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Swarthmore Discussion Group

Department Overview

A Special Message from the Board of the Swarthmore Discussion Group

The Swarthmore Discussion Group board considers the health of its members to be its highest priority. After evaluating the current conditions, we decided that our Fall 2023 Series — September, October, November, and December —  will be held in-person as we did prior to COVID.  We are excited that we can gather together again at The Inn, and we hope you'll join us for a memorable in-person experience.

Learn more about Swarthmore College's response to COVID-19.


The Swarthmore Discussion Group (SDG) offers members the opportunity to hear knowledgeable speakers and engage in lively conversation with local community members as well as Swarthmore College staff, faculty, and alumni.

Our speakers are distinguished scholars, community leaders, and experts in their field. Following their presentations on topics including politics, foreign affairs, economics, cultural, and social issues they welcome the questions, discussion, and debate engaged in by members.

Please  join our Fall 2023 Series of four monthly presentations on Wednesday evenings. We will meet in-person at The Inn at Swarthmore. The membership fee includes a catered dinner to accompany each inspiring lecture. No refunds are available.

Fall 2023 Swarthmore Discussion Group Series

Sept. 20, 2023

Forensics and Counterforensics: Evidence Beyond Crime

Alejandra Azuero-Quijano, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Swarthmore College
In 2021, as the pandemic hit one of its highest points, several strikes erupted in Latin America, confronting the state’s monopoly over what counts as legitimate protest. In this talk, Dr. Azuero-Quijano will share some of the findings of her recently published book El paro como teoría: Historia del presente y estallido en Colombia (Strike Theory: Uprising and History of the Present in Colombia), in which she explores how everyday citizens disrupted long-held assumptions about what counts as legitimate protest and how “counterforensics,” or evidence of state abuse, can be produced on the ground by people seeking to change history.

Oct. 25, 2023

Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation

Andrew Stobo Sniderman '07, Author
Andrew Stobo Sniderman ’07, who will share a story about how two neighboring communities became separate and unequal, and what it means for the rest of us. Divided by a beautiful valley and 150 years of racism, the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo Indian reserve have been neighbors nearly as long as Canada has been a country. Their story reflects much of what has gone wrong in relation to Indigenous peoples. It also offers, in the end, an uncommon measure of hope.

Nov. 15, 2023

Why Bad Feelings Make Life Good

Krista K. Thomason, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Swarthmore College
Most people think bad feelings — feelings like anger, envy, spite, and contempt — are obstacles to a good life. You’re supposed to do your best not to feel them, otherwise, they’ll take over and turn you into a monster. But this is a mistake. We don’t have to battle our negative emotions or “channel” them into something productive. We feel negative emotions because our lives matter to us. They are part of what makes life meaningful. This talk illustrates how philosophy can help us learn to live well with bad feelings.

Dec. 6, 2023

Chronodiversity: Thinking About Time with Trees

Jared Farmer, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History, Chair of the History Graduate Group, University of Pennsylvania
Now that humans are geologic agents, changing the Earth itself, long-term thinking is imperative. Trees provide such temporal services. Some species of woody plants are hundreds of millions of years old. Certain specimens of certain species can live for millennia. And tree-rings contain data for reconstructing past climates and modeling future ones. Moreover, people have cared about — and cared for — ancient trees since ancient times. Unlike the deep time of geology, tree time has emotional content.

When and Where

SDG's Fall 2023 Series convenes on the second or third Wednesday of each month from September through December. We are delighted to return to our in-person format, and will gather together at The Inn at Swarthmore. 

Time (ET)

5–6 p.m. Happy Hour at The Inn at Swarthmore, Broad Table Tavern
6-7 p.m  Dinner in the Gathering Room at The Inn at Swarthmore
7–8:15 p.m. Presentation and Q & A

Location, Cost, and Registration

The Fall 2023 Series will be held in person, and includes a catered dinner. Registration is now open. The fee for the series of four presentations with dinner is $190 per person, with payment due by Sept. 10. Registration closes Sept. 10.  Space may be available after Sept. 10 for individual talks ($55 each).  Register for the Fall 2023 series. 


Contact Meghan Bloome at We thank you for your support of the Swarthmore Discussion Group.