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The College Commons Spring 2009


The College Commons is a series of provocative conversations that bring faculty and students together to explore the world of ideas. Join us for lectures and readings by distinguished scholars and writers, seminars focusing on works-in-progress, the examination of cultural artifacts and visits to local museums and collections. From fossils to physics, from poetry to plants, from the brilliant ideas of 1859 to the contemporary rethinking of "the creative commons," the series offers opportunities for surprise, wonder and curiosity, the joy of a critical intelligence in conversation with others, as well as the sheer pleasure of learning what others in your community think is important — and learning why ideas matter to you. These events are open to all — and offer a wide world of discovery, debate and uncommon ideas.

Read about The College Common's January kickoff.


The Dream of the Commons
We are a nation forged on "common sense," our first villages were formed around "common" land and we dreamed of "a common language." Yet, we are also individuals who strive to be uncommon, to stand out. At a time when we are keenly aware of our shared resources — the air, the water, the land — how do we define "the commons"? This series brings together theorists of "the commonwealth" and of "the creative commons," a physicist trying to find our place in space and time, and a contemporary poet who most beautifully described "The Dream of a Common Language" to attempt to understand, critique, and perhaps re-conceive the promise of the commons. View events for The Dream of the Commons.

The Darwin Revolution
Where do ideas come from, and how far do they travel? One hundred and fifty years ago, the astonishing year of 1859 saw not only the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, but such pioneering works as John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, Karl Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, and Richard Wagner’s first version of Tristan and Isolde. This year also marked amazing advances in travel and communications, the first battles prefiguring the Civil War and the first trapeze act performed in Paris. Can we imagine the world 150 years from now, and imagine the place our ideas will have in it? Scholars from biology, anthropology, physics, literature, history, and gender studies, as well as poets and artists, will explore these questions together this spring. View events for The Darwin Revolution.

Uncommon Conversations
In this series, faculty, students and visiting scholars gather to exchange ideas about what we take for granted, but shouldn’t — the objects we use; the idea of race and the origins of racism; the spiritual life of plants; and “folklore in a digital age.” View events for Uncommon Conversations.

The Committee

Read about The College Common's committee members.


Schedule subject to change. For more information e-mail