Initiatives for 2013-2014

Conversations with Robert George '77 and Cornel West

In February 2014, the Aydelotte Foundation brought these well-known Princeton professors to the College for seminar-style sessions with students and also a special campus-wide meeting. George and West’s visit explored what it means for intellectuals to learn from each other despite deep differences of opinion. Collectively we asked ourselves – what does it mean to be committed collectively to justice when we have different conceptions of justice? How can we remain true to our own deep convictions while maintaining respect for those who have reached sharply different conclusions? More 

Critical Examinations of Community

This year-long, four-part series was crafted to explore perspectives on the concept of community, highlighting the diversity of understandings and experiences of this idea. Focused conversations addressed problems related to how race, class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity intersect and manifest in the life of the College. Programs included two panels featuring faculty, staff and students; text-based discussions; and a public lecture by Penn Professor John L. Jackson, Jr. titled “Practicing Impolite Conversations: Talking About Race, Religion, Politics, and Everything Else.” Watch

Faculty Retreat

In the fall of 2013, the Foundation hosted the College's first-ever full faculty retreat. At the retreat, faculty reflected upon how we have handled change at the College over the years and what resources we have as a community to deal with change, as well as what academic disciplines tell us about making change. Participants considered the Swarthmore experience from a fresh perspective, learning from faculty members who have returned to the student experience by sitting in on each other’s classes. And finally, the group discussed anticipated changes in knowledge, student experience, and teaching practices to think about how we can continue to provide the best possible learning experience at the College.

Faculty Research Seminar on Poverty and Inequality

In the fall of 2013, the Foundation instituted a new faculty research seminar series intended to provide a space where ideas, questions and analysis about a topic can be explored, tested, challenged and refined. The inaugural research seminar focused on poverty and inequality. Ten participants met regularly, providing an opportunity for rich interdisciplinary engagement. Says one of the participants, “It was, in a nutshell the most ideal learning environment I have experienced since leaving graduate school.”

The Future of the Liberal Arts: A Symposium Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of Swarthmore College 

This day-long symposium explored the future of liberal arts education in a rapidly changing world and also the role of liberal arts colleges in shaping better citizens and fostering democratic participation. The program featured Swarthmore alumni who are leaders in the liberal arts and was kicked off with a keynote address by Mary Schmidt Campbell '69, dean of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Programming continued with panels on "The Future of Knowledge" and "Fostering a Democratic Society through Education." Watch

“Now You See It: Why the Future of Higher Education Demands a Paradigm Shift” featuring Cathy Davidson 

This public lecture by Duke professor Cathy Davidson explored how technology and brain science will transform schools and business for the 21st century. Professor Davidson spoke about how we are on the threshold of a monumental transformation in higher education, one aimed at the needs and expectations of the next generation of resilient, connected, self-paced, peer-inspired, creative, multidisciplinary, and multicultural global learners. Listen

Second Tuesday Science Cafes 

Organized for all faculty and staff and presented by faculty members, Science Cafes were geared for individuals with no formal science background – a curiosity about science and a willingness to learn about new concepts were the only requirements. Eight faculty members presented this past academic year on topics ranging from fracking to machine learning to pesticides. Talks lasted about 35 minutes, allowing plenty of time for questions and answers. 

Toni Morrison Book Group

Inspired by Toni Morrison’s visit to campus (as part of the Cooper Series), the Foundation convened a book discussion group (offered in three separate sections) focusing on the works of Toni Morrison. The book group was designed with community engagement in mind and aimed to provide an enriching and fun opportunity for all employees of the College. Reading materials were provided by the Foundation.