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Mellon Grant Awarded for 2013-14 Speaker Series on The Role of the Humanities in Liberal Education

The Heart of Liberal Arts poster

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to Pomona College for a speaker series on “The Heart of the Liberal Arts: Humanities in the Liberal Arts College.” The 2013-2014 lecture series will bring seven prominent national speakers from various disciplines to campus to explore the changing role and the continuing importance of the humanities in the context of a liberal arts education.

The first lecture will feature Columbia University Professor Andrew Delbanco speaking on "What Is College For?" on September 12. All lectures will be held at Rose Hills Theatre (Pomona College, Smith Campus Center, 170 E. Sixth St., Claremont).

Pomona College Professor of English and department chair Kevin Dettmar anticipates the series renewing and reinforcing the College’s ongoing commitment to the humanities.

“As the series title suggests, the humanities have traditionally been the foundation of a liberal education; our traditions and circumstances are changing, though, as are the needs of our students and our world, and I'm looking forward to a series of provocative talks that will both remind us of the enduring value of humanistic study, but also challenge us regarding the ways it needs to change as we move forward,” Dettmar says.

Approximately two dozen students will be chosen to participate in private lunchtime discussions with the lecturers. Additionally, funding for three Summer Undergraduate Research Projects (SURPs) will be earmarked for students who wish to delve further into some of the political and social aspects of humanities education.

The Pomona Student Union (PSU), a student-run organization committed to honest and open dialogue, has plans for some complementary events programming. The Pomona chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will also collaborate with the series.

Faculty will program additional activities, including convening a lunchtime year-long reading group.

The speaker series is as follows:

Thurs., Sept. 12, 8 p.m.

Andrew Delbanco (Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities and Director of American Studies, Columbia University)

  • Lecture: “What Is College For?”

Thurs., Oct. 17, 8 p.m.

Marjorie Garber (William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University)

  • Lecture: “Occupy Shakespeare: Shakespeare in/and the Humanities”

Tues., Nov. 12, 8 p.m.

Steven S. Koblik (President, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens)

  • Lecture: “The Heart of the Matter, Revisited”

Fri., Jan. 31, 4:15 p.m.

Martha C. Nussbaum (Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School, University of Chicago)

  • Lecture: “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities”

Tue., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.

Danielle Allen (UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton College)

  • Lecture: "Defending the Humanist's Craft: On Metrics, Rubrics and Self-Knowledge"

Thurs., March 6, 8 p.m.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association; Visiting Research Professor of English, New York University)

  • Lecture: “The Humanities’ Digital Futures”

Thurs., April 3, 8 p.m.

Leon Botstein (President, Bard College; Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities; Music Director and Principal Conductor, American Symphony Orchestra)

  • Lecture: “Arts and Humanities”

Thurs., May 1, 8 p.m.

Stanley Fish (Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and a Professor of Law at Florida International University; Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Lecture: “What Is Academic Freedom?”