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The Enduring Relevance of Humanities Education

June 8, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm


Gideon Rosen *02, Stuart Professor of Philosophy; Chair, Department of Philosophy; Acting Director, Program in Linguistics



Rebecca Goldstein *77, Writer, Professor of Philosophy, New College of the Humanities

Edward Tenner ’65, Distinguished Scholar, Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution

Alan Lightman ’70, Professor of the Practice of the Humanities, MIT

Margaret Walker ’10, Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities

Christina M. Chica ’15, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, University of California Los Angeles




Gideon Rosen *02
Stuart Professor of Philosophy; Chair, Department of Philosophy; Acting Director, Program in Linguistics 

Ph.D., Princeton, 1992. Joined the faculty in 1993, having taught previously at the University of Michigan. His areas of research include metaphysics, epistemology and moral philosophy. He is the author (with John Burgess) of A Subject With No Object(Oxford, 1997) and co-editor of The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (Norton 2015). From 2006 to 2014, Rosen served as chair of Princeton’s Council of the Humanities. He is currently Acting Director of the Program in Linguistics.




Rebecca Goldstein *77
Writer, Professor of Philosophy, New College of the Humanities 

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is a philosopher and a novelist and the author of ten books.  Her novels include The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal and Quantum Physics, and 36 Arguments for The Existence of God: A Work of Fiction.  She is also the author of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, named by Discover Magazine one of the best science books of 2005, and the award-winning Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. Her latest book is Plato at The Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away.  She delivered the Tanner Lecture on Human Values at Yale University in 2011. The recipient of numerous awards for both her fiction and scholarship, including Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships, in 1996 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and in 2010 was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association, In 2015, she received the National Medal of the Humanities from President Obama. She is currently visiting Professor of Philosophy and Literature at New College of the Humanities in London.


Edward Tenner ’65
Distinguished Scholar, Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution 

Edward Tenner ‘65 has been living in the humanities-science interface for 50 years. As a newly minted European history PhD in the original humanities job crisis of the early 1970s, he found a research position helping his former graduate teacher William H McNeill prepare his groundbreaking study of disease in history. This led in turn to a new career as a science editor at Princeton University Press, sponsoring everything from bird field guides to Richard Feynman’s QED. In 1991, helped by a Guggenheim award, he became an independent writer and speaker on unintended consequences of technology, publishing Why Things Bite, Our Own Devices, and The Efficiency Paradox (all Knopf/Vintage). He has been associated with Princeton’s departments of Geosciences and English, the Center for Information Technology Policy, and the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. He has also been a visiting lecturer in the Humanities Council and a two-time TED speaker. He is currently a Visitor in the Institute for Advanced Study’s Program in Interdisciplinary Studies.


Alan Lightman ’70
Professor of the Practice of the Humanities, MIT 

“Alan Lightman is an American writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur. Born in 1948, he was educated at Princeton and at the California Institute of Technology, where he received a PhD in theoretical physics. He has received six honorary doctoral degrees. Lightman has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities. He is currently professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT.  His essays and articles have appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s, Nautilus, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Salon, and many other publications. He is the author of 6 novels, several collections of essays, a memoir, and a book-length narrative poem, as well as several books on science. His novel Einstein’s Dreams was an international bestseller and has been the basis for dozens of independent theatrical and musical adaptations around the world. His novel The Diagnosis was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent book is Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine (2018), an extended meditation on science and religion – which was the basis for an essay on PBS Newshour. Lightman is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the founder of the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to advance a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia.”


Margaret Walker ’10
Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities 

Margaret Walker Clair is a Senior Program Officer in the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), where she works with nine grant programs that support stewardship of humanities collections nationwide. She came to the NEH in August 2018 from Vanderbilt University, where she was the assistant curator of the Fine Arts Gallery. There she curated or co-curated exhibitions on topics including First World War posters, the American etching revival, the American circus, and portraits by Everett Raymond Kinstler. She holds an A.B. in History from Princeton University and a M.Sc. with distinction in the History of Art, Theory and Display from the University of Edinburgh. Prior to graduate school, Clair taught secondary mathematics in the Memphis City Schools through the Teach for America program. Her research interests include museum management and the intersection of the arts and the First World War. Her publications appear in Nashville Arts Magazine, History Today, and The Magazine Antiques, and Sustainable Revenue for Museums (2019).


Christina M. Chica ’15
Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, University of California Los Angeles 

Christina M. Chica ’15 hails from Los Angeles and grew up reading fantasy fiction, playing piano, learning to paint, and watching too much T.V. She is the daughter of Latin American immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador. She majored in Sociology while at Princeton and held campus jobs at locations ranging from Murray Dodge Café to the Women’s Center. Christina spent her extra-curricular time working with and advocating for the LGBTQ community both on and off campus. She was part of Princeton’s “Dream Team,” which advocated for undocumented immigrants by lobbying Congress, mentoring local high school students, raising scholarship funds for college students, and more. After graduation, Christina worked for Youth UpRising—a non-profit in East Oakland, California that works to ameliorate the effects of historical disinvestment via educational, employment, leadership, and artistic opportunities for youth. Now, she is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at UCLA currently living in Mexico City with her partner and working on a COVID-related project examining the LGBT+ community’s social, spatial, and technological adaptations to the pandemic in CDMX. She hopes to soon return to her in-person dissertation fieldwork investigating the relationship between urban change and LGBTQ placemaking in Mexico City. You can check out Christina’s article, “Queer Integrative Marginalization: LGBTQ Student Integration Strategies at an Elite University” published in Socius online and keep a look out for two soon-to-be-published chapters, “The Magical (Racial) Contract: Understanding the wizarding world through Whiteness” and “Urban Borderlands After Dark: negotiating difference and hybridity in an L.A. salón.”


June 8, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
Event Category:


Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08540 United States
(609) 258 - 3000