Through a Different Lens

For the third time, Andover hosted its Kaleidoscope Speaker Program. The Kaleidoscope Program spans two All School Meeting periods, with a different speaker each week. The premise of the program is that each individual speaker will offer a unique perspective on a current topic.

In the program’s inaugural year, Ross Douthat discussed the importance of organized religion and Greg Epstein argued the humanist stance. Year two brought both a liberal and conservative analysis of the 2012 presidential election to Cochran Chapel. Dee Dee Myers defended the democratic party’s liberal ideology, and Jeb Bush ’71 encouraged the Republican party’s emphasis on opportunity based on individual responsibility and merit.

This year, the topic was climate change. Bruce Anderson ’90 explained the complexity of the global climate issue, classifying it as a “super wicked problem.” Noelle Eckley Selin ’96 spoke in this year’s final installment. Deviating from the precedent of two fundamentally different perspectives, Selin built off of Anderson’s broad background, discussing different opportunities to curb the negative effects of pollution and global climate change.

This year’s Kaleidoscope Program did not cultivate the intriguing debate that arose in years past. While the two speeches certainly differed in content and approach, they conveyed an identical opinion on global climate change: it is a legitimate problem.

Although Andover is an apolitical institution, it bears a liberal reputation—a bias that was carried over into the process of selecting All School Meeting speakers. The original intent of the Kaleidoscope program was to foster constructive dialogue between students and faculty with opposing viewpoints. At the most basic level, this year’s kaleidoscope program lacked such a dichotomy.

Next year, hosting speakers with more opposing stances on topics that lend themselves better to candid debate would fulfill the goals of the Kaleidoscope Speaker Series more than this year’s speaker series. Relevant issues like technology in the classroom, gun control, federal spending or immigration would allow speakers to present their differing stances to the student body and faculty and foster informed debate on campus.