Speak to be understood

2 min read

The bells of Memorial Church ring at 8:45 a.m. to signal the start of Morning Prayers, a daily service that takes place in Appleton Chapel every Monday through Saturday during the school year. The small chapel at the back of Memorial Church is intimate, a place for contemplation and prayer as you sit in the dark wooden pews.

A student choir sings “Come Ye Disconsolate” with its comforting words, “Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

Thursday’s speaker is Barbara J. Grosz, dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She talks about the jargon and “technical talk” that’s common to every field, how words such as model, design, and abstraction have different meanings to people in different fields. It’s a topic Grosz has addressed often in her years at the Radcliffe Institute, first as dean of science and now as dean of the institute, exhorting Radcliffe fellows to reach across the disciplines that divide them—and speak to be understood.

She concludes her remarks today by saying, “All of us in the University must move beyond boundaries of discipline or school. . . . We can be attuned to possible differences in meaning and listen with respect across languages and cultures and beliefs, making more good and less evil in the world.”

The service is short, just 15 minutes. By 9 a.m., it’s over. An inspiring start to the day.

Please visit the Radcliffe Institute Web site for Grosz’s complete remarks.