Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

April, 2018

Monday, April 02, 2018 - Evening Program
The Politics of Movie and TV Endings: A Screenwriter’s Perspective
David E. Tolchinsky P'20

From It’s a Wonderful Life to Erin Brockovich to Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding episode to Moonlight to Wonder Woman: What does the ending of a movie or television show tell you about the politics of the storyteller, the intended audience, or the time period in which it was produced? Using diverse movie and television clips, screenwriter and Northwestern University department of radio-tv-film chairman David Tolchinsky P'20 will discuss how endings change not just based on the needs of a story, but also the prevailing zeitgeist. He will also discuss contemporary trends in endings and how to interpret their deeper meanings. Finally, he will reflect on the importance for authors to protect what they believe to be the right ending, even if unpopular.


David E. Tolchinsky P'20 is a screenwriter/playwright/director and the chair of Northwestern University's Department of Radio-TV-Film and Founder/Director of Northwestern's MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage.

Tolchinsky's work often centers on teen subcultures, psychological horror, mental illness, and the figure of the psychiatrist. Increasingly, he’s been interested in health and illness in the modern world, especially illnesses that are not easily explainable. He has been commissioned by such studios as Touchstone/Disney, MGM, Ivan Reitman's Montecito Pictures, USA Networks, among others, to write feature screenplays. 

He was  the recipient of a 2014 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship in Literature (Poetry, Prose, Scriptworks) and was voted best director for the New York production of his play, an adaptation of his essay, Where's the Rest of Me? Recently, he co-curated Sick by Seven (seven plays/films about mental illness) at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, wrote and co-produced The Coming of Age, which received a Silver Medal from the Los Angeles Film Review, and he was number 7 on New City's Film 50 2017: Chicago Screen Gems. Currently, he is directing a psychological thriller, Cassandra, about the memory recovery movement in the '90s, and is working on a play about the rogue 1940’s psychologist Wilhelm Reich.  

Tolchinsky received his undergraduate degree from Yale College and an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.   

Photo credit: Joe Mazza/

View Video: YouTube with David Tolchinsky P'20

Food for Thought: Podcast with David Tolchinsky

Tuesday, April 03, 2018 - Evening Program
America's Role in a Changing World
William J. Burns

After years of war and international instability, Americans feel a profound sense of insecurity and fatigue about engagement with the world. Baffled and battered by the dislocating forces of globalization, Americans wonder whether we can—and whether we even should—continue to play a leadership role on an endlessly complicated international landscape. Ambassador William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former deputy secretary of state, will draw on his 33 years as an American diplomat to describe how he sees a changing world and America’s role in it, and why American diplomacy is in many ways more important and relevant than ever before.

Ambassador William J. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States. Burns retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a 33-year diplomatic career. He holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, career ambassador, and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become deputy secretary of state.

Prior to his tenure as deputy secretary, Burns served from 2008 to 2011 as under secretary for political affairs. He was ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2001 to 2005, and ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001. His other posts in the Foreign Service include executive secretary of the State Department and special assistant to former secretaries of state Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, minister-counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, acting director and principal deputy director of the State Department’s policy planning staff, and special assistant to the President and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council.

Burns speaks Russian, Arabic, and French, and he has been the recipient of three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and a number of Department of State awards, including three Secretary’s Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Honor Awards, the 2006 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Ambassadorial Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development, the 2005 Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking, and the James Clement Dunn Award for exemplary performance at the mid-career level. He has also received the highest civilian honors from the Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community. In 2013, Foreign Policy named him “Diplomat of the Year”.

Burns earned a bachelor’s in history from LaSalle University and master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. He is a recipient of four honorary doctoral degrees and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Burns is the author of Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955-1981 (State University of New York Press, 1985). In 1994, he was named to Time magazine’s list of the “50 Most Promising American Leaders Under Age 40” and to its list of “100 Young Global Leaders.”

Ambassador Burns' Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at CMC.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018 - Evening Program
The Theatrical Tradition of India
Gaurav Saini

Gaurav Saini, actor, director, film maker, and theatre instructor, will introduce Rasa theory and practice through a brief exploration of the nine Rasas (major emotions) as outlined in Bharata's Natyashatra. Rasa embodies a concept in Indian arts about the aesthetic flavor of any visual, literary or musical work, that evokes an emotion or but that cannot be described in words. Rasa participants will experience different breathing techniques and explore basic movements from Indian dance-theatre forms and discuss the fundamental aesthetic theory underlying the classical and folk performing arts of India.

Gaurav Saini is an actor, director, film maker, and theatre instructor. He conducts workshops in theatre and theatre therapy for individuals and institutions. He started his journey in theatre with Barry John, first as a student of acting and then as an assistant teacher. He has explored many forms and approaches to theatre, including highly physical and rigorous forms of training in traditional Indian dance and martial arts forms and Western theatre. He is also a martial artist, with a black belt in Thang-Ta, and training in Aikido, Kalarippayattu, Tai-Chi, and Judo. He is affiliated with NIRMAN, a non-profit organization based in Varanasi, India. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018 - Evening Program
"Tierra de Nadie": The Claremont Colleges and the Mexican Community
Matthew Garcia

Mexican people have contributed their lives to the development of the Claremont Colleges. Arbol Verde has been one source of that contribution and a home to the area’s earliest Mexican residents. While this relationship has produced more than a century of learning, it has also generated tensions over land and labor. Matthew J. Garcia, professor of Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies and History at Dartmouth College, shows why this relationship has been fraught but remains a potential source of pride for both communities.

Matthew J. Garcia is professor of Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies and History at Dartmouth College. He previously taught at Arizona State University, Brown University, University of Oregon, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His book, A World of Its Own: Race, Labor and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970 won the award for the best book in oral history by the Oral History Association in 2003. His most recent book, From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement, won the Philip Taft Award for the Best Book in Labor History, 2013.  He is the co-editor of Food Across Borders with Melanie DuPuis and Don Mitchell published by Rutgers University Press in 2017. Garcia also served as the outreach director and co-primary investigator for the Bracero Archive Project, which received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in 2008, and was the recipient of the Best Public History Award by the National Council for Public History in 2009-2010. 

He was born in Upland, California and graduated from Damien High School in La Verne. He completed his Ph.D. in History at the Claremont Graduate University in 1997.

Professor Garcia's Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the history department at CMC.

View Video: YouTube with Matthew Garcia

Thursday, April 05, 2018 - Lunch Program
A Leadership Conversation with Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, Part II
Vanessa Daniel, Isela Gracian, and Yin Ling Leung, panelists

How do women of color create and sustain their leadership styles? Going beyond what is visible on the surface, what fuels their drive? How do they navigate the worlds they seek to change? How does their unique insight illuminate a clear path for themselves and others? The women behind the veil are the leaders, change makers and agents renovating the landscape of their communities. The panelists, three executive directors – Vanessa Daniel of Groundswell Fund, Isela Gracian of East LA Community Corporation, and Yin Ling Leung, formerly with Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Asian and Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health, will discuss their leadership journeys and the external and internal forces that influenced them.

Vanessa Daniel is the founder and executive director of Groundswell Fund, the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement and of Groundswell Action Fund. This is the largest fund in the country focusing its giving to women of color-led 501c4 organizations. Under Daniel’s leadership, Groundswell has moved nearly $40 million to the field, with a focus on grassroots organizing led by women of color, low income women and transgender people. In 2017, Groundswell received the National Committee of Responsible Philanthropy’s “Impact Award” for challenging issue silos and Daniel was featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of 15 “Influencers” who are changing the non-profit world. She is also the recipient of a 2012 Gerbode Foundation Fellowship, and the 2017 National Network of Abortion Funds’ Abortion Action Vanguard Award. Prior to Groundswell, Vanessa supported LGBT rights, economic and environmental justice grant-making at Tides Foundation; organized homecare workers with SEIU; helped win a landmark living wage law with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE); and conducted research to support the organizing efforts of welfare mothers with the Applied Research Center (now Race Forward). Daniel currently serves on the board of directors of Common Counsel Foundation. She has a B.A. in American Ethnic Studies from Smith College and is a graduate of the Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program.

Isela Gracian is president of East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), a social and economic justice community development organization on LA’s Eastside. Growing up, her immigrant parents inculcated strong roots and links to their cultural traditions, which is now a hallmark of her leadership, infusing ELACC’s organizational principles with her cultural practices to forge staff unity and celebrate what binds them to their community. The skills she honed as a young mujer served as a foundation that was further developed through her time at U.C. Davis where she received her B.A. and embarked on her path to working alongside residents for equity in immigrant communities. Recognized for her work at ELACC as a distinguished authority among Southern California community development leadership, Gracian serves on various boards, including Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Political Education (SCOPE) and the California Reinvestment Coalition. She is also a National Advisory Board member to the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC).

Yin Ling Leung is the chief strategy officer and the co-founder of Applied Research Works, a Palo Alto-based health technology company, where she works on her passion creating actionable metrics for addressing Whole Person Care (WPC) a framework for addressing health disparities. Her life’s work has spanned organizing for better working conditions for sweatshop workers, preventing toxic exposure for vulnerable communities, reproductive health and justice and advocating for more democratic philanthropy. Leung held key leadership roles at Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Asians and Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). She was one of the original organizers and founding sisters of NAPAWF, the first national organization of its kind born out of the 1995 United Nations’ Women’s Conference in Beijing. In the past, Leung has also served as a strategist to the New World Foundation, Ford Foundation, Social Justice Fund Northwest, Women’s Funding Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and the Ms. Foundation for Women. She was recently appointed to the board of the Ms. Foundation for Women. Leung spent her childhood in Hawai’i and is a graduate of Oberlin College and Stanford University.

This conversation is part of the Behind the Veil: Women, Race, and Leadership in the Social Change Nonprofit Sector (“BTV”) speaker series. BTV explores leadership models and perspectives by harnessing the power of first person narrative and storytelling by nonprofit CEOs on the frontlines of social change.

View Video: YouTube with Behind the Veil

Thursday, April 05, 2018 - Evening Program
HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship
Nadine Strossen

We live in an era in which offensive speech is on the rise. Given its potential for harm, should this speech be banned? Nadine Strossen, professor of law at NYU School of Law and former president of the ACLU, dispels the many misunderstandings that have clouded the perpetual debates about "hate speech vs. free speech." She argues that an expansive approach to the First Amendment is most effective at promoting democracy, equality, and societal harmony and that anti-hate speech laws are not effective in reducing the feared harms, and worse yet, are likely counterproductive by giving enforcement officials the power to suppress vital expression and target minority viewpoints. The solution, maintains Strossen, instead is to promote equality and societal harmony through vibrant "counterspeech."


Nadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School. She has written, taught, and advocated extensively in the areas of constitutional law and civil liberties, including through frequent media interviews. From 1991 through 2008, she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Strossen is currently a member of the ACLU’s National Advisory Council, as well as the advisory boards of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), and Heterodox Academy. When she stepped down as ACLU President in 2008, three Supreme Court Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and David Souter) participated in her farewell and tribute luncheon.

Strossen is also a prolific author. Her latest book, HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship, will be published in 2018. Her first two books are Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women’s Rights and Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In addition, Strossen has written dozens of articles and book chapters.

Strossen is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

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

View Video: YouTube with Nadine Strosser


Monday, April 09, 2018 - Lunch Program
Positive Emotions as Determinant of Health in the Second Half of Life
Anthony D. Ong

Changes in cognitive and physiological functioning pervade the aging process. Importantly, alterations in these processes are not invariant with age, but are influenced by individual differences in vulnerability and resilience that accrue across the lifespan. In this talk, Anthony D. Ong, professor of human development at Cornell University, will focus on what is known about positive emotions as a contributing factor in slowing or delaying the rate of age-associated decline in resilience, describe plausible mechanisms that underlie the association between positive emotions and mental and physical health, review illustrative studies examining these mechanisms, and discuss new research questions that pose important challenges for future research.

Dr. Anthony D. Ong  holds appointments at Weill Cornell Medical College and at Cornell University, where he is professor of human development and director of the Human Health Labs.

He received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Southern California and completed his postdoctoral training in adult development and aging at the University of Notre Dame.

He is an elected fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, an Outstanding Educator and a Merrill Presidential Scholar. Ong is the author of Emotion, Aging and Health, and the Oxford Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Aging and the Templeton Foundation among others.

Dr. Ong's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Berger Institute for Work, Family & Children at CMC.

Monday, April 09, 2018 - Evening Program
We Move As a Group: Uniting the Genders in the Fight Against Rape Culture
Alice Sebold

Alice Sebold, best selling author and memoirist, was raped while a student at Syracuse University and subsequently successfully prosecuted her assailant. She will draw from that personal experience to speak to the idea that it is not just the victims of sexual assault—found in every gender, ethnicity, age group, and social class—that suffer in a world where sex crimes are increasingly common place, but all of us. Though not shying away from the grim realities of the present, Sebold's goal is to provide hope by working to dismantle the antiquated and destructive divisions that still exist among us and to inspire a more open dialogue.

Despite its dark subjects of rape, child murder, and the dissolution of families, Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones was one of the best-reviewed novels of the '00s. The book, which was later adapted for cinema, quickly became an unprecedented international bestseller, with translations in over 45 languages with American sales alone of over five million copies. Three months after the publication of The Lovely Bones, Sebold’s 1999 memoir Lucky, an account of her rape at the age of 18 and the trial that followed, also rose to number one on The New York Times bestseller list. 

The Almost Moon, Sebold's 2007 controversial second novel, another #1 bestseller, generated more critical discord—both laudatory and negative—as Sebold plunged into taboo territories of matricide, mental illness, and profound ambivalence about mother/daughter relationships.

Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University as well as the University of Houston and UC Irvine. She has contributed to numerous anthologies and edited The Best American Short Stories 2009

Ms. Sebold's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

Photo credit: Becky Sapp

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - Lunch Program
Trumpanomics?: Understanding the Emerging Fiscal Policy of the Republican Party
Michael Gelman, Manfred Keil, and Cameron Shelton, panelists; Eric Helland, moderator

The Republican Congress and President Donald Trump have fitfully forged a new direction for American fiscal policy. Republicans made a big bet that lowering corporate taxes will grow the economy and raise tax revenues. President Trump recently signed into law a $1.3 trillion federal omnibus spending bill that abandons Republican fiscal restraint in favor of increased deficit spending. President Trump has also recently begun to use tariffs to reshape U.S. trade policy, spooking markets and unnerving America’s trade partners. What do these actions on the budget, taxes, spending, deficits, and tariffs add up to?


The Republican Congress and President Donald Trump have fitfully forged a new direction for American fiscal policy. Republicans made a big bet that lowering corporate taxes will grow the economy and raise tax revenues. President Trump recently signed into law a $1.3 trillion federal omnibus spending bill that abandons Republican fiscal restraint in favor of increased deficit spending. President Trump has also recently begun to use tariffs to reshape U.S. trade policy, spooking markets and unnerving America’s trade partners. What do these actions on the budget, taxes, spending, deficits, and tariffs add up to?

Join members of CMC’s economics department for a panel discussion of the fiscal policy the Trump administration, moderated by Dreier Roundtable co-director Eric Helland.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - Evening Program
Is Nothing Private Anymore? Consenting to Government Searches and Sharing Information
Eve Brank

Eve Brank, associate professor of psychology and director of the Center on Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, will highlight legal and psychological issues important in 4th Amendment search or seizure situations. Using collaborative work (with Jennifer Groscup of Scripps College) funded by the National Science Foundation, Brank will discuss social cognitive effects on people’s willingness to consent to government searches and also discuss new research that examines the role of technology in notions of privacy.

Eve Brank is an associate professor of psychology and courtesy professor of law at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she is the director of the Center on Children, Families, and the Law. She teaches classes on psychology and law, elder law, and the psychology of family law. Her research primarily focuses on the way the law intervenes (and sometimes interferes) in family and personal decision making. In particular, she studies the public support, implementation, and effectiveness of parental responsibility laws within the context of the juvenile justice system and the legal requirements of elder care giving. Brank also studies issues related to decision making in the context of government searches and plea negotiations. 

Brank received her J.D. (2000) and Ph.D (2001) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Law-Psychology Program. She joined the UNL faculty in 2008 and is part of the law/psychology and social programs. Prior to joining the Nebraska faculty, Brank was on the faculty in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of Florida. 


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