Newt Gingrich: “Contract with Amherst”

December 11, 2013

In this third installment of the Amherst College Republican's Resurgence initiative, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich spoke about current events as well as the future of American politics.

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Resolved: That NSA Surveillance is Consistent with American Values and Good for America

On October 10th, the Amherst Political Union sponsored a debate on NSA Surveillance between Georgetown Professor David Cole and Texas Public Policy Foundation Chief Counsel Mario Loyola.

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Charles Mann ’76 on “1493: Entwining Ecology and History”

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September 26, 2013

Charles C. Mann ’76 delivered Amherst College’s annual Hugh Hawkins lecture, titled “1493: Entwining Ecology and History,” in Paino Lecture Hall of the Beneski Building.

A correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science, and Wired, Mann has covered the intersection of science, technology, and commerce for many newspapers and magazines here and abroad, including BioScience, The Boston Globe, Fortune, Geo (Germany), National Geographic, The New York Times (magazine, op-ed, book review), Panorama (Italy), Paris-Match (France), Quark (Japan), Smithsonian, Der Stern (Germany), Technology Review, Vanity Fair and The Washington Post (magazine, op-ed, book review). In addition to 1491, he has co-written four other books: The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th-Century Physics (1986; rev. ed., 1995); The Aspirin Wars: Money, Medicine, and 100 Years of Rampant Competition (1991), Noah’s Choice: The Future of Endangered Species (1995), and @ Large: The Strange Case of the Internet’s Biggest Invasion (1998).

A four-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has received writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Margaret Sanger Foundation and the Lannan Foundation (a 2006 Literary Fellowship). His three-part graphic novel, Cimarronin, based in part on 1493, will appear late this year. It is co-written by Mann, science-fiction novelists Neal Stephenson and Mark Teppo, and Ellis Amdur, a master of classical East Asian martial traditions.

The annual Hawkins Lecture, sponsored by the History Department  honors Hugh Hawkins, professor emeritus of history and American studies at Amherst. A distinguished scholar of American higher education, of the American South and of cultural and intellectual history, Hawkins retired in 2000 after teaching for more than 40 years at Amherst, where he helped build both the history and the American studies departments.

“An Evening of Codes, Symbols and Secrets” with Dan Brown ’86

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September 26, 2013

A 1986 graduate of Amherst, and an alumnus and former English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy, Brown is the author, most recently, of Inferno, his sixth novel and the fourth to feature protagonist Robert Langdon. In the new book, the Harvard symbologist is drawn into a mystery surrounding the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem The Divine Comedy. Like the first three Langdon thrillers—Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost SymbolInferno explores the interplay between religion, art, history, science and cryptography. Brown attributes his fascination with some of these subjects to growing up as the son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist.

Several of Brown’s works—most notably The Da Vinci Code—have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. His novels have been published in 52 languages and have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons have been adapted into major motion pictures starring Tom Hanks as Langdon; a film version of Inferno is planned for release in December 2015.

Brown’s phenomenal success led Time to name him one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2005. “He has been credited with nothing less than keeping the publishing industry afloat,” wrote Michele Orecklin. “Brown has been held responsible for renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci, Gnostic texts and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris, Rome and a 15th-century church outside Edinburgh, Scotland; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; [and] a flood of historical thrillers…. It’s perhaps worth noting that one of the very few books to sell more copies than The Da Vinci Code in the past two years is the Bible.”

Dream Acts

A staged reading of a new play about five young undocumented immigrants living in the USA

May 1, 2013

This play delves into the tribulations of millions of people in this country, including several on our own campus. After the reading, hear a panel discussion led by Professor Ilan Stavans. The play features Raysa Cabrejo ‘14, Thais Correia ‘16, Saul Grullon ‘15E, Cristian Navarro ‘16, Brianda Reyes ‘14, Abbeh Anderson ‘15, Christian Aviles ‘14, Constance Holden ‘15 and Chelsea Tejada ‘14. It is written by Mia Chung, Jessica Litwak, Chiori Miyagawa, Saviana Stanescu and Andrea Thome in conjunction with the Dream Act Union.

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What Shall We Do about Lord Jeffery Amherst/Lord Jeff?

Listen to a discussion of Amherst’s treasured “Rouse Song” and cherished mascot, “Lord Jeff," with anthropologists James Fernandez, Ph.D., and John Herzog, Ph.D., Class of ’52. Fernandez and Herzog “propose a collaborative analysis of these college icons and of the educational mission of the College, as they relate to the e pluribus unum of American life and to the specific genocidal actions for which General Amherst stands accused in colonial history. In the light of contemporary scholarship and sensitivities, what might be an appropriate stance by the College community towards the man/mascot/song?”

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Robert Morgenthau ’41 Talks at Amherst

April 11, 2013

The Amherst Political Union (APU) welcomes former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau back to Amherst College. Morgenthau, alum of the Class of 1941, helped to found the APU almost 75 years ago. Now, after a career as one of the most iconic figures in law enforcement history, Morgenthau returns to Amherst for a conversation with Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought Lawrence Douglas. They discuss crime, immigration, and Morgenthau’s life as a Navy officer, a New York gubernatorial candidate, and nine-time elected Manhattan DA.

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“Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind”

Richard J. Davidson, Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry
Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

February 19, 2013

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In this talk, Richard Davidson presents an overview of studies conducted in the laboratory on neural changes associated with different forms of meditation. Distinctions are made between three major forms of meditation practice: Focused Attention, Open Monitoring and Positive Affect Training. These different forms of meditation have different neural and behavioral effects. Data from studies on long-term meditation practitioners, as well as those with shorter durations of training, will be highlighted. In addition, some longitudinal studies that track changes over time with meditation practice will be reviewed. In addition to the neural changes that have been observed, this talk summarizes changes that have been found in peripheral biology that may modulate physical health and illness. The central circuitry of emotion is especially implicated in peripheral biological changes that have consequences for health. The overall conclusions from these studies is that one can transform the mind through meditation and thereby alter the brain and the periphery in ways that may be beneficial for mental and physical health and well-being. Professor Davidson is introduced by President Biddy Martin.

This event was hosted by the Mind and Life Institute and co-sponsored by the Religion and Psychology Departments.

Shaukat Aziz on U.S.-Pakistani Relations and the Global Political Economy

On February 12, 2013 in Johnson Chapel, Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, spoke on U.S.-Pakistani Relations and the Global Political Economy.

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