Expanding horizons at the Ath

View of CMC’s first 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers event dinner in the patio from inside the auditorium.
February 7, 2022

75th Distinguished Speaker Series at the Ath

Spring 2022


Wed., March 2
Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and the Ethics of Capitalism
Jennifer Burns
Historian and biographer Jennifer Burns, associate professor of history at Stanford University and research fellow at the Hoover Institution, will explore the ideas and lives of novelist Ayn Rand and economist Milton Friedman.

Wed., March 9
A Conversation with Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill
Fiona Hill, senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institute, will discuss European and Russian affairs, intelligence, and security issues. (Moderated by Prof. Hilary Appel)

Wed., March 23
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Daron Acemoglu
Daron Acemoglu, professor of applied economics at MIT, argues that nations live or die on the soundness of their institutions, the fairness of their laws, and the transparency of their governments.

Tues., March 29
Race and Commerce: The American Experience

Glenn Loury
Glenn Loury, the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University, will discuss the historical, social, and economic perspectives of the legacy of race on the American experience. (Moderated by Prof. Michael Fortner)

Thurs., March 31
Science and Policy — (Title TBA)

Naomi Oreskes
Naomi Oreskes is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science and an Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Her work includes science policy, history of environmental sciences, and the philosophy of science.

Mon, April 18, 2022 — Dinner Program
Unity and Division — (Title TBA)

Martha S. Jones
A legal and cultural historian whose work examines how Black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy, Martha Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, Professor of History, and a Professor at the SNF Agora Institute at The Johns Hopkins University.

Wed, April 20
Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

Jared Diamond
Based on his 2019 book Upheaval, Jared Diamond reveals how successful nations recover from crisis through selective change. Looking ahead to the future, he investigates whether we can still learn from the lessons of the past.

Alumni, parents, and friends of the College, please register for the 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers on the alumni and parent website.
CMC faculty and staff, please register on the Athenaeum website.

Spirited and civil dialogue will once again be centerstage at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum this spring, with a stellar speakers line up that boasts a Nobel laureate and multiple Pulitzer Prize winners.

Beginning Feb. 8, the Ath will welcome notable speakers ranging from nationally recognized experts in foreign affairs and science policy, to historians and journalists, as well as poets and anthropologists, who will undoubtedly spark lively discussions and the exchange of ideas that are the hallmark of the beloved CMC institution. 

In addition, the Ath’s spring programming will feature the 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speaker Series, focused on three academic collaboration themes in honor of the College’s 75th year: Civilization and Commerce, Unity and Division, and Science and Policy. (Please see sidebar for details.)

A night time view of inside the Ath from the northern patio. Atul Gawande presents from the podium in 2021.
75th Anniversary Distinguished Speaker Atul Gawande in 2021.

Ath Director Priya Junnar affirms that the lineup of speakers is “exciting” which is one of the reasons why she’s “really appreciative of being back in person” this spring. Junnar acknowledges, however, that, “We’re starting a bit later than we had originally planned due to COVID adjustments upon returning to campus this semester.” 

Ath speakers previously scheduled between January 24 to February 3—including CMC's 2022 MLK Commemorative Speaker, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum—are being rescheduled. The Ath will adhere to all of the College’s health and safety protocols, and for the first week of the spring programming, adopt a modified schedule.

“Basically, I think the name of the game this semester is to be nimble and adapt to whatever the circumstances are,” Junnar said. 

Fortunately, Junnar is accustomed to this approach, as planning 40 evening speakers a semester—80 total for the academic year—can be a logistical challenge. To help steward the evenings, the three Ath Fellows—Maya Ghosh ’22, Maria Gutierrez-Vera ’22, and Maya Kurkhill ’23—will be on hand, introducing guests and helping to moderate the Q&A that follows each talk.

Candid photo of the head table dinner on the Athenaeum Patio during the first Distinguished Speakers event of 2021.
Students enjoy dinner and conversation during CMC’s first 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers event in 2021.

Ghosh sees the Ath as enriching the CMC experience, and growing “students’ understanding of the world, pushing our academic horizons,” she said. 

Indonesian American poet Cynthia Dewi Oka, author of the collection Fire Is Not a Country, will be the first Ath speaker of the spring semester in a program co-hosted by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.

The spring slate will also include historian Annette Gordon-Reed, Nobel Laureate Louise Gluck, author Erik Larson, and lawyer-advocate Anita Hill. Parents and alumni will also join the programming, including Vivan Marwaha '17, the author of What Millennials Want; Erik Anderson ’80 P'23, founder and CEO of WestRiver Group; and Scott Ellsworth P'24, an award-winning writer and historian. In addition, writer-producer Matt Pyken ’83 (“Empire”) and Datta Dave ’02 will discuss Dave’s unorthodox career path from a CMC economics-accounting major to the founder of Mumbai-based Tulsea, a leading talent, writers and directors agency.
As Junnar considers the upcoming semester at the Ath, overall she feels “grateful that we continue to be such an important part of the CMC experience.”

For more information about the spring schedule and to register, visit the Athenaeum site.

Anne Bergman


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