April 2005


The Renaissance Project at the University of Oklahoma


1.  What is the Renaissance Project?


The Renaissance Project is an idea for involving the entire university in a year-long conversation–rather, a succession of year-long conversations--about the great themes and topics that are defining the time we live in.  The idea for such a project has come out of discussions with President Boren, Provost Nancy Mergler, Dean Paul Bell, and faculty and administrators in several colleges.


2.  What is the goal of the Renaissance Project?


The goal of the project is to enhance our students’ educational experience by directly enriching the environment for inquiry and discussion and the communal experience for learning.  The name “Renaissance Project” is intended to include all disciplines at OU and should suggest the way we will renew our intellectual life and sense of ourselves as a learning community with each passing year of discussion. The Renaissance Project will not so much bring richness to the culture of learning at OU as reveal tremendous opportunities and resources already available on campus every year with scheduled courses and conferences, OU faculty expertise, and visiting speakers. Hence this project will not need to be fueled by new resources but will be a deliberate discovery and publicizing of existing resources. The contribution of the Renaissance Project can be to coordinate and make known the particular resources that will illuminate a broad theme or set of problems for a given year.


3.  How will the Renaissance Project work?


Each year of conversation will be focused on a broad theme or set of problems that will be announced far enough in advance so as to allow for significant reading and thinking about the topic, a topic such as “Religion and Democracy,” the theme for the pilot year 2005-2006.


The planners of the Renaissance Project will publicize a reading list of five works that will help to focus each year’s theme in a variety of ways.  They will schedule four public symposia, two each semester, that will respond to the broad theme. And, among other projects, they will identify already scheduled speakers and conferences on campus for a given year that can be publicized as relating to the Renaissance Project’s theme.


4.  Want Further Information about the Renaissance Project?


For information about the Renaissance Project in 2005-2006 and years to come, contact Prof. RC Davis-Undiano at rcdavis@ou.edu or call World Literature Today at 325-4531.