Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

October, 2017

Monday, October 02, 2017 - Lunch Program
Progress Towards a Game of Life Decision Support System
Harry Max Markowitz

Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1990 for his work on portfolio theory, Harry Markowitz will discuss why household financial decisions for individuals and/or families should be considered part of the “Game of Life” that individuals and families play out. 

Harry Markowitz, adjunct professor at the Rady School of Management at UCSD, shared the 1990 the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on portfolio theory. He also is the recipient of the John von Neumann Award from the Operations Research Society of America for his work in portfolio theory, sparse matrix techniques, and SIMSCRIPT. 

In an article published in 1952 and a subsequent book in 1959, he presented what is now referred to as MPT, “modern portfolio theory.”  This has become a standard topic in college courses and texts on investments, and is widely used by institutional investors and financial advisors for asset allocation, risk control, and attribution analysis. In other areas, Markowitz developed “sparse matrix” techniques for solving very large mathematical optimization problems. These techniques are now standard in production software for optimization programs. He also designed and supervised the development of the SIMSCRIPT programming language which has been widely used for programming computer simulations of systems like factories, transportation systems, and communication networks.

Professor Markowitz's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Soll Center for Student Opportunities.

Monday, October 02, 2017 - Evening Program
Blind Faith: The Hindi Poet Surdas and his Visual Legacy
John Stratton Hawley

The great 16th-century poet Hindi Surdas, a great devotee of Krishna, is said to have been blind. John “Jack” Stratton Hawley, professor of religion at Barnard College, Columbia University, wonders and explains how the poet could have seen what he saw and also addresses why he is seen so frequently in illustrated manuscripts.

John “Jack” Stratton Hawley is the Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. His most recent books on India’s bhakti traditions are A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement (Harvard, 2015), Sur’s Ocean (with Kenneth Bryant, Harvard, 2015), and a poem-by-poem commentary called Into Sur’s Ocean (Harvard Oriental Series, 2016). A Storm of Songs received the Coomaraswamy Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2017.

Hawley has directed Columbia University’s South Asia Institute and has received multiple awards from NEH, the Smithsonian, and the AIIS. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2016-17 he was in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow, working on a project called “The New Vrindavan.”

Professor Hawley’s Athenaeum presentation is part of the Devotion in South Asia series co-sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017 - Evening Program
Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)
Christian Rudder

From the data we have gathered, can we learn something new about our behaviors and attitudes? Christian Rudder thinks so. As co-founder of the dating site OkCupid, he possesses one of the richest data sets in the world and uses it to illustrate the human behavior behind the numbers to peer into who we truly are when nobody is looking.

Christian Rudder is one of the founders of OKCupid, one of the largest dating sites in the world, which was sold to IAC in 2011. He still runs it day-to-day, while also heading a small data-mining team that scours the digital universe for meaningful trends on important sites. The original outlet for Rudder’s research took place on OKCupid’s blog, OKTrends, which was not only read by millions of people, but also changed the way companies approach data as a media-relations strategy. His research and findings have been featured in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and were the subject of a New Yorker feature.  

A native of Arkansas, Rudder graduated from Little Rock High School and attended Harvard College where he majored in mathematics. Rudder joined SparkNotes in October 1999, a few months after its founding. Rudder was the creative voice of, which was the viral content arm of SparkNotes during the site's early rise to popularity. He became TheSpark's creative director in March 2001. Soon after the site's sale to Barnes & Noble, Rudder and the SparkNotes founders left and began working on OkCupid, which launched in February 2004.

Photo credit: Victor G. Jeffreys II

Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - Evening Program
Can Europe come back in the age of Trump, Merkel, and Macron?
Patrick A. Chamorel

Europe faces severe crisis after crisis: Anemic economic growth, the rise of anti-European sentiment, right and left-wing populism, the Euro and Greek crises, massive immigration, the refugee crisis along with the rise of Islam, Brexit, and Trump. Discredited Brussels institutions, controversial German leadership, and deepening fractures within Europe have precluded solutions. Patrick Chamorel, senior resident at Stanford in Washington, will address whether the new political landscape forged by Brexit, Trump, Merkel, and Marcon can reshape, for better or worse, Europe and transatlantic relations.

Patrick Chamorel is Senior Resident Scholar at Stanford in Washington, where he teaches international and comparative politics. Chamorel has written extensively on U.S. and European politics. His most recent research has focused on US strategic, political, and economic relations with Europe and the EU, American and European political and business elites, the impact of globalization on governments, business and civil society, Euro-skepticism in America, and U.S. and French presidential elections. He is a regular commentator in the international press, radio, and TV.

In addition to Stanford, he has taught at the University of California (Berkeley and Santa Cruz), George Washington University, and Claremont McKenna College where he was the Crown Visiting professor of Government from 2002-05.

In the 1990's, Chamorel was a senior advisor to the French Prime Minister among other advisory roles in the government. He is a graduate of Sciences-Po in Paris where he also earned his Ph.D. in political science. In addition, he holds a Master in Public Law from the University of Paris.

Professor Chamorel's Athenaeum presentation is sponsored by the Salvatori Center at CMC.

View Video: YouTube with Patrick Chamorel

Thursday, October 05, 2017 - Lunch Program
What We Know about Leadership from Science
David V. Day

Major myths and misconceptions abound on the topic of leadership. Despite such enduring misbeliefs, there is more than a century of scientific leadership research. David Day's talk will highlight what we know about leadership from a scientific evidence-based perspective, and which of the persistent leadership myths and misconceptions can now be safely retired.

David Day, professor of psychology and academic director of the Kravis Leadership Insitutute, will make a luncheon presentation during the program celebrating his formal installation as the inaugural Steven L. Eggert ’82 P’15 Professor of Leadership and George R. Roberts Fellow. Before coming to CMC in 2016, Day was a professor of organizational behavior and Woodside Chair in Leadership and Management at the University of Western Australia Business School.

Day is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, International Association of Applied Psychology, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has core research interests in the areas of leadership, identity, and leadership development. In 2010 he was awarded the Walter F. Ulmer Research Award from the Center for Creative Leadership (USA) for outstanding, career-long contributions to applied leadership research.

Monday, October 09, 2017 - Evening Program
Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust
Evgeny Finkel

Drawing from his most recent book, Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust, Evgeny Finkel, assistant professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, will focus on how and why ordinary Holocaust victims chose their survival strategies.

Evgeny Finkel studies political violence, East European, and Israeli politics. More specifically, he is interested in how institutions and individuals respond to violence, crisis, and rapid change and works extensively at the intersection of political science and history. He is the author of Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust (2017). He is currently working on a book project that focuses on Holocaust survivors who fought in the 1948 War in Israel/Palestine and simultaneously working on projects that analyze the causes and impact of political violence in Eastern Europe and Israel/Palestine. His articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, East European Politics and Societies, Democratization, and several other journals and edited volumes.

An assistant professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, Finkel was born in the former Soviet Union and grew up in Israel where he received his B.A. in political science and international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He went on to receive a  Ph.D. in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where his dissertation won the American Political Science Association 2013 Gabriel A. Almond Award for the best dissertation in comparative politics.

Professor Finkel’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.

View Video: YouTube with Evgeny Finkel

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - Lunch Program
Brazilian Agrigolpe: Brazil’s 2016 Parliamentary Coup and Challenge in Historical Perspective
Clifford Welch

Brazil’s crisis continues, supported by a powerful agribusiness lobby with deep historical roots. Clifford Welch, professor of contemporary Brazilian history, will detail the centrality of agribusiness support for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in August 2016, and its opportunism in shaping the interim president’s policies. While the media has focused on corruption as cause of the crisis, he argues that historical perspective points toward the political opportunism of Brazil’s most traditional dominant class – the rural oligarchy – as it seeks to enhance its self-interest.

Clifford Welch is a professor of contemporary Brazilian history at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - Evening Program
Artificial Intelligence for Business
Jay Bellissimo P'20

Jay Bellissimo P’20, general manager and chief revenue office for of IBM Watson & Cloud Platform, will explore state-of-the-art developments in AI, including illustrations/case studies of how the cognitive potential of machines can transform our lives and industries. He will also discuss how AI can enhance consumer experiences across a broad range of applications.   

Jay Bellissimo P’20 is the general manager and chief revenue officer of the Watson & Cloud Platform at IBM where he has been since 1991. He is responsible for the go-to-market strategy across IBM’s core cognitive and cloud-based technologies, including large transformation engagements, channels, business partners and major client engagements.

Since he IBM in 1991, Bellissimo has held numerous management and leadership positions. Prior to his current role, he was the general manager for IBM Cognitive Solutions where he led the customer engagement and product strategy for IBM’s portfolio of cognitive-based solution technologies across 18 industries. He also served as the GM for customer experience for IBM Watson. He initiated the first wave of cognitive computing commercialization in key industries, such as healthcare, public sector and financial services, which would eventually be adopted by 36 countries and in five different languages and also led IBM’s Global SAP Consulting business. In this role, he led the strategy, sales and managed the client relationships, and operations. 

Bellissimo holds a B.A. in Political Science from St. Michael’s College.

Mr. Bellissimo’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).

Food for Thought: Podcast with Jay Bellissimo P'20

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - Evening Program
Impolitic Politics: How We Lost the Ability to Speak Across our Differences, and How We Can Rediscover It
Jonathan Zimmerman P'18

American politics is in disarray. On our airwaves, talking heads and trolls shout past each other in a 24/7 stampede of snark and invective. And on college campuses, psychological theories of trauma dampen exchange and discussion. Jonathan Zimmerman P'18 talk will examine the origins of these patterns and suggest ways that our educational institutions can challenge them.

A former Peace Corps volunteer and public school social studies teacher, Jonathan Zimmerman P'18 is a professor of history of education at the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarship has focused broadly on the ways that different peoples have imagined and debated education across time and space. He has authored books about sex and alcohol education, history and religion in the curriculum, Americans who taught overseas, and historical memory in public schooling. His most recent work, co-authored with Emily Robertson, The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools (University of Chicago Press), examines campus politics in the United States, including controversies over diversity, sexual assault, and “political correctness.”

Zimmerman’s academic work has appeared in the Journal of American History, the Teachers College Record, and History of Education Quarterly. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Review of Books, and other newspapers and magazines. Before teaching at Penn, he taught for for 20 years at New York University, where he won NYU's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008 and where he also served as chair of the department of Humanities and Social Sciences in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Zimmerman holds a Ph.D. in history from the Johns Hopkins University. 

Author of several books, he has received book and article prizes from the American Educational Research Association, the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, and the History of Education Society, where he served as president in 2009–2010. 

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

View Video: YouTube with Jonathan Zimmerman P'18

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - Evening Program
Boy Meets Depression: Confessions of a Depressed Comic
Kevin Breel

Kevin Breel, author of “Boy Meets Depression,” openly and honestly shares real life experiences, including his own, to expose issues around mental health and provide a look inside the life and mind of a struggling young person. By sharing his own story, Breel hopes to break the stigma surrounding mental health and spark a productive conversation to address this difficult issue which so disproportionately affects young people.

At 24, Kevin Breel is a successful writer, comedian and activist.

And he suffers from depression.

His 2015 debut memoir “Boy Meets Depression” achieved critical acclaim. Forbes Magazine called it “a small book well worth reading” and NPR dubbed it “honest and compelling.” His TED Talk “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” has amassed over 4 million views world-wide making it one of the most viewed TED talks along with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

As a comedian, Breel has headlined theaters and colleges with his unique, story-telling style. As an activist for mental health, he has been a guest speaker colleges across North America, including Harvard University, Yale, and MIT and has also spoken at Fortune 500 companies and for the government of Canada.

A recipient of multiple awards for social activism around mental health, Breel has helped fundraise millions of dollars for mental health awareness campaigns, has helped to advise political reform around mental health issues, and is one of the National Ambassadors for the prestigious Bell LET’S TALK Campaign. 


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