Established in 1998 by an anonymous donor, The Ben Geer Keys Scholar in Residence Program has a long, treasured history of bringing talented scholars and artists to The High School to work with and live among students for several days.
On March 21, Episcopal welcomed Dr. Khalid Kadir
as the 2021-22 Scholar in Residence. Dr. Kadir is a continuing lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. An environmental engineer, he teaches courses in the Global Poverty and Practice Program, Political Economy, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has studied water and wastewater treatment systems in Morocco through a Fulbright Fellowship, and he hopes to redefine engineering to become a more people-centric discipline.
“For too long, engineering has been a narrowly constrained technical discipline,” Dr. Kadir said. He took students through case studies to make his pedagogical pursuits more tangible. “I’m not cleaning water; I’m cleaning your water. I need to understand you — where you live, what’s important to you, what your challenges are — and that opens up the space to talk about inequality and justice.”
While on campus, Dr. Kadir was an active participant in our community, sitting with students, faculty, and staff alike to connect across disciplines. He discussed the complexities of systems that produce evil with the Good and Evil in Literature class, doing a deep dive into Nazi Germany with the junior and senior participants. He went outside with the Environmental Science classes to study stormwater treatment on campus. (Dr. Kadir received his PhD from Berkeley in Civil and Environmental Engineering, where his research focused on wastewater treatment systems.) He shared his personal life philosophy with the Rule of Life theology class, grappling with the class about how we perceive and interact with the world based on our individual belief systems.
“There’s an environment cultivated here with great intention to support these young adults as whole people, which I think is beautiful,” Dr. Kadir observed. He expounded upon the relationships between students and teachers — how the residential aspect at Episcopal encourages focus on the development of both intellectual and moral courage.
“On one hand, your teachers expect a high-level of secular academic achievement from all of you, and they’re deeply committed to supporting you to that end,” Dr. Kadir told students as he delivered Friday's Chapel talk. “On the other hand, underneath the literature, the math, the history, the science, … lies a much deeper, sacred purpose… Your teachers desire not only good for you, but they expect good from you. They attempt to nurture your moral courage, to help you become people who will stand up for what is right, even when that is hard to do.”
Dr. Kadir also used his Chapel talk to encourage students to be kind to each other and do as much good in the world as possible. He shared wisdom from his Muslim faith, quoting the Quran on good versus evil. According to Dr. Kadir, “God is telling us not to sink into this world, not to fight dirty to achieve some material or political ends, but instead to rise above. And when confronted with evil or ugliness, to respond with goodness and beauty.”
Assistant Head for Academics and English teacher Nate Ebel said of Dr. Kadir’s week-long visit: “Considering that Dr. Kadir was here for just one week, his impact on the community was extraordinarily broad and deep. Not only did he give his thoughtful and thought-provoking address to the full community in Chapel, but he also worked directly with classes in all of the academic departments. Whether he was working with the Engineering students, Spanish 2 students, or Environmental Literature students, his lessons and interactions left all — students and faculty — feeling inspired and invigorated to examine their subjects in new ways.”