Would it be too much to ask guest lecturers give their presentations in the evening rather than during the work day? Western’s History Department alone hosts almost one special lecture a week, and other departments at Western and other post-secondary institutions are likely doing the same. For the most part, these presentations are attended by a mix of students and professors with the odd listener coming from outside the university. For the many people working at the university who have a family to go home to, it is obviously more convenient for guest lecturers to come during the day; however, this arrangement excludes members of the working public who have an interest in a particular scholarly subject, be it the war in Iraq, the history of chemistry, or aboriginal issues.
As long as I have been a History student I have heard people say, “You know, I never liked History when I was in school, but I’ve really become a lot more interested in it as I’ve gotten older.” Special lectures might be a great way to take advantage of that interest; furthermore, inviting the public to these lectures would add value to a university’s presence in the community.
Although some of the special lectures at Western are publicized on posters, departmental mailings, and in the online event calendar, not all lectures receive the same attention and this information more or less stops at the university’s borders. How much more time might it take to place small ads on local community events websites or in a short weekly ad in the local newspaper?