Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Education this year’s Bridges to the Future focus

The University of Denver’s Bridges to the Future lecture series begins another year of programming by focusing on the challenges of America’s education system with the theme “A Nation Still at Risk: The Future of Education.”

“America’s educational system faces many challenges in the years ahead, and many view our public school system as broken and in need of radical overhaul, while others more cautiously advocate for incremental reform,” says DU Provost Gregg Kvistad, who chairs the Bridges to the Future programming committee. “Virtually everyone agrees that there are more questions than answers in this important policy arena, and this year we plan to look at the current state and possible future of education in our complex society.”

Author, educator and activist Parker Palmer will offer the opening lecture of the 2008–09 academic year Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in Magness Arena.

Palmer founded the Center for Courage and Renewal, which oversees the “Courage to Teach” program for K-12 educators. The program focuses on renewing the inner lives of professionals in education and other fields. The idea began 15 years ago when the Fetzer Institute, a Michigan-based foundation, made it possible for Palmer to gather public school teachers and leaders together for a pilot series of retreats.

“I learned that good public school teachers are our culture’s heroes, our true ‘first responders,’ and that it is a privilege to serve and support them,” Palmer says.

While Palmer is passionate about empowering teachers, he is critical overall of education in America, including higher education.

“As I came more deeply into adulthood, I realized that higher education in this country had dealt with the upper inch and a half of me, but it hadn’t tied the power of thinking into the power of feeling, the power of will, the power of heart and spirit and action,” he says.

Palmer’s lecture kicks off DU’s seventh year of Bridges to the Future programming. The series was created in 2002 by DU as a way to engage Coloradans in an exploration of American history, values and expectations in a post-9/11 world.

There is no charge for tickets or parking, but reservations are required. To reserve a seat, visit or call 303-871-2357.

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