Huron University College is creating an academic community outside the classroom, with the introduction of its new lunchtime conversation group.
Food for Thought provides an opportunity for students, staff and faculty to share ideas on a wide array of topics – over soup and sandwiches – including a recent foray into how the Internet has affected our brains.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations about that even in a small place, like Huron, professors and students may only get the opportunity to see each other in their classes,” said Mark Blagrave, Faculty of Arts & Social Science dean. “But we’re trying to impress on the students about taking ideas and having conversations outside the classroom. It’s taking timeout to talk about ideas that affect us all, but may not be the subject of any particular courses.”
In talking about the ‘ups and downs’ of the Internet, close to 20 students staff and faculty bantered around a variety of thoughts and considerations, such as how much do students rely on the Internet for their academics? What about Internet in the classroom? Can we really learn from the Internet? Is constant access a good thing?
For third-year Huron student Brett Wiepjes, there was a hesitation when asked if the Internet is a good or bad thing.
“I’m kind of stuck on the fence with this. I’m not saying its bad; I’m not saying it’s good. It’s different,” Wiepjes said. “Different in the sense that the way my parents would go about researching or getting information would be a different thought process. Because of the nature of the Internet, it’s much different today.”
He added the Internet has definitely changed our thought process – the way we think and go about researching or gaining information – but “I don’t know if psychologically it has changed our brain in any way.”
While Wiepjes admitted the Internet can “get you if you let it,” but because he’s been brought up with it, “it’s just something we know to do, it’s engrained in us. It’s a natural process that is very much taken for granted because it is so accessible.”
Even academics cannot escape the influence of the Internet, he added.
“Academically, I know professors much more prefer you get a print source for your work, but the way you get those print sources has even changed,” Wiepjes said. “You don’t go to the library any more. You can search online for these sources and even order and have a book sent to you.”
Two more Food for Thought gatherings are been planned for the coming months. On Feb. 13, the group will tackle the idea of Dividing the community property: Who owns an idea?, while the March 15 gathering will discuss What’s a fact, Jack? The (im)possibility of non-fiction.
The group is open to all, but you are asked to reserve a spot by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.