History Department Chair Jason Beck Takes the Reins of the Society of Skeptics
Jason Beck

The Society of Skeptics is one of Blair’s most storied programs, a fact that can undoubtedly be attributed to the vision and deep commitment of former history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, who helmed the program from the 1980s until he retired last June. Upon Dr. Miller’s retirement, history department chair Jason Beck took the reins after years of working closely with Dr. Miller and supporting the development and execution of the program. Read on to learn more about Mr. Beck’s approach and plans to ensure Skeptics is a can’t-miss opportunity for students every Tuesday night as the program’s new director.

 

Q. How do you plan on building upon Dr. Miller’s great work with the Society of Skeptics and implementing your own vision for the future of the program? 

A. The Society of Skeptics has been an important part of the intellectual life of this School for 40 years, and the way we think of it today is completely due to the work that Dr. Miller has done during his time at the School to raise the level of dialogue, bring wide-ranging opinions and ideas to campus, and welcome every guest with humility and in friendship. Maintaining a program that means so much to so many Blair alums over the years and that is so important to the life of the School each year is a huge responsibility, but it is one that I am very excited to be taking on. My hope is to maintain the momentum of Marty's work all these years, while also embracing new opportunities in the years ahead.

 

Q. Did Dr. Miller give you any advice or wisdom when you took the reins of Skeptics from him?

A. Dr. Miller and I have worked very closely together for a long time—as friends and colleagues. And, I have had the opportunity to support the program directly in recent years as we made the move to the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration. So, I've had a front-row seat to see how Marty has done the very good work he has done. When it came time to pass on the program, Marty's most important advice was simple: make it your own and enjoy every moment. I look forward to doing both for many years to come!  
 

Q. Who are some of your favorite Skeptics speakers during your time at Blair and why?

A. There are simply too many to mention—the thing that really stands out to me as I reflect on 19 years in the audience is how each and every week gave me something to think about and inspired even more questions for me to reflect on.  

 

Q. What would you say is the benefit of Skeptics for new students at Blair or students who have yet to attend many lectures? 

A. Every Skeptics is a wonderful chance to extend learning outside of the classroom, to hear from, to meet and to ask questions of a wide range of people. One of the most important moments in my own academic growth was as a freshman in college when I realized how readily I could draw connections among all of my coursework, the reading I was doing on my own, the conversations I was having with my peers, and the lectures and performances I was lucky enough to have at my disposal on that campus.  It seemed like a glimpse of some greater understanding, and it was an exciting moment that I think about quite often. I see Skeptics as a way to bring that excitement, those connections, to Blair students and, in doing so, help them prepare and to be inspired to tackle the problems of the world around us. 

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