Public Issues Board Hosts Bi-Annual Seminar Day
by Eliza Scharfstein on Friday, April 29th, 2016
This past Wednesday, April 27th, fourteen experts in a variety of fields came to campus to speak to the Milton community for the annual Peter Keyes Seminar Day. Since its inception 39 years ago, Seminar Day has been held every other year in alternation with Community Service Days and consistently brings distinguished speakers to share their expertise and experiences with faculty and students. The day is hosted by Public Issues Board, a club of eleven students in classes I-IV, whose mission is to promote current events awareness around the community.
Topics ranged from social justice to the Cold War to a girls school in Afghanistan. The day featured talks by a variety of distinguished members of their field, including David Autor, a dominant leader in labor economics studies, Associate Department Head of M.I.T. Economics Department, and Milton parent; and alumna Kabeer Pahrwani, a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State.
Students in eighth to twelfth grade started off the day in the FCC to hear a the keynote address, which is supported by the Sarah Bowles ‘56 Speaker Fund. Sally Bowles, a graduate of Milton and an active, engaged citizen who, among many other accomplishments, served as governor of Connecticut and helped find the Peace Corps. In honor of this beloved and deeply involved member of the Milton community and of the world– she also worked as Ambassador to India and Under Secretary of State– classmates created the Fund. Bowles’ engagement naturally fit with the educational and intellectually-broadening nature of Seminar Day.
John Avlon, editor-in-chief of the online newspaper The Daily Beast, delivered the keynote address to the hundreds of members of that filled the bleachers and seats of the ACC. Avlon focused primarily on the polarization of the American political system in a particularly contentious election season, critiquing bi-partisan perpetuation of devisiveness.
After the speech, students attended two hour-long seminars each, one beginning at 10:30 and the other at 11:40. Students had the opportunity to choose their preferences online a couple days before the day, with each seminar ranging in size. Seminars generally had a Q&A session or some type of audience involvement.
Will Bucci (IV) attended the seminar led by __ called “What Do Terrorists Want” and another led by __ called “Cold War Stories.” Bucci writes, “The seminars were all very interesting. Each speaker gave me a new perspective on their topic for me to think about.” When asked about the day as a whole, a day that ended with a barbeque luncheon on the quad, Bucci repsonded, “The day was great. I’ll never say no to no classes, and it was actually pretty fun, despite what I thought going in.”
Marshall Sloane (II), one of the co-heads of Public Issues Board alongside Milton Measure Managing Editor Aeshna Chandra, reflects on what’s challenging about Seminar Day, writing “The most difficult thing was finding a set of speakers that were both willing to come and interesting to the student body. Many students do not understand that the speakers which we invite are all coming for free.”
Despite this difficulty, the purpose of Seminar Day still remains strong. Marshall specifies, asserting that “The purpose of seminar day is to educate the student body on important issues that also intrigue and entertain the audience. Seminar day is a unique experience since it is both a performance and an educational experience. Often, finding the effective balance between learning and fun makes the best Seminar Day.”
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8007