The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Intellectual opportunities abound all around us

The opportunity for intellectual risk is an often ignored benefit of attending a liberal arts university.  While the college years are filled with many opportunities for risky behavior, very few of these risks reward as deeply as intellectual imagination and curiosity.

For me, intellectual imagination resonates in interdisciplinary study and research.  My majors – music, history, and anthropology – support such an ideal, as do my extracurricular activities.

However, not everyone satisfies his or her intellectual curiosity through multiple majors or an obviously interdisciplinary focus.  

Intellectual activity is not limited to the classroom.  While formal learning has its advantages, valuable opportunities exist outside of class to stimulate curiosity and foster a sense of intellectual imagination.  By combining your personal life with your academic life, unique and relevant topics of research present themselves.  

Whether an interesting conversation overheard at the gym or a television program flipped on between classes, daily life and current problems can invigorate research and focus academic thinking to particularly relevant ideas.

Students at SMU have extensive opportunities for extracurricular intellectual development and scholarly pursuits.  

Increasingly valuable are those opportunities on campus that bring diverse students together to discuss important issues and encourage research in a distinctly interdisciplinary way.  

Two new organizations at SMU focusing on this aspect of intellectual curiosity are the Tower Center Student Forum (TCSF) and the Student Leadership Initiative of the Embrey Human Rights Program (SLI).  Both engage students to investigate issues of academic concern in real-world settings with an interdisciplinary focus.

The TCSF provides opportunities for students of diverse academic backgrounds to come together and explore pertinent topics through policy committees, practicums, and events.  

The vast resources of the Tower Center are available for students, particularly the ability to meet, collaborate with, and learn from leading faculty members and visiting scholars and dignitaries.  

SLI structures national and international human rights service and research opportunities for course credit.  By taking classroom knowledge and applying it to global issues, SLI allows students to investigate human rights concerns from both a personal and academic perspective.

Living life with intellectual curiosity develops an intriguing foundation for independent research and future academic opportunities.  At its foundation, research is nothing more than formalized, purposeful curiosity.  

As Zora Neale Hurston says, “It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they who dwell therein.”  

Intellectual pursuits can be found everywhere.  By keeping your mind open to the possibilities surrounding you, intellectual curiosity will transform the mundane into a magnificent world of exciting and rewarding opportunities.

Jordan Johansen is senior history, music and anthropology triple major. She can be reached for comments or questions at [email protected].


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