Welcome to The Athenaeum
Welcome to Athenaeum and the 2017-18 speaker program.
Unique in American higher education, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum (the “Ath”) is a signature program of Claremont McKenna College. Four nights a week during the school year, the Ath brings scholars, public figures, thought leaders, artists, and innovators to engage with the CMC and Claremont College community. In addition, the Ath also hosts lunch speakers, roundtables, and smaller presentations in its two auxiliary dining rooms.
For decades, the Ath has hosted a spectrum of luminaries with expertise and insight on a wide range of topics, both historical and contemporary. In the Ath’s intimate yet stimulating setting, students, faculty, staff, and other community members gather to hear the speaker, pose questions, and also to build community and exchange ideas over a shared meal.
At the core of the Ath is a longstanding commitment to student growth and learning. Central to the Ath are its two student Fellows, selected annually to host, introduce, and moderate discussion with the featured speaker. Priority is given to students in attendance during the question-and-answer session following every presentation. Moreover, speakers often take extra time to visit a class, meet with student interest groups, or give an interview to the student press and podcast team.
We are very excited for the 2017-18 lineup which will kick-off on Tuesday, September 12, and will include expert speakers covering a wide range of topics from art, religion, politics, big data, philosophy, finance, the art of writing, science, artificial intelligence, and much more.
You may register online for open events.
We look forward to seeing you at the Ath.
Achill Schürmann is a professor of mathematics at one of Europe's oldest universities in Rostock. His research and teaching lie at the intersection of classical topics like algebra and geometry and modern applications of computational mathematics. He has held positions at Peking University (Bejing), University of Magdeburg (Germany), University of Bordeaux (France), and TU Delft (Netherlands), among others.
Among his areas of interest and research are polyhedras, geometrical objects in space, generalizing the notion of a polygon in the plane. The properties of polyhedra were studied by the ancient Greek mathematicians and philosophers, and include the famous Platonic solids—tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron, named for the numbers of their faces. In modern day mathematics, polyhedra are studied for their beautiful geometry, as well as for their numerous applications in the digital age.
During the Fall 2017 semester, Schürmann is visiting CMC as a Podlich Distinguished Fellow. His Athenaeum lecture is complemented by an introductory half-semester course at CMC on the mathematical theory of polyhedra and its applications in economics and social choice theory.
Ryan McMahon ’08 is a multi-platinum music producer and songwriter. After graduating from Claremont McKenna College with an economics-accounting degree, he went on to write and produce hit songs including “Shut Up & Dance” with Walk The Moon and “I Got You” with Bebe Rexha. He has also written songs for The Chainsmokers, Halsey, and Tove Lo, among others. In 2016, he signed a record deal with LA Reid at Epic Records as an artist with his group Captain Cuts.
At the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, McMahon’s "Shut up and Dance" won Top Rock Song, Top Radio Song, and Song of the Year.
Zachary Courser '99 is the research director of the Dreier Roundtable and a visiting assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. He has published articles on the emergence of the Tea Party movement, and is a contributor and editor of the forthcoming volume Parchment Barriers: Political Polarization and the Limits of Constitutional Order. Courser has taught political science courses at a number of institutions, including the University of Virginia, Claremont McKenna College, Boston College, and Washington and Lee University. In fall 2016, Courser established CMC's Policy Lab, an innovative new undergraduate course focused on public policy analysis of real world problems in coordination with a Washington DC think tank. He also has taught and researched internationally at Sciences Po Lyon in France, and worked as a senior program director and fellow for the Legatum Institute in London. He has experience working in Washington, DC, both on Capitol Hill and as the interim director of Claremont McKenna College’s Washington Program. He is a regular political commentator on NPR affiliate KPCC's AirTalk program in Los Angeles, and frequently gives talks on American politics.
Ali Asani is professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University where he was both an undergraduate and graduate student. A specialist of Islam in South Asia, Asani's research focuses on Shia and Sufi devotional literature and traditions in the region.
Asani served as the director of Harvard’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program from 2010-2016. He serves on the faculty of the departments of South Asian Studies and African and African-American Studies. He teaches a range of courses covering South Asian and African languages and literatures as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition including “Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies” and “Religion, Literature, and the Arts in Muslim Cultures,” among others. He also teaches about Muslim communities in the West.
Asani is recipient of the Harvard Foundation medal for his outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations. He is also the recipient of Harvard's Petra C. Shattuck prize for excellence in teaching.
Professor Asani's Athenaeum presentation is part of the "Devotion in South Asia" series co-sponsored by a curricular development grant from the Dean of Faculty's Office at CMC.
George Anders is a contributing editor at Forbes magazine, and the author of five business book including The New York Times bestseller Perfect Enough. Earlier in his career, he spent two decades as a top feature writer for The Wall Street Journal, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. In 2011, he served as a founding editor of Bloomberg View, writing editorials on a wide range of economic and social issues.
Anders is a frequent public speaker, including at colleges and corporations. He has spoken at Texas Tech, the University of Central Florida, Harvard, Stanford, and the London School of Economics. He also has been a guest speaker at Google, Microsoft, Rolls-Royce PLC, and various industry conferences in Arizona, Florida, California and Peru. He is prominent on digital-media platforms as a LinkedIn Influencer and a four-time top writer on Quora.
A renowned sex and relationship educator, Kate McCombs believes that meaningful conversations coupled with accurate information can help us create a healthier and more joy-filled world.
In her presentation, McCombs will focus not only mindful choices around safer sex practices, but also offer tips on how to build a sexy and safe toolkit without compromising health or personal boundaries.
McCombs earned a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley. In her approach to healthy relationships, she combines, in her words, “ the upstream problem-prevention approach of public health with anthropology exploration of cultural context."
Ms. McCombs' Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by ASCMC, the Title IX Office, CARE, and the emPOWER Center and is part of the CMC Advocates' Safe Sex Week of programming.
Christine Loh is an adjunct professor at the Institute for the Environment, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She was the under secretary for the Environment at the HKSAR Government (2012-17) focusing on policy covering air quality, energy, climate change, nature conservation, as well as green finance. Prior to that role, she was CEO of the public policy think tank, Civic Exchange; she has also been a legislator in Hong Kong. In her time at Civic Exchange and the HKSAR Government, she was instrumental in changing policy with respect to air quality, including working closely with Mainland Chinese counterparts in defining a new marine emissions control policy.
Loh is a lawyer by training, a commodities trader by profession, with a long history in politics and policy. She is a published author of many academic and popular works in the environment, history, and politics.
Professor Loh’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Institute for International and Strategic Studies.
Keith E. Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of "Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History," "Constitutional Interpretation: Textual Meaning, Original Intent and Judicial Review," and "Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning," among others. He is also a co-editor of "Congress and the Constitution" and "The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics." He has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, judicial politics, the presidency, and federalism.
Whittington is currently working on a political history of the judicial review of federal statutes and preparing, with Howard Gillman and Mark Graber, a book of cases and materials on American constitutionalism. His work has won the C. Herman Pritchett Award for best book in law and courts and the J. David Greenstone Award for best book in politics and history. He has been a John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellow, an American Council of Learned Societies Junior Faculty Fellow, a visiting scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and a visiting professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He is a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He received a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.
Professor Whittington will deliver the Salvatori Center’s Lofgren Lecture on American Constitutionalism. Along with the Salvatori Center, his talk is also co-sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at CMC.
David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA and is serving in 2017-18 as the inaugural director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is also president and CEO of the Center for Jewish History in New York City.
Myers has written widely in the fields of Jewish intellectual and cultural history. His books include Re-Inventing the Jewish Past (Oxford, 1995), Resisting History: The Crisis of Historicism in German-Jewish Thought (Princeton, 2003), Between Jew and Arab: The Lost Voice of Simon Rawidowicz (Brandeis, 2008), and Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2017). He is the author of the forthcoming The Stakes of Jewish History: On the Use and Abuse of Jewish History for Life (Yale, 2017). He is also the editor or co-editor of numerous works. He is currently completing a monograph, with Nomi Stolzenberg, on the Satmar Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel, New York.
An alumnus of Yale College, Myers completed his graduate studies at Tel-Aviv and Harvard Universities before receiving his Ph.D. with distinction in 1991 in Jewish history from Columbia University.
Valerie Ramey received her B.A. in Economics and Spanish from the University of Arizona, graduating summa cum laude, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University. She is currently a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. She has served as co-editor of the American Economic Review, chair of the economics department at UCSD, and as a member of several National Science Foundation advisory panels and the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee. She currently serves on the Panel of Economic Advisers for the Congressional Budget Office and on the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, and she is vice-president of the American Economic Association and an associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Political Economy.
Ramey has published numerous scholarly articles on the sources of business cycles, trends in wage inequality, the effects of monetary and fiscal policy, the impact of volatility on growth, and links between time use and educational outcomes. She has received research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation.
Professor Ramey's Athenaeum presentation is the keynote for the California Macroeconomics Conference, hosted by the Lowe Institute of Political Economy at CMC.
Follow the Athenaeum
Unless otherwise noted, lunch begins at 11:45 a.m.; speaker presentations begin at 12:15 p.m.
Evening receptions begin at 5:30 p.m.; dinner is served at 6 p.m.; speaker presentations begin at 6:45 p.m.