Initiatives for 2015-2016

Robert Putnam '63

Robert Putnam '63 spoke with students in associate professor Ben Berger's class, prior to an Aydelotte lecture on inequality, access and opportunity.

Faculty Dinner Discussions

The Aydelotte Foundation is excited to offer a new initiative that will help faculty get to know their colleagues’ scholarly work more deeply. Aydelotte Foundation Faculty Dinner Discussions will occur several times over the course of each semester. At these dinners, a small group of faculty will gather to discuss a short piece of published work by one of our colleagues. Dinner conversation will encompass a brief presentation of the work by the featured author and also questions posed by the group. This is a dinner-party, Swarthmore-style.

Faculty Research Seminar on Collaboration

The Aydelotte Foundation’s next faculty research seminar, held during Spring 2016, will bring together faculty members for a series of rich interdisciplinary conversations and inquiries on the theme of collaboration. Co-convened by Rachel Sagner Buurma and Lynne Steuerle Schofield, the seminar will focus on seminar members' individual and collective interests and expertise while also extending outward to include other interlocutors at Swarthmore and beyond. We will experiment with small collaborative projects, host visiting experts in related fields, have and record conversations on scholarship on collaboration, and seek out new forms of collaborative inquiry. Topics will include definitions of collaboration across disciplines, formal and informal collaboration, modes of describing collaboration, metrics and measures of collaborations, failed collaborations, digital and analog tools for collaboration, literary and historical forms of collaboration, and the cost/benefit analyses of collaboration.

Higher Ed Coffee Hour

The Aydelotte Foundation invites faculty and staff to join us several times over the course of the spring semester for coffee, donuts, and a discussion of current issues in higher education. We want to know: What are you reading and thinking about? Which higher ed issues are you finding interesting?

Second Tuesday Arts & Humanities Cafes

“I think faculty members' willingness to share their expertise with staff builds good will and a sense of connection and commitment to what goes on in classrooms and labs — and more generally, the mission of the College” — from a Science Cafe audience member. Once again, all faculty and staff are invited to come together for a light lunch and some learning. The Foundation’s popular cafe series continues with monthly presentations by faculty members for faculty and staff — this time with a focus on the arts and humanities. The 2015-16 series will be convened by Yvonne Chireau (Religion). Arts & Humanities Cafes will highlight the intellectual relevance of humanities approaches to arts and culture, on topics ranging from visual narratives in Japan, to reflections on life and death in South Indian religions, to current intersections of theater, dance, and music performance in the United States. Events are geared for individuals with no formal background in the arts and humanities. The only requirement is curiosity. Talks will last about 35 minutes, allowing plenty of time for Q&A. Listen.

Sound Breaks: The Gravity of the Situation

The Aydelotte Foundation is pleased to announce our support for Sound Breaks, the gravity of the situation; a roundtable discussion celebrating 100 years of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. An outgrowth of the event organized by Mark Lomanno this past spring, this new iteration of Sound Breaks features a discussion between faculty members on their interest in and reaction to Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Facilitated by Tristan Smith (Physics and Astronomy), the panel will feature Helen Plotkin (Religion), Alan Baker (Philosophy), Peter Schmidt (English Literature), Mark Lomanno (Music), David Cohen (Physics and Astronomy) and Jumatatu Poe (Dance).

Work–Book Discussion Group

The Aydelotte Foundation is pleased to offer another book discussion program, following the previous discussions on food and Toni Morrison. Faculty and staff are encouraged to join us in a shared intellectual exercise centered this time on the theme of work. Through reading and discussion of three books—fiction and non-fiction alike—we will examine different definitions and aspects of work as well as current public debates about the changing way we work as a society. Reading selections in each group may differ, but the one book all participants will read is Barry Schwartz's “Why We Work.” Says one of the facilitators from last year’s book group, “I loved it! Not only do I get to meet people on campus I would never usually meet, but I also get to learn from them about how powerful reading is as a tool for intellectual exchange. I get to bring this practice back to my course organization and my students. I always leave book group a little wiser.”