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Initiatives for 2014-2015

Classics in Dialogue

The Aydelotte Foundation presents Classics in Dialogue, a symposium in interview format. Three interviews will each pair an academic speaker with a high profile artist or intellectual whose work draws on or is in dialogue with classical antiquity.

  • Jennie Hirsh (Maryland Institute College of Art) interviews contemporary artists Patty Chang and Benjamin Tiven.
  • Allen Kuharski (Swarthmore College) interviews actor, teacher and director Emmanuelle Delpech.
  • Ralph Rosen (University of Pennsylvania) interviews Professor of Classical Languages and Culture at Leiden University, Netherlands, Ineke Sluiter.

Our aim is to expand our notion of the relevance of Classics — and by extension the liberal arts — by engaging in direct dialogue with people whose work outside of the academy has found meaning in the classical past.


Last spring, the Aydelotte Foundation began its support of a feasibility study for Creative Research Lab, known as CoRaL, to support pedagogical and curricular innovation. The study examined the ways in which Swarthmore faculty, students and staff could explore the relationship between nature and design as a new direction for interdisciplinary study. A newly-launched website will allow members of the College to easily access the CoRaL study findings. We hope that you will visit this site and that it will serve as a source of inspiration for members of our community interested in the intersection of collaboration and creativity.

Faculty Pedagogy Seminar

Beginning in September and running through the academic year, this seminar will bring together twelve faculty members from different disciplines who will work in pairs to observe, discuss and refine one another’s teaching strategies. The seminar will focus on three key areas: learning through observation, peer coaching, and reflective practice. Members of the seminar will form a small intentional community, dedicated to helping one another flourish as teachers and learners. Part of the communal quest for meaning will involve describing together some of the ways critical thinking and knowledge design can be nurtured and learned.

Food–Book Discussion Group

The Aydelotte Foundation is pleased to offer another book discussion program, following last year’s successful Toni Morrison book group. Faculty and staff are encouraged to join us in a shared intellectual exercise centered on the theme of food. Through reading and discussion, we will examine different aspects of food — such as its history, social justice issues such as food security, our personal relationships with food, etc. Faculty-staff pairings will co-facilitate discussion for several small groups who will meet several times, primarily over the spring semester, culminating in a potluck gathering of all of the groups.

"Higher Education, Inequality, and Opportunity: Selective College Policies in a National Context" featuring Sandy Baum

The Aydelotte Foundation continues our series devoted to examining questions of inequality, access, and opportunity as they relate to higher education with a lecture by Sandy Baum. Selective colleges can play an important role in facilitating social mobility for people from a wide range of backgrounds, but most postsecondary students attend other types of institutions. Professor Baum’s lecture will discuss the options available to institutions for promoting opportunity; the role of federal education policy; and the potential of higher education to mitigate the growing economic inequality plaguing our nation.

Sandy Baum is a research professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Inequality, Access and Opportunity in Higher Ed Wiki

The Aydelotte Foundation has started a College blog-wiki on inequality, access and opportunity in higher ed — one of the themes we are examining this year as a community. We anticipate that this will be a helpful forum to continue conversations that occurred around the visits of Robert Putnam and Sandy Baum. Our goal is to host a space to both collect information about current events, as well as discussions and analysis from the Swarthmore College community. By the end of the spring 2015 semester, we hope this site will provide both a valuable snapshot of developments in the area, as well as a diverse array of responses from the college. We invite you to participate in this dialogue. Contribute a blog post. Share your thoughts. Comment on an existing post. Contact the Aydelotte Foundation for details.


"Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" featuring Robert Putnam '63

The Aydelotte Foundation is pleased to present “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” the first in a series of events this year devoted to examining questions of inequality, access, and opportunity as they relate to higher education. Professor Robert Putnam ’63 will speak about his latest research on inequality of opportunity and the growing class gap in the U.S., the subject of his forthcoming book.

Robert Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. He co-founded the Saguaro Seminar, bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners to develop actionable ideas for civic renewal. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, the world's highest accolade for a political scientist, and in 2012, he received the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities.

Salon Series

The Aydelotte Foundation announces the kick-off of a new salon series. Come to an Aydelotte Foundation Salon for…open-ended, frank talk about academic life…no policy-making, no deliberation, no reports…discussions that matter, but not too much. Hosted by Tim Burke, the Aydelotte Foundation Salon is meant to be a social, light-hearted island of meaningful conversation in the middle of our busy, intense lives as teachers, scholars and colleagues. It’s not a committee: there’s nothing that we need to do or decide. It’s not just small talk about the weather: we’ll talk about a question or challenge that’s an important part of our professional lives. Come once, come often, any time and every time you’re available and in the mood. We’ll have refreshments and a question of the day to ponder. Two salons (02/26 and 04/16) have been scheduled for the spring semester; contact the Aydelotte Foundation for details.

Second Tuesday Social Sciences 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 social sciences. The 2014-15 series will be convened by Erin Bronchetti (Economics) and will focus on topics ranging from the Obama Doctrine to the economics of MOOCs. Events are geared for individuals with no formal background in the social sciences. The only requirement is curiosity. Talks will last about 35 minutes, allowing plenty of time for Q&A. Listen

Sound Breaks

The Aydelotte Foundation is pleased to announce our support of Sound Breaks, a day-long symposium convened by Mark Lomanno and funded primarily by the Cooper Foundation. Sound Breaks will highlight the intersections of art, culture and social advocacy with a focus on improvisation as a practical and pedagogical imperative to liberal arts education.