Upcoming Friday with Faculty Event

Friday 21 April

englandJeremy L. England, Thomas D. & Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Associate Professor of Physics, MIT, will be the guest at our final Fridays with Faculty of this academic year.

Climate, Politics, and Slavery in Ancient Egypt

We tend to think of climate change as a new issue because the science of climate that fires present day discussions is modern.  The politics of predicting climate, however, are not a new thing at all; long ago, it was possible for a person or group of people to claim knowledge of the climactic future and propose that government should do something in response.  The Book of Genesis engages deeply with this subject during its most extended narrative chronicling the life and times of Joseph, the son of Jacob.  Studying Joseph's adventures in ancient Egypt as a treatise on political economy, we can uncover in the text a profound and much-needed perspective on the interaction between prediction and public policy that is as cogent today as it was thousands of years ago.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room; the PDR is immediately on your right-hand side as you enter the main dining hall of Kirkland House. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine, cheese, and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 14 April

duffAlexander Duff, the Veritas, Charles Carroll Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at The College of the Holy Cross, will be joining us for this Fridays with Faculty. He earned his Ph.D. in political theory and American politics from the University of Notre Dame and his M.A. in political science and a bachelor of humanities (B. Hum.) from Carleton University in Ontario. Duff previously worked as a visiting assistant professor at Skidmore College and Boston College, teaching political theory, political thought, and constitutionalism. 

Aristotle and Anger in Political Speech

When injustice provokes anger, and anger clouds the mind, how can we speak reasonably about the most intractable, difficult problems of injustice?  Aristotle is famous for his diagnosis that speech is central to political life, in particular, speech about what is noble or what contributes to the common good.  But as everyone knows, speech is just as capable of dissembling or concealing as it is of uncovering or revealing.  And it enflames the passions just as surely as it enables deliberation.  Recent controversies about terms and names, even the dominating powers of speech, revive these oldest of political dilemmas.  In postmodernity, everything old is new again!

By looking at Aristotle’s discussion of similar problems in his treatise on Rhetoric we can see how the discovery that political life is oriented around speech carries tremendous peril as well as promise.  To those who are already aware of the remarkable power of human speech to represent and shape reality—to inspire beautiful actions as well as frustrated anger—Aristotle teaches the very real limits on speech, set both by our intellectual faculties and the passions of those with whom we speak.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room; the PDR is immediately on your right-hand side as you enter the main dining hall of Kirkland House. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine, cheese, and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 7 April

smahoneyStephen Mahoney, Lecturer on Education, Associate Director of the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program, and Director of School Partnerships at the Graduate School of Education, will be joining us for this Fridays with Faculty.

Teaching is Leading: What I learned about leadership after 28 years in schools.

Stephen Mahoney is the Associate Director of the Harvard Teacher Fellows and a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has taught and led in public and independent schools, urban and suburban, elementary through high school. Over the course of his school career he has learned valuable lessons about leadership and is eager to share and examine them over lobster bisque, roasted corn on the cob, flank steak, fruit salads and cannoli. 

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room; the PDR is immediately on your right-hand side as you enter the main dining hall of Kirkland House. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine, cheese, and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 31 March

lewisMary D. Lewis, Robert Walton Goelet Professor of French History, Harvard University, will be joining us for this Fridays with Faculty.

The Road to Fascism? Comparisons from History

Since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, a cottage industry of political classification and comparison has emerged. Terms like “fascism,” “authoritarianism,” “kleptocracy” and “demagoguery,” – to name just a few – have become commonplace in our political discourse.  

Of all these labels, the "fascist" one is perhaps the most contentious.  To reflect on the appropriateness of applying this label, Prof. Mary Lewis will provide a short definition of fascism, then consider how Trumpism does or does not fit the definition.  Finally, she will discuss the political stakes of drawing such historical analogies.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine, cheese, and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 3 March

jhansonJeffrey Hanson, Research Associate at the Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing at Harvard University, and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, will be joining us for this Fridays with Faculty.

Kierkegaard and the Life of Faith: The Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious in Fear and Trembling

Fear and Trembling is Søren Kierkegaard’s most influential and widely read book, but it remains as enigmatic and disturbing as when it was published in 1843.

A prolonged meditation on the story of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac as told in Genesis chapter 22, Fear and Trembling shocks the moral intuitions of its readers by sharpening the edge of the biblical story: How can Abraham’s apparent readiness to sacrifice his own son to God be an demonstration of his religious faith?

Interpreters have found it difficult to respond to this text’s provocation in a comprehensive manner, often emphasizing one aspect of the dilemma over another: Should we read Kierkegaard’s apparent celebration of Abraham’s faith as a complete discarding of normal ethical conventions or as the eventual restoration of traditional morality? Is the book advocating a tough-minded and bloody literalism or is the whole story figurative, just a metaphor for religious faith and what it requires?

My own suggestion in my recently published book, Kierkegaard and the Life of Faith: The Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious in "Fear and Trembling," is that the book can successfully be read as advocating religious faith as the unique therapeutic means of achieving consolation and joy within the lived particulars of an individual’s life, even when life presents challenges and losses. Fear and Trembling is primarily concerned with the development of a religious ideal that at once displaces the aesthetic and ethical ideals by which human beings ordinarily live their lives and preserves something of their original aspirations within a new style of living, one that uniquely reconciles human beings to their lived circumstances. 

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 24 February

eric shedEric Shed, Lecturer on Education, Director of Harvard Teacher Fellows, and Master Teacher in Residence at Harvard's School of Education, will be joining us for this Fridays with Faculty.

Innovative Approaches to Teacher Preparation

What should the goals of teacher preparation programs be, and how can they best accomplish their goals? What are the shortcomings of teacher preparation programs and how might they be reconceived and redesigned? What is the best way to prepare teachers for the classroom, especially for high-needs classrooms? As the Director of the Harvard Teacher Fellows, a new teacher licensure and training program at HGSE for Harvard College seniors, Professor Shed examines the purpose, features, and challenges facing teacher preparation programs. He looks forward to discussing this crucial element of educational policy and practice with students at lunch.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 17 February

junrueJane Unrue, author of numeorous works of fiction, including Love Hotel, and Director of Harvard University's Scholars at Risk Program, will be joining us for this Fridays with Faculty

The Harvard Scholars at Risk Program, and How You Can Get Involved

For fourteen years, the Harvard Scholars at Risk program, a member of the Scholars at Risk Network, has provided visiting-scholar fellowships to persecuted and at-risk scholars, artists, and writers from around the world. This risk may be related to the scholar’s work, but it may also be a consequence of factors including the scholar’s ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political opinions. Since Harvard SAR’s beginning, the program has hosted 1-6 fellows/year, depending on funding. Jane Unrue will talk about the program and opportunities for student participation.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 3 February

faculty_mcdonough-2016jacket.jpgJeffrey McDonough, Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University, will be joining us at this week's Fridays with Faculty.

All Work and No Play?

In 1928, John Maynard Keynes famously asked, “What can we reasonably expect the level of our economic life to be a hundred years hence? What are the economic possibilities for our grandchildren.” Even in the depths of the Great Depression, Keynes was optimistic. He predicted that the world economy would grow sevenfold and make a fifteen-hour workweek possible. The greatest danger Keynes saw on the distant horizon was the threat of too much leisure. What would his grandchildren do with all their free time once technology had freed them from the yoke of work?

Keynes’ optimistic projection of economic growth has been vindicated. Economic growth overall has been every bit as explosive as Keynes predicted. And the ability of machines to supplant workers will soon surpass what Keynes could have even possibly imagined. Recent developments in artificial intelligence suggest that before long machines will transition from taking over traditional blue-collar jobs to taking over traditional white-collar jobs. The autoworker who loses her livelihood to a robot may soon get career counseling from a computer.

Nonetheless, Keynes seems to have been clearly mistaken in worrying about what his grandchildren would do without all their leisure time. If he has any offspring in college, they are likely logging longer hours than ever. Their free time is probably booked solid. Their greatest anxiety is more likely to center on future work than future leisure. For our discussion, I’d like to ask: Has work taken over our lives? If so, why? And if for the worse, we might do about it? How might we learn, in Keynes’s words, “to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well.” 

 

Friday 18 November

Tyler Vanderveele, Professor of Epidemiology, The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, will be joining us at this week's Fridays with Faculty.

His discussion is entitlted, Religion and Health: Science Informs Faith. On this, he elaborates:

Empirical statistical methods are used widely throughout the social and biomedical sciences. More recently such methods have been used to study what are often thought of as less tangible phenomena such as religion, and the relationships between religion and health. Several critiques have been leveled against the use of such statistical methods on topics that arguably extend well beyond the empirical domain and that are so central to human life. Here we will consider arguments for and against the use of such statistical techniques in the study of religion and health, and illustrate some of the concerns and arguments through three case studies.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room of the Kirkland House Dining Hall. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.​​​

Friday 11 November

Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics at Harvard University, will be hosting the upcoming Fridays with Faculty

Her discussion is entitled, "The vacuum, We're Desperate, Let's Measure It: The state of mind of this particular particle physicist." I am sure it will prove to be a very insightful and fascinating discussion, full of more rhymes and alliterations.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.​​​

Previous events:

Friday 4 November

Mark Amadeus Notturno worked closely with Sir Karl Popper, and has lectured on his philosophy in over twenty countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He is the author of Hayek and Popper: On Rationality, Economism, and Democracy; On Popper; Science and the Open Society; and Objectivity, Rationality and the Third Realm. He is also the editor of Perspectives on Psychologism and of Karl Popper’s The Myth of the Framework and his Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem. Notturno earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University. He was the director of the CEU’s ‘Popper Project’ from 1994-1999 and conducted over forty international workshops, seminars, and summer schools for philosophers and scientists of the former Soviet Union and socialist bloc during that time. He is currently a Fellow at the Interactivity Foundation (IF), where he has directed governance projects on ‘The Future of Employment’, ‘Global Responsibility for Children’, ‘Money, Credit, and Debt’, ‘Democratic Nation Building’, ‘Property’, ‘Science’ and ‘Privacy’. He is currently directing an IF project on ‘The Future of Free Speech'.

Karl Popper in a Nutshell

Mark will join us to discuss Karl Popper's philosophy, and in particular Popper’s moral credo—‘I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get closer to the truth.’ He will talk not only about the philosophical significance of the credo, but also about its relevance to the issues of free speech that continue to arise today.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.​​​

Friday 28 October

R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things, America’s leading journal of religion and public life, will be hosting the upcoming Fridays with Faculty. He grew up in Maryland and attended Haverford College. After earning his doctorate in religious studies from Yale, he taught theology at Creighton University for twenty years. His previous books include In the Ruins of the Church, Fighting the Noonday Devil, and various scholarly works. He lives with his wife in New York City.

Decline and Fall of the Post-Christian Elite

Over the past generation, our ruling classes have become increasingly homogeneous and now form a global elite. They present themselves as indispensable technocrats, ensuring global prosperity and protecting human rights. But the recent revolts across the West show that the voters and citizens of long-standing nation-states are dissatisfied with the status quo. What explains the current predicament? How should we think about the contemporary cultural trends, including patriotism and populism? Can this moment lead to a fertile rethinking of responsibilities among our best and brightest?

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 21 October

Luis Manuel Girón-Negrón, Professor of Comparative Literature and of Romance Languages and Literatures and member of the Committee for the Study of Religion, Harvard University, will be hosting the upcoming Fridays with Faculty.

Intellectual Life and Political Dissent: A Tale of Courage from Inquisitorial Spain

My scholarship is devoted to the cultural exchanges between Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula during their Middle Ages and the early modern period. Although I spend most of my times sequestered by the Middle Ages, I am particularly fascinated these days by the formative impact of Jewish and Muslim traditions on Spanish intellectual history in the early modern period: particularly, the literature of dissent that it inspired at a time of religious reform in the face of the Inquisition. For our discussion on Friday, I will bring a short text which I translated into English culled from the famous Inquisitorial process against fray Luis de León, the leading Hebraist and literary giant from 16th-century Spain. I hope it may serve as a jumping board for a broader discussion on intellectual freedom, religious reform and political persecution, or why multilingual learning mattered then and matters now.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

Friday 23 September

Courtney Lamberth, Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Study of Religion at Harvard, will be hosting the upcoming Fridays with Faculty.Topic to be discussed will be posted soon. Stay tuned!

Chasing Desire

Sometimes it seems we’re all supposed to know exactly what our passions are.  The rest is just a matter of finding the best way to pursue them.  But despite this assumption and its hidden pressures, I think it is not always obvious what we most desire, and even if we do, it’s not easy to know what to do about it.  I’ll talk briefly about my own serendipitous and somewhat wandering journey from a life in theater to the allure of academia, teaching and the philosophy of religion.  But the heart of our conversation, I hope, will be to think about how freedom, limitation and sometimes fragile faith can come together in the search for an authentic life.

Please email Axel to RSVP to this event; an RSVP is required given space limitations in the Private Dining Room. As a reminder, the lunch begins promptly at 12:15 p.m., so please get your lunch beforehand in the main dining hall. There will be catered wine, cheese, and desserts to complement your regular dining hall meal. If you wish to attend but are unable to arrive on time, please let Axel know when you can make it in your RSVP.

 Friday 9 September 2016

Gina Schouten, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Harvard, will be our first faculty member to host our Fridays with Faculty. We are looking forward to the discussion. Below she offers the topic to be discussed:

Being Good at Philosophy vs. Doing Good with Philosophy

Being good at philosophy and doing good with philosophy are two different ways that one might be a good philosopher. To me, they represent two different ideals we might strive for. I'll chat a bit about some of the hang-ups I've had on my journey to becoming a professional philosopher, and how I've come to care much more about doing good with philosophy than about being good at philosophy. The former is the ideal I try to keep in mind as I think about my journey toward being a good philosopher. I'll talk about how I pursue it--and often fall short--by outlining some of the big philosophical questions that keep me up at night! If time permits, we might also make things a bit more concrete by chatting about one of my more specific research interests: charter schools.