Twenty years ago, the University of Houston’s Honors College launched an experiment in connecting the “town and gown” by hosting insightful dinner dialogues featuring a “who’s who” of intellectual talents.
Today, the conversation continues as “The Great Conversation” celebrates its 20th anniversary. This annual Honors College fundraiser provides Houstonians with an opportunity to have thoughtful conversations with top scholars and experts over a gourmet meal. This year’s “Great Conversation” kicks off at 7 p.m., March 28 at the Houston Country Club. All proceeds benefit the Honors College by providing scholarships and other student support. Chairs for this year’s event are Deborah Brochstein and Connie Simmons Taylor, an Honors College alumna.
Honors College alumna, and this year’s honoree, Jane Cizik envisioned this event as a vehicle to share the Honors College’s talents with the Houston community. Each year, the event brings together faculty members, alumni, friends, donors and students
“An event that blends a seminar with a dinner party is a perfect way for the Honors College to bring the city and the university together,” said William Monroe, dean of the Honors College. “Twenty years and over 500 conversations have changed the way we think of our role as professors and, in some cases, the direction of our research. We hope that the community has benefited as much as we have. Our faculty don't come to the event already knowing the answers…it's not a lecture and it's not a debate.”
Table topics for “The Great Conversation” include higher education, art, politics, popular culture, wine, sports and philosophy. More than 30 members of UH’s faculty and administration will lead these conversations. For a complete list of conversationalists and topics, click here. A sample of this year’s topics and speakers are as follows:
- A Table Tour of India: Renu Khator, UH president; Suresh Khator, associate dean in UH’s Cullen College of Engineering
- Table for 10 Billion?: How and Where to House a Growing Population Shafik Rifaat, architect and urban planner
- Fairness and the Occupy Movement: Susan Collins, director of UH’s Phronesis Program in Politics and Ethics
- “Downton Abbey” - About Then or About Now?: Robert Cremins, novelist
- Big Opportunities in the Big East: Mack Rhoades, UH athletics director
- 24/7 Media Coverage - The Latest Threat to Democracy: Steve Smith, broadcast journalist and media consultant
“The Great Conversation continues to fulfill the hopes and expectations that we had when we conceived the event twenty years ago,” said Ted Estess, Honors College professor and former dean. “It does so because the conversations manifest the kind of interactive, collaborative and enjoyable education that is the hallmark of the college.”
The Honors College at UH is a hub of excellence that serves the needs of gifted undergraduates in more than 100 fields of study and reflects the rich diversity of the University of Houston in its courses, faculty, and students. For more than 50 years, the Honors College has offered students the best of both worlds: the advantages of a small college together with the comprehensive resources and rich diversity of a large university. For more information about the Honors College, visit http://TheHonorsCollege.com.