Upcoming Events

Core & Change in the Liberal Arts: College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, Wednesday, April 24, 4:30 pm, Dana Auditorium

A lecture by Andrew Delbanco, Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University.

The American College has been an indispensable institution for the education of democratic citizens. Today, it is under great stress at a time of scant agreement about what kind of learning young people need in an age of globalization and stunning technological change. Does college in its traditional form have a future? What are its core principles? How can we defend them in the face of inevitable—and necessary—change?

Andrew Delbanco is Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  He was awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama  “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.” Andrew Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, New Republic, New York Times Magazine, and other journals, on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education.

Past Events

Core & Change in the Liberal Arts: Creativity and Food in elBulli Ecosystem, Monday, April 15, 12:15 pm, Warner Hemicycle

A lecture by Juan Luis Suarez, Professor of Hispanic Studies and the Director of the CulturePlex Lab at the University of Western Ontario. elBulli has been the 5-time recipient of the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant Magazine, and media, professionals and scientists have recognized the global impact of its work in the food industry over the last two decades. This impact is closely connected to the model of evolving creativity that elBulli team has implemented and refined over the years. This method includes making research the cornerstone of the organization, a constant search for new ingredients, the adaptation of foreign techniques, a great ability to synthesize influences, close work with producers, cooks, and artists, and a great knowledge of different culinary traditions. The ultimate goal of this talk is to show how an initial impulse to innovate in a specific domain -high cuisine- evolved into a full method whose objective is to make creativity sustainable over time as the main mission of the organization, and how this can inspire different institutions.

Professor Suarez will join a faculty roundtable discussion on liberal education later in the day at 2:50 pm. Facilitated by Dean of Faculty Andi Lloyd. For more information, email Sarah McGowen.

Workshop on Spatial Thinking and Visualization, Friday, April 5, 12:30-3:00 pm, MBH 319

This workshop, led by Anne Knowles (Geography Dept.), will explore principles and practices of spatial thinking, visualization, and research design for working with visual sources and methods in the digital humanities and social sciences. Examples will come from faculty and student research on the geographies of the Holocaust, the battle of Gettysburg, and other projects. We will also brainstorm around participants’ goals and ideas for incorporating spatial and visual approaches into their research and teaching.

If you wish to participate, please email Anne (aknowles@middlebury.edu). Maximum 12 participants. Please identify yourself as faculty or staff, as we are aiming for a balance across the range of interests on campus.

Time and place: Friday, April 5, from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. in MBH 319. Be sure to bring paper and drawing implements.

Core & Change in the Liberal Arts: Social Engagement & the Liberal Arts (Panel Discussion), Monday, March 18, 12:30-1:30 pm, Twilight Auditorium

The Middlebury Mission Statement claims that “we strive…to cultivate the intellectual, creative, physical, ethical, and social qualities essential for leadership in a rapidly changing global community.” How does including social engagement in the liberal arts further this mission? Would we go as far as to say that a liberal arts education is incomplete without social engagement as part of the experience? The panel will feature Ashley Calkins (Education in Action), Jon Isham (Environmental Studies/Center for Social Entrepreneurship), and Sarah Stroup (Political Science). Moderated by James Davis (Religion/Academic Affairs). A light lunch will be served.

Core & Change in the Liberal Arts: Humanizing the Subject: Thoughts on a Curriculum for Liberal Education in the 21st Century, Friday, March 8, 12:15-1:30 pm, Dana Auditorium

A lecture by Jeff Freyman, Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Center for Liberal Education, Transylvania University. A light lunch will be served.

Faculty at liberal arts colleges are continually working to improve their curricula, but these efforts are sometimes misguided. One of the problems is an uncritical identification of liberal education with some specific content or pedagogical technique. But there have been a variety of curricula appropriate for liberal education, and liberal education is not defined by any one of them. What defines liberal learning is not its subject matter or its form but, rather, its distinctive purpose, and its curriculum should be informed by that purpose. The purpose of liberal education is the cultivation of our students’ fullest humanity. While this notion may be an inspiring one, it is also rather vague, and so the talk will offer suggestions about teaching in a specific area (the natural sciences) in a humanistic way in order illustrate more concretely what it means. It concludes by identifying some of the dangers to liberal education posed by too narrow a focus on curricular improvements.

Jeff is a professor of political science at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he has taught courses in comparative and international politics since 1980. In 2005, Jeff founded the Center for Liberal Education at Transylvania and has served since then as its director. The mission of the Center is to stimulate discussion within the academy—both at Transylvania and nationally—about the meaning of liberal education and its contemporary relevance. He has been invited to give lectures at colleges across the country on these themes. In association with the Phi Beta Kappa Society in 2006, the Center began offering “The Transylvania Seminar: Twenty-first Century Liberal Education as a Contested Concept” each summer for faculty members from liberal arts colleges throughout the United States.

Core & Change in the Liberal Arts: Technology & the Liberal Arts (Panel Discussion), February 28, 2013, 4:30-6:00 pm, MBH 220

The central question of this panel discussion is: How can we use emerging technologies to support Middlebury’s mission “to cultivate the intellectual, creative, physical, ethical, and social qualities essential for leadership in a rapidly changing global community”? Brief opening statements by each panelist will be followed with plenty of time for audience Q&A. The panel will feature Joe Antonioli (LIS), Louisa Burnham (History), Peter Hamlin (Music), and David Kauchak (Computer Science). Moderated by Sarah McGowen (Academic Affairs). Light refreshments will be served.

Core & Change in the Liberal Arts: How Students Learn (Panel Discussion), Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 12:15-1:30 pm, MBH 220

The idea for this panel discussion topic grew out of conversations last year, when several faculty commented that the embrace of pedagogical innovation is premature without a serious discussion of students’ actual learning capacities and inclinations. The panel will feature Jason Arndt (Psychology), Penny Campbell (Dance), Barbara Hofer (Psychology), and Jonathan Miller-Lane (Ed. Studies). Moderated by James Davis (Religion/Academic Affairs). A light lunch will be served.

Cost & Relevancy of a Liberal Arts Education (Staff & VPDRG Luncheons), January 21, 25, 29 and February 1 and 5, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Please join us for one of five lunchtime meetings to discuss the cost and relevancy of a liberal arts education, the subject of a report President Liebowitz shared with all faculty and staff in August. (The full text of his memo is available on his blog.) In late November, the Vice Presidents’ Direct Reports Group met to share general reactions to the memo and to discuss how to apply it to the work that we do. Many of the direct reports agreed that it was a valuable discussion, one that we should continue and extend to include staff colleagues from across the institution. If you are interested in participating, please email Sarah McGowen (smcgowen [at] middlebury [dot] edu) with the dates you are available. You will receive a final confirmation with time and location.

Transforming Scholarly Publishing: Open Access, New Forms of Peer Review, and Building Academic Communities, Tuesday, January 8, 12:30 (lunch), 1:00-3:00 (discussion), Axinn 232

Nationally renowed digital humanists Katherine Rowe (Bryn Mawr) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Pomona and MLA’s Director of Scholarly Communication) will be joined by Middlebury’s Jason Mittell (Film and Media Culture / American Studies) and Alison Byerly (English and American Literature) for a panel that will explore new innovations in scholarly publishing. Issues explored will include rethinking peer review for a digital age, potentials of open access and public scholarship, and fostering academic communities via digital publication.

Why Choose the Liberal Arts? Thursday, October 25, 12:15 pm, Grille Conference Room

Lunchtime discussion for faculty facilitated by James Davis.

Blow Up the Humanities by Toby Miller, Wednesday, November 14, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Axinn 105 and on-line – a remote teleconferenced presentation

Toby Miller is a British-Australian-U.S. interdisciplinary social scientist. He is the author and/or editor of over 30 books, has published essays in more than 100 journals and edited collections, and is a frequent guest commentator on television and radio programs. He has written and spoken extensively on issues of higher education and scholarly communication in the United States and around the world. In his most recent book, Blow Up The Humanities (Temple UP), he provocatively outlines an argument for a new model of humanities teaching and scholarship that will address the social, cultural, and economic crises it faces. Miller synthesizes data and arguments about the history and status of what he claims is a bifurcated humanities, providing a nuanced, complex solution, which may nevertheless require some “creative destruction.” As we consider the future of liberal arts college library, it is useful to consider what we mean by the liberal arts. How the latter are—or could—change in relation to the pressures and concerns Miller outlines will ultimately determine in the future of the library itself. While we may contend with Miller’s particular incendiary devices, his ruthless, rigorous vision is an essential continuation of our conversation. Many of his solutions accord well with the core values of NITLE members; those that don’t are opportunities for productive engagement. Please join us for this important, forward-looking dialogue with a leading scholar in Critical Cultural/Studies. A full description can be found at http://www.nitle.org/live/events/153-toby-miller-blow-up-the-humanities .

The Meaning & Significance of the Liberal Arts, Tuesday, December 4, 12:30-1:30 pm and Wednesday, December 5, 12:15-1:15 pm

Lunchtime discussion facilitated by the Educational Affairs Committee. Space is limited. Faculty, please consult your email for more details and information about signing up to attend.

Building Digital Archives by Sam Liebhaber (Arabic) and Holly Allen (American Studies), Friday, December 7, 12:15-1:15 pm, Axinn 103

LIS has been working with a number of faculty to support and help create digital publishing opportunities for faculty. We want to highlight two such projects that have created online archives of primary source materials. Sam will describe his work building a digital sound archive of poetry in the Mahri dialect and Holly will describe her ongoing, collaborative effort to build the American Studies Web Museum with her students.