Walk, Talk, Ignore the Clock: English class inspires first community walk

In this “hurry-hurry, rush-rush world,” where everyone seemingly only communicates via social media, Lawrence University is offering an opportunity to hit the pause, or at least the slow-down, button.

On Thursday, May 24, beginning at 4:30 p.m., the university will host its first Community City Walk for any interested members of the Lawrence and Appleton communities. The walk is an outgrowth of the Spring Term class “The Meaning of Life” taught by Associate Professor of English David McGlynn.

It’s not a march. It’s not a protest. It’s not a fun run,” said McGlynn. “It’s an opportunity for people of all stripes to come together and simply walk, talk and ignore the clock. We want this to be a casual, leisurely stroll around the neighborhoods surrounding the campus as well as through the central business district so folks can talk to each other and connect on a deeper level while enjoying the fresh air. It’s really a ‘community bonding event’ designed to help people get to know each other better in the hope of creating connections.”

The walk will start in front of Main Hall and end approximately at 6 p.m. on the Boldt Plaza in front of the Warch Campus Center. Free ice cream will be provides and, without the need to climb a mountain and consult with a sage guru, the meaning of life will be revealed.

David McGlynn
David McGlynn

McGlynn’s “The Meaning of Life” class is full of conversations about community, connecting with other people and finding purpose in life. The class has had engaged conversations with several prominent members of the Lawrence and Appleton communities.

“There is a long tradition of ‘city walking’ in the Western tradition,” said McGlynn. “Numerous writers and thinkers have examined how walking enlivens the mind, lifts the mood, connects us to our bodies, environments and communities, and structures activities ranging from religious pilgrimages to political marches.”

McGlynn has led members of the class on walks this spring in an attempt to move students beyond the campus perimeter, to help foster conversation and to allow those students who haven’t felt safe in town to explore the area in a relaxed and protected setting. McGlynn called the those walks “rewarding and enriching experiences for everyone involved.

“We believe a large gathering of the Lawrence community peacefully ambling through the streets — simply walking and talking — will make a tremendous statement about the college’s place in the city, the diverse make-up of our community and our desire to break through the bubble that too often separates Lawrence from Appleton,” he added.

Senior Arianna Cohen, who has taken two classes with McGlynn, including his “Meaning of Life Class,” said he would often talk about how important taking a walk was to him.

“He encouraged us to go out and take walks without bringing our phones so we could enjoy the world around us,” said Cohen. “The Lawrence Bubble is a real thing and Professor McGlynn wants to open the students’ eyes to all that Appleton has to offer.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.