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Student initiative the Free University topic for the eleven hundred and fifty eight consecutive broadcast of the Georgetown University radio forum. Another in a series of educational and informative programs from Washington D.C. The Georgetown forum was founded in 1946. This as well as Fanning speaking to you by transcription from the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of Georgetown University historic Jesuit seat of learning in the nation's capital. Today's discussion will be a student initiative the Free University but dissipating our Mr. W. Patrick Dolan Dean a freshman and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Georgetown University and a professor in the Georgetown free university. Mr. Rhys Fullerton College senior from Arizona and co-founder of the Georgetown free university. Mr. Scott Reardon college junior from South Dakota and chairman of the Georgetown free university and Mr. James have Gox college junior from Alabama and a participant in the
Free University courses. When modern students criticize the educational establishment the usual reaction is for faculty and administration to challenge these critics to offer constructive alternatives. That comes down to saying let's say you do better. Last fall some Georgetown students accepted the challenge and tried something new namely a free university. With imagination and awareness of the student yen for something different. The free university has an unstructured curriculum allegedly more responsive to undergraduate desires. The courses are taught voluntarily by faculty as additional duty or by students with a particular expertise and attended by students not for credit but for sheer experience in learning. Today the Georgetown forum presents three undergraduates and the member of the administration all of whom are involved in the Georgetown University and we're going to ask Mr. Fullerton
a co-founder to tell us how this all began. The free university has the most novel ideas began at Georgetown with discussion with ideas among the students with a few seeds thrown to the winds in the paper. The year before it began and it spread the idea to spread. And finally some students took action upon it and within the beginning of school which was September and a month later October 67 they had founded the Free University which consisted of 50 courses and at the time they had no idea what the response was going to be. Teacher response administration response and student response all was spontaneous. It was characterized by spontaneity throughout and the publicity was
short because here at Georgetown and I think everywhere not only in the academic sphere but in social life etc. on the college campus people students are spoon fed. So we decided people would have to come out and see us. We wouldn't go to them. And it worked. It worked for the beginning. And so the university began October 2007 to offer students a vehicle through which they can choose to gain an extra academic experience. It was unique in my beginning I think in that it did not spring as most of the free universities previous to this. George Stanford University and other college campuses specifically Berkeley and San Francisco State they did not spring from a civil rights movement or an anti-war movement or some specific area or some specific gripe of students. But I think it was positively creative here and in that we did not limit its structure its courses
or its direction to students in one specific political or social area. So when we came out with courses we had academic courses quote relevant courses we had easy going courses we had courses from professors who have tenure here who have been here who have been noted to be dry and old guard. And were loved in a free university because it was the first time they could let down their guard. That's the story of the beginning and I think it's relevant now it's the where it's gone after that because the phenomena for universities throughout the United States is that after the first year of spontaneous enthusiasm they've dribbled off to just about no support and no interest. So that's the I think the real relevance of this talk to see what has happened to the Free University at Georgetown. Well if it was not bred out of discontent as you say it was at least out of some dissatisfaction with with a standard curriculum
you might as you might say that it was discontent in that there was a feeling that something more could be accomplished and that more is the free spirit of the Free University and maybe to explain that you could say that a person could go to the Free University and participate as a student or professor on the same level as the student or professor it was a horizontal sort of relationship as opposed to a preacher to audience sort of relationship. There was a dialogue a two way dialogue that was unusual. And this required an initiative on the part of the student as well as the professor to make the. Course of some value and the types of courses that we've had and I have been along political and governmental lines as well as study of the languages
which are as much like the language courses in the regular university. But yet there's been quite a bit of interest in the Free University language courses because it allowed a degree of experimentation in teaching languages. There have been other areas of religion and whatnot that have been brought up in free university courses. What it is in effect is a dialogue and that it's important and it's two way to win at life. How would you Mr Reardon liken it to the classic concept of the students at the feet of the teacher. And then of course we came through a development period in which we finally reached and from that in our American education system to a situation where in some universities state universities for example you have people who never see their instructors they just sit in an
hour. Women see something on television screen. So what I'm trying to say that I see just what you mean. And there's that tendency in any university to get away from your professor and remove from him in to a certain degree there should be the professor over student relationship because that professor has something that the student doesn't have. And if these disciplines should be taught to the student. But on the other hand that there is required a certain dialogue between the two to test ideas and bring out the reactions of the students to new movements throughout the world or even report to write a report between let's say the generation gap where we're taught what the problems that we have in the United States and throughout the world are gaps the poor and the rich the black and the white the Arabs and the Israelis the communist ideas and the. The liberal ideas of it
I carried on in the United States. There's always a division. And the dialogue is what brings these together. And from this you get a respect for the other person's opinion. And this is part of what goes on in the Free University. Mr. healthcare if you had to come to us on this thing I'm going to just elaborate a little bit on Mr. Reardon saw statement there. We are we talk quite frequently outside of class and university courses. And in a way I might lean a little further than Scott to the extent that a professor I've always believed and I still believe and I will continue to believe the professor can learn from a student just as much as a student can learn from a professor. And the reason I believe this is because I mean I've I've read enough to know that no man ever learns everything and if you think you do or you think you have well then you have a lot more learning to do more and a professor
sometimes you'd be surprised if they come into a class with the idea that perhaps some undergraduate could perhaps teach him something. And that's the professor I want to sign up with for of course and I think Scott does agree with me to a certain extent they are but bands got Steele I think has this tendency I feel like the days of in loco parenthesis is gone and I'm glad of it because a school can never replace your parents. And it should because I feel like if you want a university education you're 18 a slave the majority of times when you start college I think you'd better get on the bar right then and there and grow up and stand on your own two feet. And it's easy to say might take you a couple of years before you finally do it but I think that is the drawback in today's society that students aren't really they don't look at the student as as a member of society as such I mean a man 18 is married has got a job he is looked on as a member of society but is still for some unknown reason is not
and I think this in loco parentis idea has helped carry this forward that the students are or are not a productive part of society not until they get at the great get that diploma and get that job. And yet when you're 18 to 21 it's a launch. Part of the Society of America. And yet they are looked at almost as little children that you have to are you have to play with them and you have to give them some candy to keep them quiet anything to subdue and pacify you and for university has got a chance here to get rid of this idea if you can store just a few professors and you both learn from each other. You both interact. He doesn't come in there to tell you what he knows and you don't want to tell him what you know. But instead you each learn from each other. No antagonism on either side with when you've got a foundation. A foundation for something a right man we can imagine what it's going to be. You can just almost song more or less. You have a realization what it could lead up to. And if we're lucky and if things go right and the tide of events carry
us they are perhaps a free universe to one day be the university and I hope so. Jim you've got an interesting notion there. All the problems that you elaborated on I think are partly from the structure of the United States educational system than a where high school was once the end of the road. Now College of becoming the end of the road and it's just accepted that a person goes to high school and as long as it's accepted he still is in that educational realm and he's not yet a member of society as such and I think it says and implies a lot more than just the bare fact it makes a student accept from above as such and a free university. I don't see it taking place. If we became the regular university in the year 2000 there probably be a free university structure after. But Georgetown
now has structured to supply some other need of the student. But what we are doing now is providing that voluntary. The ability for the student to use his will to choose to do something more than what is given to him. And I think that's what adults are. Adults are people who commit themselves to something because they want to commit their person to a particular time consuming advocation. And it's a free university and this is what the regular university does not provide because you have to take so many courses here and there and so it makes the student more or less just on the time a time in the system. We haven't yet heard from Dane Dolan supposedly at his point of view. Well it's probably good that I listen first. I know Reese gotten him very very well and we've talked a lot about this. My position is part of is a very a very strange one here I'm part of the system that they're speaking of. I'm an
administrator in a you know fairly large international university and at the same time I find myself a great in for an interest in the Free University as a professor. It might be interesting to explain why I think I'm teaching in the University of the Free University and also at the same time administrating in the regular one. It seems to me that our system the United States today is going to growing a tremendous crisis as an educational institution that that is somehow ossified and is not meeting really meeting the needs of today's youth. If it doesn't you'll get this type of reaction. They're looking for some other relevant curriculum in which they can discuss enter into meaningful learning with other people and with men that may be of thought more and put more of their years of love of existence here in the United States into thinking through these problems so that they can play their eyes ideas off of him. And I as a teacher go in there with the same idea. I'll tell you what I find most interesting in teaching in the Free University and that's the
learning atmosphere itself. I've taught in universities here in the United States I talk to years in Latin America. When I came back here I decided that I was going to do some teaching on the side. When I go into a free university class I know those people are there not because they signed up and have to go and have a number of cuts not because I have a lever over them of grades A B C or D and I confront them out of here. I know they are there because they want to learn and they want to exchange and they have interest in what I am teaching. Now I'm teaching a philosophy of evolution course. I have ideas myself but hardly solidified and hardly definite. So when I go in on an evening where I put in probably four or five hours preparing a class I put my ideas up there mainly to see how they will react to see what their own ideas are. Once I bounce mine off of them they're not in there competing with one another. They're in there to learn from one another in the whole learning atmosphere changes. No one's afraid
to say what he thinks. No one's afraid to criticize. Everybody has respect for the person because they're in there because they're interested. And I for my part find that we do more in one class like that than I can teach in four or five regular classes because everybody is pushing everybody's attentive. They don't they wouldn't rather be anyplace else. As a matter of them almost totally of structure and and discipline. The difference between a well like any human institution once men get together and say we have a need let's get together and solve it. And then it becomes structured as I imagine the free universities will eventually become. You have to to to work economically and efficiently. Once that happens it usually is fairly effective for a while and then as your needs change your institution can swing to meet them. It seems to me very very clear here we are we're in a curriculum where a boy walks into a university he picks up
five courses. He ends up on a given night studying 13th century theology 15th century philosophy the history of modern Europe etc.. He can't possibly nor can any human put those things together into any type of meaningful learning experience when he is living in the United States today. A different type of crisis and would love to be putting in some time and thought with other people trying to confront those issues. Now I'm not saying that the studying of the Western civilization or Eastern civilization can help you to meet that. But the point is that you have to put your historical studies philosophy theology history literature into some sort of relation to these modern problems. We fail to do it. So they are out to look for some new institution that's freewheeling that will meet those problems and discuss them openly with other people. And so my answer is yes it's a problem of systematized institution that cannot turn to meet the problem and I don't know whether I'm optimistic or pessimistic about the United States educational system is there.
Is there a danger in this free university that as you describe it becoming so highly concentrated upon the issues of the moment that over the long term a say and a quarter of a century hence that that those who might attend it as opposed to today institutionalized. College would not have a broad education a sufficiently broad education. Very possible I think that that's why I'd agree with with something said previously that the real value of this thing perhaps lies in the in the double existence of it. I probably would disagree with Jim when he said that maybe this free university would take over. You need Perhaps that old anger that gives you that your tradition because you'll never understand where you are unless you understand where you've come from. And of course always your tendency when you're young is to say here's the problem let's attack it. But you can't attack a problem. I don't
think unless you understand what basic ideas in your civilization brought this problem to you it didn't just spring up last night. It came in a series of problems through western civilization and we inherit that and do our own thing to it in the United States as they would say. And all of a sudden you have a new series of problems. We definitely got a racial problem and we have to meet we definitely have a after World War to the United States position in the world is a tremendous problem and I don't think that we're meeting and they have a tremendous social conscience. They want to meet these. And we can't ignore them I think they're the voice of our own civilization and culture saying to us Look look. And I think we have to listen. Is that what you saying in effect is that the Free University points to relevance the relevance that seems to be lacking in the end the institution of let's say Georgetown. And as it relates to Washington DC and its problems right exists right now but that is the vacuum that that you fellas complain of all that's right not so interesting
here is that the the relevance that we're pointing to the problems that were showing the students or the sht The students are showing themselves in the professors and so on. They've been accepted to free university the idea of this pointing to relevance has been accepted. The administration is very interested in what the Free University does. We are a complement to Georgetown in that we move it to this question of of relevance and the problems that we have today using as Pat said the historical perspective that we must use in order to solve any problems. And now the question comes. Who takes up this challenge you might say. What sort of person goes to the Free University First of all we could say that there are about 800 students in the Free University of these 500 are regular Georgetown University students and about 300 are adults and students from the Washington
area and the Georgetown community in particular. And I think that says a lot for what the ideas of the Free University are trying to do because that will what what they have done in effect is they've brought out something that's new and it's been taken up it's grown. There are 800 people in the Free University. There are 65 courses this semester and this is our third semester. There are no there's no requirement there's no cost for attending the classes. And the only cost is the time that it requires to go to class. And I think it's interesting that these people have taken up an interest in the ideas of relevance that the professors in the university are trying to stress. Do you feel that the two universities Georgetown University and Georgetown for university are compatible. Yes very much so complementary. Very much so.
I want to first of all want to go back you know I think it's more or less a human nature thing over looked a minute ago when I said that the Free University would eventually take over and I think what I should have said was this If the Free University does ever become the university there is always going to be that thing in human nature that say it's not free enough. I want it freer if such a word exists for here I don't know but I think Essex that case here at the Free University does ever become the university. So one is still going to be discontinued because I think we're on more or less we're hung up. You're going to always have problems there can always be there. And this might not solve it but perhaps somebody playing something else can make a university for a year if you can imagine a free university for a year. It might be that way and this is why I want to I want to ask all dressed in a three of the three I mean here Mr. Delane Mr. Fuld are Mr. Reardon to answer me this question. I have come from a state where free universe does not exist now I've
taken the dive into the womb was over for university and I before the show here we discussed the the effects of free university and why it might survive and might not survive. And it worries me to think it might not survive because like Mr. Fulton say and at some schools here in the district it has just succumbed you know disappeared and vanished. And what I want to know is this. Can it last. And if it does not last. Was it a good thing to start with the important thing I think Mr has Cox's when it vanished wasn't put out of existence or did it just wither on the vine do you. I think just from a slight history of free universities throughout the country it was it on the vine. It was seldom put out of existence either through lack of interest and I don't think that has ever been the main problem. We have found that if we didn't look hard we could say lack of interest but if we look harder we could
see that coordinating the same problems that the registrar has with a regular university we have to the power of voluntary. We have to we have to provide something that is almost perfect because until three or four classes into the semester those people are still making the extra added choice to go to that class after three or four times. They put enough time that they feel they've got value in it and they'll stick it out but on. The breadth of the university the Free University at Georgetown is something that I think will keep it going Jim because so often other universities for universities throughout the United States they have centered into one problem area. You know we've talked about problem areas that have that have been the stories of three universities starting but the Georgetown University has not let one of these problem areas civil rights or the Vietnam War take it
and make it it's cool and we have tried to serve the students as the students need to serve. If the students want a course in such and such. We have the ability to coordinate such a course. So whatever course the students want we will serve and it's longitudinally one in my cheese course will be. Let's talk about those courses we have about two minutes left and I think a measure of the breadth of the university as you referred to it might be and some of those courses that you're offering I can hear a numerate sound for I'd say just quickly and I'll let Scott enumerate them specifically we have political courses we have social courses we have a language department that is overwhelming. In introductory all the way to conversational off French Spanish Portuguese Russian Chinese Turkish etc. We have good English courses. We have theology philosophy and history. These are not that far away from the regular Kraken but they offer that that the regular curriculum doesn't offer so far as it set the stage.
Dean Dolan I think mentioned that he was and start getting a course in the philosophy of rock revolution was that it. That's probably sounds a little ominous especially for an administrator. I found that after teaching two or three years in Latin America my interests lie very very much in social philosophy and what happens to a mass of people that they find themselves in. Perhaps what Marx would call a revolutionary position at least an oppressed position and I think the United States in its way has its alienation and its revolution problems. I find an extreme amount of interest both in and outside of this university in the course and in the very concept of revolution peaceful violent the all the notions that go into this. And my my way of teaching it very interestingly enough is to go back into the theology in the philosophy of Western culture tradition and try and find out where it's where it's happened and. In order that we might have to understand more deeply what has happened to us right now where we are why we
are alienated why we even consider the possibility of revolution. Because this is in a way a very unique possibility that you can take your own social social and cultural background and pull it up by the bootstraps and change it from within. It's quite a concept and it comes to us because of our background. Well in half a minute as part of your learning process in the Free University in this course. Do you think we're going to make it that you young fellows older types you're going to get together. I think it's a real valid question and I don't have an easy answer. You have a you have a culture now that is trying to pass on ideals principles or names that it seems to me the younger generation is not accepting wholeheartedly. You have the alienation of the young people simply say I won't live according to those principles ideals aims I want different ones. And when a culture can't pass that on a culture is is it shaky. And it has to come up with a solution. If we listen and if we try and turn these educational
institutions like the Free University to to confront these problems I think we can solve some of these generation gaps that we've seen. All right gentlemen thank you very much for your discussion of student initiative the Free University. Our thanks to Dana freshman Patrick Dolan to Mr. Rhys FULLERTON The senior to Mr. Scott Riordan Jr. and to Mr. James Cox Jr. from Alabama. You have attended the weekly discussion program the Georgetown University radio forum broadcast of which was transcribed in the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of historic Georgetown University in Washington D.C. next week you will hear discussed the Peace Corps and a new diplomacy. Our guests will include the Reverend George H Dunn Society of Jesus. Mr. John Curtis and Mr. Michael Bowden. This program has been presented in the interest of public education by Georgetown University. Your moderator.
WALLACE banning this program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
Georgetown forum
Student initiative: Free university
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Georgetown University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features W. Patrick Goen, dean of freshmen, Georgetown University; Reese Fullerton, senior; Scott Riordan, junior; James Heathcox, junior; all Georgetown students
Series Description
Moderated by Wallace Fanning, this series presents a panel of guests discussing a variety of topics. The radio series launched in 1946. It also later aired on WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. These programs aired 1968-69.
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Guest: Goen, W. Patrick
Guest: Fullerton, Reese
Guest: Riordan, Scott
Guest: Heathcox, James
Moderator: Fanning, Wallace
Producing Organization: Georgetown University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-51-645 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:11
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Chicago: “Georgetown forum; Student initiative: Free university,” 1969-01-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Georgetown forum; Student initiative: Free university.” 1969-01-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Georgetown forum; Student initiative: Free university. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from