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Fall 2021 Series

The Swarthmore Discussion Group will hold its Fall Series 2021 remotely, due to the pandemic. The series will consist of four monthly presentations in September, October, November, and December.  SDG will use Zoom for these presentations. For more information on Swarthmore College's course of action with COVID-19, please click here

Sept. 22, 2021

GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Lee Duckworth, Psychologist, MacArthur Fellow, and Character Lab CEO

Who succeeds in life and what lessons can we learn from them? Dr. Angela Duckworth reviews her research on grit, the tendency to pursue long-term goals with perseverance and passion. Dr. Duckworth shows how grit and talent are different, and explains why grit predicts achievement in challenging situations including the National Spelling Bee, West Point Military Academy, urban teaching, and sales. She reveals the beliefs, strategies, and habits that make gritty individuals special and provides recommendations about how to cultivate grit in yourself and others.

Oct. 20, 2021

Challenges of an Empathy Bridge

Arlie Russell Hochschild ’62, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Drawing examples from her five years of research about Trump’s influence in southern Louisiana and her ongoing interviews in Appalachia, Dr. Arlie Hochschild relates what she calls the “deep story” of the far right, leading up to and following the January 6th Capitol insurrection. As the split deepens between “country-club” and “populist” Republicans, and AOC and Biden Democrats, how, she asks, do we extend a strategic empathy bridge that permits civil talk of difference?

Nov. 17, 2021

Ecosystem of Crisis: Politics, Healthcare, and Social Justice

Josh Green ‘92, Lieutenant Governor, State of Hawaii

An “ecosystem of crisis” identifies the homelessness and poverty, mental health and drug addiction intersection that creates a ground zero for the most severely suffering individuals in a community. To address these various facets, collaboration between government, healthcare and community will be required. It’s time to recognize homelessness as a complex medical condition, ‘prescribe’ housing as healthcare and bring together government, healthcare professionals and community to solve one of the most urgent needs in our society.

Dec. 8, 2021

Creativity, Imagination, and Thinking Through the Post-COVID Future

Agustin Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

There are multiple paths towards post-COVID futures. Humans are creative, imaginative and hopeful, in mind, body and community. How might we deploy those skills to facilitate a better post-pandemic world? In his talk, Dr. Agustin Fuentes will lay out that human skillset, reflect on what has transpired, and offer thoughts for how we can redo this next phase better.