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Organizers add lectures to Blue Devil Days program

In an effort to give prospective students a better sense of its intellectual life, the University held faculty lectures during this year's Blue Devil Days.

"Every year, we change Blue Devil Days a little bit, either to address some area that needed improvement the previous year, or to try something a little different and see how our visitors respond," Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions, wrote in an e-mail. "Our response from visitors so far has been very positive."

A 30- to 40-minute lecture was given each day, following the event's welcoming remarks.

"We try to implement a philosophy of Oshow, don't tell' whenever we can in introducing Duke to people," Guttentag said.

Four professors discussed topics that currently interest them to provide insight into areas that incoming students might not have heard about or plan to study.

"We have exceptional faculty in every field, and students at Duke routinely discover great teachers and researchers in areas that didn't at first attract them," Guttentag said, adding that the lectures enable students to gain a better understanding of subjects the University has to offer.

Alice Kaplan, director of French and Francophone studies, discussed the book that made her a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award for nonfiction, The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach; Charles Piot, associate professor of cultural anthropology, spoke about globalization and local culture in Africa; Daniel Gauthier, associate professor of physics, delivered a lecture entitled, "Controlling Chaos in the Heart;" and William Chafe, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, lectured on the personal crisis and politics of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.

Kaplan, who teaches a freshman seminar on trials, aimed her lecture toward students interested in history and the courts.

"It's good to give them a flavor of intellectual life at Duke," Kaplan said.

Steven Wilkins, assistant director of the admissions office and the organizer of Blue Devil Days, said the lectures were designed to keep people intrigued.

"We were thinking about people who could talk about subjects in a dynamic force to give students food for thought for the day," he said.

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