• 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, October 23, 2017 - Lunch Program
The Post-Election Politics of Identity
Zachary Courser '99
Defying all political expectations and conventional norms, Trump's vulgar pronouncements on race and gender and his signature lack of decorum did little to arrest his progress to the White House. CMC professor of government Zachary Courser '99 will analyze how an emerging white racial identity group—combined with a coarsening of political rhetoric—helped elect Trump, and how the new politics of white identity shape his agenda.

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.

 

The window for making meal reservations has passed. Contact the Athenaeum to inquire whether spaces are available.
Monday, October 23, 2017 - Evening Program
Hymns of Wisdom: The Ismaili Ginans of South Asia
Ali Asani
Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, will introduce the ginans, hymns of wisdom of the South Asia’s Ismaili communities, and their most important themes, including their ritual and performative contexts and the manner these have been impacted by a variety of political, social, and religious influences in colonial and postcolonial South Asia.

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.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in The Claremont Colleges.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - Evening Program
Work's Provocative Future
George Anders
As we head toward a world defined by self-driving cars, drone-powered warfare, and AI-based chat bots, what's left for humans to do? George Anders, writer and contributing editor at Forbes magazine, argues that the world's labor markets still need human creativity, curiosity and empathy. His talk will cover a variety of labor-market surprises, showing how the humanist's perspective is becoming more valuable, even as technology marches forward. 

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. 

 

Meal reservations now open to everyone in The Claremont Colleges.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - Lunch Program
Mindful + Sexy Safer Sex
Kate McCombs
Kate McCombs has traveled the world teaching sex and relationship education as well as empathic communication skills. Committed to helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex and feelings, her presentation will offer tools required to make mindful choices around safer sex practices, and much more.

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.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - Evening Program
Ecological Civilization: Is this the answer to fixing China's environment?
Christine Loh
China has raised the concept of "Ecological Civilization" to guide future development, which takes the country's ecological capacity and constraints into account. Christine Loh, former under-secretary for the Environment at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSRA) Government, will discuss the concept itself and China’s implementation along with references to Hong Kong.  

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.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in The Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, October 26, 2017 - Lunch Program
Why Free Speech Matters on Campus
Keith E. Whittington
Keith E. Whittington, professor of politics at Princeton University, will argue that robust protection of free speech and civil discourse is essential for universities to fulfill their distinct and important mission to assemble and nurture an open and diverse community of scholars, teachers, and students dedicated to the production and dissemination of knowledge. Understanding the relationship between the critical functions of the university and the principles of free speech can help provide guidance in resolving the difficult challenges that confront modern universities.

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.

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - Evening Program
American Shtetl: A Hasidic Town in Suburban New York
David N. Myers
David Myers, historian at UCLA, will explore the curious case of Kiryas Joel, a legally recognized municipality in the State of New York. Is this community's existence consistent with or is it a deviation from the American legal and political tradition?

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.

Friday, October 27, 2017 - Lunch Program
The Importance of Anticipation in Macroeconomics
Valerie Ramey
Valerie Ramey, professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego, will speak about how expectations, forecasts, and generalized anticipation affect the course of the macroeconomy and determine the impact of macroeconomic policy. The aggregated actions of individual firms and consumers determine the health and trajectory of the macroeconomy. These actions are directly correlated to how we formulate our view of the likely future. Understanding macroeconomic dynamics and designing macroeconomic policy crucially requires an understanding of how these expectations are formed, of how we anticipate. This complex feedback has been central to the field of macroeconomics for decades with Ramey at the forefront of scholarship in this area.

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.

Monday, October 30, 2017 - Evening Program
Taking Responsibility for Racial Violence: Shooting the Racist Imagination
José Medina
José Medina, professor of philosophy from Northwestern University, will analyze different kinds of complicity with racial violence and will defend a new paradigm of shared responsibility that goes beyond the bystander model. Working toward community responses that are both reparative and preventive, he will argue for a kind of political mobilization and resistance against racial violence that he terms “epistemic activism.”

José Medina is Walter Dill Scott Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University where he teaches critical race theory, feminist and queer theory, political philosophy, and social epistemology. His most recent book is “The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations” (Oxford University Press), which received the 2013 North-American Society for Social Philosophy Book Award. His current projects focus on how social perception and the social imagination contribute to the formation of vulnerabilities to different kinds of violence and oppression. These projects also explore the social movements and kinds of activism (including epistemic activism) that can be mobilized to resist racial and sexual violence and oppression in local and global contexts. In his Athenaeum talk, he will argue for a kind of political mobilization and resistance against racial violence that he terms “epistemic activism.”

Medina received his Ph.D. from Northwestern.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017 - Evening Program
What was the Russian Revolution? What is a Revolution?
Steve Kotkin
Revolution in the Russian empire took place 100 years ago with its effects continuing to reverberate today. Steve Kotkin, an expert in Russian history and international affairs at Princeton University, will consider what we have learned about the Russian revolution and ponder its lessons for today.  

Steve Kotkin is the John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the history department of Princeton University, where he has taught since 1989. He is also a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

At Princeton, he teaches courses on modern authoritarianism, global history since the 1850s, and the Soviet empire; he has won Princeton’s highest awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching. He served as vice dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, member and then chair of the editorial board at Princeton University Press, director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, member of the editorial committee of the journal World Politics, and director of the Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. He has been the book reviewer for the New York Times Sunday Business section (2006-9), and a consultant in emerging markets for World Pension Forum and Conexus Financial as well as in higher education for the Open Society Foundations and others.

Kotkin received his Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley (1988) and his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester (1981).  

Professor Kotkin will deliver the Arthur Adams Family Distinguished Lecture on International Affairs which is administered by the Keck Center for International & Strategic Studies at CMC.

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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.

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