Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

March 2017


You come here for something more than schooling. You come here for deep education and deep education is about learning how to die so that you learn how to live because when you examine certain assumptions that you have, certain presuppositions that you’re holding on to, when you let them go, that’s a form of death. And there’s no growth, there’s no development, there’s no maturation without learning how to die and giving up certain dogma, giving up certain doctrine. - Cornel West, Ph.D., VCU Siegel Center, Fall 2015

VCU is a large, public, urban research university situated in the middle of a capital city. Its faculty, staff, student body, alumni, and the surrounding community are remarkably diverse as are the academic offerings. It is, and should be viewed as, the intellectual and cultural engine of the region. Our project proposes the creation of a large-scale, high-profile speaker series designed to highlight emerging trends and provide students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Richmond community with a forum for conversation. The speaker series will cover topics that are critically engaging, have national relevance, and introduce ideas that propel the next generation of leaders. In addition to a large speaking engagement, the speaker series will also incorporate other activities to cultivate interactions and build relationships such as classroom lectures, book signings, and a dinner through the development office. The speaker series will host at least one speaker annually, with the addition of a second speaker as the event builds momentum. At least one of the lectures will occur at the beginning of the traditional academic semester, allowing for the greatest opportunity for participation across VCU and Richmond. Internal support from VCU students, faculty, staff, and colleges will ensure that the project is connected to the mission, vision, goals, and pursuits of VCU. A speaker series committee will help sustain and coordinate efforts across the university and community. Committee members will include stakeholders that require buy-in and cooperation for activities that complement the speaker series (e.g., other lectures, panel discussions, classroom activities). A survey will be used to gain insights into topics and speakers of interest. The committee will review the survey responses in order to make informed decisions during the planning process. The ongoing presence of hosting influential speakers will allow VCU to emerge into the national spotlight as thought-leaders. This speaker series will serve many purposes. First, the series will serve to inspire VCU students, faculty, staff, and the Richmond. Through frank and open conversations attendees will be exposed to new concepts and ideas. Second, the series will unite the diverse groups that make up VCU and the Richmond community. The lecture series will expose attendees to new ideas and open doors for possible opportunities for collaboration through classroom and community engagement activities related to the topics discussed. Third, the series will serve as a cultural conduit, solidly connecting the VCU and Richmond communities around engaging ideas of importance. Opening a new market-place of ideas will ensure that the students of VCU interact with new information in exciting and transformative ways.

Is Part Of

VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs Publications