Scholars today think and write about a myriad of pressing issues confronting humanity. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of this week’s #ScholarFest is to gain insight into what’s on the minds of some of the world’s top scholars, and the questions they’re examining through their research. Thursday’s “lightning conversations” –10-minute dialogues between scholars that are both interdisciplinary and intergenerational–will showcase some of the sophisticated research and thinking in the world of contemporary scholarship. Here are just a few of the topics:
- Today it is commonplace to state that we live in a “multi-cultural” world. The lightning conversation between Cecelia Tichi and Annette Seidel-Arpaci will focus on the problematic notion of “multiculturalism” and examine whether an emphasis on “culture” can override pressing issues of poverty and increasingly poor labor conditions for people around the world. They will be the third conversation in session three of #ScholarFest.
- The effects of stress and trauma are evidenced in many realms of the human experience. In the third lightning conversation of session one of #ScholarFest, Dr. George Chrousos, a prominent clinical pediatrician and endocrinologist, will be in dialogue with Charlotte Rogers, a literary scholar, on the effects of stress and trauma on the young, both on the medical side and how trauma manifests itself in literary works.
- What are the racial politics and ethics of drug addiction treatment in America? Historian Sonia Lee researched this topic at the Kluge Center in 2014. In the fourth lightning conversation in session five of #ScholarFest, Lee will converse with ethicist and theologian James Childress on the way we frame problems for ethical and policy analysis, particularly the role of metaphors and values in framing problems such as addiction.
- Does the Cold War still matter? The world has changed drastically since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, yet the United States and Russia continue to spar in geopolitical and hegemonic battles. If the Cold War does still matter, to whom does it matter? Eisenhower biographer William Hitchcock will discuss with historian Renata Keller in the third lightning conversation of session two of #ScholarFest.
- Two scholars returning to the Kluge Center have thought deeply about the intersection of science and technology with social inequality. When does scientific innovation exacerbate inequality? When does it attenuate it? Jennifer Hochschild, Professor of Government at Harvard University, will discuss with Nara Milanich, Associate Professor of History at Barnard College, in the fourth lightning conversation of session number one of #Scholarfest.
- Finally, how has America’s space program shaped our past, and also our future. Historian Neil Maher has written about how the space race influence political movements of the 1960s, and astrobiologist Steven Dick has written widely on how space exploration and the potential discovery of life beyond earth may impact our future. The two will be paired for lightning conversation number two in session number one of #ScholarFest.
It was nearly a year ago that we began to plan and conceptualize an event that would appropriately mark our fifteenth anniversary. Having so many of our alumni back to the Library of Congress, and to be enriched by their insights while nestled inside the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in a full day of panels and conversations… that seems like an appropriate tribute to the legacy of John Kluge and fifteen years of outstanding scholarship.
#ScholarFest, the Kluge Center’s celebration of its fifteenth anniversary, occurs Thursday, June 11th at the Library of Congress. Click here to attend. On Twitter: #ScholarFest.