Allen Springer: “Institutional Resilience in Turbulent Times”

Professor Springer discusses how contemporary international institutions are responding to the challenges posed by a wave of populist and nationalist sentiment, which often challenges the relevance of the institutions themselves. How do institutions operating in such diverse arenas as security, humanitarian, and environmental policy absorb and adapt to these pressures and attempt to confront effectively issues ranging from major transboundary movements of people seeking political asylum to global climate change?

Richmond Thompson: “Social Chemistry: Sex Steroids, Neuropeptides, and the Regulation of Social Behavior”

To highlight the role that brain chemistry plays in social regulation, Thompson’s talk will focused upon work in his lab that investigates how and where within the brain vasotocin and testosterone influence social interactions related to reproduction in goldfish. These molecules are highly similar, and in some cases identical, across species, and they have similar effects on cells within the brain. Thompson will therefore argue that studying the mechanisms of goldfish social interactions can help us more broadly understand how complex patterns of social behavior are regulated across vertebrates, even within our own species.

The Barry N. Wish Professorship of Social Studies was established in 1999 by a gift from Barry N. Wish of the Class of 1963, trustee of the College and chair emeritus of Ocwen Financial Corporation, a publicly held financial services company. The professorship supports a faculty member in the field of human and social affairs in such disciplines as anthropology, economics, government, history, psychology, or sociology.

Professor Ilan Stavans: “Crypto-Jews: To Be and Not to Be”

“Crypto-Jews: To Be and Not to Be”: If the Jews, a steadfast people united by a single, never-ending book, are praised for surviving across centuries through a variety of assimilation strategies, crypto-Jews are a unique “people-within-a-people.” From before the fateful 1492 to the present, their presence in Hispanic civilization is at once ubiquitous and discreet, their contribution to science, finances, philosophy, and the arts unquestionable. How does their “revealed secret” work?

Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor of the Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, the publisher of Restless Books, the host of NPR’s podcast In Contrast, and a columnist for the New York Times en Español. An internationally-renowned essayist, translator, and literary critic who is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, Stavans’ books include On Borrowed Words, Dictionary Days, El Iluminado. He adapted Don Quixote into a graphic novel and is also the editor of The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature, The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.

The Nov. 7 lecture was sponsored by the Harry Spindel Memorial Lecture Fund.


Laura I. Rendon: “Teaching and Learning for Wholeness and Social Change”

Our world is currently being confronted with chilling social issues which call for a framework of teaching and learning that fosters what Latina feminist theorist, Gloria Anzaldúa, called “conocimiento,” a high level of enlightenment fostered through creative contemplative practices such as art, poetry, dance and meditation. The path toward enlightenment connects inner work with public acts involving social change and personal transformation.  This Common Hour session will present a vision of contemplative education that recognizes cultural patterns of oppression, incorporates theoretical lenses rooted in social justice, and employs a diverse ecology of culturally-validating contemplative practices.

Laura I. Rendón is Professor Emerita at the University of Texas-San Antonio. She is also an educational consultant and featured speaker at over 100 higher education institutions and conferences throughout the nation. Her presentations focus on topics such as student success, Latinx STEM students, and sensing/thinking deep learning experiences, as well as self-care and healing. A native of Laredo, Texas Rendón’s passion is ensuring that the nation’s educational system fosters success for all students, especially those who are low-income and first generation. Rendón developed “validation theory,” an asset-based student success framework that has been employed to frame research studies and programmatic activities in two- and four-year colleges and universities. Rendón is also a teaching and learning theorist and thought leader.

She is the author of the book, Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking Pedagogy): Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation, as well as numerous publications focusing on student success and contemplative education. She is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, a member of the Board of Directors of the John N Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and former Fellow of the Fetzer Institute. In 2013 the Texas Diversity Council awarded Rendón the title of being one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Texas. Rendon’s personal archives are a part of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas-Austin, one of the premier libraries in the world focused on Latin America and Latinx Studies.

Hip Hop/Hip Hope: The (R)Evolution of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy with Gloria Ladson-Billings

Gloria Ladson-Billings, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Kellner Family Distinguished Professor in Urban Education, celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Brodie Family Lecture with her talk on culturally relevant pedagogy. Since the initial introduction of culturally relevant pedagogy, our schools and classrooms have grown even more complex. The combination of rapid technologies and the enthusiasm of youth culture make it necessary for teachers (at all levels) to rethink their practice. Even culturally relevant pedagogy must evolve. This talk speaks to the way the evolution of culturally relevant pedagogy may insure that more students experience success both in and out of the classroom. Ladson-Billings is also the president of the National Academy of Education.

Colum McCann: “Literature, Empathy and The Perils of Appropriation”

Colum McCann is the author of six novels and three collections of stories. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts. His work has been published in over forty languages. He is the cofounder of the nonprofit global story exchange organization, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College.

Sponsored by the Kenneth V. Santagata Memorial Fund.

An Evening with Former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough


As White House chief of staff for President Obama, Denis McDonough served in a role that many describe as “the second most powerful job in Washington.” Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist Katie Benner ’99 will facilitate a discussion with McDonough about his work providing strategic advice to the president on the most significant domestic policy, national security, and management issues facing the federal government.

Sponsored by the Donald M. Zuckert Fund and the Bowdoin Public Service Initiative.

Bringing Government to Bowdoin: Former Chief of Staff Talks to NYT’s Katie Benner ’99, Bowdoin News