It's a beautiful time of year here at Northwestern. I enjoy my walks across campus to Norris for faculty meetings, to Pick-Staiger for our Wildcat Days for admitted students, or to Tech to celebrate our award-winning faculty. I welcome any excuse to be outside and catch a glimpse of beautiful Lake Michigan sparkling in the distance. I can tell the students feel the same way, as I watch them stroll around campus in their shorts and flip flops instead of briskly rushing to class all bundled in their down parkas.
It's been a season of impressive honors for Weinberg faculty. As befitting a liberal arts college, their fields of study range from philosophy to chemistry to mathematics to classics to economics and beyond. While there are more awards worthy of mention than we have space to write about here, we'd like to especially take note of a few.
There are constant demands for new courses at Weinberg College and not every demand can be met. Why Middle East studies and why now? How do you produce a program that navigates such a politically-charged part of the world? For answers, Crosscurrents spoke with three of those most responsible for the field's growth at Northwestern: Henry Bienen, whose vision it was to internationalize the curriculum; Lester Crown, whose generosity in large part made possible the growth in Middle East studies; and Carl Petry, a history professor who advocated and guided a plan for comprehensive teaching in the area.
Countless Weinberg faculty members lead secret lives of altruism. Here at the University, they are inspiring classroom teachers, winners of prestigious awards, sometimes busy department chairs, and almost always people with family demands. Yet many of their finest hours involve working almost unseen in the community—Evanston, Chicago, and beyond—where they bring their deep knowledge of a subject and their contagious enthusiasm for it to people who wish to learn. Often the results are remarkable. In writing about just three of them, we are hoping to pay tribute to them all.
When Chad Mirkin first came to Northwestern as a chemistry professor in 1991, he argued that applications in nanotechnology could catapult the university and Chicago to the forefront of scientific enterprise in the emerging field. These were big ambitions, considering that Mirkin's focus is really, really small—he works with particles one billionth of a meter in size, or 10-9 to be exact. Mirkin was also an early champion of nanotechnology, which most people at the time saw as the stuff of science fiction, a far-out fantasy that appeared only in movies such as Isaac Asimov's The Fantastic Voyage or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Western society has often used the literature and philosophy of ancient Athenian democracy as a lens through which to view the modern world. Ancient Greek drama in particular has been adapted in every age by democracies and totalitarian states alike, often to bolster political causes. In early 20th century America, New York suffragettes staged Aristophanes' plays to raise consciousness about voting rights. More recently, two New York actresses organized more than a thousand readings of Aristophanes' Lysistrata to protest the war in Iraq.
During a four-day celebration of the 30th anniversary of Weinberg's undergraduate creative writing program, students, alumni, faculty, guests, and fans listened closely to words of advice and inspiration. Housed in the English Department, the English Major in Writing has turned out its fair share of acclaimed writers, such as Cristina Henriquez, the Simon Blattner Visiting Assistant Professor of Fiction; Anne-Marie Cusac, a poet and investigative journalist who recently published Cruel and Unusual: Punishment in America; Weiner; and Russell, all of whom returned to read their work at the festival.Back to top