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The Inquisitor: Academic Freedom

Bernard Fischer, a ssociate professor of pediatrics, a ssistant to vice chair for research in the D ivision of Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, and u ndergraduate pre-veterinary advisor
"I like the concept of complete academic freedom. For me I would title the class after a book that I have found to be “life changing” called SWITCH. It is by the Heath brothers. We would discuss the concepts of the book The Rider, The Elephant and The Path. We would relate the concepts of the book to real-life situations brought by students in the class. We would also add to the list of reading materials the 7 habits books: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. All three books are related to the concept of change—in ourselves and in the broader community and world. With the 7 habits books, we would discuss the concepts and work to practice them and also see how we can incorporate these into our lives. I’m ready to begin the class at any time—either as a formal class or as a discussion group that meets regularly."
Connel Fullenkamp, professor of the practice of economics
"I’d actually keep the tests and papers, because they keep everyone honest—including me. The thing I’d like to change, though, is the time spent. I’d really like to see more of my students in multiple courses (at least three) that take place periodically during their time at Duke. That way, I could have a deeper relationship with many of my students and help them make more intellectual progress over the course of their Duke careers. Though it’s nice for students and faculty to mix it up, every semester you have to start over and get to know someone from scratch. I’d like to focus a bit more on longer-term intellectual growth."

Steven Kaufmann, aikido, aiki jo and tai chi instructor

“I would keep to the traditional aikido format. I have taught many different subjects and have had many years to think about learning environments. I have been a public school teacher for a number of years and also worked teaching conflict resolution in the Durham schools through [the Center for] Child and Family Policy as an employee of Duke. My dream was to some day teach traditional aikido for my profession. So, presently, I have the great honor to teach aikido in the Wilson building on campus here. The format of an aikido class makes use of many different learning modalities which students use to absorb the information needed to progress quickly. Hearing, seeing, touching, feeling, and moving ones entire body with others in harmony, grace and focus. Most of all, our aikido classes have lots of joy so students leave happier after a class than when they entered because harmonizing with other folks in a centered manner is so very joyful.”

Anthony Kelley, associate professor of the practice of music

"I would base a course on the immersive experience of a single musical composition that is rich with past, contemporary, and future cultural implications (i.e. Franz Liszt's 'Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude'), and structure a comprehensive exploration of the origins and societal resonance of the work.

As a class, we'd start the semester by listening to the work all together, in one room, with the score available to students who might be curious about the notation. We'd discuss the context of the work within the composer's output and structural contents of the piece, then we'd cover what the music stimulated in the imagination of the listeners in class.

We would use future sessions to trace the roots and compositional inspiration for the creation of the 1847 work, traveling to the Polish/Ukranian region where the work was composed, adding trips to Paris and Weimar, Germany to experience the cultural hubs of the period that Liszt frequented.

After those tours, we would return home and use a week to analyze the music more in-depth, dissecting the elements that point towards cultural icons as diverse as Beethoven and Duke Ellington.

We would bring in guests from Duke Divinity to discuss the matter of tackling a visitation from God in instrumental music. And we would get a Romance Languages scholar to discuss the Lamartine poem that inspired Liszt to create the piece.

After accumulating and processing all of that information, the class would begin creating/writing original works based on the discoveries. The works might come in the form of literature, poetry, art, music, dance, theater or any other medium of the student's choice.

While students worked on their projects, the class would continue to tackle topics related to contextualizing and analyzing the work and its seminal predecessors and related successors of 'Benediction.' We would also ask the question of the relevance of such musical works , if any, in today's society.

The last two weeks would be devoted to experiencing and critiquing the student final projects produced during the course."


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