Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Open Events

Here is a list of open events at the Ath. If no sign up button appears under the event, it is because the event is no longer accepting reservations.

Unless otherwise noted, lunch begins at 11:45 a.m.; speaker presentations begin at 12:15 p.m. Evening programs typically begin with a reception at 5:30 pm; dinner is served at 6 p.m; and the talk begins at 6:45 p.m. Reservations are required for the meals.

Unless otherwise noted, the talk itself is free and open to all, and no reservations are required to attend the talk only. Seating for only the talk itself is on a first-come basis.

Please click "Sign Up" under individual events to sign up for open events. If there is no button showing, registration is currently closed, but please check back later. When meal reservations are opened to members of the other Claremont Colleges, a note will be added to the event listing. An explanation of the reservation process and a list of frequently asked questions is available. Questions may also be directed to the Ath at


Monday, October 24, 2016 - Evening Program
Pericles of Athens and the Dangers of Democracy
Loren J. Samons
Though most often the object of praise by moderns, Pericles attracted significant criticism in antiquity. Loren J. Samons believes that a careful study of Pericles’ career offers potential lessons for the contemporary world, particularly about the dangers presented by elections and by faith in democratic government.

Loren J. Samons is professor of classical studies at Boston University, where he has taught ancient history, Greek, Latin, and humanities for almost 25 years. Samons' focus rests in the history of Greece in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C., with particular interests in Athenian politics and imperialism. His current research is concerned in particular with the figures of Pericles and Kimon, Athenian foreign policy, and the composition of Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ histories. He also has interests in the later Roman empire, ancient warfare, and the classical tradition. 

Much of his work, especially the book What's Wrong with Democracy? (2004), focuses on the intersection of democracy and imperialism and on the relationship between ancient and modern government. His most recent book, Pericles and the Conquest of History (2016), continues to trace these themes and to offer potential lessons for contemporary society.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Lunch Program
Do Competitive Workplaces Deter Female Workers?
Jeffrey Flory
In a talk sponsored by CMC’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Sequence, CMC's Jeffrey Flory considers whether differences in competitiveness cause gender imbalances in the US labor force.

Jeffrey Flory joined the Robert Day School in 2013 from the University of Chicago. He uses field experiments to examine questions in development economics, competition incentives, and gender. Flory has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the World Bank, the Department for International Development, and the Lowe Institute of Political Economy. His research has been published in journals such as Review of Economic Studies. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Lunch Program
A Debt Against the Living
Ilan Wurman '09
Thomas Jefferson famously wrote in a letter to James Madison that the earth belongs to the living. Madison responded that the Constitution forms a debt against the living, and that the only way for future generations to faithfully discharge that debt is through a “proportionate obedience to the will of the authors of the improvement”—by originalism. In his Athenaeum talk, Ilan Wurman ’09 asks if James Madison was right. Does the Constitution indeed form a debt against the living? And if so, how do we faithfully discharge that debt—through originalism, or something else?

Ilan Wurman ‘09 graduated from CMC in 2009 with a major in government and physics. In 2013, he graduated from Stanford Law School and is now an attorney at Winston & Strawn LLP in Washington D.C. He was formerly the deputy general counsel of Rand Paul's presidential campaign and associate counsel on Tom Cotton's campaign for U.S. Senate in Arkansas. He has written extensively on constitutional interpretation and administrative law, and his writings have appeared in City Journal, National Affairs, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, and several academic law reviews. 

Wurman’s Athenaeum talk, A Debt Against the Living, is based on a forthcoming book on originalism and the Constitution where he addresses views expressed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. 

In an oft-quoted letter to Madison, Jefferson asserts that the earth belongs to the living and that we cannot be bound by the "dead hand of the past," that the Constitution must be a "living, breathing" document that is continually updated in modern times. Less familiar, however, is Madison's response to Jefferson. If the earth be the gift of nature to the living, wrote Madison, then it belongs to them in its natural state only; the improvements made by the dead form a debt against the living, who take the benefit of them. This debt cannot be otherwise discharged, he wrote, than by a proportionate obedience to the will of the authors of the improvement—originalism.  

Who is right—Thomas Jefferson or James Madison? 

Wurman’s talk will address this difficult question and offer an answer in favor of Madison, originalism, and the Constitution. 

Ilan Wurman’s Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Evening Program
Marx, Mao, and Mathematics: The Politics of Infinitesimals
Joseph Dauben ’66
When the “Mathematical Manuscripts” of Karl Marx were translated into Chinese during the Cultural Revolution, they served as useful propaganda for mathematicians interested in reforming mathematics education and supporting new research in the controversial area of nonstandard analysis created by the American mathematical Abraham Robinson in the 1960s.

Joseph W. Dauben is Distinguished Professor of History and History of Science at the City University of New York. He is the author of biographies of Georg Cantor and Abraham Robinson, and most recently, a three-volume Chinese-English dual-language edition of the ancient Chinese classic, The Nine Chapters on the Art of Mathematics (2013), written in collaboration with Guo Shuchun and Xu Yibao. He is a 1966 graduate of CMC where he majored in mathematics. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University.  His areas of interest and research include history of science, history of mathematics; the scientific revolution; sociology of science; intellectual history, 17-18th centuries; history of Chinese science; and history of botany.

Dauben started out as a historian of mathematics with a focus on the modern period in Europe and America. His most famous publication from this part of his career is Georg Cantor: His Mathematics and Philosophy of the Infinite, a highly regarded biography that covers both Cantor's contributions to mathematics, notably set theory and the theory of the infinite, his life, and his theological and philosophical ideas. Dauben then developed an expertise in Chinese mathematics, even learning to speak Chinese, mentoring Chinese students, and publishing on classical and modern mathematics in China. 

A recipient of many international prestigious awards including delivering an invited lecture at the 1998 International Congress of Mathematicians in Berlin on Karl Marx's mathematical work, Dauben became an honorary member of the Institute for History of Natural Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2002. In January of 2012 he received the American Mathematical Society’s Albert Leon Whiteman Memorial Prize for History of Mathematics.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - Lunch Program
Introduction to Living Composition: Creating A Sustainable Environment for Asian Traditional Music
Koji Nakano
Koji Nakano will discuss how hybrid musical elements in his compositions explore solutions to problems of cross-cultural aesthetics and musical elements; he will also consider sustainable environments for Asian traditional music.

Award-winning composer Koji Nakano’s music reflects the relationship between beauty, form and imperfection through the formality of music. In 2008, he became the first composer to receive the S&R Washington Award Grand Prize. Nakano has been recognized as one of the major voices among Asian composers of his generation.  

Nakano currently divides his time between USA and Asia as a composer, scholar and an educator. As the co-founder of the Asian Young Musicians’ Connection, he promotes new music by commissioning emerging composers to create music for worldwide professional musicians for its regular concerts, lectures and workshops.  

This fall, Nakano is the Scripps Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor at Scripps College.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - Evening Program
California’s Choices: 2016 Ballot Measures
Tony Quinn and Bob Stern, panelists; Ken Miller, moderator
Two of California's leading political commentators, Bob Stern and Tony Quinn, will provide expert analysis on the consequential decisions California voters face this fall.  The evening will also feature the Rose Institute’s Video Voter series of informational videos produced by Rose Institute students. 

California has the nation's most extensive system of direct democracy, as citizens regularly exercise the power to determine important policy issues by direct popular vote. In this election, Californians will vote on an astounding 17 propositions. The topics cover a broad range of subjects, including among other things, the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, criminal sentencing, firearms and ammunition sales, bond funding, cigarette tax, income tax, and open government measures. Two of the state's leading political commentators, Bob Stern and Tony Quinn, will provide expert analysis of these consequential choices. Professor Ken Miller will moderate the discussion and also present the Rose Institute’s Video Voter series of informational videos produced by Rose Institute students.

Bob Stern is the co-founder and former president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a California think tank focused on political reform. Stern has been called “the godfather of modern political reform in California.” He began drafting and analyzing political reform laws as a staff attorney for the California Legislature’s Assembly Elections Committee; he then served as the Elections Counsel to the California Secretary of State’s office. He has drafted numerous state initiatives, and was a principal drafter of the City of Los Angeles’ Ethics and Public Campaign Financing laws in 1990. He is a graduate of Pomona College and Stanford Law.

Tony Quinn is co-editor of the California Target Book, a non-partisan almanac of California politics. Quinn is an authority on California political trends and demographics. He served three years as an assistant to the California Attorney General, is a former director of the Office of Economic Research in the Department of Commerce, and for five years served as a member of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Dr. Quinn has written extensively on California politics and elections. He holds degrees from Georgetown University, University of Texas, and Claremont Graduate University.

Ken Miller is a member of the government department at CMC and is the associate director of the Rose Institute. His research focuses on state government institutions, with emphasis on direct democracy (initiative, referendum, and recall) and the interaction between law and politics. 

This Athenaeum panel discussion is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute for State and Local Government.

Thursday, October 27, 2016 - Lunch Program
21-Day Global Impact Challenge
Linda Cruse
Linda Cruse calls to replace the traditional charitable "hand out" approach to a "hand up" business led approach that promotes competition to find the most effective sustainable solutions for global challenges.

Linda Cruse is an international aid worker, disaster management specialist, author, inspirational speaker, creator of the Emergency Zen thought leadership series, social entrepreneur, and founder of Be the Change: Business Leaders on The Frontline and the 21-Day Global Impact Challenge. In 2014 she was appointed a senior fellow in the College of Business and Law at the University of Canterbury New Zealand. 

Cruse’s 17 years of frontline humanitarian aid work has taken her to every continent in the world where she has assisted in some of the world’s most catastrophic natural and humanitarian disasters including the Asian tsunami, the Pakistani earthquake, two Philippine super-typhoons, the Nepal earthquake, the Ecuador earthquake, refugee camps in Uganda, and more.

Cruse’s area of expertise lies in bridging the gap between the private and public sectors and creating health, education, and business synergies to cultivate innovative opportunities for sustainable employment and income generation. Her trademark is her ability to engage the entrepreneurial skills and business acumen of the private sector to solve seemingly intractable problems on the frontline.

Ms. Cruse’s talk is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights.

Thursday, October 27, 2016 - Evening Program
In Policing We Trust: The History of Crime Fighting in Black America
Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Framed by the polarizing 2016 presidential race, advocates of law and order stand on one-side against competing claims for systemic police reform. Khalil Gibran Muhammad will address: How did we get here? What's new? What does the past teach us about the nature of policing in black America? Is the system broken or functioning as it was built?


Khalil Gibran Muhammad is the Suzanne Young Murray professor at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University, where he also teaches the history of race and public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is the former director of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the leading research facilities dedicated to the study of the African Diaspora. His academic work focuses on racial criminalization and the origins of the carceral state. He is the author of “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America” (Harvard University Press, 2010), which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book Award in American Studies. His articles and scholarship have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, New Yorker, and the Washington Post.  

Muhammad is a native of the South Side of Chicago. He graduated with a B.A. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and received his Ph.D. in American history from Rutgers University, specializing in 20th century United States and African-American history.mHe also holds honorary doctorates from The New School (2013) and Bloomfield College (2014).

Professor Muhammad's Athenaeum talk is part of the Race and Law Enforcement in America series.

Friday, October 28, 2016 - Special Program
Unpopular Government: How Populism is Reshaping Politics & Trade
Honorable David Dreier ’75 and Honorable Mickey Kantor
The Dreier Roundtable's third annual conference focuses on the rising tides of populism, both in the United States and abroad and will feature a lunchtime discussion between David Dreier ’75 and Mickey Kantor, former U.S. Commerce Secretary, U.S. Trade Representative, and chair of the 1992 Clinton/Gore campaign.

The US presidential election has challenged many assumptions about the Constitution, the political process, and has shaken the foundations of the two leading political parties. The aftershocks of the Brexit vote are still being felt in Europe, and France is headed into a legislative and presidential election likely to be shaped by populist discontent over immigration and defense. On both continents, economic populism is turning public opinion away from free trade and globalism and toward nationalism and isolation.

The 2016 Dreier Roundtable will bring together public policy leaders and researchers from around the world to discuss how unpopular politics will affect the future of elections and trade. 

More information is available at the Dreier Roundtable Conference page.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - Evening Program
Covering China: A Journalist’s Tale
Andrew Jacobs
Andrew Jacobs will present an insider’s look at the challenges—and occasional joys—of the nearly eight years he spent reporting for the New York Times from China.

Andrew Jacobs has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1995. Over the years, he has covered a variety of beats, from the New York City Police Department and criminal courts, to the American South, Styles and New Jersey politics. He is currently based in New York City and covers a number of topics, including Brazil and China's relationship with the rest of the world.

Jacobs was part of a team of reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of the September 11 attacks in Manhattan, and in 2009 he was part of a team of reporters that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting related to the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.

Mr. Jacob’s Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by CMC’s Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - Evening Program
Polarized: The Rise of Ideology in U.S. Politics
Steven Schier
The 2016 presidential election features the two most unpopular major party nominees in the history of opinion polling. How did that happen? 

Steven E. Schier is the Dorothy H. and Edward C. Congdon Professor of Political Science at Carleton College. He is the author or editor of 21 books, including the prize-winning Panorama of a Presidency: How George W. Bush Acquired and Spent His Political Capital (M.E. Sharpe, 2008).

He has analyzed U.S. politics in national newspaper columns and television appearances and is the lead author of Presidential Elections with David Hopkins, Nelson Polsby and Aaron Wildavsky, now in its 14th edition from Rowman & Littlefield.

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


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.