• 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

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 look forward to seeing you at the Ath.

Priya Junnar

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - Evening Program
Is the Problem of Freedom of Speech Soluble?
Michael Zuckert
Freedom of speech, especially on campuses, is again a subject of intense discussion and debate. Complicating the discord, according to Michael Zuckert, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, is that the accepted doctrines of free speech have undergone many transformations and several varieties of speech doctrine now coexist—and often conflict—each claiming allegiance to a distinctive conception of free speech. Zuckert will address the development of the different speech doctrines by considering political and philosophic reasons as well as the implications associated with the different versions of free speech doctrine.

Michael Zuckert is the Nancy R. Dreux Professor of Political Science at University of Notre Dame. Before that, he was Kenan Professor of Political Science at Carleton College. His main scholarly work has been in the areas of early modern political philosophy, and constitutional law and history; he has written widely in these areas. His books include Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, The Natural Rights Republic, Launching Liberalism, and Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy. He is now completing a book titled A Nation so Conceived: Abraham Lincoln and the Problem of Democratic Sovereignty.

Professor Zuckert's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in The Claremont Colleges.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - Evening Program
Reform Contradictions Facing China's New Leadership
Yukon Huang
Drawing on his book, Cracking the China Conundrum—Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong, Yukon Huang, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, will highlight the reform challenges facing China's new leadership. These include options for dealing with China’s debt problems, sustaining rapid growth, curtailing corruption, moderating trade and investment tensions with the West and coping with pressures for political liberalization. Huang will argue that many of the mainstream assumptions for addressing these issues are misguided and often lead to flawed policy prescriptions.

Yukon Huang is currently a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington D.C. He was formerly the World Bank’s Country Director for China.

Huang's research focuses on China’s economy and its regional and global impact. Huang has published widely on development issues in professional journals and the public media. He is a featured commentator for the Financial Times on China and his articles are seen frequently in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Foreign Affairs, National Interest and Caixin. His recent books include East Asia Visions, Reshaping Economic Geography in East Asia and International Migration, and Development in East Asia and the Pacific. His latest book Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Is Wisdom Is Wrong was published by Oxford University Press (2017).

Huang earned his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and holds a B.A. from Yale University.

Dr. Huang's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in The Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, March 22, 2018 - Evening Program
The Rise and Fall of a Tribal Species: Why America and its Universities are Malfunctioning
Jonathan Haidt
The human mind is finely tuned for tribal conflict. America’s founders knew this and designed a system that would reduce the damage done by factionalism. We had a great run. But now a variety of social, technological, and intellectual trends are amplifying our tribal tendencies, with alarming implications for the future. Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist at the New York University, will use moral psychology to analyze recent trends in politics, and in university life and recommend reforms that might help adapt our universities and our politics to an age of polarization and perpetual outrage.    

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist whose research focuses on morality—its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation.

Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He received his B. A. from Yale University in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. After post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India, he was a professor at the University of Virginia from 1995 until 2011, when he joined the Stern School of Business.

He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations Theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org. He uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of people with whom they disagree. He won three teaching awards from the University of Virginia and one from the governor of Virginia. His four TED talks—on political psychology, on religion, on the causes of America’s political polarization, and on how America can heal after the bitter 2016 election—have been viewed more than 6 million times. 

Haidt was named a “top 100 global thinker” in 2012 by Foreign Policy magazine, and one of the 65 “World Thinkers of 2013” by Prospect magazine. He is the author of more than 90 academic articles and two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and The New York Times bestseller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Professor Haidt's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the President's Leadership Fund.

Photo credit: Philip Howard

Meal reservations now open to everyone in The Claremont Colleges.
Friday, March 23, 2018 - Lunch Program
Innovation Dilemma: Access and Innovation in an Age of Curative Therapies
Amitabh Chandra
Science discoveries along with generous incentives for producing new medical innovations have created a raft of high-priced therapies. Their presence strains the ability of payers to provide access, especially when there has been little income growth for a large share of the population, and when tax-revenues are projected to fall substantially in coming decades. These pressures will be exacerbated as the world sees the first-wave of curative therapies for monogenic diseases like cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Amitabh Chandra, professor of social policy and director of health policy research at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, will discuss these tradeoffs and offer polices to address them.­­­

Amitabh Chandra is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy and Director of Health Policy Research at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He teaches undergraduates in Harvard College, graduate students at the Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, and in Harvard's executive education programs.

Chandra is a member of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Panel of Health Advisors, and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). His research focuses on innovation and cost-growth in healthcare, medical malpractice, and racial disparities in healthcare. His research has been supported by the National Institute of Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and has been published in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Health Affairs. He is the chair editor of the Review of Economics and Statistics.

Chandra has testified to the United States Senate and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. His research has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Newsweek, and on National Public Radio. He has been a consultant to the RAND Corporation, Microsoft Research, the Institute of Medicine and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. In 2011, he served as Massachusetts' Special Commissioner on provider price reform.

Chandra is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the first-prize recipient of the Upjohn Institute's Dissertation Award, the Kenneth Arrow Award for best paper in health economics, and the Eugene Garfield Award for the impact of medical research. In 2012, he was awarded American Society of Health Economists (ASHE) medal. The ASHE Medal is awarded biennially to the economist age 40 or under who has made the most significant contributions to the field of health economics.

Professor Chandra’s Athenaeum presentation is the keynote for the 2018 Southern California Conference in Applied Microeconomics (SoCCAM), 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.

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