"Spend ten minutes on The Ingram Commons, in any of its many spaces, and you will realize you’re in the middle of one large classroom, a classroom without walls. There are many teachers here; often the roles reverse as the student becomes the teacher. But we’re always learning from each other. We’re learning how to move from having opinions, and then having those opinions challenged by new discoveries and new perspectives, and then building new arguments. And we learn how to make those arguments with respect and civility toward each other."
—Vanessa Beasley, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of residential faculty,
Here on The Commons, intellectual discovery is at the center of all that we do. From dinners at the Dean's Residence with esteemed scholars to casual interactions with the faculty heads, we ensure that academic inquiry remains at the forefront of The Commons Experience.
Even outside of the classroom, faculty, upperclass peer mentors, and first-year students engage together in thought-provoking dialogues on topics as wide-ranging as the history of lobotomies to academic integrity. Students develop a greater appreciation for academic inquiry through specific programs and initiatives, including the Commons Reading, the annual Crawford Lecture on women in leadership, and Commons Cup Trivia Bowls. In 2015, first-year students even had the opportunity to travel to Plains, Georgia with three faculty heads to hear President Jimmy Carter teach a Sunday School lesson at his hometown church and to learn about the president’s long legacy in American politics and global philanthropy. A more recent program gave students the opportunity to take a bus tour of North Nashville, home of Vanderbilt alum Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the SEC, civil rights pioneer, and subject of the 2016 and 2017 Commons Reading, Strong Inside. These kinds of programs and initiatives empower students to acquire an appreciation for creative and intellectual discovery that broaden and complement their course of study.