In just a few weeks, more than 220 of the smartest, most driven students in America will arrive in New York City for their first taste of the King’s education. I’m looking forward to challenging them at New Student Orientation to take their time at King’s seriously.
After all, college is one of the most important and formative journeys in any young adult’s life. Some of the incoming students will one day lead our country. Their time at King’s will play a major role in determining their character, their ability to overcome obstacles, and their integrity in leadership. They are already smart. Becoming a leader, however, takes a lot more than book smarts—it takes a heart inclined to God’s voice and a will that is trained through habit to obey.
I believe they will succeed and go on to lead. Already, many graduates of the class of 2011 have taken jobs at institutions directly influencing important social and political issues. Graduates are taking positions at firms in education, public policy, public relations, and business consulting. Some such firms include Teach for America, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Luntz Global, Cathedral Consulting, and Q Ideas.
I can hardly believe that a year has already passed since I first came to King’s, and I am looking forward to starting another academic year. I am especially excited about the new Presidential Scholars program, which will bring some of the most intelligent and respected conservative thinkers to King’s.
Until then, please read the articles below to see how the vision is alive and well at The King’s College this summer.
President, The King's College
The King’s College Mock Trial Enters its Second Year
In the Fall of 2008, a handful of ambitious King’s students decided to found The King’s Debate Society to compete in the marketplace of ideas. In just three years, the program exploded from four students to a nationally competitive program of more than 25. Now, Jonathan Irwin (’12) and an equally ambitious group of students are trying to mirror the success of the debate society after founding The King’s College Mock Trial in the Fall of 2010. And after a very successful first year, the program is poised to leap ahead.
In mock trial, each program sends teams of six to ten students that stand in the shoes of the prosecution, plaintiff or defense in a predetermined case. Every part of a real trial is represented. Students argue before judges, are able to call witnesses, and give opening statements and closing arguments in the same way that trial lawyers would before a court. Teams are scored based on oratory, knowledge of the case, and their grasp of the often complex legal matters. The team with the highest combined score wins the match.
In their first year, the students took mock trial at King’s from nonexistence to being an official member of The American Mock Trial Association. Students in mock trial also competed at the University of Vermont in the Winter of 2010. “I was really proud of our students,” said team leader Jonathan Irwin. “Other schools present were surprised by our first-year team’s grasp of the case and the relevant legal matters. It was very encouraging.”
A mock trial program is a natural fit for The King’s College. The college is aimed at contributing to God’s redemptive process in society by preparing committed, competent Christians for leadership in strategic national institutions. Speaking on Mock Trial at King’s, Irwin said, “Mock Trial is especially important at The King’s College because it prepares students for careers in one of the most strategic, and unfortunately, broken institutions: law.”
Through Mock Trial, students develop analytical skills that will help them succeed on the LSAT examination, as well as giving them an understanding of concepts that will allow them to be involved in complicated legal discussions. The competition also helps students hone their public speaking skills while at the same time familiarizing them with the court room. Students learn to ask important questions and locate details that can be molded into arguments capable of winning over a jury. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the mock trial program at King’s, however, is the special access it gives students to legal networks that can later be useful in finding internships, recommendations, and jobs.
In the 2011-2012 year, the Mock Trial leadership plans to push the program to new heights. The King’s College Mock Trial will be attending the Quaker Classic invitational at the University of Pennsylvania early in the Fall semester and will possibly be returning to the University of Vermont invitational in December. The team will also be attending the regional tournament in the Spring semester at a location yet to be determined. The program is also actively developing its website, which provides updates on the organization and contains resources for those interested in learning more about mock trial.
If you would like more information on The King’s College Mock Trial, you can visit their website here or “like” their Facebook page for regular updates.
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King’s Students Investigate East African Development
In recent decades, the world has seen the rise of the “developing country.” After long term economic stagnancy, key African nations are experiencing strong economic performance. Uganda, for example, sustained an impressive 7% average growth in GDP between 2000 and 2010. Although the economic development is encouraging, East African countries like Kenya and Uganda are at a crossroads. Citizens in these countries must decide how they will address matters of individual rights, domestic culture, foreign interaction, and economic planning. This critical juncture is what prompted 10 King’s students to travel to Kenya and Uganda as part of the College’s International Ventures program.
The group of students, accompanied by Professor Steve Salyers, Associate Professor of Communications and Humanities, departed New York City on May 16th. The first seven days in Africa were spent in Nairobi, Kenya, where students met with Innovations for Poverty Action and representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK).
At the meeting with GALCK, both sides were initially uneasy. Shortly after the meeting began, however, students found themselves engaged in deep conversation. Samuel Tran (13’) said, “I soon found myself talking about matters of faith with Johnson, one of the GALCK representatives. He wanted to know more about God, but found himself shunned by the church. I left, praying that our discussion might be a stepping-stone back."
After seven days in Kenya, students traveled through the Masai Mara Reserve and crossed the Western border into Uganda. The team then spent three days at Uganda Christian University, where they met the president of the student government as well as the vice-chancellor of the university. From there, the students traveled to Makerere University, the East African equivalent of Harvard University. The King’s students stayed with the Makerere students at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts and participated in a four day art exchange. Students produced art, dialogued with students about philosophy, and built important relationships. Betsy Brown (’11), described the time, saying, “We discussed issues such as the current unrest surrounding the elections in Uganda, the connection between philosophy and studying the arts, and poverty. The students were brilliant visual artists and I was honored to be able to work alongside them on art projects that reflected our conversations.”
After three weeks in Africa, the students had seen poverty, learned to better appreciate African culture, and met with the current and future leaders who are crucial to the success of East Africa. King’s graduate Ted Pantone, a current resident of Kenya, said that “If any King's student expects to live the mission of the college they must have a view that is broader than the confines of our 50 states. Ultimately, International Ventures are an invaluable opportunity to enrich the minds of King's students with a global perspective. That global perspective will make them more effective at living the mission of our school.”
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Interregnum VIII: Tradition and Innovation
Each spring, The King’s College holds its annual “Interregnum.” In Latin, the word interregnum means “the time between kings.” At King’s, it is a break from classes for a two-day event filled with speaking and writing competitions. Recent interregnums have focused on the themes of difficulty, civilization, avarice, and villainy. The Interregnum Committee, made up of five student representatives, has selected “Tradition and Innovation” as this year’s theme. Below is the official announcement:
“Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine.” - Hank Morgan, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The past two hundred years is the history of an unprecedented outpouring of devices, gadgets, tools, machines, appliances, contrivances and a varied lot of technological innovations grouped colloquially as whatchamacallits and thingamabobs. Since Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, the West has outgrown its industrial puberty and turned to a new Information Age of computers, the internet, databases, Facebook, the iPhone, and digital cameras, clocks, music, videos, etc. Social innovations pack the history texts as well: the end of slavery, the beginning of women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, among others. The Progressive movement promised that social activism and political reform could set society on an inevitable upward path to better lives, a hope not entirely relinquished.
Yet newer is not always better. Consider recent concerns over reduced human interaction thanks to online social relationships, or the cry for green technology (yet another innovation, ironically) as a response to industry-generated pollution. Innovative science calls for research in human-animal hybrids, clones, and myriad other experiments prompting bioethics concerns and highlighting a debate not merely over new practices, but new ideas: Is morality inherently static, or is it an ever-evolving abstract that morphs into new forms for new decades?
The old, it seems, has some merit: stability, familiarity, comfort. Revolutions – in thought, politics, or culture – though thrilling and at times appropriate, disrupt a long-standing institution revered for its age and wisdom. Traditions consecrate life, turning everydayness into noteworthiness: the ceremony at presidential inaugurations or Supreme Court hearings; recitations in church; even the Christmas tree in December or the turkey for Thanksgiving Day in November. Moving from customs to ideas, the old can distill the knowledge of past generations, safely delivering it to the young in pithy bits of wisdom, aphorisms, and proverbs.
And yet, the old is at times guilty of stifling new ideas, safeguarding the old so securely that no new progress escapes through the dust of the tried and partially true.
Interregnum VIII will explore these questions of the old and the new, as well as the merits and faults of each in both the practical and theoretical realms. We entitle this theme: Tradition and Innovation.
Over the course of the year, we’ll ask when tradition or innovation ought to be valued, or when discounted. Are they constantly in opposition, or is it possible for them to merge?
Is tradition worthy merely in a utilitarian manner for stability? If tradition carries wisdom, can we appreciate the knowledge without the form of tradition? When does tradition inhibit appropriate innovations?
And as for the new, is societal unrest inherent in innovation, or is it a passing bump on the road to progress? Where is the line between innovation and reform, and when is each appropriate? Is progress – on both the societal and individual level – even possible? What about utopia? As Christians, how do we defend unchanging standards and morals?
We’ll look, too, at human nature. What is it about us that finds change pleasant, that is attracted to the novel, that follows fads and trends with zeal? And how is it that we simultaneously find our heritage fascinating, our history telling, and our traditions sacred?
In keeping with one of Interregnum’s own traditions, we’ll read a work of literature pertinent to the theme and worthy in its own right as a classic. This year, the selection is Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. A Connecticut Yankee is an account of the old (6th century Britain) in clash with the new (19th century America). Hank Morgan of Connecticut awakens outside Camelot, where he determines to modernize King Arthur’s court. In typical Twain sarcasm, the book criticizes parts of both the old traditions and Hank’s innovations.
We hope you join us in eager academic discussion of Tradition and Innovation.
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