Libraries engage in partnership with new Institute for Liberal Arts

by Lucy Saxon

The Institute for Liberal Arts, established at Swarthmore last year, has a mandate from the College Strategic Plan to study and strengthen the liberal arts model of higher education even as our society meets overwhelming challenges. To quote the Strategic Plan,
The accelerating rate of the production of information, a more pervasive awareness of global connections, vast technological changes, new demographic trends, and daunting financial pressures combine to produce a complex environment. (p. 28)

We believe that the liberal arts model of higher education will make the intellectual space for us to conceive solutions for the problems of the 21st century. These goals align well with the mission of the College Libraries to promote “critical inquiry, scholarly discovery, and creativity.” The Libraries and the Institute for Liberal Arts are natural partners in supporting the liberal arts inquiry in the classroom and beyond.

Working with Stacey Kutish of the Institute for Liberal Arts, the Libraries are helping to support departmental and interdisciplinary lectures and academic events. Returning to the root of the word “lecture,” we are encouraging the community to read books written by the speakers visiting Swarthmore this year (see below for details). Swarthmore already attracts thinkers and activists from near and far to enrich scholarly life here and to broaden thinking that could otherwise be hemmed in by disciplinary boundaries.

McCabe Library is currently hosting an exhibit that exemplifies the ideals of the Institute for Liberal Arts. The artist J. Henry Fair has photographed sites in the United States where industrial extraction has scarred our landscapes. His art was appreciated by political scientist Carol Nackenoff and brought to the library by visual resources librarian Susan Dreher. Fair’s work combines an understanding of environmental science with an artistic vision of the socio-political problems of extraction.

Many speakers are traveling to campus this spring, including poets Rowan Ricardo Phillips ‘96 and Eli Clare, critic Terry Eagleton, classical historian Peter Temin ’59, queer and trans activists from INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, writers Dorothy Allison and Jonathan Franzen ’81, explorer of creativity Lewis Hyde, and the theorist of higher education Louis Menand. Their books are available through the college libraries. The Libraries look forward to supporting these events and future activities of The Institute for Liberal Arts.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
Lewis Hyde
Lecture: Jan. 31, 7:30 pm, Scheuer Room

The Marketplace of Ideas
Louis Menand
Lecture: Feb. 1, 4:30 pm, Science Center 101

Freedom
Jonathan Franzen ‘81
Reading: Feb. 14, 7:30 pm, LPAC Cinema

The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis
J. Henry Fair
Lecture: Feb. 18, 8 pm, Science Center 101

The Marrow’s Telling: Words in Motion
Eli Clare
Lecture: March 28, 7 pm, place TBA

Bastard Out of Carolina
Dorothy Allison
Lecture: March 29, 4:30 pm, LPAC Cinema

The Revolution will not be Funded
Incite! Women of Color against Violence
Visiting representatives, March 28-31

The Ground
Rowan Ricardo Phillips ‘96
Reading: April 4, 7:30 pm, Scheuer Room

Why Marx was Right
Terry Eagleton
Lecture: April 5, time TBA, LPAC

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
Jonathan Haidt
Lecture: April 9, 7:30 pm, Science Center 101

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