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Initiatives for 2012-2013

"Against the Grain: Liberal Arts in the 21st Century," with former Swarthmore President Rebecca Chopp

Former President Rebecca Chopp’s lecture shared some of the research she has been conducting on the future of the liberal arts with particular consideration given to the liberal arts in a global context. President Chopp focused on the challenges and opportunities confronting liberal arts institutions. She argued that Swarthmore's best case is to educate boldly against the grain of current practices in the U.S. and to present alternative visions of knowledge, community and anthropology, by which she means the individual quest for meaning and purpose.

The Future of the Liberal Arts, Two Panel Discussions

Twelve Swarthmore College faculty shared their thoughts on the value of the liberal arts and the future of the tradition Swarthmore proudly upholds. With Pallabi Chakravoty (Dance), Sibelan Forrester (Russian), Cindy Halpern (Political Science), Eric Jensen (Physics and Astronomy), Mark Kuperberg (Economics), Grace Ledbetter (Classics), Peter Schmidt (English Literature), Barry Schwartz (Psychology), Ameet Soni (Computer Science), Krista Thomason (Philosophy), Liliya Yatsunyk (Chemistry) and Matt Zucker (Engineering).

“The Humanistic Condition,” with Louis Menand 

For this lecture, Louis Menand reflected on the present, recent history, and possible futures of the humanities disciplines. Louis Menand is the Robert M. and Anne T. Bass Professor of English, American Literature and Language at Harvard University. Menand's most notable work, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, earned him a Pulitzer Prize for History. Listen

The Righteous Mind Symposia 

Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind challenges readers to consider human nature, the origins of difference, and the potential for us to come togetheracross our various dividesto learn from one another. His case draws from a range of academic disciplines, including biology, economics, history, philosophy, political science, religion, and sociology, to answer the question, "Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion?" Co-organizers Professor Barry Schwartz (Psychology) and Professor Emeritus Richard Schuldenfrei (Philosophy) were joined by a small group of faculty members for a five-part dialogue on the mutual understanding for the “other.” The series concluded with a talk by the author. Watch

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. Faculty members presented in 2012-13 on topics ranging from bacteria to fusion energy to the dinosaurs. Talks lasted about 35 minutes, allowing plenty of time for questions and answers. Listen

Thinking Fast and Slow Reading Group 

This three part hosted-discussion featured Daniel Kahneman’s popular work which was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011.

Visualizing Media Futures 

Visualizing Media Futures explored digital media at the intersection of science and technology, art and design, humanities and the public sphere. This symposium brought together faculty, students, and alumni with innovators, educators, artists, and media professionals.