Once called “The Week of Work,” SVHE was and is unlike many of the “alphabet soup” academic gatherings. Papers in progress are presented in various interdisciplinary seminars and in the Call for Papers (CFP) working groups, where each receives thoughtful and constructive response from participants. Plenary sessions give opportunity for coherent exploration of a thematic focus, with ample time as well for discussion with speakers. Although most Fellows are professionally involved with matters of higher education, many are from other ways of being. In addition, families and partners are welcomed as full participants in all sessions (with special programming provided for those under 18). We seek to create a setting where we are not just “managing knowledge” but also trying to live toward wisdom and committing ourselves as whole human persons to ‘the sterner discipline of seeking a common good in human affairs.”
Over the 4-5 days, we pursue these goals in formal and informal ways, including gathering for:
- Morning Groups which explore themes from “Historical Fiction” to “Theorizing Culture: Knowledgeable Consumers and Consuming Knowledge,” “Autobiographical Writing” to “Philosophy of Place,” from “Pop Culture” to “Religion and Violence.” The only rules are “first names only without regard to position” and confidentiality when appropriate to sustain a safe haven for frank discussions.
- Working Groups that delve into thematic concerns with both personal and public dimensions. Working groups are made up of scholars who are presenting work in response to our Call for Papers. Papers are shared among participants with the goal of providing substantial time and substantive feedback for the authors. Authors will provide brief summaries of their work and then open the floor for a sustained conversation.
- Interest Groups: These groups meet in the afternoon, typically for one session only. There are a variety of groups meeting and you are welcome to attend any and all that you are interested in.
- Plenaries/Panels: These focus on the theme of the conference. Plenaries/Panels are open to the public, so if you know someone in the neighborhood who would like to attend, please let them know.
- Programs for the young and not-so-young “Society Brats” who have sailed on the Chesapeake Bay as well as discovered how we are all at least bicultural.
- Town Hall Meeting: The SVHE is very much a membership-centered organization. The Town Hall meeting is an opportunity for the leadership in the Society to share with members important information from the past year and plans for the future. It is also a great place for newcomers to learn more about the organization.
- Auction: This lively and fun event has become a great tradition at our annual meeting. There is a silent auction and a live auction. Items range in price from a dollar to several hundred. There is something here for everyone and always plenty of time for socializing!
- Social Hours: Conversations, as you can imagine, range from serious to silly. Long conversation occur at breaks, over meals, and into the evening such that laryngitis is the only threat to the playing with ideas that is our mainstay.
- Ways to exercise through physical exertion as well as metaphysical meditation and musical teamwork.
We rotate the geographical locations of our conferences to accommodate our membership, favoring institutions with a strong commitment to providing a liberal arts education.