Lyceum aims to educate, inspire


This fall, Mercer will begin work on Lyceum, a university-wide initiative to encourage learning, service and action within the Mercer community.

The program aims to create a central program, known as a “lyceum” to plan university-wide events that follow the theme of morally transformative learning, service and student life.

Mercer Lyceum also hopes to make a permanent tradition out of the developing pattern of hosting at least one major university-wide conference on the Macon campus.

The conference and other associated events will revolve around the recently approved biennial theme of “Rebuilding Democracy.”

“This theme was chosen in part out of distress at the signs of breakdown in American civility and the effectiveness of our democratic processes, and in part to encourage our students and others to deepen their own sense of identity as citizens and their commitment to spend their lives engaged in civic action on behalf of the common good,” said Dr. David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor and member of the Leadership of Lyceum Planning Board.

Dr. Doug Pearson, Vice President for Student Affairs, believes the theme works perfectly for the programs that Mercer hopes to develop. “What students do outside of the classroom is just as important to us as what they do in the classroom,” he said. “We don’t want to simply graduate good student – we want to graduate students who know how to make a difference in their communities and in the world.”

The intent of a centralized theme is to provide a focus for classroom and co-curricular activities.

According to Pearson, the Lyceum concept developed from the success of previous conferences held at Mercer like the Torture Conference, the Caring for Creation Conference and the S.T.O.P. Conference.

“These all were stimulating, thought-provoking programs that were tied with service and action,” Pearson said.  “Our communities experienced a real change due to these programs.  Lyceum simply seeks to institutionalize this concept over two year periods of time based on a selected theme. “

One of the first programs Lyceum is planning for Mercer is a student voter registration campaign that will begin the first week of school. The unofficial goal of the campaign is to achieve 100% registration on campus.

As part of the campaign, SGA and Student Life will work with Peer Advisors and Residence Life to emphasize the importance of voting. The program is focused heavily on freshmen, with tables set up in the residence halls during move-in day, but all Residence Assistants will have information for upper-classmen living on campus.

SGA President Jordan Locke said he is very excited about working with Mercer Lyceum.

“Rebuilding democracy we feel is especially applicable to our organization because democracy is the crux of why we exist,” Locke said.

Gushee emphasized that Mercer Lyceum is not specific to any part of the university but belongs to Mercer as a whole.  “The model we have developed involves collaborative event planning and also the co-branding of events that individual units do and wuld like to have associated with the theme,” he said. “Anyone who is planning a lecture and wants a co-branding with Lyceum is encouraged to contact any member of the Lyceum team to make that happen.”