The 2024 Terry Forum: The Place of the Liberal Arts in a Changing Climate

Wednesday, February 14, 2024
4:00-6:00 p.m., reception to follow
Kline Tower - 14th Floor

Anthony Grafton, Princeton University  
Hi’ilei Hobart, Yale University  
Gregory Marks, Hostos CUNY  
Stephanie Pfirman, Arizona State University
J. T. Roane, Rutgers University

Ana Keilson, Gull Island Institute  
Justin Reynolds, Gull Island Institute

Recent years have seen a proliferation of new courses and majors addressing climate issues as well as overdue reckonings with the university’s implication in practices and legacies of extraction. This Forum aims at a more fundamental reappraisal of the enterprise of the liberal arts. If the liberal arts have traditionally been conceived as preparation for civic life, how should this enterprise respond to the multi-scale reconfigurations of civic life associated with climate change and to new ideas about the appropriate place of human beings within the biophysical order? How might the interlocking ethical, political, and epistemological challenges arising from climate change help to sharpen articulations of the aims—and limitations—of the liberal arts enterprise? What responsibilities do universities have to the places and ecologies they occupy? What might it mean for liberal arts educators and students to inhabit these places well?

View a recording of the the forum.



Charmaine Royal, Robert O. Keohane Professor of African & African American Studies, Biology, Global Health, and Family Medicine & Community Health, Duke University


Terry Forum on the Ethics of Displaying the Material Cultures of Knowledge Production

The first Terry Foum took the renovation of the Peabody Museum as an occasion to think across disciplines about the future of museum displays about “science” and “natural history.” Members of the Peabody community have been addressing difficult questions about the meanings of these categories in the twenty-first century. What is natural history the history of? Is science a culturally specific mode of knowledge production, or a form of engagement with the natural world common to many different cultures? An unusual feature of the renovated Peabody will be its History of Science & Technology gallery, displaying technological devices and scientific instruments made primarily in Europe and North America from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, most of which were used in Yale’s science labs. The History of Science & Technology gallery will be adjacent to other galleries dedicated to collections associated with Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Mesoamerica, and Native American cultures. How might recent scholarship in Indigenous Studies and Museum Studies inform the display of these objects in a way that unsettles the long and oppressive history of dividing cultures with science from those without?

Elizabeth Hoover (UC Berkeley, Environmental Science, Policy & Management) gave an introductory presentation, bringing her expertise in Indigenous Studies, Museum Studies, and Environmental Anthropology, plus recent experience as a consultant for Chicago’s Field Museum. Paola Bertucci, Curator of the Peabody’s History of Science & Technology Collection, described the design process for the renovated gallery. The conversation was moderated by Joanna Radin (Yale, History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health) and Chitra Ramalingam (Yale Center for British Art).