Talk on arts and sciences and why they matter, Nov. 30

The modern university besieged by requests (or demands) to do many things—among them, to stimulate economic productivity, to foster social justice and to provide training for lucrative careers. In his Nov. 30 talk, distinguished historian and classicist Christopher S. Celenza will argue that a response should begin by asking a foundational question: What are the arts and sciences and why do they matter?

Celenza will suggest some answers that arise from considering the history of the liberal arts, medieval and early modern universities, and the rise of the arts and sciences in the modern era. The talk will be at 5:30 pm on Thursday, Nov. 30 in room 198 of Statler Hall on the Cornell University campus. Informal and aimed at non-specialists, it is designed to stimulate thinking about current issues in contemporary U.S. research universities. The event is free and open to the public. It will also be live-streamed; register to participate online.

“Christopher Celenza is a distinguished scholar, a true humanist with enormous breadth and great wit. He is committed to engaging with thoughtful members of the general public,” said Barry Strauss, the Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies in the Departments of History and Classics and Director of the Program on Freedom and Free Societies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Strauss will introduce Celenza and moderate the following Q&A.

Celenza is a professor of history and classics at Johns Hopkins University, where he is also the James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. He has been the director of the American Academy in Rome and the dean of Georgetown College, and his scholarly work about the Renaissance has received many awards. An intellectual history, “The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities,” is his most recent book.

“What are the Arts and Sciences and why do they matter?” is sponsored by the Program on Freedom and Free Societies, with thanks also to the generous support of Michael J. Millette ’87 and the Millette family as well as that of the Triad Foundation and other donors.

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