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Braun, a professor in the Corcoran Department of History, has been teaching in the “Engaging Differences” part of the College of Arts & Sciences’ new curriculum since 2017. In his “The Individual and Society” course, Braun leads the students in exploring the historical impact of society on individuals and how individuals form communities.
“Our ‘engagement’ courses aim to help our first-year students connect to the world around them,” Braun wrote in an email. “I hope that when they have taken this course and others, they have become imbued with the idea that they are citizens.
“The mantra of our course is, ‘Write it down.’ When you do, much of your life and who you are will be different than if you don’t,” he wrote.
Braun offered many suggestions for how the students could contribute, suggestions that just about anyone else could also use to create a record of what’s happening – for the sake of history and to be part of a different kind of community.
There is a possibility Braun and his students will find a way to share this project at some point. UVA Today adapted his email into this Q&A to share his ideas with our readers now.
Q. Why do you feel it’s important to create a record of one’s daily life these days?
A. Our normal days in the now-suddenly-distant past may well have often dulled us into just getting through them. Our sudden lives now stop us, and lead us to wonder about our experiences and our feelings on many passing moments.
This [project] will, of course, not be routine writing and composing. That’s the point. There is much that all of us and each of us have already experienced in the past few weeks that is shocking, unexpected, unpredictable, unknowable, new; much that we have not felt before and not seen. What is it like to live today knowing that we do not know what tomorrow and the day after will bring?