Volume 9, Issue 2
Greetings! It is with great pleasure that I write to you in my role as the new Dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. I began my job on August 18th and have been running ever since!
“Sarah brings to Northwestern an outstanding record of successful scholarship and academic leadership,” said Provost Daniel Linzer, in announcing her appointment last spring. “She possesses a strong passion for the liberal arts and sciences.”
When Charles Moskos passed away last spring, the United States armed forces lost one of its most influential advisers, the nation lost its best known military sociologist, and Northwestern University lost one of its most successful and beloved teachers. Professor Moskos died in May at age 74, after battling cancer for several years. During a recent memorial service at Alice Millar Chapel, President Henry S. Bienen announced that alumni and friends have established an endowed professorship in his name to honor Professor Moskos.
Thanks to the vision and generosity of Morris Kaplan and Dolores Kohl Kaplan, 48 first-year students are taking a rigorous intellectual journey this fall and winter. The Kaplan Humanities Scholars seek to discover the contours of “the good society,” as envisioned by thinkers across continents and centuries. The intensive program is offered to students of varying interests—future scientists and social scientists as well as humanists—by Weinberg College and the School of Communication.
What can ancient rocks tell us about the future of our planet? For 20 years, Brad Sageman and his students have climbed mountains in search of evidence for the causal factors for ancient warm climates. He has probed the sedimentary layers of the great Cretaceous greenhouse, a time of exceptional global warming in Earth history. He has dug for rocks, labeled them, put them in his backpack and lugged them down the mountains. And he has the battered knees to show for it. He has also studied rocks from the ocean floor that contain evidence of ancient ocean anoxic events, which at one point caused widespread extinction of marine organisms. Sageman says the evidence in the rocks has much to tell us about today’s warming planet.
During an interview at a pancake restaurant in Park Ridge recently—with his non-stop, behind-the-scenes stories and trademark quips—Musker brought the art of animation to life almost as vividly as he has in films. He made it clear why he loves the business —“sitting in a darkened theater and having strangers actually laugh at my jokes and connect emotionally with the story.” He may not have met his hero, Walt Disney (who died in 1966, when John was just 13). But they share a gift for both drawing and storytelling, the key to getting an audience to delight in animals who talk and mermaids who grow legs.
While all the curricular changes from the mid-twentieth century to the present are too vast to recount in detail, some signal events and important themes nevertheless emerge when looking back over the past 58 years. One important theme is the stunning rise of interdisciplinarity: a curricular approach which seeks to break human knowledge out of the traditional silos into which academic disciplines had been compartmentalized in the second half of the 19th century. A second theme is the continuing desire to preserve, and indeed grow, the liberal arts college and its curriculum within the broader context of a complex research university.