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Possible Initiatives For Discussion


I.          Improving Communication Skills     


            B.        Oral Communication


Despite the fact that our alumni continue to stress how important it is for students to be well-trained in public speaking, Tufts currently has no formal requirement for oral communication.  The School of Engineering requires project presentations, where teams of students use Power Point to articulate to others the work they have done.  We encourage the faculty to consider how students across Arts, Sciences, and Engineering might learn effective oral communication skills.  Here are some possible initiatives:


        Presentations: Encourage more in-class presentations.  This is feasible in small classes or in small sections of large classes.  For students to learn from these presentations,  it is important to have the capability to tape presentations to provide feedback to students.  Thus we suggest that adequate A/V equipment and support be available for this purpose.


        Public Speaking: We urge departments to seek out ways to add a public speaking component to existing classes and urge the curriculum committees to consider the benefits of offering classes in public speaking and rhetoric.  Advanced seminars, drama classes, or an Ex-College class on leadership, for example, are possible arenas for public speaking instruction.


        Assessing Oral Communication: We encourage all faculty to talk with their students not just about their written work, but also about their oral expression.  


        Debate Society:  We encourage departments and programs to work with the debate society to develop traditions and contests that promote public speaking.


        Public Discourse: We encourage lively and articulate debate in the Tufts community about the full complexity of controversial issues so that students will not simply "take positions," but also will develop the capacity to persuade others or to move them toward greater understanding. We hope to foster a climate in which differences are not treated with repressive tolerance but are engaged as a valuable source of intellectual energy and an important opportunity for communal dialogue.


        Presentation Support: Provide more support for students to present their research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and other events.  This would also include support for students who are presenting papers at academic conferences and symposia outside of Tufts. 


        Campus-wide Speaking Competition: Institute a campus-wide speaking competition modeled on the Wendell Philips Award. Such a competition could be organized with teams from each of the colleges and might become a trademark event in the calendar of Tufts experiences.


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