Welcome to The Athenaeum
Welcome to Athenaeum and the spring 2020 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 the Eggert Dining Room. 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.
You may register online for open events.
We look forward to seeing you at the Ath.
Tina Daniels ‘93 is director of agency business development, measurement, and analytics for Google. She is a member of the CMC Board of Trustees, the Kravis Leadership Institute Advisory Board, and the Women’s Prison Association & Home in NYC. An economics and government major at CMC, Daniels was editor-in-chief of The Forum, New Student Orientation Chair, and played tennis for CMS. She earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Varun Puri ‘16 is an operations manager for the Free Space Optical Communication project at X, formerly known as Google[X]. The project uses invisible lasers to bring high speed broadband internet to previously unconnected regions of the world. Prior to this, Varun worked on special projects across Alphabet, Google's parent company. At CMC, he was part of the debate and mock trial clubs, a Robert Day scholar, class of 2016 Commencement Speaker and a struggling inner tube water polo player. Puri majored in economics and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Samantha Turner leads the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) program at U.S. European Command, and is a go-to practitioner of diversity and inclusion for the department of defense. Turner has served in advisory positions to senior officials in the U.S. government and NATO on WPS policy and strategy in foreign policy. She also serves as an executive coach to diplomats, development experts, and senior defense officials focusing on how leading inclusively, specifically with an intersectional lens, can benefit everyone.
As a U.S. Army reservist, she serves as a civil military liaison officer and gender advisor specializing in infrastructure assessment, WASH, and the operationalization of the women, peace, and security agenda within the military. She earned a certificate in entrepreneurial leadership and innovation from Stanford Graduate School of Business and is an alumna of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Turner spends time speaking internationally, coaching woman veterans in transition, and hiking in the Alps in her free time.
Ms. Turner's Athenaeum presentation is part of the Women in Security series at the Athenaeum this spring.
Anthony Jack, sociologist and assistant professor of education at Harvard University, is transforming the way we address diversity and inclusion in education. His new book, "The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students," reframes the conversation surrounding poverty and higher education. In it, he explains the paths of two uniquely segregated groups. First, the “privileged poor”: students from low-income, diverse backgrounds who attended elite prep or boarding school before attending college. The second are what Jack calls the “doubly disadvantaged”—students who arrive from underprivileged backgrounds without prep or boarding school to soften their college transition. Although both groups come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the privileged poor have more cultural capital to navigate and succeed—in the college environment and beyond.
“It’s one thing to graduate with a degree from an elite institution, and another thing to graduate with the social capital to activate that degree,”Jack explains. In many ways, rather than close the wealth gap, campus culture at elite schools further alienate poor students by making them feel like they don’t belong. To challenge these deeply ingrained social, cultural, and economic disparities on campus, he argues that we must first begin to question what we take for granted. Jack reveals how organizations—from administrators and association organizers, to educators and student activists—can ask the right questions and bridge the gap.
A 2007 graduate of Amherst College, Jack is a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Recently, he wrote a feature for The New York Times Magazine’s Education Issue, based off his book and life experience as a low-income college student. His research has been cited by The New York Times, the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, The National Review, The Washington Post, American RadioWorks, WBUR, and MPR. His book "The Privileged Poor," was named the 2018 recipient of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize by Harvard University Press.
Professor Jack's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored with funding from the Open Academy at CMC.
Steven B. Smith is the Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science and professor of philosophy at Yale University where he has taught since 1984. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has served as director of graduate studies in political science, director of the Special Program in the Humanities, and acting chair of Judaic Studies, and from 1996-2011 served as the head of college for Yale’s Branford College. He is also the co-director of Yale’s Center for the Study of Representative Institutions that focuses on the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American world.
His research has focused on the history of political philosophy with special attention to the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government.
His best-known publications include "Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism" (1989), "Spinoza, Liberalism, and Jewish Identity" (1997), "Spinoza’s Book of Life" (2003), "Reading Leo Strauss" (2006), and "The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss" (2009), "Political Philosophy" (2012), and "Modernity and its Discontents" (2016). Most recently, he has co-edited with Joshua Cherniss "The Cambridge Companion to Isaiah Berlin" (2018) and is working on a new book entitled "In Defense of Patriotism."
Smith has received several academic awards and prizes including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize given by Phi Beta Kappa, but is most proud of receiving the Lex Hixon ‘63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2009.
Professor Smith's will deliver the kick-off lecture for the conference on Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty" sponsored by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at CMC.
Throughout his career, Zoltan Barany, Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professor in the government department at the University of Texas, Austin, has centered his research and writing on military politics and democratization globally. His early scholarship was also concerned with ethnopolitics (particularly the Gypsies/Roma) and East European politics more generally.
Barany's current research project, Armies of Arabia, focuses on military politics and effectiveness in the Gulf monarchies. His most recent books, among others, include “How Armies Respond to Revolutions and Why” (Princeton, 2016), “The Soldier and the Changing State: Building Democratic Armies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas” (Princeton, 2012), and, as co-editor, "Is Democracy Exportable?” (Cambridge, 2009) —all have been translated into Arabic. Barany is also the author of “Democratic Breakdown and the Decline of the Russian Military.” He has published dozens of articles, essays, and monographs in academic and policy journals as well as on the web.
He has held a recurring appointment as a (non-resident) senior associate of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC where his work has concentrated on military issues on the Arabian Peninsula.
Professor Barany’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies.
(Parents Dining Room)
Greg Lukianoff is an attorney, New York Times best-selling author, and the President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). He is the author of “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate,” “Freedom From Speech,” and FIRE’s “Guide to Free Speech on Campus.” Most recently, he co-authored “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure” with Jonathan Haidt. This New York Times best-seller expands on their September 2015 Atlantic cover story of the same name. Lukianoff is also an executive producer of "Can We Take a Joke?", a feature-length documentary that explores the collision between comedy, censorship, and outrage culture, both on and off campus.
Lukianoff has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and numerous other publications. He frequently appears on TV shows and radio programs, including the CBS Evening News, The Today Show, and NPR. In 2008, he became the first-ever recipient of the Playboy Foundation’s Freedom of Expression Award, and he has testified before both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives about free speech issues on America’s college campuses.
Mr. Lukianoff’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored with funding from CMC's Open Academy.
Photo credit: Pushnik Photography
Funded by Joel Appel ‘87, the Appel Fellowship provides first-year students with funding to engage in independent writing projects including:
Axel Ahdritz (’22): A song album and journal inspired by the refugee population in Jordan and Germany.
T.J. Askew (’22): A series of essays inspired by travels along the Pacific Crest Trail to Fairbanks Alaska and based upon the experiences of Chris McCandless.
Raj Bhutoria (’22): Articles that examine the intersection of family history and national identity in India.
Alex Futterman (’22): Essays based on interviews held with extreme athletes in Chile, Peru, and New Zealand.
Maria Gutierrez-Vera (’22): Vignettes - inspired by the work of Sandra Cisneros - that capture the experiences of the author’s grandmother.
Madelyn Kwun (’22): A children's book that introduces young readers to Asian-American history and culture, based on travels through South Korea. Madison Menard (’22): A photojournalism series that represents the culture of "historic soccer" in rival Italian provinces.
Marisa Mestichella (’22): A documentary and "how-to" guide to street performance, based on travels to New York, New Orleans, and Nashville.
Serena Myjer (’22): Essays inspired by the work of John Muir created while the author walks the John Muir Trail.
Robin Peterson (’22): A short story collection that represents the experiences of refugees in Jordan.
Daenerys Pineda (’22): A series of short stories depicting heritage sites in Northern California.
Courtney Reed (’22): A documentary that represents the history of the hair industry in Atlanta, China, and India.
Toluwani Roberts (’22): A zine featuring essayettes, poetry, and interviews related to the expression of spirituality and the natural world in Equador.
Dorcas Saka (’22): Short stories that represent the experiences of Muslim communities in Chicago, New Jersey, Arkansas, and Arizona.
Sobechukwu Uwajeh (’22): A podcast series that examines the impact gentrification has had upon people of color in Chicago and New York.
Kyril Van Schendel (’22): A documentary film based on the author's experiences distance running in the South West U.S.
Laura Vences (’22): A zine that explores the connections between immigration, labor, and the Latinx community in several U.S. cities.
Kimberly Zamora-Delgado (’22): A collection of stories based on interviews with park rangers and visitors at National Parks on the west coast of the U.S.
Alison Marouk-Coe & Shania Sharna (’22): An experiment in immersive empathy based on travels to locations - such as Mumbai and Beijing - that are significant to the authors.
Note: Some Fellows are not pictured.
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.