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Welcome to my class!

By now, you are all battle-hardened first-year students.  Still, I would like to give you some advice anyway, since you will be battle-weary employees in only a few short years.

I am a teacher.  To give you a sense of my philosophy of teaching, allow me to share four personal biases.

First, you are at Notre Dame because you are intelligent and talented. Yet as you have undoubtedly already discovered, everybody around you is intelligent and talented, too. The challenge for you during the next three and a-half years is to be interesting. This means that you should acquire the tools, the wisdom, and the passion to make people care about who you are and what you will become.

Second, I am not really interested in the conventional definitions of what it means to be educated at other universities. I emphasize analysis and understanding. If you can’t analyze and understand, you won’t be able to persuade. If you can’t persuade, we will have failed you because success in life is all about persuasion.

Third, why Notre Dame? Until you graduate, you should keep asking yourself why you chose Notre Dame over other institutions, such as the University of Spoiled Children, the Leland Stanford Junior University, and various East-coast finishing schools.  Did it matter to you that Notre Dame is a Catholic university?  If our university is doing it job, it should matter in some important way.

Finally, to quote a prominent contemporary philosopher, “along with great privilege comes great responsibility.”  University education is a privilege that most people in the world cannot experience.  Who knows why both you and I have been given the blessing of leisure time to cultivate our minds?  We are morally obliged to make the most of it. As the Bible says: “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light” (Luke 11:33).

My office hours are on Tuesday 1:30-2:30; Wednesday 2:00 – 4:00; and by appointment.  My office is in the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, on the ground floor of the new Jenkins Nanovic Hall. My assistant Sharon Konopka can always find me; call 631-5253. You do not need a specific reason to visit me. I’m always curious to know what’s on your mind.  My email:  amcadams@nd.edu

Again, I am glad you are in my class.

A. James McAdams

NOTE:  Please turn off and do not use your technology during class.  This includes electronic devices of any kind, such as laptops, i-Pads, cell phones, Kindles, video cameras, video games, or other personal digital devices.  Above all: this is a no-tweet zone!

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