Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

 

Welcome to The Athenaeum

The Athenaeum has delayed its Spring 2022 launch date by two weeks. Speakers previously scheduled for January 24 to February 3, including CMC's 2022 MLK Commemorative Speaker, are being rescheduled. In-person spring 2022 programming will resume the week of February 7. We will keep you updated on Athenaeum health and safety guidelines. Thank you for your understanding. 

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 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 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.

In celebration of Claremont McKenna College’s 75th Anniversary, along with many exciting speakers, the Ath will also feature a 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speaker Series which will span the 2021-22 academic year. This will be a very special opportunity for the Ath to host extraordinary public figures and allow the CMC community, especially students, to interact with and hear from distinguished leaders in varied fields.

Tue, February 8, 2022
Dinner Program
Cynthia Dewi Oka

In her third collection, award-winning Indonesian American poet Cynthia Dewi Oka dives into the implications of being parents, children, workers, and unwanted human beings under the reign of global capitalism and resurgent nativism. With a voice bound and wrestled apart by multiple histories, Fire Is Not a Country claims the spaces between here and there, then and now, us and not us. This collection is for anyone interested in what it means to engage the multitudes within ourselves.

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

Photo credit: Jose Quintana

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Author of Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) published by Northwestern University Press, and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water, first published by Dinah Press in 2012, with a second edition of new and revised poems published by Thread Makes Blanket in 2016, Cynthia Dewi Oka currently serves as a poetry editor at Kweli Journal and has performed in various venues across the US and internationally.

A 2021-2022 Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, Massachusetts, she has been awarded the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award, the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry. She is an alum of the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Workshop and the Vermont Studio Center and earned her MFA as a Holden Minority Scholar at Warren Wilson College.

As a creative facilitator, she has offered workshops for a wide range of organizations and has also worked with young poets in high schools across New Jersey as a Geraldine R. Dodge Poet. In 2021, she led a week-long intensive workshop for emerging Indonesian writers in collaboration with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) and the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa.

For fifteen years, Oka worked as an organizer, trainer, and fundraiser in social movements for gender, racial, economic, and migrant justice. In 2020, she transitioned out of the nonprofit sector to focus on her artistic practice. As an immigrant and former young single mother with working-class roots, her aesthetics are guided by her core values: self-determination, collaboration, and attention to the peripheral.

(Adapted from https://www.cynthiadewioka.com/about)

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Wed, February 9, 2022
Dinner Program
Ragen Chastain

Ragen Chastain, an internationally recognized thought leader in the fields of health at every size and weight stigma, will explore how capitalism, weight stigma, and diet culture intersect to create marginalization, alienation, and harm to people of all sizes and will offer strategies to mitigate and transform the status quo around body size culture.

Photo credit: Lindley Ashline

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Ragen Chastain is a speaker, writer, dancer, marathoner, ACE Certified Health Coach and functional fitness specialist, activist, and is training to be an iron-distance triathlete. Her blog, “Dances with Fat” explores the intersections of health, fatness, goodness, beauty norms, and body acceptances. Her blog’s tagline, and the theme at the center of her work, reads. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Are for All Sizes.”

Chastain is a self-described “fathlete,” as well as a dancer. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, won three National Dance Championships, and holds the Guinness World Record for Heaviest Woman to Complete a Marathon. In 2011 she left a successful consulting career to speak and write full-time about size acceptance and health at every size. She has also published a book on navigating life and health, titled, “Fat: The Owner's Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness and Sense of Humor Intact.”

She also hosts monthly workshops on health, body neutrality, and self-love. She has spoken at numerous conferences and colleges, including nearby Pitzer College, CalTech, and USC.

Ms. Chastain is the featured speaker for recognizing February as the disorderly eating awareness month. 

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Thu, February 10, 2022
Dinner Program
Barry Eichengreen

The financial sector is currently in one of those periods of exceptionally rapid change that punctuate history. From the adoption of cloud computing to store and process financial data, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyze it, and blockchain to secure it, the future will surely see additional movement in these directions. But it is uncertain whether digital currencies will be part of that future. Plain vanilla cryptocurrency like bitcoin lack the essential attributes of money and are likely to remain no more than niche investment products. Stablecoins have more of the attributes of money but are expensive to operate. Central bank digital currencies are more obviously viable, but they are a solution in search of a problem. It’s thus not clear, argues Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics at U.C. Berkeley, what economic and social problems they can solve that can’t also be solved by suitably regulated private sector entities.

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

Photo credit: U.C. Berkeley

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Barry Eichengreen is the George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1987. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and research fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (London, England). In 1997-98, he was senior policy advisor at the International Monetary Fund. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (class of 1997).

Eichengreen has held Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships and been a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Palo Alto) and the Institute for Advanced Study (Berlin). From 2004 to 2020 he served as convener of the Bellagio Group of academics and officials. He is a regular monthly columnist for Project Syndicate.

His most recent books are In Defense of Public Debt with Asmaa El-Ganainy, Rui Esteves and Kris Mitchener (Oxford University Press 2021), The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era (Oxford University Press, 2018), How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present, and Future with Livia Chitu and Arnaud Mehl (November 2017), The Korean Economy: From a Miraculous Past to a Sustainable Future with Wonhyuk Lim, Yung Chul Park and Dwight H. Perkins (March 2015), Renminbi Internationalization: Achievements, Prospects, and Challenges, with Masahiro Kawai (February 2015), Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and the Uses--and Misuses--of History (January 2015), From Miracle to Maturity: The Growth of the Korean Economy with Dwight H. Perkins and Kwanho Shin (2012) and Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System (2011) (shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in 2011).

Eichengreen was awarded the Economic History Association's Jonathan R.T. Hughes Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2002 and the University of California at Berkeley Social Science Division's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2004. He is the recipient of a doctor honoris causa from the American University in Paris, and the 2010 recipient of the Schumpeter Prize from the International Schumpeter Society. He was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine 's 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2011. He is a past president of the Economic History Association (2010-11 academic year).

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

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Wed, February 16, 2022
Dinner Program
Scott Ellsworth P'24

The 1921 Tulsa race massacre was the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. Scott Ellsworth, faculty in the Afroamerican and African Studies department at the University of Michigan and author of The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice, will discuss why the tragedy happened, how it was covered up for a half century, and current efforts to win restitution for survivors and their descendants.

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Scott Ellsworth P'24 is an award-winning writer and historian. His most recent book, The Ground Breaking: The Tulsa Race Massacre and an American City's Search for Justice, was longlisted for the 2021 National Book Award. His previous book, The Secret Game, which tells the true story of a clandestine integrated college basketball contest that took place in 1940s North Carolina, won the 2016 PEN/ESPN Book Award for Literary Sports Writing, while The World Beneath Their Feet, which details the deadly race to summit the highest peaks of the Himalayas during the 1930s, won a 2020 National Outdoor Book Award.

Ellsworth and his work have been featured on the TODAY Show, NPR, the BBC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, Voice of America, The History Channel, and in the pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Times of London. Praised for his “elegant” and “riveting” prose, a reviewer once described him as “a historian with the soul of a poet.”

Oklahoma born and bred, Ellsworth published his first book, Death in a Promised Land, while he was a graduate student at Duke. Formerly a historian at the Smithsonian Institution, he currently teaches courses on African American history, Southern literature, race and sports, and crime and justice in contemporary U.S. society in the department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan.

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Thu, February 17, 2022
Dinner Program
Annette Gordon-Reed

Weaving together American history, family chronicle, and personal memoir in her most recent book On Juneteenth, Annette Gordon-Reed, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. 

Professor Gordon-Reed will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2022 Lerner Lecture on Hinge Moments in History; her Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by CMC's Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America.

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Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University where she holds appointments in the history department and the Law School. She is the award-winning author of six books. Her latest book, On Juneteenth, sets out to capture the integral importance of the holiday to American history. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller, was featured on the magazine’s 100 Notable Books list, and chosen as one of its the top five non-fiction books of the year. 

A Texas native and the descendent of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s, Gordon-Reed is also the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for nonfiction—along with fourteen other awards. It explores the inconsistencies of Jefferson’s stance on slavery and his relationship with enslaved woman Sally Hemings, and has been called “the best study of a slave family ever written” by noted Jefferson scholar Joseph Ellis. Her other books include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy—a rich examination of scholarly writing on the relationships between Jefferson and Hemings, which exposes the possibility that scholars were misguided by their own biases and may even have contorted evidence to preserve their preexisting opinions of Jefferson. Her other book, "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, presents a provocative character study of Jefferson that challenges much of the scholarly status quo on his portrayal throughout history. Gordon-Reed’s upcoming title, A Jefferson Reader on Race, is set to be published in 2022.

Her honors include the National Humanities Medal, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Gordon-Reed was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2019, she was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society.

Professor Gordon-Reed will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2022 Lerner Lecture on Hinge Moments in History; her Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by CMC's Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America.

 

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Mon, February 21, 2022
Dinner Program
Erik Anderson '80 P'23

Erik Anderson ’80 P'23 is founder and CEO of WestRiver Group, a global innovation investment platform, and Chief Executive Officer of the DCRB+ Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), which seek to identify impactful companies with scalable solutions to decarbonize the global economy. In this talk he will discuss market-driven approaches to decarbonizing our world through entrepreneurship and capital investment. 

Mr. Anderson is the featured parent speaker for Family Weekend 2022.

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Erik Anderson '80 P'23 is a leader in global innovation recognized throughout his career for his business acumen and leadership. As the founder and CEO of WestRiver Group (WRG), Anderson is redefining the paradigm of capital allocation with a transformative business model. The equity platform is led by gender-balanced teams, which empirical evidence suggests is correlated with better returns. 

Anderson is a dynamic entrepreneur who challenges and disrupts industries. He has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, was named by Goldman Sachs as one of the Top 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs and was awarded the Transformative CEO Award by The CEO Forum Group. Early in his career, Seattles Puget Sound Business Journal recognized Anderson as one of the Top 40 under 40” young achievers and emerging leaders.  

Anderson is CEO of several special purpose acquisition companies (Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corporations) which seek to identify an impactful company with scalable solutions to decarbonize the global economy.

In March 2021, Anderson became vice chairman of Callaway Golf Company (NYSE:ELY). Prior to Callaway, he served as the executive chairman of Topgolf Entertainment Group. Under his leadership, Topgolf became one of the fastest-growing sports and entertainment brands in the world. In 2020, he was ranked by Golf Inc. as the No. 4 Most Powerful Person in the Golf Industry and was No. 3 in 2019 and 2018. 

In November 2020, Anderson joined Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)as the executive chairman of the SVB Capital Credit Platform and serves as chair of the SVB capital advisory committee.

Anderson also serves as executive chairman of Singularity University, a global community using exponential technologies to tackle the worlds biggest challenges. He is also vice chairman of ONEHOPE, a cause-centric consumer brand and technology company, known for their award-winning wine and world-class vineyard in Napa, Calif. He is also co-chairman of TOCA, the world's first technology-enabled soccer experience company. Additionally, Anderson is the founder of Americas Foundation for Chess, currently serving 160,000 children in the United States with its First Move curriculum. For more than ten years he served on the Board of Play Magnus, an interactive chess app inspired by Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion.

Anderson was on the board of Avista Corp (NYSE:AVA), an energy management company for more than sixteen years, and served as chairman of the Finance Committee for most of his tenure. His investment experience includes being partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners, CEO of Matthew G. Norton Co., and vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co.

He holds a masters and bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and graduated cum laude with a bachelors degree in Management Engineering from Claremont McKenna College.

Mr. Anderson is the featured parent speaker for Family Weekend 2022.

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Wed, February 23, 2022
Dinner Program
Vivan Marwaha '17

India is one of the youngest countries in the world and its generation of millennials make up for over 400 million people. This is the largest generation of people in the world. So, asks Vivan Marwaha '17, the author of What Millennials Want: What do Indian millennials want? What are their economic aspirations and their social views? Most importantly, what makes them tick? Their choices and answers will not only determine the local, regional, and national trajectory of India, but also cast pivotal consequences on global economics. 

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In his debut book, What Millennials Want, Vivan Marwaha ’17, documents the aspirations and anxieties of 400 million young people scattered across more than 30,000 kilometers in 13 Indian states. Combining an expansive dataset along with personal anecdotes, he narrates an intimate biography of India's millennials, investigating their attitudes towards sex, marriage, employment, religion, and politics.

A 2017 graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Marwaha is a user researcher who works on technology projects in emerging markets. A millennial himself, he cares deeply about understanding India and its future through its youth.

He has lived and worked in New Delhi, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Buenos Aires, and has written for the Washington Post, New Statesman, Mint, and Times of India, among other publications.

 

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Thu, February 24, 2022
Dinner Program
Ray Mentzer

French Reformed Protestants, commonly known as Huguenots, were fundamentally a religious minority. Accordingly, they sought to distinguish themselves from Catholics. Two prominent liturgical events – the Lord’s Supper and the sermon service – became critical in constructing confessional identity. Ray Mentzer, the Daniel J. Krumm Family Chair in Reformation Studies at the University of Iowa, will discuss this history and the introduction of related material objects, above all communion tokens and benches, that further accentuated their sense of being Protestant.

Professor Mentzer will deliver the keynote for the CMC Reformation Conference: Religion, Politics and Society.

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Raymond Mentzer holds the Daniel J. Krumm Family Chair in Reformation Studies at the University of Iowa. His research focuses on the French Reformed community during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is especially interested in the manner whereby Protestant church leaders as well as ordinary members of the congregation translated new theological insights into a system of approved moral conduct and a set of everyday devotional habits.

He has published a series of books and journal articles on the prosecution of French Protestants for heresy, the family and its role in the formation of confessional identity in early modern France, the application of Reformed church discipline, and the development of the French Reformed liturgy. Among his recent books are an inventory of the extant ecclesiastical disciplinary records for the French Reformed Churches during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and an edited volume focusing on the Huguenots from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries.

Professor Mentzer will deliver the keynote for the CMC Reformation Conference: Religion, Politics and Society.

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Mon, February 28, 2022
Dinner Program
Eric Avila

Eric Avila, professor of history, Chicana/o Studies and urban planning at UCLA, historian of Los Angeles and author of The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City, will discuss the history of highway construction in post World War II Los Angeles and how it widened socio-economic and cultural divides across the city's racial geography.

Professor Avila's Athenaeum presentation is part of the "Race Across Disciplines" series which explores how different academic disciplines approach research, insights, and findings around race.

Photo credit: UCLA

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Eric Avila is professor of history and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA and holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Urban Planning. He is a twentieth-century U.S. urban historian, whose research and teaching emphasizes race and ethnicity, cultural expression, and the built environment. He earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in history from U.C. Berkeley and is the author of three books, including Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (California, 2004), The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City (Minnesota, 2014), and American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2018). He is currently beginning two new book projects, both focused on the social and cultural history of Los Angeles. 

Avila is a national expert in the history of American culture and his research has fueled the national conversation about the historical relationship between race, urbanization and infrastructural development. He interviews frequently for national news outlets like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today and he recently appeared in a four-part documentary series for CNN, The History of American Style.

Professor Avila's Athenaeum presentation is part of the "Race Across Disciplines" series which explores how different academic disciplines approach research, insights, and findings around race.

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Tue, March 1, 2022
Dinner Program
Stacey Vanek Smith

In her new book, "Machiavelli For Women," NPR host of  The Indicator from Planet Money Stacey Vanek Smith looks at how women can apply the principles of the 16th-century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli to their 21st-century work lives and shatter the glass ceiling once and for all. Using Machiavelli’s "The Prince" as a guide to understanding behavior and power in Renaissance politics, Smith demonstrates how women can use those same principles today to take and maintain power in careers where they have long been cast as second-best.

Ms. Vanek Smith is the featured speaker for the 2022 Women and Leadership Alliance program at CMC; her Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Open Academy at CMC.

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Stacey Vanek Smith is a longtime public radio reporter and host, highly regarded for her insight and journalism on work, business, and economics. Previously she served as a correspondent and host for NPR’s Planet Money as well as the NPR show Marketplace. She is the host of NPR’s daily podcast, The Indicator from Planet Money. Her work has appeared on All things Considered, Consider This, Morning Edition, Up First, Weekend All Things Considered, It’s Been A Minute, with Sam Sanders, How I Built This, and Rough Translation, as well as in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Awl and People Magazine.

A native of Idaho, Vanek Smith grew up in Boise and on her parents' cattle ranch in western Idaho. She is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a master’s in broadcast journalism from Columbia University. She was awarded the Ferris Teaching Grant from Princeton University in 2019 and taught a course in audio journalism.

She lives in Brooklyn where she spends most of her time broadcasting out of her broom closet, hiking, cooking, rock climbing, and watching Netflix.

Ms. Vanek Smith is the featured speaker for the 2022 Women and Leadership Alliance program at CMC; her Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Open Academy at CMC.

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Phone: (909) 607-8244
Email:

Contact

Phone: (909) 621-8244
Fax: (909) 621-8579
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