Coffee with the Classics: Spring 2016

On Nature and Human Nature
Part II: From Galileo to Google

Students have been gathering this spring in continuation of a survey of Natural Philosophy begun last fall.  Sessions 1-3 covered the ideas of Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, Hobbes, and Newton.  Dr. Mike Kane facilitates.  Dinner, coffee, and all texts are provided free of charge for all participants.  Coffee with the Classics takes place Wednesday evenings in Harrison College House, Seminar Room M20.  A summary of previous sessions can be found at Collegium Portal.

Join us for special guest facilitators on March 24 and April 6!
Email Katie Becker (kbec@sas.upenn.edu) to register and get a copy of the readings.


Session 4: The Romantic Reaction
Wednesday, March 24, 2016, 6-7:30 p.m (dinner ready at 5:45)

Featuring special guest Dr. Michael Gamer

Associate Professor of English at Penn
Faculty Master at Harrison College House
The Romantic thinkers reacted against the excessive rationalism of the Enlightenment and the dehumanizing effects of industrialization.  In both of these areas, they challenged the existing ideas about human nature and the natural world.  The call to return to nature as a way of satisfying the human spirit was an essential part of the Romantic outlook, as was a sense of respect for the beauty of nature. Professor Gamer will be facilitating discussion on poems by Shelley and Wordsworth.


Session 5: Darwin
Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 6-7:30 p.m (dinner ready at 5:45)

Featuring special guest Dr. Peter Dodson
Professor of Veterinary Gross Anatomy
Professor of Earth and Environmental Science (paleontology)

Darwin’s Origin of Species was a scientific advance of enormous proportions, and one which represented nature in a new way.  For Darwin, nature is a self-evolving force, with a direction but with no telos as for Aristotle, and with selection but no design.  By showing humans as the product of evolution from lower species, Darwin also reshaped the discussion about nature and human nature (as well as faith and reason). Professor Dodson will be facilitating discussion on excerpts from Origin of Species and Darwin’s autobiography.


Session 6: The Human, the Natural, and the Artificial
Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 6-7:30 p.m (dinner ready at 5:45)

Featuring readings by B.F. Skinner, Ray Kurzweil, and Pope Francis

Skinner argued that we are simply the product of our environment and have little to no influence over nature.  We should therefore give up metaphysical ideas such as human freedom.  Kurzweil, chief futurist for Google, argues for the “Singularity”, the stage at which machine learning surpasses human intelligence and allows us to rewrite the human experience of the natural world.  This would culminate in personal immortality through technology.  Pope Francis makes the case for prudent restraints on technology as he urges us to correct for the excessive anthropocentrism of modern thought, and to care instead for the planet and the poor.

The Glossa Ordinaria as Medieval Bible Commentary

When: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 from 5:30-7 p.m.
Where: Kislak Center for Special Collections
Room 627 Van Pelt Library

Join us for a discussion of the Glossa Ordinaria led by E. Ann Matter, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  This discussion is part of “Reading the Bible in History”, a series for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty to engage with the text of the Bible, relevant commentaries, and other secondary sources to understand changing perceptions of the Bible throughout history.

Cosponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Department of History and Collegium Institute.

For more inquiries or more information, contact Katie Becker: kbec@sas.upenn.edu

Morality & Markets: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives

When: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 6 p.m.
Where: Penn Club of New York, 30 West 44th Street

Join us at the beautiful Penn Club in Manhattan for cocktails, hors d’ouevres, and a panel discussion on morality and the markets. Co-sponsored by the Penn Club of New York and the journal First Things.  Tickets are available now!  Click here until April 15 for early registration — general registration continues after that date.

Featuring:

David Skeel, Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and Its (Unintended) Consequences (Wiley, 2011), Icarus in the Boardroom (Oxford, 2005) and Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton, 2001), as well as numerous articles and other publications. He has been interviewed on The News Hour, Nightline, Chris Matthews’ Hardball (MSNBC), National Public Radio, and Marketplace, among others, and has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other newspapers and magazines.  Professor Skeel is, most recently, the author of True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of a Complex World.

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, is a Research Associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Penn’s Population Studies Center, and a Research Affiliate for the Centre for Economic Policy Research. His research agenda is in macroeconomics and econometrics, with a focus on the computation and estimation of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models.  Professor Fernandez-Villaverde is the Co-Founder and Vice-President of the Catholic Research Economists Discussion Organization (CREDO).

 

Eric Cohen has been the Executive Director of the Tikvah Fund since 2007.  He was the founder and remains editor-at-large of the New Atlantis, and he serves as the publisher of the Jewish Review of Books and Mosaic.  Mr. Cohen has published in numerous academic and popular journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post,Weekly StandardCommentaryThe New RepublicFirst Things, and numerous others. He is the author of In the Shadow of Progress: Being Human in the Age of Technology (2008) and co-editor of The Future is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics (2002). He was previously managing editor of the Public Interest and served as a senior consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics. Mr. Cohen currently serves on the board of directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Witherspoon Institute, and National Affairs and on the Editorial Advisory Board of First Things.

 

Atif Mian is the Theodore A. Wells ’29 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and Director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance at the Woodrow Wilson School.  Prior to joining Princeton in 2012, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago.  His more recent work centers on understanding the origins of the global financial crisis, the political economy of government intervention in financial markets, and the link between asset prices, household borrowing, and consumption. Professor Mian’s work has appeared in top Economics and Finance journals, including the American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies and Journal of Financial Economics. Professor Mian’s work has also been profiled by leading media outlets such as The Economist and The Wall Street Journal.

 

Humanity on Wall Street? A Luncheon Conversation with Jason DeSena Trennert

When: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 12 noon
Where: The Wharton School, Room TBA*
University of Pennsylvania

Part memoir, part love letter to an institution popularly viewed as a necessary (or as just plain) evil, My Side of the Street: Why Flash Boys, Quants, and Masters of the Universe Don’t Represent the Real Wall Street delivers a defense of the investment banking industry critiqued by Michael Lewis and others, illuminating the ethical and decent majority who take the subway, worry about mortgages, and keep the entire enterprise on its feet. Introducing the general reader to captains of finance, famous on The Street but invisible to outsiders, Mr. Trennert lays on display the absurdity and unbridled joy of big business – a comic tale of unlikely success in America’s most notorious industry.

Featuring Jason DeSena Trennert.  Mr. Trennert is the Managing Partner of Strategas Research Partners LLC and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the firm’s broker-dealer subsidiary, Strategas Securities, LLC. In addition, as Chief Investment Strategist, Mr.Trennert is known as one of Wall Street’s top thought leaders on the subject of markets and economic policy. His research pieces are read by leading institutional investors and corporate executives across the globe. He received an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and BS in International Economics from Georgetown University.

A limited number of complementary copies of My Side of the Street will be available to attendees on a first-come, first-serve basis.  To join us for lunch, please register here!  *Location update will be sent to all registrants.

Third Annual Anscombe Lecture in Ethics

When: Friday, February 5, 2016 at 12 noon
Where: University of Pennsylvania
Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 402
249 S 36th St Philadelphia, PA 19104
The Annual Anscombe Lecture in Ethics commemorates Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 – 2001), former Penn Professor of Philosophy and one of the most influential woman philosophers and Catholic intellectuals of the modern era.

Featuring:

Dr. Candace Vogler, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and Professor in the College at the University of Chicago, and Principal Investigator on “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life,” a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation.  She has authored two books, John Stuart Mill’s Deliberative Landscape: An essay in moral psychology (Routledge, 2001) and Reasonably Vicious (Harvard University Press, 2002), and essays in ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy and literature, cinema, psychoanalysis, gender studies, sexuality studies, and other areas.  Her research interests are in practical philosophy (particularly the strand of work in moral philosophy indebted to Elizabeth Anscombe), practical reason, Kant’s ethics, Marx, and neo-Aristotelian naturalism.

Luncheon provided.  To reserve your place, please register here.  For more information, contact Katie Becker: kbec@sas.upenn.edu.

The Enigma of Academic Success

When: Friday, November 13, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Huntsman Hall Auditorium (G-06) at the University of Pennsylvania

The Enigma of Academic Success: An Organizational Psychologist and Christian Mathematician discuss surviving, thriving, and rediscovering the meaning of learning. An honest encounter of two viewpoints, featuring Francis Su, the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, and Stewart Friedman, Practice Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business and Director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. This event is cosponsored with the Veritas Forum.

Featuring:

Dr. Francis Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. He received his B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is currently President of the Mathematical Association of America. His research is in geometric combinatorics and applications to the social sciences, and he has co-authored numerous papers with undergraduates. He also has a passion for teaching and popularizing mathematics. From the Mathematical Association of America, he received the 2001 Hasse Prize for expository writing, and the 2004 Alder Award and the 2013 Haimo Award for distinguished teaching. He authors the popular Math Fun Facts website and iPhone app. His hobbies include songwriting, gardening, photography, and theology. Just like mathematics, these are modes of creative expression that divinely blend structure and freedom, truth and beauty, reflection and action.

Dr. Stewart Friedman has been on the Wharton faculty since 1984.  He became the Management Department’s first Practice Professor for his work on applying theory and research to the real challenges facing organizations. As founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program, in 1991 he initiated the required MBA and Undergraduate leadership courses.  He is also founding director of Wharton’s Work/Life Integration Project.  Stew worked for five years in the mental health field before earning his PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.  He has published on work/life, leadership, and the dynamics of change, including the widely-cited Harvard Business Review articles, “Work and life: the end of the zero-sum game” (1998); “Be a better leader, have a richer life” (2008); and “Work+Home+Community+Self (2014); and “The Happy Workaholic: a role model for employees” (in Academy of Management Executive, 2003).  Stew’s most recent book is Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life (Harvard Business, 2014), a Wall Street Journal best-seller.

Biblical Genealogy: Sacred Lineages From Noah to Jesus

When: Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 12 noon
Where: Nevil Room, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

 

This closing lecture by Dr. Jon D. Levenson, the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School, is the grand finale to the Sacred Writings Exhibition at the Penn Museum. This event is in partnership with the Museum, which, among other precious artifacts, will be showcasing its papyrus fragment of Matthew 1, one of the world’s oldest extant gospel fragments.  Lunch will be served.

Featuring:

Dr. Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School.  Professor Levenson’s work concentrates on the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, including its reinterpretations in the “rewritten Bible” of Second Temple Judaism and rabbinic midrash.  He has a strong interest in the philosophical and theological issues involved in biblical studies, especially the relationship of premodern modes of interpretation to modern historical criticism. Much of his work centers on the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, both in antiquity and in modernity, and he has long been active in Jewish-Christian dialogue. Professor Levenson has published several books, the newest being The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism (Princeton University Press, 2015).  In all his work, emphasis falls on the close reading of texts for purposes of literary and theological understanding.

To reserve your place, please register here.  For more information, contact Katie Becker: kbec@sas.upenn.edu.

Nostra Aetate, 50 Years Later

The Past, Present, and Future of Inter-Faith Relations: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate.

Cosponsored with the Religious Studies Department

 

When: Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 5 p.m.
Where: Shotel Dubin Auditorium in Steinhardt Hall (Penn Hillel), University of Pennsylvania

Issued in October 1965, Nostra Aetate was the Second Vatican Council’s seminal declaration on the relationship of the Church to other Faiths.  Situated two weeks after the historic visit of Pope Francis and two weeks before the visitation of the Dalai Lama, this special event presents an opportunity for the university to take stock of the transformation of inter-faith relations ushered in by this pivotal church document and to consider what still lies ahead.

Featuring:

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. He also serves as president of the International Council of Christians and Jews, secretary-treasurer of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, and has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is also webmaster of the CCJR’s online resource supersite called Dialogika. Interested in biblical studies, religious education, and theologies of Christian-Jewish relations, he is the author of numerous books and articles on these subjects. His most recent book is Seeking Shalom: The Journey to Right Relationship between Catholics and Jews (Eerdmans, 2015).

 

Dr. Daniel Mark is Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.  He is also an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He teaches political theory, philosophy of law, American government, and politics and religion. At Villanova, he is a faculty associate of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good and serves on the Jewish Religion and Culture Lecture Committee and the Graduate Committee of the Department of Political Science. Dr. Mark works with the Tikvah Fund in New York and the Hertog Foundation in Washington, DC, and he has taught at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University.

Dr. Heather J. Sharkey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University after conducting research abroad on a Fulbright-Hays fellowship.  Before joining the Penn faculty in 2002, she taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Trinity College in Connecticut. She is the editor of Cultural Conversions: Unexpected Consequences of Christian Missions in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (Syracuse University Press, 2013). Dr. Sharkey is writing a book for Cambridge University Press about the history of intercommunal relations in the modern Middle East.

Reception to follow

Please register here.  For more information, contact Katie Becker: kbec@sas.upenn.edu

 

Faith and Environmentalism

A Symposium Co-Organized by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and the Collegium Institute

Cosponsored by the Penn Humanities Forum, the Penn Museum, the Penn Newman Catholic Community, the Green Campus Partnership, and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

When: Thursday & Friday, September 24 – 25
Where: Penn Museum (3260 South Street, Philadelphia)

Thursday, September 24th; 5:00 p.m.
Lecture by Thomas R. Dunlap (Texas A&M) with response by Justin McDaniel (Chair, Penn Religious Studies).  Reception to follow

Friday, September 25th; 12:00 p.m.:
Green Faiths? Laudato Si and other Religious Responses to Ecological Pressures
Panel featuring Brad Gregory (Notre Dame), Bethany Wiggin (Penn), Carolyn Fornoff (Penn), Mark Shiffman (Villanova), Cam Grey (Penn) and Ilana Schachter (Penn). Moderated by Mary Summers (Penn). Lunch will be served. 

For more information or to register, please click here.