Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

October, 2020

Monday, October 05, 2020 - Evening Program
The Misinformation Age
Cailin O'Connor

Misinformation is rampant. Cailin O’Connor, associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine, will address how the social aspects of human learning contribute to what some are calling an "infodemic." Aspects of how humans decide who to trust, and who to conform with, crucially contribute to patterns of information sharing and enable propagandists in both politics and industry to use these facts about human relationships to influence public belief and public behavior.


Cailin O’Connor is a philosopher of science and applied mathematician specializing in models of social interaction. She is an associate professor of logic and philosophy of science and a member of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Science at the University of California, Irvine. O’Connor’s specialties include the philosophy of science, game theory and evolutionary game theory, and agent based modeling.

She is co-administering the NSF Grant Consensus, Democracy, and the Public Understanding of Science. Her book "The Misinformation Age," co-authored with James Owen Weatherall, was published in 2019 with Yale Press, and her book "The Origins of Unfairness" was also published in 2019 with Oxford University Press.

Professor O'Connor's Athenaeum's presentation is co-sponsored with funding from the Open Academy at CMC.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020 - Evening Program
Monumental Debates: Academic Perspectives on Global Movements to Topple Historical Monuments
Ana Lucia Araujo, Daniela Blei, and Cynthia Culver Prescott, panelists

This summer, protesters throughout the United States and around the globe demanded the removal of statues memorializing historical figures such as Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Experts who study the meaning behind memorials offer a discussion on why people took to the streets to argue for or against the preservation of certain historical monuments. Drawing from research on the public memory of the Atlantic slave trade, Pioneer Mother monuments, and Nazi monuments after WWII, panelists Ana Lucia Araujo, professor of history at Howard University, Cynthia Culver Prescott, associate professor of history at the University of North Dakota, and writer and editor Daniela Blei provide an engaged discussion of present battles over the past. 

Ana Lucia Araujo is a full professor of history at the historically black Howard University in Washington D.C. She has authored seven books, including “Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), “Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), “Brazil Through French Eyes: A Nineteenth-Century Artist in the Tropics” (University of New Mexico Press, 2015), “Shadows of the Slave Past: Heritage, Memory, and Slavery” (Routledge, 2014), and “Public Memory of Slavery: Victims and Perpetrators in the South Atlantic” (Cambria Press, 2010). She has also edited or coedited five books and published dozens of refereed articles in journals and chapters in edited books on topics related to the history and memory of slavery. In 2017, she joined the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project. She also serves on the board of editors of the American Historical Review (the journal of the American Historical Association) and the editorial board of the British journal Slavery and Abolition. In addition, she is a member of the executive board of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide Diaspora (ASWAD), the editorial review board of the African Studies Review, and the board of the blog Black Perspectives maintained by the African American Intellectual History Society. 

Cynthia Culver Prescott, associate professor of history at the University of North Dakota, is a historian of gender in the American West and the author of "Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory" (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), which won the 2020 Gita Chaudhuri Prize. She is also building a companion website for this book, Pioneer Monuments in the American West, that features interactive maps and timelines, and provides images and information about the 200 monuments included in her study. 

Daniela Blei is a writer and editor based in San Francisco. She is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The Smithsonian Magazine, and New York Magazine among other magazines and newspapers. Blei holds a Ph.D. in German history from Stanford University. Her recent research on Nazi and Communist Monuments in post-World War II Berlin has appeared in both German and English-language publications.

Sarah Sarzynski and Tamara Venit-Shelton, professors of history at Claremont McKenna College will moderate the panel.

Monday, October 12, 2020 - Evening Program
An Evening of Poetry with Henri Cole
Henri Cole

Henri Cole, award winning poet and professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College, reads from his newest collection of poems, BLIZZARD.

Henri Cole, the Josephine Olp Weeks Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College, was born in Fukuoka, Japan. He has published ten collections of poetry, including "Middle Earth," a finalist for the Pulitzer, and received many awards for his work, including the Jackson Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Berlin Prize, the Rome Prize, the Lenore Marshall Award, and the Medal in Poetry from American Academy of Arts and Letters.  Cole was inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017. He has also published a memoir, Orphic Paris.  His most recent book is Blizzard, was published in summer 2020 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - Evening Program
Half of Oklahoma Is Now Indian Country: What Does That Mean for Criminal Justice There?
Cary Aspinwall

Cary Aspinwall, a Dallas-based staff writer for The Marshall Project, has reported extensively on the impact of the criminal justice system on minorities, women and children in Oklahoma, Texas and rural America. She will discuss the impact of the recent McGirt v Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling, as well as the history and legacy of how the criminal justice system has affected tribal citizens in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Cary Aspinwall is a Dallas-based staff writer for The Marshall Project. Previously, she was an investigative reporter at The Dallas Morning News, where she reported on the impact of the criminal justice system on women and children, and deaths in police custody. She won the Gerald Loeb Award for reporting on a Texas company's history of deadly natural gas explosions and is a past Pulitzer finalist for her work exposing flaws in Oklahoma's execution process. She is a co-founder of The Frontier, a nonprofit devoted to investigative journalism in Oklahoma.

Thursday, October 15, 2020 - Evening Program
The 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the Future of Gender Equality
Elizabeth Beaumont PO '93 and Elizabeth Wydra '98

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified 100 years ago in 1920. The text of the amendment prohibited denying the right to vote “on account of sex.” With the amendment, the voting population of the United States effectively doubled. But was the 19th Amendment about more than the right to vote? What other changes in the constitutional order did the 19th Amendment bring about? How does the 19th Amendment relate to gender equality? How did it relate to civil liberties more generally? Did the 19th Amendment change how we think of politics and the public sphere? In conversation with CMC's Diana Selig, Elizabeth Beaumont PO '93 and Elizabeth Wydra '98, will look back over the 100 years since its ratification and reflect on how we should think about gender equality in American democracy.

Elizabeth Wydra ’98 is president of the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC). From 2008-2016, she served as CAC’s chief counsel. Throughout her tenure she has filed more than 200 briefs on behalf of CAC and clients, which include preeminent constitutional scholars and historians, state and local government organizations, groups such as the League of Women Voters and the AARP, and members of Congress.

Wydra has also argued several important cases in the federal courts of appeals on a range of issues, including immigration law, habeas corpus, and sovereign immunity. She joined CAC from private practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in San Francisco, where she was an attorney working with former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan in the firm’s Supreme Court/appellate practice. Previously, Wydra was a supervising attorney and teaching fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center appellate litigation clinic, a law clerk for Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and a lawyer at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, a law firm in Washington.

Wydra has appeared as a legal expert on multiple television and radio stations and has been frequently quoted in the print media. Her writings have also appeared in many print and online outlets and on numerous political and legal blogs, such as Huffington Post, SCOTUSblog, and ACSblog. She has also published in the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Syracuse Law Review, The Cato Institute’s Supreme Court Review, and the Yale Journal of International Law.

Wyrda received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Claremont McKenna College.

Elizabeth Beaumont PO '93 is an associate professor of politics and director of Legal Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on constitutionalism and democracy, as well as civic engagement and education. She is particularly interested in problems of unequal citizenship, the relation between citizenship, democracy, and education, and how civic actors seek to shape rights, law, and political power and policy. Beaumont teaches and advises students in the areas of public law and legal studies, political theory, and American political and constitutional development.

Her book, “The Civic Constitution: Civic Visions and Struggles in the Path Toward Constitutional Democracy” (Oxford University Press, 2014), focuses on the role of several major civic groups and social movements in shaping American constitutional creation and change. She examines groups such as 18th century revolutionaries, anti-Federalists, abolitionists, and woman suffragists as "civic founders" who profoundly influenced the Constitution's text, allocations of power, definitions of citizenship, and the meanings of rights. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications, including The Journal of Politics, Political Theory, Perspectives on Politics, the Stanford Law Review, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, and HA: The Journal of the Hannah Arendt Center.

From 2000-2005, Beaumont was a research scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where she helped lead the foundation's work on civic education and engagement, including serving as co-principal investigator and director of the national Political Engagement Project. These interdisciplinary, multi-method research projects are the basis of two co-authored books: “Educating for Democracy” (Wiley 2007) and “Educating Citizens” (Jossey-Bass 2003). The books are resource texts for the American Democracy Project, an AASCU partnership including more than 240 state college campuses, and helped inform the national report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future (National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, 2012). Her current research project is titled: Unruly Citizens and the Rule of Law: Civic Dissent, Disobedience, and Protest.

Beaumont is a graduate of Pomona College; she earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Diana Selig, Kingsley Croul Professor of History and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College, will moderate the conversation.

Ms. Wydra and Professor Beaumont’s Athenaeum conversation is sponsored by the Salvatori Center’s Lofgren Program in American Constitutionalism.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - Evening Program
A View from Inside the "Techlash"
Dan Crowley '10

The tech companies that were once considered among the best corporate citizens in the world, praised for expanding access to information, lowering barriers to education, and generally using innovation to create a better, cheaper world, now face increasing hostility from legislators, regulators, and the public. Dan Crowley '10, Global Head of Trust & Safety at Quizlet, Inc., offers a look from inside the growing backlash against technology companies. What's fair, what isn't, and where does tech go from here?

Dan Crowley is the Global Head of Trust & Safety and Data Protection at Quizlet, an online learning platform serving over 50 million students and teachers around the world each month. In his role, he oversees all public policy, privacy, data protection, compliance, user safety and content moderation programs. Mr. Crowley develops tools, policies and processes that maintain Quizlet as an appropriate platform for all audiences and works to ensure the responsible use of data across all of Quizlet’s products and throughout engineering, product development, design and other business processes.

A government major at CMC, Crowley graduated in 2010. Before joining Quizlet, he spent almost seven years at Google and Facebook. He joined Google directly after graduation, and spent almost three years there as part of a team managing global law enforcement compliance and 3rd party requests in civil matters. He also served as Privacy Program Manager at Google for three years before joining Facebook in the same capacity.

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - Evening Program
The Limits of Lessons
Jennifer Grossman

Jennifer Grossman, CEO of The Atlas Society, believes that facts alone are no match for the seductive moral appeal of socialism, which will fail as many times as it is pursued. She will make the case that the argument against the "social justice" version of fairness requires instead a moral case for fairness premised on the inviolability of individual rights, the virtues of independence, reason, and achievement, and the ethics of benevolent self-interest. Grounded in Ayn Rand's vision, she believes these tenets are more relevant than ever in a culture where envy, resentment, and entitlement are on the rise—and being stoked and leveraged by politicians to increase government power in perpetuity.

Jennifer Anju Grossman, a former senior vice-president at Dole Food Company, has served as CEO of the Atlas Society since March 1, 2016. She has spent much of her career trying to help people to live freer, healthier lives. She launched the Dole Nutrition Institute—a research and education organization—at the behest of Dole Chairman David H. Murdock. She continued this agenda as Health Editor of Laura Ingraham's new lifestyle site, LifeZette. Previously Grossman served as director of education at the Cato Institute, and worked closely with the late philanthropist Theodore J. Forstmann to launch the Children's Scholarship Fund. A speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush, Grossman has written for both national and local publications.

She believes that "the principles of Objectivism, the philosophy rooted in reality, reason, and individualism, has never been more needed — nor more neglected,” and that “this is the perfect moment to help the public rediscover the moral vision of Ayn Rand."

Ms. Grossman's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored with funding from the Open Academy at CMC.

(Note: This event had previously been scheduled for February 6, 2020.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - Evening Program
Destroy the Suburbs! The Democratic Party’s Long Relationship to Suburban Voters
Lily Geismer

As a key element of his re-election campaign, President Trump has made the claim that Democrats are trying to destroy the suburbs. Yet winning the suburbs have been a focal point of the Democratic Party’s electoral strategy since the 1960s. Drawing on her research on suburban liberal politics, Lily Geismer, associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College, will discuss suburban strategies of both parties over the last fifty years and discuss the possibilities and drawbacks of appealing to suburban voters, especially for the Democrats.  

Lily Geismer, associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College, focuses her research and teaching on 20th century political and urban history in the United States, especially liberalism. Her book "Don’t Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party" (Princeton University Press, 2015) traces the reorientation of modern liberalism and the Democratic Party away from their roots in labor union halls of northern cities to white-collar professionals in postindustrial high-tech suburbs by focusing on the Route 128 corridor around Boston.

Geismer is currently working on a book project entitled "Doing Good: The Democrats and Neoliberalism from the War on Poverty to the Clinton Foundation," which explores the Democratic Party’s promotion of market-based solutions to problems of social inequality. She is also co-editor of "Shaped by the State: Toward a New Political History of the Twentieth Century" (University of Chicago Press, 2019). In 2018, she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Foundation. Her work has also been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies and the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University.

Thursday, October 29, 2020 - Evening Program
The Weirdest Election Ever
Jack Pitney

Pandemic. Economic collapse. Virtual conventions. Protests. Riots. And maybe even a meteoroid. Yet the polls in the presidential election are close and the gap is narrowing. As we conclude this most surreal election cycle, CMC’s own Jack Pitney will offer his insights on the presidential race, other important election battles around the country, and also whether this portends a new normal in politics.

John J. Pitney, Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American History and Politics at Claremont McKenna College where he teaches courses on Congress, interest groups, political parties, and mass media. A leading expert on the structure and practice of American politics, Pitney is a widely published author or co-author of six books on American politics, including "The Art of Political Warfare" (2001), "The Politics of Autism: Navigating The Contested Spectrum" (2015), and "After Reagan: Bush, Dukakis, and the 1988 Election" (2019). With Professor Andrew Busch, also of CMC, he is currently writing a book on the 2020 election. In addition to his books, Pitney has published numerous scholarly articles and short essays, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. He is routinely featured on NPR and other television and radio programs. 

Pitney has not only shaped the study of government at Claremont McKenna College for nearly 30 years, he has also helped shape government itself through his many roles, including as the acting director for the Research Department of the Republican National Committee (1990-1991) and as the Senior Domestic Policy Analyst for the US House Republican Research Committee, among other important appointments. 

Pitney holds a B.A. in political science from Union College, where he was co-valedictorian, and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. He received the CMC Presidential Award in 2013 and was named one of the 300 best professors in the United States by the Princeton Review in 2012. 



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