• Marian Miner Cook
    Athenaeum

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

  • Marian Miner Cook
    Athenaeum

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

  • Marian Miner Cook
    Athenaeum

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

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.

Priya Junnar
Director

Monday, September 25, 2017 - Evening Program
Education and Economic Empowerment in South Sudan
Valentino Achak Deng
Valentino Achack Deng, former Sudanese lost boy turned human rights and education activist, will highlight the educational and economic efforts underway in South Sudan to help counteract the impact of years of violence and conflict on a generation of youth. How will the newest country in the world, given its minimal financial foundation and political instability, create economic success and financial resilience for its citizens? 

Valentino Achack Deng was born in southern Sudan (now South Sudan), in the village of Marial Bai. He fled in the late 1980s during the second Sudanese civil war, when his village was destroyed by murahaleen—the same type of militia that currently terrorize the Darfur region of Sudan. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. In 2001, he resettled in Atlanta, Georgia. Deng has toured the United States speaking about his life in South Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng’s life story.

As a leader in the South Sudanese diaspora, Deng advocates for the universal right to education. In 2006, Deng and Eggers established the VAD Foundation to help rebuild South Sudanese communities by increasing educational access, including vocational training, to promote youth economic empowerment. In 2015, he was appointed the minister of education for Northern Bahr el Ghazal, one of the ten states in South Sudan which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, and now oversees more than 800 state run schools in addition to the VAD Foundation private secondary schools.

Mr. Deng's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.

Photo credit: By Stoolhog - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18561894

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - Evening Program
Documenting China's Crony Capitalism: Why it Matters
Michael Forsythe
Choking air pollution. Poisoned soil. Ghost cities. Yawning income gaps. The problems with China's breakneck economic growth are well documented. But what is less known is how the confluence of money and unchecked power helped exacerbate them. Michael Forsythe of the New York Times will examine the corruption that threatens to undermine the seven-decade rule of China's Communist Party.

Mike Forsythe is a reporter for the New York Times. In February 2017, he joined the newspaper's investigative team in New York after working for three years in Hong Kong. For many years, Forsythe has been focused on reporting on the confluence of money and politics in China, first for Bloomberg News, where he worked in Beijing and Washington, and then with the New York Times. 

Forsythe was the lead reporter for Bloomberg News for its groundbreaking investigation in 2012 that documented the vast wealth accumulated by relatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Bloomberg's website has been blocked in China since then and Bloomberg has removed the article from its own website. That article was part of a series that won the George Polk Award for international reporting as well as many other honors. Since joining the New York Times, Forsythe has continued to write about the wealth of China's princelings and their financial ties to some of China's biggest companies.

Forsythe is a veteran of the United States Navy, serving on ships in the Pacific Ocean and making two tours to the Persian Gulf area. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard University.

Mr. Forsythe's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Institute for International and Strategic Studies.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - Evening Program
"Nothing Personal": The Collaboration of Richard Avedon and James Baldwin
Hilton Als
It is 1964, and the Civil Rights Act has just passed. "Nothing Personal," a much anticipated photo-book that combined the talents of photographer Richard Avedon and writer James Baldwin, appears with much fanfare. But the major issue of the day—the struggle toward integration—is nowhere mentioned in it. New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als will explore the dimensions of this complicated, nearly dismissed work. 

Hilton Als began contributing to The New Yorker in 1989, and became a staff writer in 1994, theater critic in 2002, and lead theater critic in 2012 and brings a rigorous, sharp, and lyrical perspective on acting, playwriting, and directing. With his deep knowledge of the history of performance—not only in theater but in dance, music, and visual art—he demonstrates how to view a production, how to place its director, its author, and its performers in the ongoing continuum of dramatic art. His reviews are provocative contributions to the discourse on theater, race, class, sexuality, and identity in America.

Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. Als edited the catalogue for the 1994-95 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art.” His first book, The Women, was published in 1996. His most recent book, White Girls, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2014 and winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Non-fiction, discusses various narratives of race and gender. He also wrote the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Early Stories of Truman Capote.

Among numerous accolades, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment in 1997. He was awarded a Guggenheim for creative writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002-03. In 2016, he received Lambda Literary’s Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature. In 2017, Als won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College. 

Professor Hilton Als’ Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, September 28, 2017 - Lunch Program
Inclusiveness Panel and Workshop #1
7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence
The 7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence will hold the first of two workshops covering topics addressing diversity in the workplace. The workshop will offer attendees practical tools on inclusive practices. This session will be structured for staff without supervisory responsibilities.

The 7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence is a project-driven committee that seeks to engage the Claremont Colleges and the Consortium on topics of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The committee provides space for its members to share work being done around these issues and to strategize effective methods of advocacy and support for underserved populations. Convened as the Diversity Practitioners Committee in 2015, the name changed to the Committee on Inclusive Excellence to better describe the group’s goals and aspirations around its work, and the conversations it aims to encourage on the campuses across the 7Cs and CUC.

 

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - Evening Program
How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog
Lee Alan Dugatkin
Imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades…. Lee Alan Dugatkin will recount such a tale: In the depths of Siberia, Soviet scientists jump-started the effort to evolve foxes into dogs to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs and to witness, in real time, the process of domestication.

Lee Alan Dugatikin, professor and University Scholar in the department of biology at the University of Louisville, will tell a story of adventure, science, politics, and love that has propelled scientists isolated in Siberia to tame foxes and will take us inside this path-breaking experiment amid the brutal winters of Siberia to reveal how scientific history is made and continues to be made today.

Dugatkin has written several popular books, including How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog (co-authored with Lyudmila Trut) (2017), Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose (2009), and The Altruism Equation (2006). He has also authored many technical books, text books, and other scholarly articles.

Dugatkin’s main areas of research interest are the evolution of social behavior and the history of science.
 

Monday, October 02, 2017 - Lunch Program
Progress Towards a Game of Life Decision Support System
Harry Max Markowitz
Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1990 for his work on portfolio theory, Harry Markowitz will discuss why household financial decisions for individuals and/or families should be considered part of the “Game of Life” that individuals and families play out. 

Harry Markowitz, adjunct professor at the Rady School of Management at UCSD, shared the 1990 the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on portfolio theory. He also is the recipient of the John von Neumann Award from the Operations Research Society of America for his work in portfolio theory, sparse matrix techniques, and SIMSCRIPT. 

In an article published in 1952 and a subsequent book in 1959, he presented what is now referred to as MPT, “modern portfolio theory.”  This has become a standard topic in college courses and texts on investments, and is widely used by institutional investors and financial advisors for asset allocation, risk control, and attribution analysis. In other areas, Markowitz developed “sparse matrix” techniques for solving very large mathematical optimization problems. These techniques are now standard in production software for optimization programs. He also designed and supervised the development of the SIMSCRIPT programming language which has been widely used for programming computer simulations of systems like factories, transportation systems, and communication networks.

Professor Markowitz's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Soll Center for Student Opportunities.

Monday, October 02, 2017 - Evening Program
Blind Faith: The Hindi Poet Surdas and his Visual Legacy
John Stratton Hawley
The great 16th-century poet Hindi Surdas, a great devotee of Krishna, is said to have been blind. John “Jack” Stratton Hawley, professor of religion at Barnard College, Columbia University, wonders and explains how the poet could have seen what he saw and also addresses why he is seen so frequently in illustrated manuscripts.

John “Jack” Stratton Hawley is the Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. His most recent books on India’s bhakti traditions are A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement (Harvard, 2015), Sur’s Ocean (with Kenneth Bryant, Harvard, 2015), and a poem-by-poem commentary called Into Sur’s Ocean (Harvard Oriental Series, 2016). A Storm of Songs received the Coomaraswamy Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2017.

Hawley has directed Columbia University’s South Asia Institute and has received multiple awards from NEH, the Smithsonian, and the AIIS. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2016-17 he was in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow, working on a project called “The New Vrindavan.”

Professor Hawley’s Athenaeum presentation is part of the Devotion in South Asia series co-sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017 - Evening Program
Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)
Christian Rudder
From the data we have gathered, can we learn something new about our behaviors and attitudes? Christian Rudder thinks so. As co-founder of the dating site OkCupid, he possesses one of the richest data sets in the world and uses it to illustrate the human behavior behind the numbers to peer into who we truly are when nobody is looking.

Christian Rudder is one of the founders of OKCupid, one of the largest dating sites in the world, which was sold to IAC in 2011. He still runs it day-to-day, while also heading a small data-mining team that scours the digital universe for meaningful trends on important sites. The original outlet for Rudder’s research took place on OKCupid’s blog, OKTrends, which was not only read by millions of people, but also changed the way companies approach data as a media-relations strategy. His research and findings have been featured in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and were the subject of a New Yorker feature.  

A native of Arkansas, Rudder graduated from Little Rock High School and attended Harvard College where he majored in mathematics. Rudder joined SparkNotes in October 1999, a few months after its founding. Rudder was the creative voice of TheSpark.com, which was the viral content arm of SparkNotes during the site's early rise to popularity. He became TheSpark's creative director in March 2001. Soon after the site's sale to Barnes & Noble, Rudder and the SparkNotes founders left and began working on OkCupid, which launched in February 2004.

Photo credit: Victor G. Jeffreys II

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - Lunch Program
Inclusiveness Panel and Workshop #2
7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence
The 7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence will hold the second of two workshops covering topics addressing diversity in the workplace. The workshop will offer attendees practical tools on inclusive practices. This workshop will be structured for staff with supervisory responsibilities.

The 7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence is a project-driven committee that seeks to engage The Claremont Colleges and the Consortium on topics of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The committee provides space for its members to share work being done around these issues and to strategize effective methods of advocacy and support for underserved populations. Convened as the Diversity Practitioners Committee in 2015, the name changed to the Committee on Inclusive Excellence to better describe the group’s goals and aspirations around its work, and the conversations it aims to encourage on the campuses across the 7Cs and CUC.

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - Evening Program
Can Europe come back in the age of Trump, Merkel, and Macron?
Patrick A. Chamorel
Europe faces severe crisis after crisis: Anemic economic growth, the rise of anti-European sentiment, right and left-wing populism, the Euro and Greek crises, massive immigration, the refugee crisis along with the rise of Islam, Brexit, and Trump. Discredited Brussels institutions, controversial German leadership, and deepening fractures within Europe have precluded solutions. Patrick Chamorel, senior resident at Stanford in Washington, will address whether the new political landscape forged by Brexit, Trump, Merkel, and Marcon can reshape, for better or worse, Europe and transatlantic relations.

Patrick Chamorel is Senior Resident Scholar at Stanford in Washington, where he teaches international and comparative politics. Chamorel has written extensively on U.S. and European politics. His most recent research has focused on US strategic, political, and economic relations with Europe and the EU, American and European political and business elites, the impact of globalization on governments, business and civil society, Euro-skepticism in America, and U.S. and French presidential elections. He is a regular commentator in the international press, radio, and TV.

In addition to Stanford, he has taught at the University of California (Berkeley and Santa Cruz), George Washington University, and Claremont McKenna College where he was the Crown Visiting professor of Government from 2002-05.

In the 1990's, Chamorel was a senior advisor to the French Prime Minister among other advisory roles in the government. He is a graduate of Sciences-Po in Paris where he also earned his Ph.D. in political science. In addition, he holds a Master in Public Law from the University of Paris.

Professor Chamorel's Athenaeum presentation is sponsored by the Salvatori Center at CMC.

Thursday, October 05, 2017 - Lunch Program
What We Know about Leadership from Science
David V. Day
Major myths and misconceptions abound on the topic of leadership. Despite such enduring misbeliefs, there is more than a century of scientific leadership research. David Day's talk will highlight what we know about leadership from a scientific evidence-based perspective, and which of the persistent leadership myths and misconceptions can now be safely retired.

David Day, professor of psychology and academic director of the Kravis Leadership Insitutute, will make a luncheon presentation during the program celebrating his formal installation as the inaugural Steven L. Eggert ’82 P’15 Professor of Leadership and George R. Roberts Fellow. Before coming to CMC in 2016, Day was a professor of organizational behavior and Woodside Chair in Leadership and Management at the University of Western Australia Business School.

Day is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, International Association of Applied Psychology, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has core research interests in the areas of leadership, identity, and leadership development. In 2010 he was awarded the Walter F. Ulmer Research Award from the Center for Creative Leadership (USA) for outstanding, career-long contributions to applied leadership research.

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Monday, October 09, 2017 - Evening Program
Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust
Evgeny Finkel
Drawing from his most recent book, Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust, Evgeny Finkel, assistant professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, will focus on how and why ordinary Holocaust victims chose their survival strategies.

Evgeny Finkel studies political violence, East European, and Israeli politics. More specifically, he is interested in how institutions and individuals respond to violence, crisis and rapid change and works extensively at the intersection of political science and history. He is the author of Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust (2017). He is currently working on a book project that focuses on Holocaust survivors who fought in the 1948 War in Israel/Palestine and simultaneously working on projects that analyze the causes and impact of political violence in Eastern Europe and Israel/Palestine. His articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, East European Politics and Societies, Democratization, and several other journals and edited volumes.

An assistant professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, Evgeny was born in the former Soviet Union and grew up in Israel where he received his B.A. in Political Science and International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He went on to receive a  Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where his dissertation won the American Political Science Association 2013 Gabriel A. Almond Award for the best dissertation in comparative politics.

Professor Finkel’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights.
 

This event is closed.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - Lunch Program
Brazilian Agrigolpe: Brazil’s 2016 Parliamentary Coup and Challenge in Historical Perspective
Clifford Welch
Brazil’s crisis continues, supported by a powerful agribusiness lobby with deep historical roots. Clifford Welsh, professor of contemporary Brazilian history at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, will detail the centrality of agribusiness support for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in August 2016, and its opportunism in shaping the interim president’s policies. While the media has focused on corruption as cause of the crisis, he argues that historical perspective points toward the political opportunism of Brazil’s most traditional dominant class – the rural oligarchy – as it seeks to enhance its self-interest.

Clifford Welsh, professor of contemporary Brazilian history at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, will detail the centrality of agribusiness support for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in August 2016, and its opportunism in shaping the interim president’s policies. While the media has focused on corruption as cause of the crisis, he argues that historical perspective points toward the political opportunism of Brazil’s most traditional dominant class – the rural oligarchy – as it seeks to enhance its self-interest.

This event is closed.
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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.

The Athenaeum facilitates dynamic interactions and dialogue that underscore
the essence of a liberal arts education.