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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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9/6/2005 Sumner to kick off Linfield faculty lecture series

McMINNVILLE – A Linfield College English professor will discuss one of Linfield’s core teaching components, the Inquiry Seminar, during the first faculty lecture of the academic year at Linfield.

David Sumner, assistant professor of English and director of writing, will present "What We Hold Together: The Inquiry Seminar and the Foundation of a Liberal Education" on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall.

The Inquiry Seminar, one of four major components of the Linfield Curriculum, consists of a variety of writing intensive classes taught by faculty from many fields. Though topics vary, each class offers a collaborative investigation of a compelling subject, and deepens the relationship between thinking and communication, both oral and written.

"We help our students learn to ask good questions, evaluate good reasons and express that inquiry in writing," said Sumner, who oversees the Inquiry Seminar. "This is something we as faculty all have to work on with all of our students in all of our classes, and we all show our commitment to critical thinking, writing and speaking by providing an inquiry seminar within our discipline."

The Linfield Curriculum, adopted in 1997, is being reviewed by a Linfield committee this year. As a result, the Inquiry Seminar will also be evaluated. During his talk, Sumner will discuss the goals of the Inquiry Seminar and provide information on similar programs around the country. He said Linfield’s program is ahead of the curve for program design, when compared with other institutions around the country such as Duke, Princeton and Harvard universities. Many programs are only now converting to Linfield-style freshman seminars.

"It turns out we’ve got a really solid model that is supported by the research and other successful programs around the country," he said.

Sumner hopes the lecture will generate discussion about the Inquiry Seminar.

"I’m not wedded to our model," he said. "I’m wedded to doing what’s best for our students. As the foundation of a liberal education, I see this as the one thing every student must have: the ability to reason well, think critically and express that in writing and speech."

Sumner holds a bachelor’s from the University of Utah, a master’s from Brigham Young University and a doctorate from the University of Oregon.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.