Born out of a lecture given in 2007 by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, the Last Lecture series is returning to Boston College, courtesy of Americans for Informed Democracy. This year’s lecture is drawing new levels of attention as it will be given by a professor that will soon be departing from the BC community: Father Jeremy Clarke, SJ, from the history department.
The lecture that Pausch gave back in 2007 resulted in a best-selling book that was published in more than 35 languages. His parting words of wisdom to the Carnegie Mellon community and those that watched the video of his lecture thereafter, created a wave of last lecture series across the globe. These lectures ask professors a loaded question: If you had the chance to give the last lecture of your life, what would you say?
Distinguished professors all over the world have taken part in this new tradition of teaching students things not normally taught in the classroom setting. Instead of focusing on their academic area of expertise, these intellectuals are forced to think about what bits of wisdom they would like to impart upon their audience instead of what material they plan to have show up on the exam.
Pausch’s lecture, given nearly seven years ago, focused on his childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others and how the people in the audience could then achieve their own dreams and enable the dreams of others. Pausch used specific dreams he had in his childhood, like being in zero gravity, to highlight how audience members should never lose sight of their ability to achieve their dreams.
Father Clarke has been one of the history department’s most visible professors since his arrival to BC in 2007. His focus of study includes Asian history, focusing specifically on the Catholic Church and the roles that the Jesuits played on promoting East-West cultural exchanges throughout history. Father Clarke is currently instructing a core history course in its second semester called Asia and the Modern World.
Known for his Australian accent and extensive tweeting, Father Clarke has become an integrated part of the BC community in his short time here. In 2010, Father Clarke curated an exhibition of rare books from the Burns Library and also produced a documentary film about Chinese Catholic history. His excitable nature is intoxicating and he has spent much of his time promoting the history department through unconventional methods, such as using #historyisthebestmajor in his tweets.
Father Clarke will give his Last Lecture on Tuesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. in Devlin 008.