CHAPEL HILL, NC — Hurriedly preparing for his 2:00 pm political science class, Trevor Shipman, sophomore public policy major, skimmed the life’s work of 97 year-old Carl Vague, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Approximately an hour before his afternoon class began, Shipman logged into Sakai and pulled up a PDF of Vague’s How We Vote: A Global Perspective on the Ethics and Politics of Democratic Institutions. Eating a Chick-fil-a sandwich, he spent the next 40 minutes “kind of skipping around and reading the conclusions of a few sections” in the book that embodies ideas Vague dedicated the most productive years of his life to advancing.
“I just tried to highlight the stuff that, I don’t know, seemed important,” said Shipman of his approach to studying the work that was birthed from innumerable late nights in a library, which Vague spent thinking endlessly about the minutiae of voting rights, isolated from his family and few friends.
Shipman was assigned to read the 30-page introduction of the life’s work, which he described as “kind of a lot.”
Facebook chatting with a classmate as he skimmed, Shipman described his reading as, “sort of boring,” and, “hopefully not really anything that we could be quizzed on.” He advised the friend, “to just glance through” the preface of what Vague considers the most significant thing that he did with his time on earth, the most meaningful fruit of his conscious mind, and the greatest hope that his toil and sacrifice led to a small betterment of the human condition.
In class, Shipman called the work “pretty interesting.”
Shipman is expected to skim, browse, and glance over 250 lives’ works by the time of his graduation.