Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Current Semester Schedule

Until further notice, all Ath events will be held via Zoom webinar. All guests must be registered for each event.

Events will open on a weekly basis. CMC students, faculty, and staff will receive a weekly email with Zoom registration links. Once you have completed this registration, you will receive a unique registration link via email from Zoom. Please keep this link handy, or add to your calendar, as you will need it to log into the event.

CMC alumni and families are welcome to all fall programming! Please refer to your weekly email from Alumni & Parent Engagement, which is sent each Sunday. The email will contain a direct link to sign up for available programming via Zoom. Once you have registered, you will receive a unique registration link via email from Zoom. Please keep this link handy, or add to your calendar, as you will need it to log into the event.

Monday, January 25, 2021 - 5:00pm
Where Opportunity Happens: How Neighborhoods Affect Social Mobility
Raj Chetty
Using the powerful lens of data and economics, Professor Raj Chetty will lay the intellectual, theoretical, and statistical groundwork to evaluate whether the American Dream still remains attainable today. A MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant awardee and one of the most esteemed public economists in the world, Chetty will draw on his data-rich, nationwide research to illustrate how a residential zip code–where a child grows up–is more predictive of social mobility and economic fate than any other national metric. With each street in the United States mapped onto his “Opportunity Atlas,” Chetty’s research foretells which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty, determines where and for whom opportunity has been missing, and even suggests targeted solutions to help more children and families.

 Raj Chetty is the William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Using extensive administrative databases drawn from tax and social security records in the United States, Chetty’s research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His work on topics ranging from tax policy and unemployment insurance to education and affordable housing has been widely cited in academia, media outlets, and Congressional testimony.

In 2012, Chetty received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for his rigorous theoretical and empirical studies in public economics illuminating the then-emerging field of behavioral public finance. His initial work focused on resolving inconsistencies in earlier theories of specific questions in public finance, such as how dividend tax cuts affect corporate behavior and how unemployment insurance affects job-seeking behavior. He has also designed empirical tests to gauge the impact of sales taxes on consumer demand in retail settings. Chetty has also explored a range of other questions, such as the effect of tax policy on how much people work, the extent to which tax deductions for retirement savings stimulate individual savings, and key aspects of early childhood education. By asking simple, penetrating questions, analyzing extensive data sets, and developing rigorous empirical tests, Chetty’s findings in applied economics illuminate key policy issues of our time.

Chetty received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2003 and is one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard’s history. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, he was a professor at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University. Chetty has received numerous awards for his research, including the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the economist under 40 whose work is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - 5:00pm
The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Peniel E. Joseph
To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: Self-defense versus nonviolence, Black power versus civil rights, the sword versus the shield. The struggle for Black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright. In this Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture, Peniel E. Joseph, the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. This is a strikingly revisionist biography, not only of Malcolm X. and Dr. King, but also of the movement and era they came to define.

Peniel E. Joseph holds a joint professorship appointment at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the History Department in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founding director of the LBJ School's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. His career focus has been on "Black Power Studies," which encompasses interdisciplinary fields such as Africana studies, law and society, women's and ethnic studies, and political science.

Prior to joining the UT faculty, Joseph was a professor at Tufts University, where he founded the school's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy to promote engaged research and scholarship focused on the ways issues of race and democracy affect people's lives.

In addition to being a frequent commentator on issues of race, democracy, and civil rights, Joseph is the author of numerous books. His most recent book "The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr." was named a Time 100 Must-Read books of 2020, the Financial Times's Best Political Books of 2020, the Guardian's Best Books of 2020, a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2020, PEN America Biography Long List, and a New York Times Book review Editor's Pick. He is also the author of the award-winning books "Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America" and "Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama." His book "Stokely: A Life" has been called the definitive biography of Stokely Carmichael, the man who popularized the phrase "black power." Included among Joseph's other book credits is the editing of "The Black Power Movement: Rethinking" the "Civil Rights-Black Power Era" and "Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level."

Professor Joseph will deliver the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Lecture.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 5:00pm
American Democracy in Crisis
Hilary Appel, Lily Geismer, and George Thomas, panelists
For the very first time in American history, the peaceful transfer of power was tested and compromised. Urged on by a sitting president who falsely claimed massive election fraud, a violent mob seized the Capitol Building in an effort to stop the counting of electoral votes. While the insurrection was unsuccessful, millions of Americans continue to believe that the election was stolen. Equally gravely, according to some surveys, one in six Americans do not think it is important to have a democratic form of government. Like never before, American democracy is under tremendous pressure from within. To help put recent events in historical and comparative perspective, a panel of CMC professors, Hilary Appel, Lily Geismer, and George Thomas, will lead a discussion of the challenges and prospects for American democracy going forward.

Hilary Appel is the Podlich Family Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. Appel has published numerous books and articles on the politics of economic reform in Russia and Eastern Europe in leading scholarly journals like World Politics, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Review of International Political Economy, Post-Soviet Affairs, East European Politics and Societies, and others.

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. She 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. 

George Thomas is the Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions at Claremont McKenna College and director of the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World. He is the author of “The Founders and the Idea of a National University: Constituting the American Mind,” “The Madisonian Constitution,” and co-author of the two volume “American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases, and Comparative Notes,” as well of numerous scholarly articles.

This panel discussion is sponsored by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at CMC.

Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 5:00pm
How American Journalism Created and Sustained National Myths
Graham Lee Brewer
Graham Lee Brewer, associate editor for Indigenous affairs at High Country News and a member of the Cherokee Nation, will discuss how the long-time, intentional misrepresentations of Indigenous peoples in legacy media historically has helped solidify stereotypes and myth pillars of Indigenous communities, as well as shape the country's perceptions of what it means to be Native. Photo credit: Dylan Johnson

Graham Lee Brewer is an associate editor for Indigenous affairs at High Country News (“HCN”) and a regular contributor to NPR and the New York Times. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Brewer's work in recent years has focused on representative and placed-based reporting on Indigenous communities. He helped build HCN's Indigenous affairs desk, which has been recognized with multiple awards for its coverage of Indian Country, and his work has appeared in The Guardian, the Marshall Project, BuzzFeed and Teen Vogue. Brewer also serves on the board of directors for the Native American Journalists Association, where he has helped create reporting guides and workshops on how to ethically and responsibly write about and for Indigenous communities.

Photo credit: Dylan Johnson

Monday, February 8, 2021 - 5:00pm
Does A Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Racial and Distributional Aspects of Economic Freedom
Gary A. Hoover
The commonplace saying "a rising tide lifts all boats" is associated with the idea that an improved economy will benefit all participants. Popularized in the ‘60s, the aphorism has also been used in recent years to highlight economic inequality. Gary A. Hoover, professor of economics and executive director of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University, will discuss the economists’ definition of “Economic Freedom,” and its impact on the income gap between Black and White households. He will also analyze how banking deregulation, an example of “Economic Freedom,” has impacted income inequality.

Gary A. Hoover is professor of economics and executive director of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University. Before joining Tulane in 2021, he served as professor and department chair of economics at the University of Oklahoma where he was also honored for his professional and scholarly work and for his teaching and mentoring skills.

Before Oklahoma, Hoover spent 16 years at the University of Alabama where he was the William White McDonald Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow and the James I. Harrison Family Endowed Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow from 2002-2004. He also served as the assistant dean for faculty and graduate student development in the Culverhouse College of Business Administration from 2005-2014 at Alabama.

Hoover is a member, and co-chair, of the American Economics Association’s Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession. This group was established in 1968 to increase the representation of minorities in the economics profession, primarily by broadening opportunities for the training of underrepresented minorities.

Hoover is the current and founding editor of the Journal of Economics, Race and Policy, which examines the intersection of local and global issues concerning economic conditions, race, ethnicity and gender, and policy prescriptions that address economic disparities. He served as the vice president of the Southern Economic Association from 2018-2020. He has been a fellow at CESifo Group Munich since 2010 and is a member of the Western Economic Association and American Economic Association.

Hoover’s papers have been published in the American Economic Review P&P, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Public Choice, Journal of Economic Literature, International Tax and Public Finance, Journal of Conflict Resolution and the European Journal of Political Economy.

Hoover received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1993. He earned both his master’s (1995) and PhD (1998) in economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

(Adapted from the Tulane University website.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 5:00pm
Climate Change on the Roof of the World
Aurora C. Elmore
To learn more about the highest reaches of the world, Aurora Elmore, Ph.D., geologist, climate change expert, and Senior Program Manager of Science and Innovation at the National Geographic Society, recently managed the most comprehensive scientific expedition to Mt. Everest, sending a team of 34 multidisciplinary scientists to the world's highest mountain to collect glaciological and meteorological data by installing the highest weather stations in the world. Elmore will share what the data collected on the expedition tells us about how climate changes are playing out on the highest point on Earth.

Aurora Elmore is a geologist and climate change expert who received her Ph.D. in geology with a focus on oceanic chemistry and deep-sea circulation. She then worked as a researcher at several American and British universities before coming to National Geographic, where she is now Senior Program Manager of Science and Innovation. She recently oversaw the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Everest Expedition, the most comprehensive scientific expedition to Mt. Everest.

Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 5:00pm
After the 2020 Election, What's Next for American Democracy?
Richard L. Hasen
Richard L. Hasen, Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, and an expert in election law, will address the question, "After the 2020 Election, What's Next for American Democracy?" He will consider how the election system and American democracy fared in the unprecedented 2020 election, and what steps need to be taken to assure peaceful transitions of power and election results accepted by American citizens across the political spectrum.

Professor Richard L. Hasen is Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. Hasen is a nationally recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation, writing as well in the areas of legislation and statutory interpretation, remedies, and torts. He is co-author of leading casebooks in election law and remedies. He served in 2020 as a CNN Election Law Analyst.

From 2001-2010, he served (with Dan Lowenstein) as founding co-editor of the quarterly peer-reviewed publication, Election Law Journal. He is the author of over 100 articles on election law issues, published in numerous journals including the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review and Supreme Court Review. He was elected to The American Law Institute in 2009 and serves as Reporter (with Professor Douglas Laycock) on the ALI’s law reform project: Restatement (Third) of Torts: Remedies. He also is an adviser on the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Concluding Provisions.

Hasen holds a B.A. degree (with highest honors) from UC Berkeley, and a J.D., M.A., and Ph.D. (Political Science) from UCLA. After law school, Hasen clerked for the Honorable David R. Thompson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then worked as a civil appellate lawyer in private practice.

Professor Hasen's Athenaeum presentation is sponsored by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at CMC.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 5:00pm
Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist
Eli Saslow
Eli Saslow’s latest book, "Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist," charts the rise of white nationalism through the experiences of one person who, ultimately, abandoned everything he had been rasied to believe. Born out of a Washington Post feature “The White Flight of Derek Black,” Rising Out of Hatred tells the story of how the one-time heir to America’s white nationalist movement came to question the ideology he helped spread. Derek Black might be termed white nationalist royalty: But when Derek chose to attend a tiny liberal arts college, his ideological foundations began to crack. Photo credit: Joanna Ceciliani

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage for The Washington Post, Eli Saslow, who has been called “one of the great young journalists in America,” reveals the human stories behind the most divisive issues of our time. From racism and poverty to addiction and school shootings, Saslow’s work uncovers the manifold impacts of major national issues on individuals and families. 

Saslow is a longtime staff writer for The Washington Post, where he was initially a sportswriter. He covered the 2008 presidential campaign as well as President Obama’s life in the White House. Four of his stories have been anthologized in Best American Sportswriting, and he is an occasional contributor to ESPN The Magazine. 

Saslow speaks on the role of journalism in highlighting social and public health issues, the craft of longform journalism, the human impacts of public policy, and the importance of civility and radical inclusion. He was the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor of Journalism at the University of Montana, and he has spoken at Princeton, Syracuse University, UNC Wilmington, UVA, Northwestern, USC, and elsewhere. In 2011, Saslow cofounded Press Pass Mentors, a writing-focused nonprofit for underrepresented high school students in the Washington, DC area

A graduate of Syracuse University, Saslow is the winner of a George Polk Award, a PEN Literary Award, a James Beard Award, and other honors.

Photo credit: Joanna Ceciliani

Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 5:00pm
INCLUSIFY: How to Build More Inclusive Teams
Stefanie Johnson ‘00
Based on her bestselling book, “INCLUSIFY,” Stefanie Johnson ‘00, associate professor of management at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, will explore what leaders can do to build inclusion by digging into two most basic human needs: to be unique and to belong. From practical strategies to creating actionable steps, Johnson will offer insights to help organizations and leaders increase inclusion from increasing transparency, improving selection, and creating more equitable promotion practices. She will also address some of the unique challenges and opportunities that Covid-19 has created for inclusion and belonging.

Stefanie K. Johnson ’00, Ph.D., is an author, professor, and keynote speaker who studies the intersection of leadership and diversity. As an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, Johnson teaches undergraduate and graduate students focused on leadership and inclusion.

Her new book, “Inclusify: Harnessing the Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams,” shares the surprising ways leaders can undermine inclusion and provides actionable ways that leaders can pivot to build more inclusive teams.

Johnson is a member of the MG 100 Coaches and was selected for the 2020 Thinkers50 Radar List, comprising 30 international management scholars whose work will shape the future of how organizations are managed and led. She has extensive consulting experience and has created and delivered leadership development training with an emphasis on evidence-based practice. She has received $3,800,000 in external grant funding to study leadership and create leadership development programs. Her safety leadership course was adopted by the OSHA 30 and taken by 70,000 students in its first two years. She is an active researcher and has published 60 journal articles and book chapters in outlets Journal of Applied Psychology and The Academy of Management Journal.

Johnson is also a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and an in-demand keynote speaker. She has presented her work at over 170 meetings around the world including at the White House for a 2016 summit on diversity in corporate America on National Equal Pay Day. Media outlets featuring her work include: Forbes, The Economist, Newsweek, Time, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, HuffPost, Washington Post, Quartz, Discover, CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC. She has also appeared on Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN, and CNN International.

Johnson holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Rice University and is a Cum Laude graduate in psychology, with honors, from Claremont McKenna College.

Professor Johnson’s Athenaeum presentation is sponsored by the Kravis Leadership Institute at CMC.

(Text adapted from

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 5:00pm
The GOP After Trump: What's Next for American Politics
Richard Lowry
A respected and well-known conservative voice, Richard Lowry is the editor of National Review. Author of "The Case for Nationalism: How it Made Us Powerful, United and Free," he will address the cross currents within the Republican Party and what the party should learn from and reject about former President Donald J. Trump.

A respected and well-known conservative voice, Richard Lowry, editor of National Review, brings his analysis and opinions to political discussion through his writing and commentary. Lowry became editor of National Review in 1999 when he was selected by William F. Buckley, Jr. to lead the magazine.

Lowry writes for Politico, and often appears on such public affairs programs as Meet the Press. He is a regular panelist on the NPR’s program Left, Right & Center. He is the author of “Lincoln Unbound,” “The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free,” and “Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years,” a New York Times bestseller.


Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 5:00pm
Epidemic Contagions, Quarantines, and Curves: A Historical Look from our Current Crisis
Timothy G. Fehler
Timothy Fehler, the William E. Leverette, Jr., Professor of History at Furman University, will present a series of vignettes from historical epidemics of the past four centuries. From their impact on individual lives to broader community and governmental action, experiences from the midst of epidemics offer glimpses both of fortitude and despair, public health measures and private acts of compassion, homemade cures and mathematical models.

Timothy Fehler, the William E. Leverette, Jr., Professor of History at Furman University, joined Furman’s history department in 1995, and for six years he also directed Furman’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Internships. His research has focused particularly on questions of poverty and social welfare as well as religious persecution and co-existence in early modern Europe. During more than two decades of teaching at Furman, Fehler has directed several study away programs in Europe and the Mediterranean, most recently the semester-long program in Central Europe entitled “Repression, Resistance, and Remembrance.” His research also takes him to the archives in and around northern Germany where he has spent considerable time.

As an undergraduate, Fehler studied math and history at Baylor University. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Renaissance and Reformation history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - 5:00pm
Can the Republican Party be Saved?
Oren Cass, Mona Charen, and John Wood, Jr., panelists; Jon Shields, moderator
In the wake of the Capitol insurrection, a second impeachment of Trump, and losing control of the House, Senate, and White House, what will become of the Republican Party? Will it be convulsed from within for its soul? Will it become even more gripped by prejudice and conspiracy theory? Or can it transform into a multi-ethnic party of the working class? Leading a panel discussion on the future of the Republican Party, Jon Shields, professor of government at CMC, will be joined by Oren Cass, executive director of American Compass and former domestic policy advisor for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Mona Charen, journalist and policy editor at The Bulwark and former speech writer for Nancy Reagan, and John Wood, Jr., national ambassador for Braver Angels and former vice chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County. 

Oren Cass is the executive director of American Compass, whose mission is to restore an economic orthodoxy that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity. From 2015 to 2019, Cass was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where his work on strengthening the labor market addressed issues ranging from the social safety net and environmental regulation to trade and immigration to education and organized labor. Prior to his time at the Manhattan Institute, Cass held roles as the domestic policy director for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, and as a management consultant in Bain & Company’s Boston and New Delhi offices.

Mona Charen is a columnist, journalist, political commentator, and writer. She often writes about foreign policy, terrorism, politics, poverty, family structure, public morality, and culture. Charen wrote for National Review magazine, where she was an editorial assistant starting in 1979. Later she joined the staff of First Lady Nancy Reagan as a speechwriter. She subsequently worked on President Ronald Reagan's staff, in the White House Office of Public Liaison and in the Office of Communications. She currently is the policy editor of The Bulwark, a nationally syndicated columnist, and host of The Bulwark’s Beg to Differ podcast. 

John Wood Jr. is a national ambassador for Braver Angels, whose mission it is reduce American political polarization and to promote productive conversation across ideological lines. A former vice-chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, Wood is a musical artist and a respected writer and speaker on subjects including racial and political reconciliation. In 2014, Wood ran against Maxine Waters for her seat in California's 43rd Congressional District.

Jon Shields, associate professor of government at CMC, will moderate the conversation.

This panel discussion is sponsored by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at CMC.

Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 5:00pm
Reframing Sex Positivity in a Socially Isolated World
Kelly Neff
The anxiety, uncertainty and cancel-culture that has emerged in response to the pandemic has led to a resurgence of sex negative attitudes valuing judgement and fear over autonomy and self-expression. Kelly Neff, Ph.D., author of “Sex Positive,” explores how sex positivity can help us heal from the devastating effects of social isolation and loneliness brought on by this past year, and how we can cultivate resilience and positive attitudes even when our sexual needs and desires may have shifted dramatically or been put on hold indefinitely.

Kelly Neff, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, author, professor, futurist, and talk-radio personality who brings to the transformational media world her unique focus on the intersection of psychology, consciousness, and human sexuality. 

An academically trained research psychologist, she received her B.A. (2004) in Psychology magna sum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University and her M.A. (2006) and Ph.D. (2010) in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.
Committed to exploring the leading edge of psychology and technology, she wrote her first book, “Teaching Psychology Online in 2013,” and followed it up with articles on sex, consciousness, psychology, and futurism that have been read and shared tens of millions of times. Her hit show Lucid Planet Radio has attracted expert guests across the sciences, popular culture, and esoteric traditions and has been streamed to hundreds of thousands of listeners since it premiered in 2015. 

Neff’s newest effort, “Sex Positive” (2020), seeks to empower sexual freedom, inspire healing, and improve people’s relationships by fusing cutting-edge scientific findings with Eastern philosophies and her own insights. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 5:00pm
Modern Leadership: Accelerating Diversity and Inclusion from the Top
Brian Stafford
Diligent Corporation has quietly become one of the largest SaaS companies on the planet, providing governance software to nearly 20,000 organizations globally. Following the events of 2020, Diligent has called on its network of board members and executives to positively impact diversity from the top. CEO Brian Stafford will share details on the initiative that is changing the board succession planning process and reflect on the role companies should play to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society.   

Brian Stafford is CEO of Diligent Corporation, a pioneer of modern governance technology. He is responsible for all day-to-day operations, with a focus on accelerating global growth and incorporating scale into the business in order to seamlessly manage the growth. Previously, Stafford served as a partner at McKinsey & Company, where he founded their Growth Stage Tech Practice, and was also the founder of CarOrder. He holds a Master’s in Computer Science from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 5:00pm
COVID-19: Should Schools Be Open?
Vinay Prasad
Every discussion or debate around COVID-19 has become protracted, political, and bitter, and what to do about schools is no exception. Indeed schools present a tradeoff. When they're open, society benefits from the essential services schools provide: education, child abuse reporting, hot meals, and socio-emotional development. Closing them may theoretically slow viral spread. How should a society decide? Vinay Prasad, M.D. and M.P.H., a practicing hematologist-oncologist and associate professor in the department of epidemiology and bio-statistics at the University of California San Francisco, will make the case that unless the local healthcare system is approaching overload or collapse, schools should remain open. 

Vinay Prasad, M.D. and M.P.H., is a practicing hematologist-oncologist and associate professor in the department of epidemiology and bio-statistics at the University of California San Francisco. He studies cancer drugs, health policy, clinical trials, and better decision making. He is author of over 250 academic articles, and the books Ending Medical Reversal (2015), and Malignant (2020). He hosts the oncology podcast Plenary Session.

Dr. Prasad's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at CMC.

Monday, March 22, 2021 - 5:00pm
Yusef Komunyakaa: An Evening of Poetry and Reflections
Yusef Komunyakaa
First alerted to the power of language through his grandparents, who were church people, and for whom the "sound of the Old Testament informed the cadences of their speech,” award winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa's poetry weaves together personal narrative, jazz rhythms, and vernacular language to create complex images of life in peace and in war, in places near and far, and of experiences old and new. Photo credit: Arthur Elgort

Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The son of a carpenter, Komunyakaa has said that he was first alerted to the power of language through his grandparents, who were church people: “the sound of the Old Testament informed the cadences of their speech,” Komunyakaa has stated. “It was my first introduction to poetry.” Komunyakaa went on to serve in the Vietnam War as a correspondent; he was managing editor of the Southern Cross during the war, for which he received a Bronze Star. He earned a BA from the University of Colorado Springs on the GI Bill, an MA from Colorado State University, and an MFA from the University of California-Irvine.

In his poetry, Komunyakaa weaves together personal narrative, jazz rhythms, and vernacular language to create complex images of life in peace and in war. Komunyakaa’s early work includes the poetry collections "Dedications & Other Darkhorses" (1977) and "Lost in the Bonewheel Factory" (1979). Widespread recognition came with the publication of "Copacetic" (1984), which showcased what would become his distinctive style: vernacular speech layered with syncopated rhythms from jazz traditions. His next book "I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head" (1986) won the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; "Dien Cai Dau" (1988), a book that treated his experience in the Vietnam War in stark and personal terms, won the Dark Room Poetry Prize. It is regularly described as one of the best books of war poetry from the Vietnam War. The collection explores the experience of African American soldiers in the war as well as captures the embattled Southeast Asian landscape. Komunyakaa’s "Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems"(1994) won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2011 Komunyakaa was awarded the Wallace Stevens Award. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999-2005. He has taught at numerous institutions including University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University. Currently he serves as Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program.

Photo credit: Arthur Elgort

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 5:00pm
Representation and Responsible Leadership: A Conversation with Candace Valenzuela '06
Candace Valenzuela '06
Candace Valenzuela ’06 began her political career when she ran for office in 2017 and was elected to the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District board in Texas as an at-large representative, defeating an 18-year incumbent. She worked to ensure that the district be inclusive and welcoming to students of all backgrounds. In 2020, Valenzuela ran for Congress in Texas’s 24th District focusing her campaign on building a diverse grassroots movement to uplift all hardworking families. Her public service aspirations are rooted in her deep-seated belief that access to the political process and representation matter critically and that government leaders should always strive to work directly for the people in their communities.

Candace Valenzuela ’06 has devoted her life to fighting for opportunities for others, especially for access to education. She first ran for her local school board to improve Texas schools, becoming the first Latina and first African-American woman to serve on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. In 2020, running on a platform to stand up for all Texas children and their families, Valenzuela was the Democratic nominee for Congress in Texas’s 24th District. She is an advocate for greater fiscal transparency and expansion of STEM education, vocational training, and coding academies in district schools.

The daughter of U.S. Army veterans, Valenzuela was born in El Paso, Texas, into a family with generations of military service. Her great-grandfather came to the United States from Mexico, eventually fighting in World War I. Subsequently, her grandfather fought in World War II. She often says that her father once jumped out of airplanes for a living, while her mother fixed them.

Her lived experiences motivate her views and political passions. The first in her family to graduate from college, Valenzuela attended Claremont McKenna College on a full scholarship. Appreciative of such an opportunity, she is determined to fight for access to education for all.

Ms. Valenzuela’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Women and Leadership Alliance, the Berger Institute for Individual and Social Development, the Kravis Leadership Institute, and the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, all at Claremont McKenna College.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 5:00pm
Polemic in the Reformation: Lessons for Today
S. Amanda Eurich
Amanda Eurich, professor of history at Western Washington University and author of "Polemic's Purpose," will discuss how the practice of polemic in the Protestant Reformation polarized public discourse and civic society. The ways in which theologians on both sides of the religious divide—Catholic and Protestant—weaponized word and image against their rivals is a cautionary tale for the 21st century.

Amanda Eurich is a professor of history at Western Washington University and author of "The Economics of Power: The House of Foix-Navarre-Albret during the Wars of Religion" and numerous essays on the politics and culture of religious violence in early modern France. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, and most recently, the Meeter Center of Calvin University. Her current research explores the radicalization of religious identity through the writings and correspondence of the sixteenth-century jurist, Jean de Coras, known to Anglophone audiences as the judge who presided over the trial of Martin Guerre.

Monday, April 5, 2021 - 5:00pm
We’ve Got You: Crafting Economies of Care in Poetry and Beyond
Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Poet and writer Gabrielle Calvocoressi will examine the ways poetry enacts and sets a path forward for new ways of thinking about our various economies (both real and imagined). Using the work of Destiny Hemphill, Fred Moten, among others, including Calvocoressi’s own poems, as a guide, how might the way we craft our own work help us think more rigorously and expansively about priorities, compassion, power, and indebtedness?  

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of "The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart," "Apocalyptic Swing" (a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize), and "Rocket Fantastic," winner of the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry. Calvocoressi is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including a Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship from Stanford University; a Rona Jaffe Woman Writer's Award; a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, TX; the Bernard F. Conners Prize from The Paris Review; and a residency from the Civitella di Ranieri Foundation, among others.

Calvocoressi's poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous magazines and journals including The Baffler, The New York Times, POETRY, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Tin House, and The New Yorker. Calvocoressi is an editor at large at Los Angeles Review of Books, and poetry editor at Southern Cultures.

Works in progress include a non-fiction book entitled, "The Year I Didn't Kill Myself" and a novel, "The Alderman of the Graveyard."

Calvocoressi teaches at UNC Chapel Hill.

Professor Calvocoressi's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 5:00pm
The Pursuit of Sustainable Happiness
Todd Kashdan
Science offers insights into how people can better manage their psychology in the pursuit of happiness. Much has been learned about what is required to be happy in the moment and how this psychological state can be sustained. Todd B. Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University and a leading authority on well-being, curiosity, psychological flexibility, and resilience will clarify several neglected factors that increase and decrease a person's likelihood of achieving happiness. 

Todd B. Kashdan is a professor of psychology at George Mason University. He is a leading authority on well-being, curiosity, psychological flexibility, and resilience. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and his work has been cited over 30,000 times. 

He is the author of several books including “Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life” (William Morrow), and “The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why being your whole self - not just your “good” self - drives success and fulfillment” (Penguin).

His research is featured regularly in media outlets such as The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, NPR, Fast Company, and Time Magazine. He is a keynote speaker and consultant for organizations as diverse as Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, Prudential, General Mills, the United States Department of Defense, and World Bank Group.

He received the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions to Psychology.

With a focus on happiness from the psychological perspective, Professor Kashdan’s Athenaeum talk is part of a 3-part series on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Happiness co-sponsored by the Berger Institute at CMC.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - 5:00pm
The Undocumented Lawyer: Capturing the Immigration Crisis through Film
Zach Ingrasci ’12 and Chris Temple ’12
The Undocumented Lawyer is the story of Lizbeth Mateo, an undocumented attorney who swore to uphold the constitution. When a client takes sanctuary in a church, Ms. Mateo's own experience guides their fight for justice. Join CMC alums Chris Temple ‘12 and Zach Ingrasci ‘12 as they discuss the role of documentary storytelling in providing a unique perspective into the U.S. immigration crisis.  

From living in a tent in a Syrian refugee camp to elevating the stories within the immigration crisis, Zach Ingrasci '12 and Chris Temple '12 continue to find new ways to make films with impact. Their work thus far has been featured on HBO, Netflix, and The Atlantic, and has helped raise over $91 million dollars for poverty alleviation and refugee support efforts – changing over 275,000 lives.

Ingrasci is a director and co-founder of Optimist. Ingrasci’s journey to become a “disruptive storyteller” began while working for a small Mexican microfinance program. Ever since then he has continued to focus on the intersection of the creative arts, business, and sustainable development.

Temple is a humanitarian, filmmaker, and co-founder of Optimist. Every film and commercial he makes with Ingrasci has a purpose. Every piece of content created by Optimist is accompanied by a corresponding impact campaign that aims to create measurable and sustainable outcomes.

Since graduating from Claremont McKenna College in 2012, Ingrasci and Temple have spoken at the United Nations, TEDx Buenos Aires, and held over 4,000 they saw their short film The Undocumened Lawyer acquired by HBO and are looking forward to the release of their upcoming feature documentary, Five Years North later this year.

This event will include a showing of the film followed by Q & A with CMC alums, Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 5:00pm
Anti-Asian Bias Crimes: Past, Present, and Future
Jeff Tsai
The U.S. has recently witnessed a growing number of violent acts and hate crimes perpetuated against Asian-American communities across the country. While racism and discrimination against Asian-Americans has tragically reverberated throughout American history, the recent surge of hatred and violence has mobilized fear and national concern. While law enforcement has an important role to play in tackling this disturbing trend, addressing bias-motivated crimes like anti-Asian violence is not only about prosecution, believes Jeff Tsai, a former federal and state prosecutor—it’s also about trying to understand what’s happening in our society and to actively effectuate policy changes and educational outreach.

Jeff Tsai is a former federal and state prosecutor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A trial lawyer currently in private practice, Tsai spent a considerable part of his career in public service. He most recently served in government as a special assistant attorney general of California. He was also a principal legal advisor to former Attorney General, and now Vice President, Kamala D. Harris on policy issues related to criminal justice reform, corporate accountability enforcement, and he supervised multiple high-impact enforcement actions.

Tsai also spent many years serving in the U.S. Justice Department. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami, Florida, as well as a senior counsel to the former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington D.C. He also served as a public corruption trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington D.C., where he prosecuted and tried former U.S. Senator John Edwards for violations of federal campaign finance laws in connection with his primary campaign for president.

Frequently called upon for legal commentary and analysis in the media, Tsai began his career as a judicial law clerk for U.S. District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore in Houston. He received a law degree from Georgetown University. A native Texan, he earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was elected student body president.

Mr. Tsai's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the President's Leadership Fund.

Thursday, April 15, 2021 - 5:00pm
The Next Wave of Title IX Activism
Laura L. Dunn
Laura Dunn, founder of SurvJustice and founding partner at L.L. Dunn Law Firm, PLLC, will discuss the history of the campus-based Title IX movement and the new wave of Title IX activism from Capitol Hill on down to college campuses in the post-Trump era.

Laura L. Dunn is a nationally recognized survivor turned victims’ rights attorney and social entrepreneur. In addition to being an accomplished litigator and published legal scholar, Dunn regularly advises lawmakers on state and federal policy reforms regarding campus-based gender violence. She also serves as an expert witness in high profile cases across the country. Dunn is a 2015 Echoing Green Global Fellow, the 2017 recipient of the DOJ's Special Courage Award, and a 2018 TED Fellow.

Ms. Dunn is the featured speaker for recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Monday, April 19, 2021 - 5:00pm
Surviving the Forgotten Genocide: An Armenian Memoir by John Minassian
Roderic Camp, Wendy Lower, Jeremy Anderson ‘19, Anoush Baghdassarian '17, Larissa Peltola '18, Rebecca Shane '19 & Kirsti Zitar '97
Starting in 1895 with the Turkish destruction of more than one million Armenian men, women, and children, the twentieth century has been named the century of genocide. The Armenian memoirist, John Minassian (1895-1991), lived through this tragedy as a teenager, witnessing the murder of his own kin, concealing his identity as an orphan and laborer in Syria, and eventually immigrating to the United States. Encouraged by his family and Armenian community to share and preserve his story, Minassian, who is also the grandfather of CMC Professor Rod Camp, first recorded and published his memoir in 1986. A panel of CMC alumni, students, and faculty who researched and annotated this memoir for its 2nd edition publication in 2020, will share selected passages from the book and relate them to their lives today. 

"Surviving the Forgotten Genocide: An Armenian Memoir" by John Minassian offers a rare and poignant testimony of a survivor of the Armenian genocide. The twentieth century was an era of genocide, which started with the Turkish destruction of more than one million Armenian men, women, and children—a modern process of erasure that began in 1895 and exploded under the cover of the First World War. John Minassian lived through this as a young man, witnessing the murder of his kin, concealing his identity as an orphan and laborer in Syria, and eventually immigrating to the United States to start his life anew. A rare testimony of a survivor of the Armenian genocide, one of just a handful of accounts in English, Minassian’s memoir is breathtaking in its vivid portraits of Armenian life and culture and poignant in its sensitive recollections of the many people who harmed and helped him. As well as a searing testimony, his memoir documents the wartime policies and behavior of Ottoman officials and their collaborators; the roles played by foreign armies and American missionaries; and the ultimate collapse of the empire. The author’s journey, and his powerful story of perseverance, despair, and survival, will resonate with readers today. 

This event commemorates the Annual Mgrublian Lecture on Armenian Studies and is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, with special acknowledgement of the Minassian and Camp families for sharing their own personal history with us and our students, and now with the world. 


Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 5:00pm
Native American Life Beyond Wounded Knee
David Treuer
David Treuer is the author of "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee," a sweeping history and counter-narrative of Native American life from the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre to the present. Treuer grew up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, trained as an anthropologist, and has spent his career researching Native lives, both past and present. In his work, both written and oral, Treuer explores the intense struggles to preserve Native identity and tells an essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era. Professor Treuer will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2021 Lerner Lecture on Hinge Moments in History. Photo credit: Jean-Luc Bertini

Anthropologist and author David Treuer struggled with popular depictions of Native American history (including the bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), many of which seemed to conclude that his culture was a relic of the past.  Having grown up on an Ojibwe reservation, Treuer knew that Native American history did not end with a battle in 1890. In both fiction and nonfiction, Treuer has spent his career dissecting narratives around Native American life, and reveals the unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention it took to preserve Native languages, traditions, families.

In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, a shortlist nominee for the 2019 National Book Award in Nonfiction, Treuer combines history, reportage, and memoir to tell the sweeping story of the tribes’ distinctive cultures from their first contact with settlers, exploring how each era spawned new modes of survival. From devastating land seizures to forced assimilation and conscription, Treuer traces how each generation developed their own form of resistance and renewal. His previous works include four novels—Prudence, The Translation of Dr. Apelles, The Hiawatha, and Little—and Rez Life, a complex and subtle examination reservation life. In his talks, Treuer presents a counter-narrative to Native American history—one that tells an essential story of resiliency, survival, and strength in the face of catastrophic odds.

Treuer’s essays and stories have appeared in Granta, Harper’s, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Slate, and The Washington Post, among others. In addition to his works of fiction and nonfiction, he is the author of a book of criticism, Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual. Treuer is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Minnesota Book Awards, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and Guggenheim Foundation. The Translation of Dr. Apelles was named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages. Treuer is a graduate of Princeton University and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology. He divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota and Los Angeles, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.

Professor Treuer will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2021 Lerner Lecture on Hinge Moments in History.

Photo credit: Jean-Luc Bertini

(Text adapted from Penguin Random House Speakers' Bureau.)

Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 5:00pm
Beyond Fordlândia: An Environmental Account of Henry Ford’s Adventure in the Amazon
Written, directed and produced by Marcos Colón, Beyond Fordlândia (2018, 75 min) presents an environmental account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience decades after its failure. The story addressed by the film begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Company attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. This film addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage, leading to such questions as: What are the lessons to be learned from today’s ecological experimentation and in particular from the Fordlândia experience? How did Ford’s attempt to convert the lush, naturally abundant Brazilian landscape into industrial-scale agriculture foreshadow today’s destruction of the rainforest? What will be the impact of soybean monoculture for the future of the Amazon Rainforest?

Marcos Colón received his Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese Cultural Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019. His research focuses on Brazilian literary and cultural studies, with a particular emphasis on representations of the Amazon in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Brazilian literature and film. He is currently working on a book- project based on his experiences filming the Amazon. He has produced and directed two documentary films that represent diverse perspectives on humanity’s complex relations with the natural world: Beyond Fordlândia: An Environmental Account of Henry Ford’s Adventure in the Amazon, 2018 and Zo’é, based on his experiences with the Zo’é tribe, an Amazonian indigenous community that has had little to no contact with the outside world (2018). He is particularly interested in examining a variety of perspectives on the post-rubber era in the Amazon. Colón’s scholarship uses the post-rubber era as a springboard for re-envisioning the region in a “relational” way, challenging hegemonic representations of the tropics in literature and culture. He is the editor and creator of Amazonia Latitude, a digital environmental magazine.

(NOTE: We strongly suggest that you consider viewing the movie, Beyond Fordlandia, before the Ath event. Though this is not required, it will help to generate a meaningful and productive conversation with director Marcos Colón.)

Dr. Colón's Athenaeum presentation and the screening of the movie are organized in commemoration of Earth Day. 

Monday, April 26, 2021 - 5:00pm
The Problem of Conflicting Goals: A Philosophical Approach
Valerie Tiberius
Conflicts among our goals are a major impediment to living a good life. Conflicts frustrate competing goals and they also cause us to wonder if we’re on the wrong path. Valerie Tiberius, the Paul W. Frenzel Chair in Liberal Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, will present a constructive way of thinking about goal conflicts and how to resolve them.

Valerie Tiberius is the Paul W. Frenzel Chair in Liberal Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. Her work explores the ways in which philosophy and psychology can both contribute to the study of well-being and virtue. She is the author of “The Reflective Life: Living Wisely With Our Limits,” “Moral Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction”, and “Well-Being as Value Fulfillment: How We Can Help Others to Live Well”

With a focus on happiness from the philosophical perspective, Professor Tiberius's Athenaeum talk is part of a 3-part series on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Happiness co-sponsored by the Berger Institute and co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, both at CMC.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 5:00pm
Happiness and Economics
Fengyu Wu
In the past few decades, economists have been increasingly interested in studying happiness or subjective well-being measures, and policy makers have also started to use these measures to design and evaluate policies. Fengyu Wu, economist and research associate in the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University, will introduce the economics of happiness, a growing field in economics, and discuss the measures and determinants of happiness from the perspective of economics.

Fengyu Wu is a research associate at the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Southern California and a B.S. in economics from the Singapore Management University. Her research centers on the economics of happiness, health economics, development economics, and political economy. She studies the determinants of subjective well-being in populations around the world, in particular, the effects of both economic and social conditions, including among others: income, consumption, interpersonal comparisons, supportive relationships, and social capital. She also investigates the factors that influence individuals’ socioeconomic attitudes and political preferences, with special attention on identifying and explaining differences between men and women.

Wu has been teaching student seminars on the social science of happiness at Wake Forest University. She is one of the founding members of the China Happiness Report, and she also contributed to the World Happiness Report 2021.

With a focus on happiness from the economic perspective, Dr. Wu's Athenaeum talk is part of a 3-part series on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Happiness co-sponsored by the Berger Institute at CMC.


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