Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC


Current Semester Schedule

Mon, October 30, 2023
Dinner Program
Ben Kiernan

How does the Cambodian tragedy of Pol Pot's revolution (1975-1979) fit into the global history of genocide? The Cambodian case can be understood as part of a long history of mass atrocities stemming back to ancient Sparta, but also drawing from modernity. In his lecture, Professor Ben Kiernan, founder of Yale University's Genocide Studies Program, and General Editor of the new 3-volume Cambridge World History of Genocide, will present the case of Cambodia in the light of ancient and modern genocides, delineating the importance of history, specific cultural contexts, and patterns in genocidal ideas and practices.

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Ben Kiernan is the A.Whitney Griswold Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University, and a Faculty Affiliate in International Security Studies at the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs. He was founding Director of the Cambodian Genocide Program (1994-99) and of the Genocide Studies Program ( from 1998-2015, and was chair of Yale’s Council on Southeast Asia Studies from 2010-15. He is the General Editor of The Cambridge World History of Genocide (3 vols., 2023).

Kiernan is the author of How Pol Pot Came to Power (1985); The Pol Pot Regime (1996); Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia (2007); Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007); and Việt Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present (2017). His work has appeared in fourteen languages, and is featured in Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings, and in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide.

Blood and Soil won the Independent Publishers’ 2008 gold medal for the best work of history, and the 2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for the best book dealing with the Holocaust in its broadest context. Its German translation was Nonfiction Book of the Month. Kiernan received the 2002 Critical Asian Studies Prize for the anthology Conflict and Change in Cambodia, and a 2018 “Inspiring Yale Award” in the Yale School of Graduate Studies. For three decades, Kiernan documented the crimes of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime. Under his direction, Yale’s Cambodian Genocide Program established the Documentation Center of Cambodia, uncovered the archives of the Khmer Rouge secret police, detailed the case for an international tribunal, and won multiple internet awards.

Professor Kiernan's lecture is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.

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Wed, November 1, 2023
Dinner Program
Linda Alterwitz

Linda Alterwitz, a multi-disciplinary artist, will talk about her journey, practice and inspirations as she weaves us through a unique perspective merging art and science. She will address several bodies of work completed over the past 16 years using medical diagnostic imagery as a tool for artistic inspiration. Included in the presentation is her recent series "Injection Site: Making the Vaccine Visible" where she uses infrared thermography to reveal traces of humanity's involuntary reaction to vaccination.

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Multi-disciplinary artist Linda Alterwitz uses the authenticity of science and the believability that comes with diagnostic imagery to create work that has an electric presence. Combined with nature, the union elevates the two elements to a place of unexpected beauty.

The fusion of opposites best summarizes her work – the known versus the unknown, the rational versus emotional. At a time when science is so often maligned, she believes it to be a vast source of creative possibilities. Her hope is that her art will encourage people to consider the mysterious relationship between the unseen rhythms of the human body and our ongoing connection to a natural world in flux.

Ms. Alterwitz's presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic for Humanistic Studies and the Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences (KDIS) at CMC.

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Thu, November 2, 2023
Dinner Program
Anna Grzymala-Busse

Is autocracy contagious? Putin's support for the far-right in Europe or the links between Hungary's Fidesz and other political parties suggest that an "illiberal international" is at work, including in the United States. Anna Grzymala-Busse, professor of International Studies at Stanford, argues that the impact of these efforts is limited, and we should worry more about domestic efforts than international diffusion.

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Anna Grzymala-Busse is the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University, and Senior Fellow and Director of the Europe Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford.

Her research focuses on the development of the state and its transformation, political parties, religion and politics, and post-communist politics. Other areas of interest include democratic backsliding, informal institutions, and corruption.

She is the author of four books: Redeeming the Communist Past: The Regeneration of Communist Successor Parties; Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Development in Post-Communist Europe; Nations Under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Politics and Sacred Foundations: the Religious and Medieval Roots of the European State.

Grzymala-Busse is currently the director of the Europe Center at Stanford University, and previously served as the director of the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD from Harvard University, her MPhil from Cambridge University, and her AB from Princeton University. She is a recipient of the Carnegie and Guggenheim Fellowships, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Grzymala-Busse's talk is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom at CMC.

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Tue, November 7, 2023
Dinner Program
Annie Lowrey

The concept of universal basic income (UBI) has gained attention as the wealth gap widens in the US, despite a strong economy. The growing concern that AI could replace technical jobs has further increased interest amongst policymakers and scholars.

Join us for a conversation with Annie Lowrey, staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World, in discussion with Professor Cameron Shelton, director of CMC's Lowe Institute of Political Economy.

Their talk will delve into the feasibility of UBI, examining its target beneficiaries, and evaluating potential moral hazards. They will also explore the question of how the US could realistically fund a meaningful UBI and whether there is a path toward bipartisan support.

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Annie Lowrey is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She is the author of Give People Money (2018), which was shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Prior to joining The Atlantic, she was a staff writer for The New York Times and New York magazine, as well as the Moneybox columnist for Slate. At The Atlantic, she writes about the economy and politics.

The discussion between Ms. Lowrey and Professor Shelton is co-sponsored by the Lowe Institute of Political Economy at CMC, as part of the Institute's Public Policy Speaker Series.

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Wed, November 8, 2023
Dinner Program
Michael Brenner

Exactly one-hundred years ago, on November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler tried to come to power in Munich through an insurrection. His coup, which started in a beer hall, failed and he was arrested. He received a lenient punishment, was released from prison after less than one year, rebuilt his Nazi party, and became dictator of Germany ten years later. This lecture will focus on the rise of political extremism and antisemitism in Munich after World War One and asks why a convicted insurrectionist was allowed to return and to destroy the fledgling German democracy.

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Professor Michael Brenner is a German historian who researches and publishes on the history of Jews and Israel. Brenner has authored eight books on Jewish History, which were translated into twelve languages and he is the editor and co-editor of eighteen books. He is the chair of Jewish History and Culture at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. He is also Distinguished Professor of History and Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies at American University and serves as International President of the Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of German-Jewish History.

In 2021, Michael Brenner was the first recipient of the Baron Award for Scholarly Excellence in Research of the Jewish Experience. His latest publication is In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism, (Princeton University Press 2022).

Professor Brenner’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College.

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Thu, November 9, 2023
Dinner Program
Ben Laude

The Athenaeum Concert Series presents Renewal from Ashes – War, Destruction, Remembrance, Peace in its inaugural 2023-24 season, inviting five celebrated guest artists to speak about and perform music composed at times of war.

For the second concert in the series, "Destruction," we examine how, for more than a century, nation states have called upon particular works of classical music to serve as propaganda in times of war and political strife. While Allied Forces during World War II most notably turned to the “fate motive” from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony as a symbol of victory, another popular symphonic work in C minor – Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto – played a comparable role in the 1944 Allied propaganda film Victory in Tunisia, a year before it was immortalized in the soundtrack of the 1945 British film Brief Encounter. Composed at the turn of the 20th century in pre-Revolutionary Russia, the Concerto is paradigmatic of the Romantic piano concerto tradition, its fateful dramatic arc and potent symbols of love and heroic triumph all readily exploitable by nations with populations reeling from destruction and loss.


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Ben Laude is a concert pianist, music educator, and video producer whose playing has been described by the New York Times as “superb in pace, tone, and eloquence.” He has performed in recent seasons with the Southern Tier Symphony, New Amsterdam Symphony, and Austin Civic Orchestras and has been heard in live broadcasts on WQXR (New York), WFMT (Chicago), and WWFM. He has created hundreds of video lessons and interviews with dozens of world class pianists for the online music education platform Tonebase and received a YouTube Silver Creator Award for the Tonebase Piano YouTube channel. Laude has held faculty positions at Bard College-Conservatory and New York’s Suzuki School for Strings and holds degrees in piano performance from Rice University and the Juilliard School.

The Athenaeum Concert Series has been organized by founder and director Sheena Hui '19.

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Mon, November 13, 2023
Lunch Program
Takako Mino '11 and Elaine Alowo Matovu

How did a CMC student end up embarking on a journey that has led her to co-found the first liberal arts college in Uganda? Join Takako Mino '11 and her co-founder Elaine Alowo Matovu, prolific social and educational entrepreneurs, who will discuss their journey to create Musizi University, and how they hope to equip the next generation of Uganda's leaders with the confidence, empathy, and creativity to find local solutions to local problems.

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Takako Mino '11 is an educator with 12 years of teaching experience and co-founder of the upcoming Musizi University in Uganda. Takako was born in Japan and grew up in the US. She obtained her Bachelor’s in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College and her PhD in Education from Claremont Graduate University.

One of her major turning points was studying abroad in Uganda and being deeply moved by the warmth and humanism of the Ugandan people.

After introducing a public debate program that reached 50,000 students in East Africa, Takako served as a high school English teacher in California public schools for 6 years. She lectured in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department of Ashesi University in Ghana for 5 years.

Takako's scholarship explores the role of education in cultivating humanity in young people. In 2022, she co-edited a book on integrating indigenous knowledges in higher education.

Elaine Alowo Matovu is an education entrepreneur and co-founder of The North Green School and the upcoming Musizi University. The North Green School is an affordable school, committed to giving a quality, value-based education to middle and lower-middle income families in Uganda.

From 30 students when it first opened in 2017, the school now has nearly 900 students and a steadily growing waiting list. Elaine is also a lawyer with extensive experience in engaging with startups, corporate law, and land acquisitions.

Elaine obtained her Bachelors in Law from Makerere University. As a mother of four children and a proud Ugandan, Elaine is deeply passionate about creating viable alternative education models within the Ugandan context.

Elaine is committed to conserving the environment and grooming young individuals who are intentional about making an impactful change in their communities. She has had a longstanding interest in exploring Uganda’s history and indigenous knowledges.

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Mon, November 13, 2023
Dinner Program
The ASCMC Social Life Working Group and Profs. Radhika Koul and Ahona Panda

Join the Athenaeum and ASCMC's Social Life Working Group for the second installment of Around the World at the Ath, a new series designed to combine faculty and student expertise about international cultures and traditions with great cuisine, music, and fun programming. For this installment, we highlight South Asia by celebrating Diwali, the "festival of lights!" CMC professors Radhika Koul and Ahona Panda, experts on South Asian literature, culture, and history, will join us to share some of their expertise about the holiday and their current research, while you enjoy South Asian food from the Athenaeum kitchen and regional music.


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Radhika Koul is Assistant Professor of Literature and Mellon Emerging Scholar at CMC. She At Stanford, she was a Next Generation Scholars Fellow and a Dissertation Prize Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, 2021-2023. Koul’s research and teaching probe the way literature and philosophy from South Asia emerge into conversations governed by an implicit Western logic: whether cognitive aesthetics, literary criticism or education itself. To that end, she is working on a book manuscript entitled Re-cognitions: Spectating Theater, Self and World in Medieval Kashmir and Early Modern Europe. Much of Koul’s recent work has been interdisciplinary, straddling contemporary research in neuroscience and artificial intelligence with the age-old study of how literature works on the human mind. In 2022-23, she was a Graduate Fellow with Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). Koul earned her BA in Literature from Yale and two graduate degrees from Stanford: a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and an M.S. in Symbolic Systems, otherwise known as cognitive science.

Ahona Panda is Assistant Professor of History at CMC. Her research and teaching interests span modern South Asia and decolonization, the British empire; religious and linguistic nationalism; caste and race; print and book history, the history of political movements and the organised left, working-class histories, gender and sexuality studies, world literatures, and critical theory.

She is currently working on a book manuscript Bengal Undivided: The Politics of Language and the Limits of Nationalism based on her dissertation that won the 2020 Sardar Patel Award, awarded by Center for India and South Asia at UCLA, for the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of modern India.The book aims to provide a new account of the Hindu-Muslim relationship in South Asia through a renewed attention to the politics of language. Traditional accounts of this relationship frame it in terms of enmity and competing religious nationalisms culminating in the Partition of 1947. By focusing on Bengali as a shared language on which a shared sense of community could be forged, she uncovers a hidden history of friendship and collaboration that helped to generate new possibilities across three nation-states (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) over the course of the twentieth century.

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Tue, November 14, 2023
Lunch Program
Branwen Williams

Human-caused climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing life on Earth.  In this talk, Branwen Williams, George R. Roberts Professor of Integrated Sciences: Environmental Science at Claremont McKenna College, will trace her journey researching the influence of burning fossil fuels on our planet.  She will share insights into the implications of these changes for society now and in the future, and provide tangible actions for mitigation and adaptation to provide optimism in this rapidly changing world.

Professor Williams' Athenaeum presentation celebrates her installation ceremony as the George R. Roberts Professor of Integrated Sciences: Environmental Science at Claremont McKenna College.


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Branwen Williams is the George R. Roberts Professor of Integrated Sciences: Environmental Science at Claremont McKenna College and the Director of the Roberts Environmental Center. Her research seeks to understand the response of our environment to human activities. To do this, she develops and interprets records of environmental variability in our oceans, from the tropics to the poles. She also works with local communities to help build resilience to climate change.

Branwen received her B.Sc. from the University of Guelph, Canada, her M.Sc. from the University of Quebec at Montreal, and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. She is a National Geographic Explorer, and her research is funded by the National Science Foundation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She was the Co-Director of Envirolab Asia, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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Tue, November 14, 2023
Dinner Program
Chris Temple '12 and Zach Ingrasci '12, directors
David Bjerk, discussant

Chris Temple '12 and Zach Ingrasci '12 created their first award-winning documentary in their dorm room at CMC. The film, Living on One Dollar, became a global phenomenon on Netflix and helped launch their non-profit production studio Optimist. Since then, the duo has created over 15 films that have been released globally by Netflix, HBO, PBS and The Atlantic and have helped raise over $92.5 million for charitable causes. 

For their newest film, This Is Not Financial Advice, they spent the last few years exploring the risks and rewards of financial markets through expert commentary and the anxiety-inducing stories of new investors trying to make millions overnight. Coming off its premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, the film was called a "thought-provoking masterpiece" by the Washington Post. The film follows Glauber “Pro” Contessoto—an immigrant working multiple jobs and living in a 220-square-foot apartment—who gambles his life savings on a joke cryptocurrency. Two months later, he becomes “The Dogecoin Millionaire” and a hero to his growing YouTube following. It’s easy to get rich online. But as Pro will soon discover, it’s even easier to lose it all. 

We hope you'll join us for an exclusive screening of the film before its global release in early 2024.

After the film screening, we will hold a discussion and Q&A with both directors, who will be joined by CMC's own David Bjerk, the Russell S. Bock Professor of Public Economics and Taxation, and Chair of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

**For this exclusive screening, please note that the film will begin at approximately 6:10 PM, and continue during dinner. The discussion and Q&A will begin at 7:45 PM, with the program concluding by 8:30 PM.** 

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Chris Temple ‘12 and Zach Ingrasci ‘12 are film directors and the founders of Optimist, a production studio in Los Angeles. They are best known for directing the feature documentaries Living On One Dollar, Salam Neighbor, Five Years North, and This Is Not Financial Advice. Their films have been released by Netflix, HBO, Hulu, National Geographic, and The Atlantic, and have screened at major film festivals including Tribeca, DOC NYC, Full Frame, AFI Docs, CPH:DOX, Mountainfilm, and many others.

Chris and Zach have been honored as a finalist for the duPont-Columbia award for outstanding journalism; awarded the Muslim Public Affairs Council Annual Media Award; and recognized alongside Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie as one of the top 100 visionary leaders by YPO's Real Leaders Magazine. His work has won 1 Gold Telly Award, 1 Imagen Award, 4 Shorty Awards, 2 ADDY Awards, 1 Webby Award, and 2 AVA Digital Awards. In 2022, they were honored by DOCNYC and HBO as 40 under 40 filmmakers to watch.

Every film they make at Optimist is structured with a social impact campaign to change minds, lives, and policies. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, Variety, and The Atlantic, and has helped raise over $92.5 million dollars for poverty alleviation and refugee support efforts.

David Bjerk is the Russell S. Bock Professor of Public Economics and Taxation, and Chair of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance at Claremont McKenna College. His research areas include public economics, labor economics, and the law, primarily focusing on crime and the criminal justice system, as well as issues of race, gender, and poverty in the labor market. Prior to arriving at Claremont McKenna, he was an Assistant Professor of Economics at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario and an NICHD Research Fellow in Population Studies at the RAND Corporation. He received his B.A. from Carleton College and my M.S. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This exclusive screening is co-sponsored by the Financial Economics Institute and the Student Investment Fund at CMC. This program is also 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.

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Wed, November 15, 2023
Dinner Program
Meredith Stiehm

For 148 days, from May 2 to September 27, 2023, the over 10,000 members of the Writers Guild of America engaged in the longest strike action they had taken since 1988. What was at stake, and what did the writers want? How did the Guild prepare, negotiate, choose to strike, keep up solidarity -- and ultimately go on to win an exceptional contract?

Meredith Stiehm, President of the Writers Guild of America-West, will discuss these questions and more, touching on the realities of life as a creative professional and labor leader in Hollywood, as well as the most pressing issues facing the entertainment industry today, from AI to streaming services.

**This is a "flipped Ath" event, in conjunction with the Open Academy: the reception will be held at 5:30 PM as usual, followed directly by the public presentation at 6:00 PM. Dinner (and conversation!) will follow at 6:45 PM, and then Q&A at 7:30 PM.**

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Meredith Stiehm is an Emmy award-winning television producer and writer, and is currently serving her third year as President of the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW). Before that, she served on the WGAW Board of Directors for six years. She has been a member of the Writers Guild since 1994.

Meredith created the television dramas Cold Case and The Bridge. She was also a writer/producer on Homeland, ER, and NYPD Blue. She has written pilots for HBO, Showtime, Amazon, and various other networks. She holds a degree in English and playwriting from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Thu, November 16, 2023
Dinner Program
Andrew Morton

Royal author Andrew Morton, in conversation with CMC History professor Jonathan Petropoulos, will discuss the British monarchy, including important aspects of the institution's history in the twentieth century, the state of the British royal family today, and what we might expect in the future. Morton will also discuss the Netflix series The Crown in terms of its accuracy and the insights the series provides into the lives of British royals. Andrew Morton, who wrote the important 1992 book, Diana, Her True Story--In Her Own Words was himself portrayed in The Crown last season. Sharing his insights into both the British royals and the television series, Morton stands out as a leading authority on the U.K. monarchy.

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Andrew Morton is one of the world’s best-known and successful biographers.  Not only is he an acknowledged authority on British and European royalty but he has written numerous New York Times number one best sellers on modern celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna.

His sensational account of Princess Diana’s life, written with her full cooperation, changed for forever the way the world viewed the royal family. The biography, called Diana, Her True Story, was an international smash, translated into 35 languages and inspiring numerous films, documentaries and commentaries. As Tina Brown declared in The Diana Chronicles: ‘The journalist Morton most reminds me of is Bob Woodward.’. 

His book, 17 Carnations, about the links between the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Nazis, was another New York Times bestseller, Morton vividly illuminating a dark corner of royal history. Morton's biography of the Duchess of Windsor, called Wallis in Love, gave a very different perspective on the ‘royal romance of the century,’ with striking insights based on a treasure trove of hitherto unseen documents. Morton’s biography, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, examined how a girl from Woodland Hills challenged the British monarchy. His last two biographies focused on the relationship between the Queen and her younger sister, Princess Margaret and most recently, with The Queen: Her Life, he took a very personal look at the impact Her Majesty the Queen had on his own life - and the wider world. 

Jonathan Petropoulos is the John V. Croul Professor of European History at CMC, where he has taught since 1999. He is the author of five monographs, including Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany (Oxford UP, 2008) and most recently, Goering's Man in Paris: The Story of a Nazi Art Plunderer and His World (Yale UP, 2021).

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Mon, November 20, 2023
Dinner Program
The ASCMC Social Life Working Group and the Claremont Colleges Debate Union

The Athenaeum and ASCMC's Social Life Working Group present this fall's final installment of Around the World at the Ath, a new series designed to combine faculty and student expertise about international cultures and traditions with great cuisine, music, and fun programming. For this installment, we return to the United States to celebrate Thanksgiving -- or do we? One Thanksgiving "tradition" in America is debate: from pecan pie vs. pumpkin pie to sweet potatoes vs. yams, not to mention "livelier" family disputes, Americans love to disagree at the dinner table.

To celebrate this American tradition, we bring back the Claremont Colleges Debate Union for a lighthearted take on one of our most popular programs, Debate Night at the Ath. The evening's proposition: "Americans should celebrate Thanksgiving!" Join us for a festive meal, while participating in the debate through heckling, moderated discussion, and a final vote.

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Crystal Widado '27, moderator, is in their first year at CMC. In the Debate Union, they help coordinate national and international education outreach initiatives, including middle school and high school leagues, workshops, and summer residential programs.

Louis Layman '26, debater, directs Debate Union professional communication programs, including townhall reviews of Republican candidate debates, a guest lecture on photographic atomic history by the former Artist-in-Residence at Cal Tech, and the Debate Union’s public policy podcast series, Uncommon Ground. As a high school student, he won top international debate competitions in China and Vietnam.

Yui Kurosawa '26, debater, is one of the top public performers for the Debate Union, participating in panel discussions, presidential debate commentary, and public debates.

The Claremont Colleges Debate Union (CCDU), directed by John Meany, is a 5C program centered at Claremont McKenna College; it is among the largest and most successful college debating societies in the nation. The Debate Union offers three major debate and communication programs – intercollegiate competitive debating, public/professional communication training and events, and educational outreach. Programming is national and international. Students may participate in any or all programming.

Members of the CCDU attend 25 or more debate tournaments each year. CCDU teams have won 5 national championships (varied formats) and placed second five times, ranked in the nation’s top ten in 24 of the past 29 years, and received many, many hundreds of team and individual awards at major national and international competitions. Additionally, the CCDU's Public Debate Program has served hundreds of thousands of middle and high school students in the US and in 39 other countries, primarily representing socially and economically marginalized communities. CCDU students produce text and video curricular materials, conduct educational research, direct instructional seminars for secondary school teachers and students, manage tournament operations, and judge at competitions. The Public Debate Program's US middle school national debate championship is now the largest debate tournament competition in the country.

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Tue, November 28, 2023
Dinner Program
Lisa Koch

When leaders make nuclear threats, what are the implications for conflict and war? Why has Vladimir Putin issued nuclear threats in the context of the Russian war in Ukraine, and are those threats credible? In this talk, Lisa Koch will use past examples of threats and promises across the nuclear age as a foundation for thinking about how to interpret nuclear threats, and leaders’ responses to those threats.

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Lisa Koch is Assistant Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. ​She received the 2023 Glenn R. Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching by a vote of the student body. Koch specializes in international relations. She is the author of the book Nuclear Decisions: Changing the Course of Nuclear Weapons Programs (Oxford University Press, 2023), and articles on topics like nuclear proliferation and foreign policy. Koch is a 2021 Stanton Foundation Nuclear Security Grant Program winner. Her work has also been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. She is a 2000 Harry S. Truman Scholar.

Professor P. Edward ("Ed") Haley (1939 - 2023) was the W. M. Keck Foundation Professor Emeritus of International Strategic Studies. He first arrived at CMC in 1968, eventually chairing the International Relations program and becoming the inaugural director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies in 1984. From 2008 - 2014, he served as the director of the Center for Human Rights Leadership (now the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights). A highly esteemed expert in U.S. foreign policy—specifically U.S. policy in the Middle East, U.S.-European relations, and nuclear safety and arms control—Haley conducted research with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He was a prolific publisher of academic works, including Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security and Strategies of Dominance: The Misdirections of U.S. Foreign Policy. His book, Revolution and Intervention: The Diplomacy of Taft and Wilson with Mexico, 1913-1915, won the Premio Sahagun, awarded by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History.  Haley earned a B.A. in History and M.A. in Political Science from Stanford University, along with a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Relations. In addition, he was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1962-64. He passed away on June 30, 2023, at the age of 83, and he is missed by generations of CMC faculty, staff, and students.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights.

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Wed, December 6, 2023
Dinner Program
Noah Mesel '83 P'25, piano
Adrian Flynn '25, guitar
...and YOU!

Join the Athenaeum to celebrate a beloved CMC tradition to cap off the semester: The "Singing Party!"

For decades, renowned Professor of Government Ward Elliott (1937 - 2022) held "singing parties" every semester in his home. Featuring his wife Myrna's legendary seven-layer dip, Ward's guitar and piano, and an abundance of good cheer, these events drew crowds of students, faculty, staff, and friends, who all gathered to sing folk songs from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and beyond.

After dinner, we'll gather 'round the the piano with Noah Mesel '83 P'25, a student of Professor Elliott's, and our own Woolley Athenaeum Fellow Adrian Flynn '25, on guitar, who will lead us in an evening of song. But remember: this is a singing party, so attendees should feel free to bring their own instruments (guitars especially) and song requests. Don't know the songs? No problem -- we'll have lyrics for you. But come ready to sing!

Possible songs include: 

Blowin’ in the Wind

California Dreamin

The MTA Song

The Sound of Silence

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

Build Me Up Buttercup

16 Tons

Puff the Magic Dragon

Wonderful World (Don’t Know Much About History)

Surfer Girl

Tainted Love

… and your favorites!

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Noah Mesel ’83 P’25 was a student of Ward Elliott’s at CMC, as well as an avid attendee of multiple singing parties.  Some might say he was a repeat offender!  His daughter Rachel is a junior studying Philosophy and Public Policy.  He holds a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law (which also conferred a law degree on Professor Elliott), and has served as general counsel for several public and private Silicon Valley companies.  He is currently Chief Legal Officer at QuSecure, Inc., a quantum-resilient encryption software company where Skip Sanzeri ’83 serves as Chief Operating Officer.  When Noah is not practicing and performing on the piano, he trains in martial arts: he holds a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Adrian Flynn '25, an International Relations and Public Policy dual major from New York City, is a Woolley Athenaeum Fellow this academic year. Alongside his interest in international space policy and science diplomacy, Adrian is an artist and guitarist.

Professor Ward E.Y. Elliott (1937 - 2022) was the Burnet C. Wohlford Professor Emeritus of American Political Institutions. He joined the CMC faculty in 1968, and had the rare distinction of serving under all five CMC Presidents. A scholar of American government, constitutional law, the Supreme Court, and the economy, Elliott held three degrees from Harvard, and served for two years as Order of Battle Officer in the U.S Army's 1st Cavalry Division at the Korean DMZ. His interests extended into smog prevention and Shakespeare; a prolific author, he published numerous articles in journals including Ethics, Shakespeare Quarterly, Oxfordian, Tennessee Law Review, Computers in the Humanities, and the Transportation Quarterly. Alongside John Roth and Gordon Bjork, he co-founded CMC's Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program in 1985. Even after his retirement in 2014, Elliott remained active at CMC, attending his last Athenaeum dinner in October 2022. He passed away on December 6, 2022, exactly one year ago, at the age of 85, and is missed by generations of CMC faculty, staff, and students.

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Phone: (909) 607-8244


Phone: (909) 621-8244
Fax: (909) 621-8579