Diversifying the Faculty: Women and Racial Minorities

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Friday, May 27, 2016

A lecture with Elizabeth Aries, the Clarence Francis 1910 Professor in Social Sciences (Psychology). In the wake of the Amherst Uprising in November 2015, pressure has intensified to recruit more faculty of color to tenure-track positions at the College. A look back at the issues the first women faculty confronted in joining a mostly male faculty in the 1960s and 1970s has many parallels to the issues confronted today by colleagues from ethnic and racial minority groups who are joining a predominantly white faculty. As Amherst College approached coeducation in 1972, only five tenure-track women were teaching at the College. President J. William Ward argued that women should have equal opportunity not only to attend Amherst but to serve on its faculty. Over the next decade, 45 more women faculty were hired. However, many of these pioneer women found Amherst a difficult place to work and lead their professional lives, and few remained on the faculty long-term. What challenges did the pioneer women face at Amherst, and what lessons can be learned from their experiences for further diversifying the faculty?

Replacing the Irreplaceable: When to Fill a Supreme Court Vacancy, and Does it Matter?

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Wednesday, March 16
A live-streamed panel discussion with:

Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Associate Dean of the Faculty;

Martha Umphrey, Bertrand H. Snell 1894 Professor in American Government in the Department of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought;

Jeff Bleich '83, former clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Special Counsel to President Obama, former ambassador to Australia; and

Andy Nussbaum '85, Amherst trustee, former law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia and previously for then-judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg while on the Court of Appeals, and partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

The panel was be moderated by Warren Tolman '82, P'13, former State Senator, 2014 candidate for Massachusetts Attorney General and Political commentator on Fox, New England Cable News and WGBH. 


Kickoff to Litfest

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Lauren Groff '01 and Angela Flournoy
Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Kickoff to Litfest and reading by Lauren Groff '01 and Angela Flournoy followed by conversation with The New Yorker's Deborah Treisman.

This event marked the debut of the National Book Award on Campus program, a partnership between the National Book Foundation, the College and its literary magazine The Common.


Students and Sustainability

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[2014-2015 Amherst Virtual Lecture Series] Laura Draucker
Director of Sustainability
Friday, November 6, 2015

Come hear how students are serving as change agents to make Amherst College, and the planet, more sustainable. Led by Laura Draucker, director of sustainability, in the Office of Environmental Sustainability, this talk will feature students discussing projects and experiences that have improved not only the ecological impacts of the campus, but their own understanding of the role we all can play in preserving our environment.


Changes in the American Health Care System

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Dr. Paul Rothman P'15
Dean and CEO of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

October 24, 2014

Dr. Paul Rothman P'15, dean and CEO of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will discuss the current state of our nation's health care and the changes  in the health care industry with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  He will project how these changes may affect the both the delivery of care in the future and the careers of future health care providers. Finally, he will describe the training of physicians and how changes in health care may affect this training and careers.


Jazz Legend Archie Shepp Interviewed by Professor Jason Robinson

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Watch an interview with Professor Jason Robinson and jazz legend Archie Shepp in advance of Shepp's Music At Amherst performance with the Dar Gnawa of Tangier on night, Friday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m.

The discussion focused on Shepp's work with Dar Gnawa and his long, influential career.


Expanding Amherst’s Scholarly Impact: Establishing the Amherst College Press

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[2014-2015 Amherst Virtual Lecture Series]

Mark Edington
Director of the Amherst College Press

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why should Amherst College launch a new scholarly press? Does a liberal arts college have any business entering a field typically the domain of large research universities? What change might come in the world of scholarship by committing ourselves to this mission — and how can it expand the impact of the college in the years ahead? Mark Edington, the director of the newly launched Amherst College Press, will offer a presentation addressing these questions and the future of the Press.

Supplemental Materials:



Children's Surprising Expectations about Pointing and Pointers

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Professor Carrie Palmquist
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Friday, November 21, 2014

Many cognitive developmentalists believe that humans are uniquely adapted to teach and learn from others. One way we go about doing this is by paying close attention to the information that others provide us. Interestingly, even very young children are sensitive to certain cues that humans use to indicate that they are sharing important information (e.g., child-directed speech, pointing, eye contact, etc.). This talk will focus specifically on children's sensitivity to one cue in particular: pointing, and how this gesture affects children's learning and interactions with others. 

Interested in learning more prior to the lecture? Prof. Palmquist explored these topics in a recent upper-level Amherst seminar on "Development of Nonverbal Communiciation." 

Food, Sex, and a Hummingbird: The purple-throated carib of the Lesser Antilles

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[2012-2013 Amherst Virtual Lecture Series]

Ethan Temeles
Thomas B. Walton, Jr. Memorial Professor of Biology

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sexual differences in size and morphology are widespread in animals. Charles Darwin drew attention to these differences and offered explanations for their evolution based on mate competition and mate choice, reproductive roles, and competition for food resources. Although ample evidence has been obtained for the roles of mating behavior and reproductive roles in the evolution of sex differences, little evidence exists for the role of food competition in the evolution of sex differences. Prof. Temeles will discuss his ground-breaking research on sexual dimorphism and food competition in the purple-throated carib hummingbird, and the role hummingbirds have played in shaping our understanding of sex differences. His lecture also will feature beautiful photographs and videos of hummingbirds of the Eastern Caribbean.

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Guns, Militias and the Second Amendment

Kevin Sweeney
Professor of American Studies and History

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Professor Kevin Sweeney’s talk examines the origins of the Second Amendment in light of both the possession and use of firearms in colonial America and of on-going efforts during the late 1700s to reorganize and re-arm state militias. Even though the ownership of firearms was widespread, political leaders debated how best to insure militiamen had the right kind of firearm and the necessary training to use it. The Federalists who shaped the Second Amendment were more concerned about securing muskets to insure the nation's defense than in protecting an individual's right to own a hand gun for self-defense.

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What's Become of Privacy? Old Values, New Realities

Professor Austin Sarat
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science; Associate Dean of the Faculty

April 24, 2014

Professor Austin Sarat considers what we mean when we talk about privacy and what values privacy denotes. Is privacy simply a negative guarantee or does it name anything affirmative? If privacy is the "right to be let alone" what happens to it in an era in which we willingly disclose so much about ourselves? Do claims of privacy come at too high a cost in a world of threat and danger? By considering some of the traditional values associated with privacy we may be in a better position to assess its continuing meaning in today's world.

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Cinephilia and Everyday Life

Professor Amelie Hastie
Professor of English and Film and Media Studies; Chair of Film and Media Studies

March 28, 2014

Professor Hastie's talk combines the central themes of two classes she regularly teaches at Amherst, "Cinephilia" and "Cinema and Everyday Life," and draws on examples from contemporary global cinema. One of the biggest challenges in teaching film as a medium and as a discipline to be studied is the sense of familiarity students already have with the form. One central disciplinary thrust is to defamiliarize ourselves from film in order to introduce "critical thinking." For students new to film studies, this approach often means, as famous film theorist Christian Metz once put it, of "no longer loving the cinema."

Professor Hastie invites the audience to think through their love of film as a method of creative critical and theoretical practice. Doing so still requires a kind of defamiliarization with film, or at least an agreement to enter into an experience that may, indeed, be "new." Our encounter with film - through love or hate, joy or terror, thrill or boredom - allows us to think with film, not merely through or against it. In the best of cases, our love for film can become a kind of love for the world; that love does not delimit critical practice but, in fact, enables it.

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Why Anthropologists Study Food (and I, Instant Noodles)

Dr. Deborah Gewertz
G. Henry Whitcomb Professor of Anthropology
February 28, 2014

The anthropology of food does far more than celebrate the world’s various foodways.  In this lecture, Deborah Gewertz will show that anthropologists study food because of its cross-cultural significance in, for example, creating groups, building kinship, defining the holy, verifying personal and moral value, and shaping relations of equality and inequality.  As she will illustrate with her recent research about instant ramen noodles worldwide, what one eats, when one eats, with whom one eats, how one eats, and how one acquires what one eats are all socially, culturally, economically, and politically impelled.   That is, food (including its absence in such phenomena as famine and eating disorders) can only be fully understood within a broad—dare we say anthropological context.

Listen to audio from the lecture:

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Keep Your People in the Boat: Leadership Lessons from a Tall Ship Officer

Crane Wood Stookey '76
December 18, 2013

What do the great “captains” of business, finance and industry have in common with the great captains of sailing ships? They know how to get the best from their people. How do they do this? You might think that a ship’s captain will rely on the strength of their personality to keep their crew engaged by powerful command. Many do, but the best don’t. Effective leadership, even at sea, lies in creating conditions that allow others to thrive and prosper. It's a practice of generosity that's all about knowing when to step forward and when to step back.

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Stories in Red and Write: Indian Intellectuals During the Early Twentieth Century in American Culture

Kiara Vigil
Assistant Professor of American Studies

October 18, 2013

Kiara Vigil, assistant professor of American Studies, will focus on the work of a Fox Nation anthropologist, William Jones, and his murder in the Philippines during the early imperial period, and then pivot to examine a related, but different, project about the cultural production of a prominent Indian intellectual from the early twentieth century. Looking at Luther Standing Bear, in the context of an emerging film market, she argues we come to new understandings of the roles Native people played both on and off the silver screen. Finally, she will conclude by describing the focus of her next book, which points to the presence of Indians and Indianness within Disneyland during the 1950s. All of these projects are driven by archival research and questions related to the production of knowledge by academic fields in the context of their origins, as well as how we might use this knowledge today to rethink the category of “Indian” within American society and culture. This research contributes to the critical necessity of studying American Indian peoples’ past and present within U.S. history to not only complicate what we think we know but to challenge pervasive narratives that have sought to marginalize and diminish contributions by indigenous peoples and cultures to the modern world.

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