Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC


Events open for registration on a rolling basis every week—typically on Thursdays at noon—over the course of the semester.

Please sign up using the “Register for this event” button. This will register you for the reception and meal. It will also guarantee you a seat in Eggert Dining Room for the presentation.

Important note: Only CMC students, faculty, and staff can register for Ath meals at this time.

The head table—where students are seated with the evening speaker and two Ath Fellows—is reserved for CMC students. To sit at the head table, you must sign up when registering for the event in the pop-up window that confirms your registration.

Mon, September 27, 2021
Dinner Program
Anna Deavere Smith

One of the most hailed and provocative theatre artists of our time, Anna Deavere Smith explores current events from multiple points of view and combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. In her powerful first-person storytelling, she brings attention to youth who, through poverty, are vulnerable to becoming embroiled in cycles of incarceration. Drawing from interviews with more than 250 people living and working within a challenged system, Smith depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline and shines a light on a lost generation of American youth. 

As one of CMC’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers, Anna Deavere Smith will highlight issues in “Unity and Division,” one of the three academic collaboration themes of our special 75th Anniversary celebration.

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Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. She is credited with creating a new form of theater and is applauded for her one-woman shows. Her most recent original work, "Notes from the Field," looks at the vulnerability of youth, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named the stage version among The Best Theater of 2016 and TIME Magazine called it one of the Top 10 Plays of the Year. HBO premiered the film version in February 2018. It was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award.

By looking at current events from multiple points of view, Smith’s theater combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. Plays include Fires In the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles, House Arrest, and Let Me Down Easy. Twilight: Los Angeles was nominated for two Tony Awards. Fires in the Mirror was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2012, President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She is a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Other awards include the prestigious 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, and the Ridenhour Courage Award. In 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She has been given several honorary degrees including those from Yale, Juilliard, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, and Spelman.

Smith is also a television and film actress. Credits include such shows as Shonda Rhimes’s new “untitled project”, ABC’s series For the People and Blackish. She also co-starred on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and was featured on the long running series, The West Wing. Films include The American President, Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, Dave, Rent, and Human Stain.

Smith is a Full Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she founded the former Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue.

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Tue, September 28, 2021
Dinner Program
Naomi Bagdonas '09

Work has changed. With digital transformation, remote work, stress and uncertainty, it's harder than ever to foster connection, joy, and well-being within teams and organizations. But research shows there’s hope in humor—and that a sense of humor just might be one of the most under-leveraged assets at work and in life. Naomi Bagdonas ’09, author of the bestselling book "Humor, Seriously” teaches courses at Stanford's Graduate School of Business about the power of humor. Sharing findings from behavioral scientists, advice from world-class comedians, and stories from inspiring leaders, she will reveal how you can use humor to be more effective at work and more joyful in life. Seriously.

Read more about the speaker

A corporate strategist, executive coach, and leading expert in the intersection of humor and business, Naomi Bagdonas '09 is the coauthor of the national bestseller "Humor, Seriously" and a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Bagdonas facilitates interactive sessions for boards and leadership teams of Fortune 100 companies and nonprofits, and helps leaders create cultures of levity, creativity, and inclusivity within their organizations. She advises executives and celebrities for events ranging from Saturday Night Live and The Today Show appearances to company all-hands meetings and political campaign speeches. 

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Financial Times, Good Morning America, and on her mother's fridge.

In her spare time, Bagdonas runs a program teaching improv comedy in San Francisco's county jail, backpacks in the Sierras, and fosters a revolving door of rescue dogs whom she adores and who systematically destroy everything she owns.

She's a proud Claremont McKenna College grad where she studied economics and psychology as a Robert Day Scholar and whose time here set her on a trajectory for a nontraditional and very fun career (she says, "Thanks, CMC!"). She also holds a MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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Wed, September 29, 2021
Dinner Program
Ilan Wurman '09

In this talk, Ilan Wurman ‘09, associate professor of law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and author of "The Second Founding: An Introduction to the Fourteenth Amendment," will discuss the nation's first civil rights struggle that culminated in the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the surprising meanings of the amendment's guarantees of due process, the equal protection of the laws, and the privileges and immunities of citizenship.

Read more about the speaker

Ilan Wurman '09 is an associate professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he teaches administrative law and constitutional law. He writes on administrative law, separation of powers, and constitutionalism, and his academic writing has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, and the Texas Law Review among other journals. He is also the author of "A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism" (Cambridge 2017), and "The Second Founding: An Introduction to the Fourteenth Amendment" (Cambridge 2020). 

Prior to entering academia, Wurman clerked for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and practiced law for three-and-a-half years at Winston & Strawn in Washington, D.C. He also served as deputy general counsel on Rand Paul's U.S. presidential campaign in 2015 and as associate counsel on Tom Cotton's U.S. Senate campaign in 2014. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Claremont McKenna College.

Professor Wurman will deliver the Salvatori Center's 2021 Lofgren Lecture on American Constitutionalism. 

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Mon, October 4, 2021
Dinner Program
Ryan Cirz

Antibiotics were heralded as a turning point in medicine in the mid 20th century. Today, the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a growing and formidable challenge to the future of 21st century medicine. Yet, despite this looming danger and demonstrated medical need, the antibiotic drug development sector has deteriorated over the past twenty years, with a rapidly accelerated breakdown starting in 2019. The development of new antibiotics presents scientific challenges that require significant, sustained investment. Ryan Cirz, a biochemist and entrepreneur with a background in molecular biology and genetics, will discuss the scientific, societal, and economic hurdles of developing new antibiotics today.

Read more about the speaker

Ryan Cirz is the CEO/CSO of Revagenix, Inc., a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of life-changing and life-saving medicines. Previously, he was founder and vice president of research at Achaogen where he oversaw the early-stage (pre-investigational new drug) pipeline and provided intellectual insight/support to all things related to infectious diseases, including late-stage development, commercialization, and medical affairs. Achaogen focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative antibacterials to treat multi-drug resistant infections.

Cirz earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Scripps Research Institute and his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from Penn State University.

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Tue, October 5, 2021
Dinner Program
Adam Jones

The controversies swirling around policies and inequities in a pandemic age provide an opening to explore the place of structural and institutional violence in comparative genocide studies. Adam Jones, a William F. Podlich Distinguished Fellow at CMC this fall, is a political scientist, writer, and photojournalist based at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Utilizing his extensive scholarship on genocide and structural violence, Jones will propose analytical angles and empirical standards by which structural violence can be incorporated in a genocide framework, highlighting issue-areas related to Covid-19 that urgently require attention and intervention. 

Read more about the speaker

Adam Jones is a political scientist, writer, and photojournalist based at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. In the fall of 2021, Jones is a William F. Podlich Distinguished Fellow at CMC.  Jones is best known for his work in the field of comparative genocide studies and is the author or editor of numerous books on genocide and crimes against humanity including "Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction;" "The Scourge of Genocide: Essays and Reflection; Genocide, War Crimes and the West;" and "Gendercide and Genocide." He has also published two books on the media and political transition. His writings on gender and international politics have appeared in the Journal of Genocide Research, Review of International Studies, Ethnic & Racial Studies, Caribbean Studies, and other publications.

Throughout his career, Jones has developed a distinctive approach to the study of gender and international relations. In 1999, he co-founded the Web-based NGO Gendercide Watch with Carla Bergman and Nart Villeneuve, aimed at "confront[ing] gender-selective atrocities against men and women worldwide." He has also worked as an expert consultant with the United Nations Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. His essays on gender, violence, and international politics are compiled in "Gender Inclusive: Essays on Violence, Men, and Feminist International Relations" (Routledge, 2009). 

Jones was a postdoctoral fellow (2005-07) in the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University and earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of British Columbia. 

Adam Jones' talk is co-sponsored  by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.

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Wed, October 6, 2021
Dinner Program
Laura Kipnis

A cultural critic and occasionally irreverent feminist, Laura Kipnis didn’t know much about Title IX until she found herself brought up on Title IX complaints…for writing an essay. Without minimizing the realities of sexual assault on and off campus, Kipnis, a professor emerita in the School of Communication at Northwestern University, argues for more transparency about the Title IX process, along with more oversight and review of those making the findings.

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Laura Kipnis is a cultural critic and former video artist whose work focuses on sexual politics, aesthetics, shame, emotion, acting out, moral messiness, and various other crevices of the American psyche. Her books include “Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation,” “How to Become A Scandal,” and “Against Love: A Polemic;” among others. Her most recent book is “Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus,” from HarperCollins. Her next book, “Love in the Time of Contagion: A Diagnosis,” will be published in February 2022 by Pantheon.

Kipnis is a professor emerita in the department of Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University where she teaches filmmaking. She has taught previously at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Michigan, and has been a visiting professor at NYU, Columbia University School of the Arts, the University of British Columbia, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Michigan Society of Fellows, the NEA and Yaddo; and has contributed essays and reviews to The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Slate, Atlantic, Harper’s, Playboy, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, and New Left Review. Her essay “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” was included in "The Best American Essays 2016", edited by Jonathan Franzen; “Domestic Gulags” (from Against Love) is included in "The Contemporary American Essay," edited by Phillip Lopate. 

Kipnis has a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, an MFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and she has attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Studio Program. 

Professor Kipnis's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Open Academy at CMC.

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Thu, October 7, 2021
Dinner Program
Steven Pinker

Progress is a demonstrable fact: We are healthier, richer, freer, safer, and happier than our ancestors. It’s not because of some mystical force that lifts our species upward. It’s because of the Enlightenment ideal of using knowledge to enhance well-being, and the institutions it created, including science, liberal democracy, commerce, and organizations for international cooperation. Will this progress continue, given the threats of pandemics, climate change, and authoritarian populism? No one knows for sure, but Steven Pinker, award- winning experimental psychologist and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, will offer ways to think about the challenges ahead.

As one of CMC’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers, Professor Pinker will highlight issues in “Civilization and Commerce,” one of the three academic collaboration themes of our special 75th Anniversary celebration.

Photo credit: Rose Lincoln, Harvard University

Read more about the speaker

Steven Pinker, award- winning experimental psychologist and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard, asks the big questions about human progress and sets out to answer them. A provocative speaker, much in demand, Pinker is a cognitive scientist who has been named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. His keynotes have helped millions demystify the science behind human language, thought, and action. A professor, a TED speaker, and a bestselling author, twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, he is highly respected in the scientific community, his work and opinions are extensively covered in the mainstream media, and he has won a wide general audience.

In his upcoming book, “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters,” Pinker argues that we fail to take advantage of the most powerful tools of reasoning discovered by some of our best thinkers: Logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation. Specifically he explores why—when humanity is reaching new heights of scientific reasoning—there appears to be more fake news, conspiracy theorizing, and medical quackery than ever before. Rejecting the cynicism that humans are inherently irrational, Pinker offers an insightful, hopeful analysis of what rationality really is, why it can feel like it’s scarce, and how we can use it to drive better choices in our personal lives and in the public sphere.

In his earlier book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress,” Pinker argued that, despite fear-mongering and political upheaval, the world is getting better: Peace, prosperity, knowledge and happiness are on the rise. "Enlightenment Now" was the follow-up to "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Had Declined", which was a #1 Amazon bestseller. 

Pinker’s other bestselling books include “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" and “How The Mind Works.” Pinker’s acclaimed “language” series includes “The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language,” “Words and Rules,” “The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature,” as well as “The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.”

A native of Montreal, Pinker is Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Previously, he taught at Stanford and at MIT. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has won several teaching prizes, and his research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has received numerous awards, including the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences.


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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
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Phone: (909) 607-8244


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