Colloquia and Seminars

Amherst College hosts a number of special colloquia and seminars that enhance the intellectual life of the college. Some involve invited participants, and many offer programming that is open to the wider college community and the public.

Faculty-Led Seminars

  • The Bruss Seminar is part of the Bruss Memorial Program, established in memory of Professor Elizabeth Bruss, and includes the Bruss Readership.  Members of the Amherst faculty are appointed to the readership for two- or three-year terms, and it is rotated among the academic disciplines in order to promote curricular change, specifically the expansion of offerings that include the study of women.  Bruss readers serve as a resource for faculty colleagues, contribute to the revision of departmental offerings, and teach the Bruss Seminar on topics of their choice. Read about Martha Saxton, Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies and Elizabeth W. Bruss Reader.
  • Kenan Colloquia: The William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship is awarded to members of the Amherst faculty for a three-year term in recognition of distinguished scholarship and teaching. Kenan Professors devise a colloquium or seminar, usually interdisciplinary in nature, to be taught in conjunction with one or more junior faculty members. C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Black Studies and English, is offering a Kenan Colloquium, (KENA-424) this fall.  It is titled Giving.
  • Mellon Seminar: The Andrew W. Mellon Professorship is awarded for a three-year period to members of the Amherst faculty in recognition of scholarship and teaching that transcends normal disciplinary lines. Mellon Professors contribute to the continuing process of curriculum revision and revitalization by developing courses or colloquia that explore new ways to teach and learn within the professors’ areas of interest and inquiry. See current Mellon Seminars, and read about Jeffrey B. Ferguson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Black Studies and American Studies, and Jerome Himmelstein, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Sociology.
  • Mellon Tutorials: Amherst is conducting a three-year pilot project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Amherst will develop and offer a series of experimental tutorials, small-group experiences based on the research of our colleagues.
  • The Pick Colloquia are part of the Pick Readership, established in 1999 by Thomas and Sue Pick to encourage the inclusion of courses in environmental studies in Amherst’s curriculum. Faculty members are appointed Pick Readers for three years, during which they coordinate lectures and panel discussions on environmental themes and organize one or two interdisciplinary colloquia on the environment each year. See current Pick Colloquia.

First-Year Seminars

First-year seminars are courses taught by one or more faculty members to introduce students to liberal studies through innovative and often interdisciplinary approaches. Learn more about first-year seminars and see a list of current seminars.

Center for Humanistic Inquiry

Located in Frost Library, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) provides space and resources for Amherst faculty and departments holding seminars and developing programming that take inspiration from an annual theme.

Colloquia and Symposia for the College and Wider Community

  • Established in 2009 in honor of Gerald R. Fink ’62, the annual Fink Bioscience Symposium enables students who aspire to careers in health care policy, medicine and bioscience research to interact with Amherst alumni who are leaders in these fields. 
  • Throughout the school year, Amherst offers the College Colloquium Series, which features renowned speakers taking divergent positions on prominent social, political and global issues. Each colloquium includes two days of lectures with the speakers, and culminates in an open forum that is free and open to the general public.
  • The Copeland Colloquium provides small groupsof scholars, artists and performers the opportunity to explore a common theme in residence at Amherst College in colloquy with each other, Amherst faculty and Amherst students.
  • The Colloquium on the American Founding seeks to preserve at Amherst the teaching of the American Founders and Lincoln on “natural rights.”
  • The Colloquium on the Constitution and the Imagining of America is sponsored by the department of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought.

Courses Taught as General Colloquia

Colloquia are interdisciplinary courses not affiliated with particular departments. Whether colloquia are accepted for major credit by individual departments is determined for each colloquium separately; students should consult their major departments. See current special seminars and colloquia.