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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian
Features Editor

Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Q & A with renaissance man

Senior political science major Bob Polzin recently established the Student Renaissance Program to put education back into the hands of the students.

North Wind features editor Anthony Viola sat down with Polzin after the first meeting of the program to discuss just what exactly he hopes to accomplish with this new program.

North Wind: What exactly is the Student Renaissance Program?

Bob Polzin: The Student Renaissance Program is a program designed to take advantage of our unique position at this university as students who are actively engaged in scholarship, by both giving opportunity for students to present on a variety of topics mostly centered around politics, philosophy and education, but also to bring students together and create an environment wherein they can overcome these basic social barriers and begin to share ideas and work on things together.

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In a lot of respects it’s a very free form program. There aren’t a whole lot of essential rules, processes, especially with regard to [the] discussion and workshop period, which makes up the second half of the two hour block.

This is in large part to engender, or support this philosophy of taking ownership of one’s education, to become invested and self propelled in your learning and to find other educational opportunities other than the traditional classes and lectures, to not only learn but to teach your peers and learn from them.

NW: Where did the idea for this type of program come from?

BP: [My friend] was teaching me math, [laughs] which happens a lot when we hang out for whatever reason. It was more theoretical stuff. It was, I think, had to do with set theory. I had a lot of trouble understanding it for various reasons, but we worked out of this little old notebook. He would write something, I would write other things.

If I didn’t understand something I could stop and I wasn’t holding anyone else back. So I think that one-on-one, that small scale learning environment, it was less like you were receiving this instruction or this information from a professor, but to really be engaged in this dialogue and this educational experience with someone which you are in a comfortable situation with and you can take a more active role in learning.

NW: What are some of the hopes and goals of this program?

BP: What I really, really hope this program accomplishes is that it will be a base for people. They meet somebody and they go, “oh, we are both really passionate about [this one thing],” and they talk to some other people from here or outside of here and they get an idea together.

This provides an environment where they can incubate that idea. They’ll have some resources, some people to bounce that idea off of and then they can go and start their own program, their own organization, to really accomplish something. It could be “we work together, we help each other understand this material that we had some difficulty with, maybe we should form a study group,” it could be as small as that, or it could be as big as “we believe we need some big change in the way this university is run or programs or things in the city,” and they set out to do something big.

NW: Why do you think it takes a program like this to really get people together to do something?

BP: I think it’s not always easy to know how. I don’t mean to disparage the student body in any way but on the weekend, hanging out with people, it’s not always an environment where you want to be talking about or you know you can have super constructive dialogue about something you want to be an activist for.

I don’t usually go to parties and talk about social issues, or maybe I do [laughs].  And also because something like this opens it up for anyone to come.

You don’t have to be accepted, you don’t have to know certain people, you can just come here and find people to help your ideas.

NW: What is the basic setup of the sessions?

BP: Each session will be about two hours. The first hour is primarily focused on the presentations.

In the second hour we will be moving into the free discussion workshop period where people will divide up and there might be some prompts or things they can use to get started, but they are really free to use that time however they wish as long as they are doing something, not just shooting the breeze. I mean, that is going to happen, and I think people should allowed to be casual, because it allows people to be more comfortable with the things that they otherwise might not want to share.

NW: Any last words?

BP: I would really like to emphasize that you don’t have to be invested in a topic or know anything [about the topic]. It is a chance  to learn about things.

Once we get into that discussion workshop period, you can bring up anything you want. Participants are able and encouraged to really make it their own experience.

The next session will be Friday, Nov. 14. To stay up to date, join the Facebook group NMU  Student  Renaissance Program.

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