Looking Ahead, Getting Ready

With the holidays now behind us and the students not yet back from winter break, this is a time some of us use for planning our projects for the next semester. Which is not to say there isn’t plenty of activity on campus. The Admissions Office hasn’t had much of a break at all, as the staff there has been busy preparing the thousands of applications we’ve just received for the thorough evaluation they will get in the coming weeks. The library is open again, and I see professors (and more than a few seniors) moving through the stacks getting their materials for research projects and senior theses. And in the science labs — staffed by graduate and undergraduate students along with faculty — the work continues on subjects ranging from Hedgehog signaling to the surprising capacities of songbirds, from self-medicating insects to self-regulating ecosystems.

I see athletes in the fitness center whenever I get over there and some of the coaches sweating off the extra holiday inches. Men’s and women’s basketball are already in the thick of tough competition, and the track team is competing at the US Military Invitational this weekend. We anticipate a great start to the new semester. Geoffrey Canada, who runs the Harlem Children’s Zone of Waiting for Superman fame, gives the MLK lecture on January 21, and on January 28 the great saxophonist Charles Lloyd brings his quartet to campus.

I’m looking forward to teaching my Past on Film class again, and have recently spent some time thinking about big-picture philosophy. Here’s a review I wrote about a book by two philosophers that was published in the New York Times this week.