college seal
The Presidential Scholars Program brings some of the most distinguished voices in the area of anti-racist scholarship and policy to Amherst for short-term residencies. During their time at Amherst, visiting scholars present a public lecture in the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism, hold seminars, and meet with students, faculty, and staff.

Launched in conjunction with Amherst’s 2020 Anti-Racism Plan, the Presidential Scholars program will bring four scholars per year to campus for the next two years. Presidential Scholars are nominated by faculty and other community members and hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry and the President’s Office.

2022–2023 Presidential Scholars

A photo of Jason Moran Jason Moran

September 19-23, 2022

Jason Moran is a jazz pianist, composer, MacArthur Fellow, and Artistic Director for Jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. With his ensemble, he will present a multidisciplinary program entitled “James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin.” The piece is an homage to ragtime pioneer and World War I hero James Reese Europe, an iconic figure in the evolution of African-American music and leader of a crack military music ensemble that popularized the new spirit of jazz. His residency is co-sponsored by the Department of Music and the Music@Amherst series.

 


A photo of Karma Chávez Karma Chávez

October 23-29, 2022

Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Karma Chávez is the author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities (2013) and Palestine on the Air (2019). She is a member of the radical queer collective “Against Equality,” a former organizer for “LGBT Books to Prisoners,” and for years has worked closely with community-based organizations on issues surrounding queer, racial, economic, and immigrant justice.

 


Hilton Als

February 24-26, 2023

Hilton Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University and a staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker magazine. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin. In 2017, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. As an art curator, Als has been responsible for exhibitions including the group show Forces in Nature and Alice Neel, Uptown. In the coming year, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host his most recent exhibit, God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin. His residency is also part of LitFest, the college's annual literary festival.


A photo of Saidiya Hartman Saidiya Hartman

April 4-7, 2023

Saidiya Hartman is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where her major fields of inquiry are African American and American literature and cultural history, slavery, law and literature, and performance studies. Author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997), Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route ( 2007), and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2020), she is on the editorial board of Callaloo and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships.


2021–2022 Presidential Scholars

Watch conversations with the four Presidential Scholars for 2021–22. In its first year, the program brought preeminent scholars from a wide range of disciplines to Amherst in order to deepen and enrich our campus-wide conversation about racial justice, racial history, and anti-racist scholarship, action, and policy. During short-term residencies, visiting scholars presented public lectures in the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism, visited classes, and met with students, faculty, and staff. Scholars were nominated by faculty and other community members and hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry in partnership with the President’s Office.


Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinsteing

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire.

Watch the Video

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Author, critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times, and recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks with Jennifer Acker ’00, editor-in-chief of The Common.

Watch the Video

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Watch a conversation with renowned ethicist and professor of philosophy and law at NYU, Kwame Anthony Appiah, as well as an interview between Appiah and Sophie Wolmer ’23.

Watch the Video

Harriet Washington

Harriet Washington

Watch a conversation with National Book Critics Circle Award-winning science writer, editor, and ethicist Harriet Washington, as well as an interview between Washington and Aditi Nayak ’23.

Watch the Video