• Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

  • Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

  • Marian Miner Cook

    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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - Evening Program
Why Buddhism is True
Robert Wright
Robert Wright, award-winning writer and teacher, draws on evolutionary psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for spiritual life in a secular age and explores the role of Buddhist philosophy in leading the way.

Robert Wright is the New York Times bestselling author of The Evolution of God, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Nonzero; The Moral Animal; and Three Scientists and Their Gods, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton, where he also created the popular online course “Buddhism and Modern Psychology.”

In 2009, Foreign Policy named him one of its Top 100 Global Thinkers alongside Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Anne-Marie Slaughter. He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Time, Slate, and The New Republic.

Mr. Wright’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies.

Photo credit: Barry Munger

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - Evening Program
New Media Models for Civic Engagement: From Marconi to Snapchat
Tracy Westen
From Marconi and AM radio to email, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, each new medium has changed the nature of politics and civic engagement. Yet in many ways our political knowledge and civic participation has decreased. Tracy Westen, founder and director of the Center Governmental Studies, will talk about why this has happened, and how can we revitalize our democracy through new media models of civic engagement.  

Tracy Westen founded and directed the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) and taught communications law and policy at the USC Annenberg School for Communications and UCLA Law School for over 30 years. He created four Blue Ribbon Commissions; built award-winning model websites to enhance civic education including The Democracy Network, Video Voter, California Channel, Digital Democracy and PolicyArchive.org; litigated test cases on media in the federal courts; and authored or edited over 75 books and reports on media, democracy and judicial reforms. He was deputy director for consumer protection at the Federal Trade Commission and legal assistant to an FCC Commissioner.

He received degrees with high honors from U.C. Berkeley Law School (J.D.), University of Oxford (M.A.) and Pomona College (B.A.).

Professor Westen's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government.

This event is closed.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - Evening Program
The Paradox of Choice
Barry Schwartz
Built into the DNA of the U.S. and other western societies is the conviction that freedom of choice is good, and more choice is always better than less. But Barry Schwartz, emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and visiting professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, argues the opposite, making the case that the abundance of choice in western societies is actually making us miserable. 

Barry Schwartz’s research and writings address morality, decision-making, and the complex relationships between science and society and are applicable to not only individuals but diverse industries and organizations. A prolific author and speaker, Schwartz has published a dozen books and over 200 articles in scientific, professional, and academic publications. A frequent guest on television and radio, Schwartz has also spoken at TED multiple times. His TED talks have been viewed by over 12 million times.

Schwartz’s 2004 book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less was named one of the top business books of that year by both Business Week and Forbes Magazine. It has since been translated into twenty-five languages. Schwartz’s also wrote Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing, with colleague Ken Sharpe. Most recently, Schwartz published Why We Work.

Schwartz is emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and is currently a visiting professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 - Lunch Program
Media Literacy 101: What Has Journalism Done For Me Lately? And Is Freedom of the Press Working Now?
Lori Kozlowski ’00
With all the talk about “fake news” and new questions arising about what to trust, Lori Kozlowski '00 will present an in-depth analysis of how the news business works, delve into journalism’s role in society, and consider how to defend freedom of the press.

Lori Kozlowski ’00 is a journalist, editor, producer, and media executive, exploring storytelling in all of its forms. 

She serves as producer for Project Empathy—a virtual reality series that combines reporting, documentary, and VR to explore social justice issues in the United States. 

Previously, she served as editorial director at entertainment company Atom Factory, leading the company’s news media division. She founded Smashd, a publication about culture and technology. She was a digital editor and columnist for Forbes, covering entrepreneurs and startups. Prior to Forbes, she served as senior editor at the Los Angeles Times. She has written for numerous national publications, has worked with MIT Media Lab startups on the merger of technology and story, and has served as adjunct faculty at Chapman University and at USC.

Kozlowski graduated with a dual major in government and literature from Claremont McKenna College in 2000. She also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California.

Ms. Kozlowski's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse (CWPD) at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 - Evening Program
Don't Even Go There: How Misogyny Turns On Gaslighting
Kate Manne
Kate Manne, philosopher from Cornell University, will consider the ways misogyny is a self-masking phenomenon, in the sense that its nature and mechanisms counteract its own disclosure—and can even make someone who speaks out about misogyny liable to "eat her words." How is this possible and what is the role of gaslighting in this phenomenon? 

Kate Manne is an assistant professor of philosophy at the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University, where she has been teaching since 2013. She was previously a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2011-2013. As an undergraduate student at her hometown university, University of Melbourne, she studied philosophy, logic, and computer science. Manne now works in moral (especially metaethics and moral psychology), social, and feminist philosophy. She frequently writes opinion pieces, essays, and reviews. Her book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford University Press) will be published in October 2017.

Gaslighting, according to Manne, may make a woman willing and able not only to disbelieve her former testimony, but even reject the very questions or concerns on which it was premised. Raising the sorts of issues to which a woman's story provided answers (e.g., “Was he abusive?”) is effectively billed as a symptom of rational breakdown (e.g., paranoia, being delusional) or, just as importantly, morally bad character (e.g., ingratitude, being insufficiently forgiving, or self-pityingly “playing the victim.”) Concepts and phrases like “playing the victim” and “fishing for sympathy” make merely raising the specter of moral wrongdoing done to oneself suspect and fraught. Manne will further interrogate, break down, and resist these concepts and beliefs.

Professor Manne’s Athenaeum presentation is one of two keynote addresses for the Gaslighting and Epistemic Injustice Conference organized by CMC’s philosophy department with support from the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies.



This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 - Evening Program
Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur
Ben Hamlin '07
Ben Hamlin '07, who after years on Wall Street co-founded Localwise, will provide a 5-step framework for unleashing your inner entrepreneur. With experience in politics, banking, venture capital, and non-profit management, he will juxtapose more traditional career paths with entrepreneurship through the lens of his professional story and will provide strong opinions, contrarian viewpoints, and, most importantly, insights to help you navigate your career.

Ben Hamlin is a recovering finance professional turned entrepreneur. He is the founder & CEO of Localwise, a venture-backed startup bringing relationship-based hiring online for the uncollared workforce. 

From 2010 to 2015, Ben served on the board of directors for NYPACE, a non-profit that provides pro-bono consulting services to local business owners. He is now an Advisor to NYPACE and LiftEd, a startup that improves learning outcomes for students with disabilities.

Hamlin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with Honors from Claremont McKenna College ('07) and an MBA from Berkeley-Haas (’14).

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

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
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

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.

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

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.

Other Events and Announcements

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 5:30pm
Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)
Christian Rudder

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


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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.