters' teas, evening receptions, informal seminars, and other social gatherings.
Consider, for example, the Poynter journalism fellowship, which was endowed by the Poynter Institute, a philanthropy established in 1975 by the late Nelson Poynter '29MA, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times. Among the Poynter alumni are Washington correspondent Jeff Greenfield '67LLB (who last year delivered the inaugural Gary Fryer Memorial Lecture to honor the late chief of public relations at Yale); sportswriters Frank Deford and Roger Angell; founder of Court TV Steven Brill '72, '75JD, who recently launched the magazine Brill’s Content; and eminent reporters such as Bob Woodward '65, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Juan Williams, and Anna Quindlen.
Yale does not have a formal journalism program, but by attending the more formal lecture, or a master’s tea, a dinner to which the staff of the Daily News and other campus publications are invited, or a session the speaker may hold with the journalism fellows of the Law School, aspiring reporters are afforded the experience of talking shop with the best in the business. “It’s a valuable educational opportunity for future journalists,” says Tom Conroy, assistant director of public affairs at the University, and of the Poynter program. “And for the community in general, these lectures help keep people connected to the major events and issues of the day.”
As is the case with the Poynter, fellowships and lectureships fill in some of the gaps that inevitably exist even in a curriculum as comprehensive as Yale’s. Friends of the late Gordon Grand '38, the president of the Olin Corporation, established a fellowship in his honor in 1973 to bring leading executives to campus. The climate at that time was hardly pro-business, so to create the dialogues that were favored by Grand, a committee of administrators, students, and alumni started meeting to make certain the University community would be exposed to speakers with insights into the issues, problems, and challenges of industry.
Gordon Grand fellows have included such high-powered executives as banker David Rockefeller, Olympic gold medalist and marketer Bruce Jenner, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, and, last month, Shelley Lazarus, CEO and chair of advertising giant Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide. In keeping with the goal of interactivity, the speakers—who are usually on campus for two days—also often teach a School of Management seminar that is open to undergraduates, as well as speak at a dinner and a master’s tea in the host college (currently Silliman). The Fellowship offers, says one attendee, “an education by osmosis.”
It can also provide an antidote to a condition D. Allen Bromley, dean of engineering, encountered among some of his students. “I was surprised at how naïve and ill-informed they were about the world outside of academia,” says Bromley.
The dean’s remedy was the Sheffield Fellowship program, which began in 1996 and has included top executives of technology-oriented companies. Since the inaugural address by Coca Cola’s late CEO Roberto C. Goizueta '53BE that answered the question “Why Would Anyone Go to Engineering School?” Sheffield speakers have explored such topics as technology and politics, managing innovation, sustainable growth, and, of course—the target audience being current and future engineers—“Explosions, Crashes, and Collapses.”
This particular lecture was delivered by Norman R. Augustine, then-president of Lockheed Martin Corporation, the aerospace conglomerate, and was highlighted by what Bromley called a “glorious set of technological disaster slides.” As the executive chronicled a lengthy career and discussed what he'd learned from these calamities, a student asked pointedly, “Why the hell weren’t you fired?” Augustine shook his head and conceded that he didn’t know the answer.
Such unguarded moments occur often in these settings, and to Henry Fernaine and others, they constitute one of the chief virtues of the fellowship programs. “When you watch these people—who have an intangible and distant quality when you see them on TV—joking and laughing, it humanizes them,” says Fernaine.
This glimpse of both wisdom and humanity can also serve another purpose: the ability of speakers to become, however briefly, role models. Fernaine, who is interested in a career in diplomacy, recalls watching Henry Louis Gates Jr. '73 address the topics of racism and affirmative action and Shimon Peres tackle the Palestinian question. “I was really impressed with how well they handled the public dialog and all the differing opinions, as well as how they tried to bring opposing factions to mutual agreement,” says Fernaine.
Such short-term, real world “mentorship” can have lasting effects. To be sure, there is useful information imparted in every lecture, and in programs such as the Terry Lectureship, as well as the Castle Lectures in Ethics, Politics, and Economics (recent incumbents include Senator Paul Tsongas '67LLB, Israeli statesman Abba Eban, and economist Lester C. Thurow), a book often grows out of a speaker’s visit to Yale.
But the value of “being there” frequently transcends the subject matter, says Joelle E. K. Laszlo, a Timothy Dwight senior and a political science major. Laszlo, who has studied the Cold War with history professor John Lewis Gaddis, was especially impressed with Zbigniew Brzezinski, a National Security Adviser during that period and a Chubb Fellow in 1996. “Brzezinski talked about his thoughts during key moments when he was facing off against his Soviet counterparts,” says Laszlo. “Listening to him was a reminder that people do matter in big historical events.”
A Yale student is likely to learn that truth as truth as abstraction in the classroom. Learning it by interacting with veterans of those events raises truth to a yet higher level.
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