Fairfield University
| March 2015 | Fairfield University News Channel

Phi Beta Kappa Celebrates 20 Years at Fairfield

In 1994 Fairfield University was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, becoming only the sixth university in Connecticut (after Yale, Trinity, Wesleyan, Connecticut College and the University of Connecticut) to be so recognized by the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in America.  The chapter, Zeta of Connecticut, received its charter in April of 1995. 

In celebration of its twentieth anniversary, Fairfield’s Chapter Zeta of Connecticut will host a special lecture on Friday, March 27 by Dr. Gerald Graff, professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The lecture, “Parlez-vous Arguespeak?” will take place in Alumni House at 1 p.m. It is free and open to the public. 

The lecture will address “argument” as the common language (or “lingua franca”) between different fields of academia, as well as in the professional and civic world beyond. Yet, according to Dr. Graff, universities do not inform students of this crucial fact and often hide it from view. Dr. Graff will discuss how and why academia obscures the argument culture at its center and suggest ways in which students can master the argumentation skills that is are crucial for academic success. 

guest speaker graff“It’s a pleasure to host Gerald Graff, a national speaker on argument and the value of academic work. It is a fitting way to celebrate a Phi Beta Kappa anniversary since that organization has supported liberal learning for more than two centuries,” noted Dr. Betsy Bowen, professor of English and past President of PBK, Zeta of Connecticut.  

‌Dr. Graff is an influential commentator on education, as an historian, theorist, and practitioner. His books include Professing Literature; Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education; and Clueless in Academe.

Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa has granted chapters to only 11% of colleges and universities in the United States. Its mission is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression. This year, Fairfield’s Chapter, Zeta of Connecticut, will induct 42 new members on March 29. 

This event is sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Zeta Chapter of Connecticut. It is supported by the Humanities Institute, Core Writing, the Center for Academic Excellence, and the English and History Departments.

*Pictured: Dr. Gerald Graff, professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Last modified:  Wed, 18 Mar 2015 11:01:00 EDT

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