A wide range of programs at Dickinson presents many occasions for the celebration of intellect and talent in all disciplines. These lectures, performances, films, exhibits, and symposia demonstrate the value of the liberal arts while furthering educational experience. Students are actively involved in planning and presenting a variety of these events.
On Tuesday and Thursday at noon no classes are scheduled so that members of the Dickinson community can gather to discuss topics of interest and enjoy programs that enrich our intellectual and cultural lives. Each week, a varied schedule of events is available such as student presentation of research, concerts, discussion of topics of immediate importance locally and internationally. These programs also provide opportunity for informal conversation among students, faculty, and administrators.
The Public Affairs Symposium
The Public Affairs Symposium (PAS), established in 1963, is a student organized three-day symposium featuring debates, discussions, films, and other presentations. Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Civility and Respect in Today's World; Is Privacy Dead?; Living On a Risky Planet; The Power of Food: Pleasure Politics and Culture; Sex and Social Issues are examples of topics selected by the students in recent years. The PAS has brought to campus distinguished figures from government, business, education, and the entertainment industry, as well as many others, to discuss a topic of broad public interest with members of the college and the community. The Poitras/Gleim lecture, endowed by a gift from Ted and Kay Gleim Poitras, is held annually in conjunction with the symposium and provides a forum to explore and promote cross-disciplinary thought and communication.
Special Lectures and Scholars in Residence
Each year distinguished public figures and outstanding scholars from American and foreign universities present lectures on campus. Some of these international visitors come as scholars-in-residence for week-long, semester-long, or year-long periods of time. All these people enrich the intellectual offerings of the college and allow students and faculty to encounter new ideas and different opinions. Academic departments and student groups frequently sponsor lectures and small-group discussions which encourage the exploration of issues beyond the classroom. Special lecture topics range from discussion of current political, social, and economic issues to consideration of new scholarly developments within academic disciplines.
The Morgan Lectureship Endowed by the board of trustees in 1929, in grateful appreciation for the distinguished service of James Henry Morgan of the Class of 1878, professor of Greek, dean, and president of the college, the Morgan Lectureship is used by the president of the college “for the procurement of one or more special lectures annually upon such subject or subjects as he may deem wise....” The lectureship brings to campus a scholar in residence for three to five days to meet informally with individuals and class groups, and to deliver the Morgan lectures on topics in the social sciences and humanities. Recent scholars have been been Art Spiegelman, Sandra Steingraber, Jennifer Egan, Richard Wilkinson, Kay Redfield Jamison and Leonard Davis. The 2017 lecturer was Winona LaDuke, Native American activist and former vice-presidential candidate. Her lecture was "The Next Economy: Grassroots Strategies to Mitigate Global Climate Change and How we Move Ahead."
The Pflaum Lectures in History are supported by income from a fund contributed by students and friends of the late Professor John C. Pflaum in appreciation of his effective teaching. The lectures bring to campus scholars who, like Professor Pflaum, are particularly successful in oral presentation of historical topics. Prof. Jeffrey Pilcher, University of Toronto, delivered the 2016-17 Pflaum Lecture entitled “Dos Equis or Five Rabbit? Beer and Tast in Greater Mexico” Other recent lecturers have been Conrad Crane, Brian Donahue, Thomas Hull, Daniel Walker Howe, Zachary Lockman, Michael Katz, Michael Adas and Peter Gatrell.
The Glover Memorial Lectures are usually presented in alternate years. This lectureship in science was established in 1958 in memory of John Glover of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, the inventor of the Glover Tower, and in memory of his son and grandson, Henry and Lester Glover, by the late Dr. John D. Yeagley and Mrs. Yeagley of York, Pennsylvania. Recent Glover Lectures include Clint Sprott on “The New Science of Chaos,” Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit’s presentation on “A Century of Women in Astronomy,” Lawrence Krauss’ lecture on “The Physics of Star Trek,” Albert Bartlett’s lecture on “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy,” David Lee’s lecture on “Superconductivity and Superfluidity: A Century of Discovery” and Rush Holt's lecture on "Advancing Science."
The Rabinowitz Program was created by Wilbur M. Rabinowitz, Class of 1940 and a trustee of the college, to enable students and faculty to benefit from encounters with articulate and knowledgeable spokespersons whose careers are or have been in business or government. Individuals who have distinguished themselves in the corporate world or government are invited to visit the Dickinson campus as participants in one of the two components of the program: the Benjamin Rush Award Ceremony or the Executive-in-Residence Program.
The Benjamin Rush Award Ceremony recognizes outstanding achievement by a member of the business or government community. The individual accepting the award presents a public lecture addressing the relationship of a liberal arts education to the business or government world. Opportunities for members of the college community to converse and discuss issues with the award recipient occur while the recipient is on the campus.
The recipient of the award is presented with an honorarium and with a bronze medal which bears the likeness of Benjamin Rush, the prominent colonial Philadelphia physician who was a key founder of the college and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The first Benjamin Rush Award was presented in 1985 to the board chairman and chief executive officer of CBS. Recipients since then have included the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations; the Chairman of the Board of Mutual Life Insurance of America; a former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; a former chairman of Honeywell International, Inc. and chairman and CEO of Allied Signal; co-founder and former chairman of AES Corp; Editor-in-Chief, Business Week Magazine; CEO of the Hamner Institute for Health Sciences; and the chairman of The Graham Group. The 2011-12 recipient was Charles Cole, former President and CEO, First Maryland Bankcorp and The National Bank of Maryland, who gave a presentation, “Light at the End of the Tunnel?”
The Executive-in-Residence Program brings to campus, for residencies of three to five days, individuals who have been identified as strong contributors to current developments in the business world. These executives participate in classes and less formal gatherings which permit them to engage in discussions of significant issues facing business leaders. The first Executive-in-Residence was J. Bruce McKinney, Class of 1959, trustee of the college, and chairman and chief executive officer of the Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company.
The Donald W. Flaherty Lecture in Asian Studies is supported by a fund established by students, colleagues, and friends of Professor Flaherty, a pioneer in the development of Asian studies at Dickinson. The lectureship brings to campus scholars and speakers who reflect Professor Flaherty’s lifelong interest in all aspects of Asian history, culture, and politics. Since the inaugural lecture in 1987-88, prominent Asianists have spoken on topics ranging from “Reflections on the Nature of Japanese Society” to "Cultures of War.” The lecture in the 2016-17 academic year was “Cold War Clint: Asia in the World of an American Icon," by Takashi Fujitani, Dr. David Chu Chair in Asia Pacific Studies and professor of history at the University of Toronto.
The Roberts Lectureship, endowed by a generous gift by John Roberts in honor of his son, Christopher (class of 1974), brings to campus distinguished international scholars of classics who lecture on topics designed to show the relevance of classical studies to the modern world. The scholars who accept the invitation give two lectures on the topic of their choice, one aimed at a general audience, another to classics majors and scholars from various classics departments in the region. At both occasions, members of the college community and other guests are invited to discuss the issues with the speaker. Recent scholars have been Walter Scheidel (Stanford University), Loren Samons II (Boston University), Anthony Grafton (Princeton University), Michael Puett (Harvard University) and Jan M. Ziolkowski (Harvard University).
The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program is supported by a fund established by Jean Louise Stellfox, Class of 1960, to honor her parents and to ensure that future generations of students would have the opportunity to interact with renowned literary figures. The program will make it possible each year for a major author, poet or playwright to spend a few days on campus, holding readings, literary discussions and workshops for students and members of the Dickinson community.
Recipients are as follows:
- 2005 Ian McEwan, British novelist
- 2006 Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and U.S. poet laureate
- 2007 Edward Albee, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
- 2008 Mario Vargas, Peruvian novelist and literary critic
- 2009 Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author
- 2010 Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
- 2011 Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-winning author
- 2012 Henry David Hwang, Tony Award-winning playwright
- 2013-14 Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and musician
- 2014-15 Lorrie Moore, acclaimed short-story writer
- 2015-16 Edwidge Danticat, MacArthur Fellow and author
- 2016-17 John Patrick Shanley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tony and Academy Award-winning Playwright and Screenwriter