Harvard president, Olympic gold medalist among Inauguration Day panelists

It’s a chicken-and-egg kind of thing: How does the world inspire ideas in the minds of great scholars? How do ideas in the hands of skilled practitioners play out in the world?

Featuring an Olympic gold medalist and the president of Harvard University, two panel discussions will explore this cycle of conception, action, effect and perception starting at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall.

Drew Gilpin Faust

Constituting a session called The Engaged Liberal Arts, the panels continue a week of events surrounding the inauguration of Bates’ eighth president, A. Clayton Spencer, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday in Merrill Gymnasium. For more information, please call 207-786-6103.

With historian and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust (right) perhaps the best-known panelist, the discussions also feature Bates faculty and alumni drawn from diverse academic and professional realms.

Among them are pharmaceuticals CEO Michael Bonney ’80; Olympic rowing gold and silver medalist Andrew Byrnes ’05; Bates professor Lillian Nayder, an authority on Charles Dickens; and Valerie Smith ’75, dean of the college at Princeton and an expert on African American culture and literature.

Andrew Byrnes ’05 (second from left) and teammates Malcolm Howard, Jeremiah Brown and Will Crothers celebrate their silver medal at the London Olympics on Aug. 1, 2012, an achievement considered to be a triumph of competition and collaboration. Photograph by Jason Ransom / Canada Olympic Committee.

The World of Ideas, the first panel, explores scholarly engagement with objective reality. What qualities distinguish the best investigators? What conditions support the discovery of ideas? What defines a good line of inquiry? And is it true that scholars “know it when they see it?”

Here are the panelists:

Valerie Smith ’75, moderator: Dean of the college, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, and Professor of English and African American Studies, Princeton University; author of Toni Morrison: Writing the Moral Imagination
William Carlezon ’86: Professor of psychiatry, Harvard University; director of the Behavioral Genetics Laboratory, McLean Hospital
Drew Faust: President and Lincoln Professor of History, Harvard University; author of This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Lillian Nayder: Professor and chair of English, Bates College; author of The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth

Ideas in the World, the second discussion, looks at competition and collaboration and how these phenomena play out in the panelists’ various fields. Can these sometimes antithetical concepts create synergy? What happens when they clash? Must competition always have a zero-sum outcome? And is collaboration the same as teamwork, or something else altogether?

Here are the panelists:

Darby Ray, moderator: Director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates and the Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement; author of Working
Michael Bonney ’80: Chief executive officer, Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Andrew Byrnes ’05: Olympic gold (2008) and silver (2012) medalist, men’s eight rowing, Canada
Francesco Duina: Professor of sociology, Bates; author of Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession

Introducing The Engaged Liberal Arts is Thomas Tracy, Phillips Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Bates. An apt scholar for the panel introductions, Tracy offers theoretical insights into a range of vexing topics in his teaching and research, including medical and environmental ethics, and the problem of evil in the context of God’s goodness and power.

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