Josiah Ober is Constantine Mitsotakis Professor in the School of Humanities and Science, Professor of Political Science and Classics, and Professor of Philosophy (by courtesy). He is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and director of the Stanford Civics Initiative. He joined the Stanford faculty in 2006, having previously taught at Princeton and Montana State Universities. Ober’s scholarship focuses on historical institutionalism and political theory, especially democratic theory and the contemporary relevance of the political thought and practice of the ancient Greek world. He is the author of The Civic Bargain; How Democracy Survives (with Brook Manville, 2023), The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reason (2022), Demopolis: Democracy before Liberalism (2017), The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (2015) and other books and articles.
Dr. Ober's visit to the Athenaeum is co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center at CMC.
Current Semester Schedule
Billy Grayson has led corporate sustainability for Fortune 500 companies in real estate and the industrial supply chain, and helped to develop the global human rights and environmental sustainability compliance program for the electronics industry. Earlier in his career he worked in environmental advocacy and civic engagement, and was the founder of two youth voting nonprofits (Project Democracy and Maryland Votes!)
He is currently the Chief Initiatives Officer at the Urban Land Institute, overseeing the organizations’ work on environmental sustainability, housing attainability, infrastructure, and real estate economics and capital markets. He has a MPP and a MBA from the University of Maryland, is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College, and was an Ath Fellow from 1999-2000.
Mr. Grayson's talk is part of the Athenaeum's 40th Anniversary Series, which celebrates the achievements of CMC alumni from across the years and invites them to return home to Claremont.
Katie Orenstein, founder and CEO of The OpEd Project, writes and speaks frequently about the intersection of media and mythology – that is, what we think is fact or fiction and how that shapes our ideas about politics, culture and history. She has contributed to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald. Her commentaries on women, politics, popular culture, mythology and human rights have been nationally syndicated and appear in anthologies. She has lectured at Harvard and Stanford universities, and appeared on ABC TV World News, Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN and NPR All Things Considered.
A graduate of Harvard (MA) and Columbia (MA) universities, Orenstein has received a Peabody-Gardner Fellowship, Tinker Grant and a Cordier Essay Prize (from Columbia University), and was a finalist for the 2004 Prize for Promise, designed “to identify young women, aged 21-35,of great promise and vision who could... become world leaders in their respective fields.” She is a fellow with The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, a recipient of The Diana P Scott Integrity in Action Award, and a fellow of Echoing Green, which selected The OpEd Project as one of 19 of the most innovative social enterprises worldwide, out of a pool of 1500 applicants.
Orenstein's visit is co-sponsored by the Kravis Lab for Social Impact and the Center for Writing and Public Discourse, both at CMC.
Esther Chung-Kim is Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. Her research focuses on religious conflict, biblical interpretation, and the history of poverty. Her books include: Inventing Authority: Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist (2011), Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Acts (2014), and Economics of Faith: Reforming Poor Relief in Early Modern Europe (2021, paperback 2023). Her articles cover topics such as moneylending, working women, and communal charity. Professor Chung-Kim was a Political Science-international relations major in college and received her PhD in Religion from Duke University.
Chung-Kim regularly teaches courses on the History of World Christianity, European Reformations, Poverty & Wealth, and Christianity & Politics in Asia. She was previously the Associate Director of the Gould Center and currently serves as the President-Elect of the American Society of Church History.
Gary Gilbert is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Jewish Studies Sequence at Claremont McKenna College. His research and teaching focus on Jewish Studies, particularly Jewish communities in the Greek and Roman periods. He is author of the commentary on Acts of the Apostles in the Jewish Annotated New Testament and of numerous articles on the Jewish community of late antique Aphrodisias and Jewish communal life in antiquity.
Professor Gilbert teaches a wide array of courses in Jewish Studies, including courses on the ancient Jewish experience, Jewish art and identity, women and gender in Jewish tradition, a history of Jerusalem, and Zionism and Israel. Professor Gilbert received his bachelors in Classical Studies from Haverford College and his doctorate from Columbia University, with additional studies in Jewish history at The Jewish Theological Seminary and early Christianity at Union Theological Seminary. Professor Gilbert serves on the staff of the Tel Akko archaeological excavations in Israel. In addition to his time at CMC, Professor Gilbert has been Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and at the Institute for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, and has served President of the Pacific Region of the Society of Biblical Literature.
Daniel Michon is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. He has published a series of articles and a book on archaeology, religion, and digital technology, as well as works on Taxila and Sanghol in India and on Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia. In his first book, Archaeology and Religion in Early Northwest India: History, Theory, and Practice, he investigated British interpretations of archaeological evidence, which led him to the colonial Indo-Portuguese world. His most recent book is To Serve God in Holy Freedom: The Brief Rebellion of the Nuns of the Royal Convent of Santa Mónica, Goa, India, 1731–1734.
Michon teaches courses on South Asian Religious Traditions (including Ancient India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, South Asian Islam, the Mahābhārata, etc.) as well as a First-year Humanities seminar entitled Religion and Modernity.
Jamel Velji is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. His work lies at the intersection between Islamic Studies and Religious Studies and is particularly concerned with the ways in which narratives, rituals, and symbols can effect social transformations. He has written extensively on various aspects of apocalypticism, and his book An Apocalyptic History of the Early Fatimid Empire was the inaugural volume of Edinburgh University Press’s series on Islamic Eschatology and Apocalypticism. His current research examines the Islamic history of coffee, and how that history becomes retold in various European and American contexts.
Velji holds A Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Islamic Studies from McGill University, and a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College. His work has been funded by numerous fellowships, including a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, two fellowships from the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Josephine de Kármán Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Institute of Ismaili Studies.
Daniel Medwed is a law professor at Northeastern University in Boston. He focuses his research and pro bono activities around the topic of wrongful convictions. His recent book, Barred: Why the Innocent Can’t Get Out of Prison (Hachette/Basic Books, 2022), which was named one of the "Best Fall Books" by Bloomberg last year, explores the range of procedural barriers that so often prevent innocent prisoners from obtaining exoneration. He is a founding member of the board of directors of the Innocence Network, a consortium of innocence projects throughout the world, and currently serves on the board of the New England Innocence Project.
Professor Medwed was appointed to the rank of University Distinguished Professor in 2018, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Northeastern faculty member. He has earned many teaching prizes over the course of his career. Prior to joining Northeastern, Medwed taught at the University of Utah. He previously served as an instructor at Brooklyn Law School and helped oversee the school’s Second Look Program, where he worked with students to investigate and litigate innocence claims by New York prisoners. He has also worked as an associate appellate counsel at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau, of New York City.
Professor Medwed’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights and the Salvatori Center for Individual Freedom at Claremont McKenna College.
AthDocs: Abundance - How a Group of College Students Started One of The Fastest Growing Nonprofits in the Country
Owen Dubeck '19 is a documentary filmmaker, specializing in telling stories that drive tangible change. His films have raised $1 million+ for social causes, influenced legislation, and have been screened to audiences across the country.
Owen’s documentaries include Free to Care (Audience Award at Austin Film Festival), Paperboy Love Prince Runs for Mayor (Big Sky FF 2023), and Abundance. He has also worked in the editorial department on The Undocumented Lawyer (Tribeca FF 2020), The Urchin Diver (Santa Barbara FF), and Five Years North (Full Frame 2020).
In addition to continuing our AthDocs series, Mr. Dubeck's screening and discussion is co-sponsored by the Kravis Lab for Social Impact at CMC, and is part of the Athenaeum's 40th Anniversary Series, which celebrates the achievements of CMC alumni from across the years and invites them to return home to Claremont.
Aditya Pai '13, moderator
Nick Gillespie is an editor at large at Reason, the libertarian magazine of "free minds and free markets," and host of The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie, a weekly podcast.
A two-time finalist for digital National Magazine Awards for his work on "UPS vs. FEDEX: Ultimate Whiteboard Mix" and the documentary series Reason Saves Cleveland with Drew Carey: How to Fix the Mistake on the Lake and Other Once-Great American Cities, Gillespie is co-author, with Matt Welch, of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America (2011/2012).
"Nick Gillespie is to libertarianism what Lou Reed is to rock ‘n’ roll, the quintessence of its outlaw spirit," writes Robert Draper in The New York Times Magazine. "Gillespie has been a writer, editor and intellectual godfather for Reason, the movement’s leading journal since its founding in 1968." The Daily Beast named him one of "The Right's Top 25 Journalists," calling him "clear-headed, brainy...[and] among the foremost libertarians in America."
Gillespie served as the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV from 2008 through 2017 and was Reason magazine's editor in chief from 2000 to 2008. Under his direction, Reason won the 2005 Western Publications Association "Maggie" Award for Best Political Magazine.
Gillespie originally joined Reason's staff in 1993 as an assistant editor and ascended to the top slot in 2000. In 2004, Gillespie edited the book Choice: The Best of Reason, an anthology of the magazine's best articles. The Washington Post featured Gillespie's tenure at Reason magazine, asking, "Which monthly magazine editor argues that the spread of pornography is a victory for free expression? And that drugs from marijuana to heroin should not only be legalized, but using them occasionally is just fine? And is also quite comfortable with gay marriage? The answer is Nick Gillespie, libertarian and doctor of literature, who...is injecting [Reason] with a pop-culture sensibility."
Gillespie's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Slate, Salon, Time.com, Marketplace, and numerous other publications. He has been a columnist for Time and The Daily Beast and he was a regular contributor to the late, lamented satire site, Suck, where he wrote under the name Mr. Mxyzptlk.
He is a frequent commentator on radio and television networks such as National Public Radio, CNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox Business, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and PBS. He has worked as a reporter for several New Jersey newspapers and as an editor at several Manhattan-based music, movie, and teen magazines. He is almost certainly the only journalist to have interviewed both Ozzy Osbourne and Nobel laureates in economics such as Milton Friedman and Vernon Smith.
In 1996, Gillespie received his Ph.D. in English literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also holds an M.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from Temple University and a B.A. in English and Psychology from Rutgers University. Gillespie, the father of two sons, lives in New York City.
An affiliate of Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Medical School, dubbed by NBC News as the “prodigy of drug politics,” author, consultant, and the only bipartisan drug policy advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations, Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., has studied, researched, written about, and implemented drug policy for more than 25 years. He is currently the President and CEO of both The Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions (FDPS) and SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), two non-profit organizations he founded with Congressman Patrick Kennedy. His first book, Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, was published by Beaufort (Midpoint) in 2013, and its second edition released in 2018. His bestselling book, Smokescreen: What the Marijuana Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know, was distributed by Simon & Schuster in 2021 and released to critical acclaim, and won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in the Social Justice Category. Smokescreen has been optioned for a documentary film by a Hollywood studio for release in 2023 or 2024. His upcoming book, One Nation Under the Influence, will be published by Polity in 2024.
Dr. Sabet’s work as a government advisor began in the Clinton Administration as a researcher, and he was the senior speechwriter on drug policy in the Bush Administration (2002-2003). He returned to government in 2009, where he was asked to assist in drafting President Obama’s National Drug Control Strategy as a senior advisor. In 2011, he stepped down after being the only drug policy staffer to have served as a political appointee in a Democrat and Republican administration. He is a regular speaker with the United Nations and served as an advisor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.
He has since been profiled in Politico, Crain's Business, Salon Magazine, the International Business Times, The Daily Beast, Vox, and many other publications as America's point person on drug policy issues. He has spoken at the Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference, the Aspen Ideas, New Yorker, and Politicon festivals, at the Puebla Ideas Conference to debate the former presidents of Mexico and Colombia, on the Organization of American States blue ribbon commission advising hemispheric drug policy, and in hundreds of forums and discussions. He has been featured on the front page of the New York Times and in virtually every major media publication and news channel on the subject of drug policy. He has published op-eds in the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and dozens of other publications. Dr. Sabet’s regular blog is housed at the Huffington Post and two of his opeds have earned him a “Five Best Columns” distinction by The Atlantic.
Dr. Sabet also regularly advises foreign governments, several non-governmental organizations working to reduce drug abuse and its consequences, and serves in an international role as an advisor, in various capacities, to the United Nations and other multi-national organizations.
He is the winner of numerous drug policy awards, including the 2014 Nils Bejerot Award for Global Drug Prevention, given at Stockholm City Hall by the anti-drug organization chaired by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, the 2019 National Narcotics Lifetime Achievement Award, and the John P. McGovern Award for Drug Prevention given by the Institute for Behavior and Health, and Robert DuPont, the founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
He received his Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters of Science from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar in 2007 and 2002, respectively, and his B.A. with high honors in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001.
Aditya Pai '13 is a 32-year-old public servant and practicing attorney for entrepreneurs, workers, and low-income tenants in need of pro bono help.
Pai is a 2024 Democratic candidate for United States Representative for CA-45 (Artesia, Cerritos, north Orange County). His platform is Service Over Politics: anti-corruption, pro-choice, with a focus on helping working families afford the American Dream.
He earned a B.A. from Claremont McKenna, J.D. from Harvard, M.Phil. from Cambridge. At 22, he managed a California policy think tank. From 24-27, his supervisor was Nobel Laureate in Economics Amartya Sen. Pai joined the California Bar at 26.
Pai was born in Bombay, India and raised in Orange County, CA where he grew up speaking Hindi and Marathi at home and Spanish and English at school. He loves language, ideas, and most of all, people.
This program is co-sponsored by the Dreier Roundtable at CMC, whose mission it is to inspire public service.
Moon Duchin is a professor of mathematics and Senior Fellow in the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. She runs the MGGG Redistricting Lab, an interdisciplinary group of researchers working on the basic science of democracy. They helped commissions and state governments collect public feedback and find better redistricting maps around the country in the last cycle, and Duchin served (or is still serving) as an expert in state and federal court cases in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.
At Tufts, she was the founding director of the interdisciplinary program in Science, Technology, and Society, and she has also been affiliated with Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and with the department of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies. Duchin's work has been honored with a Radcliffe Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In Fall 2023, she is co-organizing a semester program in Algorithms, Fairness, and Equity at the SLMath institute in Berkeley, where she is in residence as the Sloan Professor.
Dr. Duchin's visit is co-sponsored by the Kravis Lab for Social Impact at CMC.
The Bijoux Saxophone Duo started their journey at the prestigious Paris Conservatory, where Aiwen Zhang and Valentin Kovalev were the only two saxophonists admitted in 2018. In 2020, Aiwen and Valentin moved from France to the US to pursue their education at the Universiy of Michigan as the most historical classical saxophone program in the country. Natives of Shanghai and Siberia, both of them had launched their solo careers as concert artists since their childhood, and together they had received over 50 prizes and awards internationally, as well as performed across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Since their first collaboration, their musical connection led to a strong romantic relationship. During the pandemic, the couple decided to stay in touch with the listeners and colleagues through the making of creative content. That was the time they developed their passion for filming and editing. Aiwen and Valentin grew out of their love for musical exploration, thanks to the versatility of the saxophone and their cultural diversity, they are able to fuse different music genres with their classical background to present audience boundary-pushing performances.
Since 2022 they are located in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square, where they share a home with their newborn daughter (born June 7, 2023) and the furry audience of three cats and one dog.
The Athenaeum Concert Series has been organized by founder and director Sheena Hui '19.
Stephen Kotkin is the Kleinheinz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, both at Stanford University. He is also the Birkelund Professor of History and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University, where he taught for 33 years. At Stanford he directs the Hoover History Lab, which uses the past for the analysis of contemporary policy issues. He is at work on his final installment in the Stalin trilogy, this one titled "Totalitarian Superpower."
Professor Kotkin will deliver the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies' 2023-24 Adams Family Distinguished Lecture on International Affairs.
Taylor K. Shaw is a 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 Hollywood & Entertainment list honoree and 2021 Shadow & Act Rising Executive Award Winner.
She is the youngest CEO in the animation industry and one of the brightest game changers in Hollywood. She founded BWA Studios, the first and only animation studio designed to change the world of animation by consciously hiring Black women and animators of color.
BWA is an original content house that creates and develops both adult and children’s programming. Commercially, the company has created award-winning digital and television campaigns for the likes of Hulu, A&E, Warner Bros. Discovery, Mattel, and more. She has been featured in Deadline Hollywood, Emmy Magazine, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and the LA Times for her work empowering marginalized voices in entertainment.
Ms. Shaw's talk is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies and the Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America at CMC.
Dr. Melissa Weininger is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at California State University, Northridge. Her research focuses on Hebrew and Yiddish literature, with an emphasis on contemporary Israeli literature. Her other research interests include gender, nationalism, and popular culture, with a particular interest in Israeli television. Her book Beyond the Land: Diaspora Israeli Culture in the 21st Century, examines the meanings and uses of diaspora in contemporary Israeli literature and art. With Shayna Weiss, she also writes a newsletter on Israeli pop culture called It’s No Ibiza. Her work has recently appeared in the journal Studies in American Jewish Literature as well as several edited volumes, including Applying Jewish Ethics: Beyond the Rabbinic Tradition, The Routledge Handbook of Literary Translingualism, and Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making.
Gwi-Yeop Son began her career in Haiti, assisting HIV/AIDS patients with the non-governmental organization. She then worked with the Country Women’s Association of Nigeria, focusing on microfinance schemes.
In 1994, Ms. Son was posted to Somalia as a Programme Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). After two years in Somalia, she worked in various other locations including Lao PDR, Timor-Leste during the pre-independence period, Indonesia during the first democratic elections and Tsunami 2004 period as well as Thailand. She was also posted in New York to serve as a Programme Adviser on Afghanistan and as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)'s Director of Corporate Programmes. In OCHA, she was responsible for organizing the World Humanitarian Summit and provided direct oversight over work on communications, information services, policy development and humanitarian financing including the CERF and the country based pooled funds. Ms. Son took up her assignment in Sudan as the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in August 2018 until August 2020. Currently, she is working as the Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia with the United Nations Development Coordination Office, supporting 18 countries and territories from Western Balkans, South Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Ms. Son's talk is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.
Jessica Wilson (she/her) is a clinical dietitian and is the co-creator of the Amplify Melanated Voices challenge that went viral in 2020. Jessica has worked as a clinical dietitian since 2007, specializing in eating disorders in marginalized populations. She has worked for institutions including the University of Oregon and University California, Davis. She currently works for Lyon Martin Community Health Services, a collaborative health care clinic in San Francisco serving the queer and trans community of the Bay Area.
Her experiences navigating the dietetic fields as a Black, queer dietitian have been featured in news outlets including ABC Prime Time News, New York Times, Washington Post, The CUT, HuffPo US and UK. Jessica's recently released podcast, “Making It Awkward,” follows Jessica as she creates societal change and interviews others as they do the same.
Wilson’s talk is co-sponsored by the Eating Disorder Task Force Team, OBSA, CMS Athletics, CMC, the CARE Center, Pitzer, Scripps, Nutrition Services and is part of Body Compassion Week.
Jared Clemons, John Wood, Jr., and Briana Toole, panelists
Jared Clemons is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Temple University. His research broadly focuses on political economy, race and racism, political behavior, the politics of education, and American political development. His work has been published in academic journals such as the American Political Science Review (forthcoming), Perspectives on Politics, PS: Political Science & Politics, and Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and he has also been featured in public outlets such as The New York Times, the American Politics and Policy Blog (published by the London School of Economics and Political Science) and The Nation. He is currently working on a book project that traces the political origins of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to understand why it failed to remedy structural racial inequality.
John Wood, Jr., is a former nominee for Congress, an opinion columnist for USA Today, the host of "The Reconstruction Project" on KBLA 1580 in Los Angeles, and is national ambassador for Braver Angels, America's largest grassroots, crosspartisan organization dedicated to political depolarization. A nationally recognized speaker on the subjects of political and racial reconciliation, Wood has addressed audiences ranging from CPAC to the Nantucket Project, with written work appearing in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Quillette Magazine, and Reflections (a journal of the Yale Divinity School). He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
Briana Toole is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. She has published articles on a wide range of subjects, with her research focusing on social identity and knowledge, political resistance and disagreement, and power and ideology. Her work has appeared in Hypatia, Episteme, Analysis, Philosophy Compass, and the Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
Michael Fortner, who will moderate the conversation, is the Pamela B. Gann Associate Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. He is Director of the Dreier Roundtable at CMC, and also a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University. He is the author of Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment (Harvard University Press, 2015) and co-editor of Urban Citizenship and American Democracy (SUNY Press, 2016).
This panel is co-sponsored by the Dreier Roundtable at CMC, whose mission it is to inspire public service, and by the Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America.