Liberal Education Participant Bios

List of Speakers

Talbot Brewer is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Brewer works in the areas of ethical theory and moral psychology. His 2014 article in the Hedgehog Review, “The Coup That Failed: How the Near-Sacking of a University President Exposed the Fault Lines of American Higher Education,” tackles the question of how liberal education is to be best defended.

Alison Byerly is President of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Byerly has written and spoken extensively on emerging forms of digital scholarship, the changing role of the humanities in the digital age, the importance of curricular innovation, and massive open online courses (MOOCs). She served as a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Alliance to Advance Liberal Arts Colleges from 2010-12, and her essays have appeared in Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lorraine Daston is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, a Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and Permanent Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She is currently studying the emergence of Big Science and Big Humanities in the nineteenth century, and has previously published on a wide range of topics in the history of science, including the history of probability and statistics, the emergence of the scientific fact, and the history of scientific objectivity.  

Daniel Doneson is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering at MIT. Doneson teaches in and co-coordinates the Ben Franklin Project, a program that provides students of engineering and the sciences a series of course offerings, lectures, and conferences that invite them to consider a more comprehensive understanding of the place of modern technology, science, and engineering in modern society and as part of the human good. Doneson has written and lectured widely on issues in philosophy, politics and ethics, with special emphasis on questions of modern science, politics and technology.

Carlos Fraenkel is James McGill Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Jewish Studies at McGill University. Fraenkel is a philosopher whose research and teaching spans ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy (mainly Jewish and Islamic) and early modern philosophy (mainly Spinoza). He also has an interest in political philosophy, in particular in questions related to cultural difference, identity and autonomy.  Most recently, he has published Teaching Plato in Palestine: Philosophy in a Divided World.

Bryan Garsten is Professor of Political Science and the Humanities, and Chair of the Humanities Program at Yale University. He has written about political rhetoric and deliberation, the meaning of representative government, the relationship of politics and religion, and the place of emotions in political life. From 2009-2011 Garsten was a Fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education and in 2012-13 he served as Chair of a committee overseeing the development of a common curriculum in the liberal arts for Yale-NUS College in Singapore. He also participates in, and serves on the University Advisory Council for, the Yale National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching in the Public Schools.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She served as the lead author of the Brookings Institution's 2009 “Transforming America's Community Colleges” report, whose recommendations were included in President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative later that year.  In 2014, she co-authored a report that called for a free two-year college option, which the New York Times cited as a “clear influence on the Obama plan” for free community college introduced during the 2015 State of the Union Address. Goldrick-Rab founded the Wisconsin Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (HOPE) Lab in May 2014 to test the efficacy of college affordability programs, and received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Early Career Award in the same year.

Karim-Yassin Goessinger founded the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS) in 2013. He currently serves as Program Director and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Goessinger studied political philosophy and urban governance in the Netherlands, Brazil and France, and has worked with a range of development agencies in Latin America and the Middle East in fields including micro-finance, informal housing, and local governance. In addition to his strong interest in social and political theory, Goessinger is concerned with the intersection of post-secondary education and development work.

Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam Professor in the Department of History at Princeton University. He has written numerous books about liberal education in Europe from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries.  Grafton also regularly engages in broader public debates in such forums as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The London Review of Books on the status of the humanities, the problems facing new career scholars, and the importance of scholarly collaboration.

Susan Henking  is President of Shimer College in Chicago. Trained in Religious Studies at the University of Chicago, Henking has published widely on religion, psychology, the history of sociology, gender, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, diversity, and leadership in higher education, and is founding series editor of the Teaching Religious Studies Series for Oxford University Press.

Micere Keels is Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development and a Faculty Affiliate with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the intersection of liberal education, gender, and race.  She is interested in particular in questions of inequality, and has examined the causes and consequences of the widening gender gap in educational attainment, a gap that is largest among Black and Latino/a Americans.

Rana Saadi Liebert is a site director and faculty member of the Bard Prison Initiative, an innovative college-in-prison program sponsored by Bard College.  She has taught in the Classics Department at the University of Chicago, and in the Classical Studies Program, the Language and Thinking Program, and First-Year Seminar at Bard College.  Her research focuses on the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in ancient literature and philosophy, ancient and modern theories of emotion, and the history of conceptualizing fiction.  

Eugene Lowe is Assistant to the President at Northwestern University. Trained as a historian of American religion, Lowe regularly teaches courses in the history and philosophy of higher education. As assistant to the president, he oversees university program initiatives designed to enhance community and diversity in the university. He has also written on racial diversity and higher education, and has chaired university-wide committees on the status of underrepresented minorities and integrity in intercollegiate athletics.

Roosevelt Montás is Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia University. He specializes in Antebellum American literature and culture, with a specific interest in citizenship and American national identity. In addition to directing Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum, where he has taught both Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization, he lectures and writes about the history and future of liberal education. 

Martha Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Law School and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Nussbaum received her BA from NYU and her MA and PhD from Harvard. The recipient of numerous honors, Nussbaum’s work spans widely across philosophy, literature, and law. Her books Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education and Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities are major contributions to the current debates surrounding liberal education.

Theodore O’Neill worked for twenty-seven years in the admissions office at the University of Chicago, twenty of them as Dean of College admissions. A nationally respected figure in the higher education admissions, O’Neill was named one of the “10 Admissions Deans Who Are Shaping Their Field” by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2007, and he was profiled as “The Gatekeeper” in the Chicago Tribune Magazine in 2008. He currently teaches in the University of Chicago’s Humanities Core Curriculum.

Julie A. Reuben is Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education at Harvard University. A historian interested in the role of education in American society and culture, her teaching and research address broad questions about the purposes of education; the relation between educational institutions and political and social concerns; and the forces that shape educational change. She is the author of Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality. She has also written a number of articles related to campus activism, access to higher education, curriculum changes, and citizenship education in the public schools.

Haun Saussy is University Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and in the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago. Saussy  is a leading scholar of Chinese and comparative literature whose range of academic interests includes Chinese poetry, literature, aesthetics, and culture, as well as theories of oral poetry, the history of interpretation, and problems in translation. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Faculty Advisory Boards for two new initiatives at the University of Chicago: the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society and the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, as well as of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

Conference Organizers:

Aviva Rothman and Aaron Tugendhaft