The theme of the Fall 2015 Honors Colloquium, "Strength in What Remains," is drawn directly from the SAS Honors Program's 2015 Summer Reading, Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains (2009). Kidder's tells the story of Deogratias "Deo" Nizizonkiza, Public Health advocate and CEO of Village Health Works in Burundi.
Kidder's book addresses a rich set of topics that are important and timely for university students and modern global citizens: genocide and ethnic conflict, immigration and adaptation, African politics and society, healthcare and medicine, the importance of education, and the ability of art and literature to help humans cope with grief and despair. The book's gripping narrative serves as a powerful example of the transformative art of storytelling.
As students discuss Deo's particular story, they will also explore a broader set of questions with pressing import for individuals and societies: what relationships, beliefs, philosophies, practices, institutions, and inner qualities provide individuals with the strength and "grit" to carry on, even in the most trying circumstances? After experiencing trauma, how do individuals, cultures, and societies find "strength in what remains"?
Throughout the course, we will address these themes with guest speakers whose work focuses on literature and narrative, the visual arts and African-American culture, and the healthcare and reproduction in Africa. In small discussion sections, students will explore the themes in Strength in What Remains while developing their ability to discuss, reason, and think critically, making connections across a range of disciplinary categories.
Because building community among honors students and exploring the wide world within and just outside Rutgers is central to the mission of the Honors Colloquium, each discussion section will attend two events -- plays, films, museum visits, lectures – together as a group. The last class of the colloquium will pair two discussion sections together, with each section creating a visual presentation that captures the themes and questions raised in the course.