What is a roundtable? To date, hundreds of Harvard and MIT professors have engaged in Roundtable faculty-seminar dinner-discussions in Cambridge (MA), experiencing the potential to bring added depth to their lives as scholars and educators. Roundtable seminars are dedicated to fostering dialogue that explores the intersection of contemporary academic thought and Christian thought on issues related to science, religion, and society.

We’re dedicated to fostering conversations that explore the big questions of all things good, true, and beautiful and their intersections with contemporary academic thought, work, and life in the university context.

In Providence, we have adapted the Cambridge Roundtable for the academic community at Brown University and other nearby institutions such as PC, RIC, URI, and J&WU, which will include hosting (on average) one roundtable event each semester.

Since our first roundtable event in 2014, we’ve had hundreds of different professors (as well as some local clergy, community leaders, and alumni) from almost every academic department participate in our events.

It’s a research experiment exploring the value of hospitality in discussing important matters of science, religion, and society.

When we say saw hospitality, we’re not simply referring to physical hospitality—the free drinks, the delicious food, the great atmosphere—all well and good thanks to several outside organizations and foundations, and of course the great venue at the Brown Faculty Club. [If you’re not official member, then we would highly recommend it.]

But when we say hospitality, we’re also referring to intellectual hospitality—a willingness to engage with, enter into, and (yes, pun intended) entertain new and different ideas and perspectives.

And then doing so without ridicule or arrogance or even mere tolerance.

In other words, for our intellectual hospitality to be effective, it must be accompanied by intellectual humility—that is, a posture of respect, a genuine attempt to understand someone else’s view, and an acknowledgement that each of us still has much to learn.

It’s this type of environment where hundreds of your fellow colleagues from almost of every academic department, here is where they have found to be one of the best spaces to have meaningful dialogue over things that matter.

And we’re not the only ones–scroll down on this page to see all the campuses who have launched their own faculty roundtable events.

What happens at a Providence Roundtable event? Before the event, invited participants (who have RSVP’d) will receive information about the discussion topic, brief biographies of the presenters, and any readings to do prior. Around 65 participants will arrive sometime during the 30-minute opening reception where drinks and appetizers will be served. Next, guests will sit at their designated tables to hear the opening remarks from the presenters (usually one local and one non-local professor) on the particular topic for the evening. Dinner will be served and then the discussion around your table ensues regarding the topic presented.

There is no set agenda or official facilitator of the table–the only expectation is that people will be respectful of one another’s views, making sure to listen attentively and allow adequate time for all to speak. Afterwards, the presenters will field some questions from the participants, and then make brief closing remarks to end the evening.

Who can attend? This is an invitation-only event, though we are glad to work with invited scholars to encourage their colleagues to participate. If you have any questions and/or would like to be invited to a future event, please contact us.

Also, Roundtable invitations are not pre-sorted in alignment with any particular religious or non-religious perspective. Scholars from nearby universities and from a variety of academic departments, as well as specially-selected clergy and local business and community leaders, are invited: the result has been that a diversity of academic and religious and non-religious views are represented.

How much does this cost to attend? This event is free for all who attend. This initiative has been sponsored and funded by a number of foundations and individuals, most notably the Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries related to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.

The Providence Roundtable is co-chaired by:

The Providence Roundtable Coordinator is Jarrod Lynn (Brown ’05, ScM’07), Religious Life Affiliate at Brown University. The Regional Roundtable Director is Dave Thom: davethom@mit.edu.

Roundtables beyond Rhode Island…

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