Fall 2010:

Spring 2010:

Regular Friday Institute

May 7, 2010

Complimentary Buffet 6:30
(Please make reservation)
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Program 7:15

Macalester Board Room

Macalester College is at the intersection of Snelling Ave. and Grand Ave. in Saint Paul.


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May 7, 2010 - Presentation


Because of an emergency Dr. David Noble
will not be able to present
at The Institute this time.

We look forward to having him in the future.

Alan James will fill in for this week's presentation.

The topic is:

The Unconquerable World.

See notes on this presentation in the "Director's Comments" column to the right.

David Noble has watched the world change for more than half a century and has illuminated these historic changes and developments to students at the University of Minnesota.

An accurate perspective on David Noble’s teaching and influence deserves time, thoughtfulness, reflection, and vulnerability. His presentation and evening with The Institute promises to be a rich sampling of his philosophy and teaching. This remarkable professor and teacher (are they different?) will reveal the pitfalls of the reigning political and economic philosophies of our world. Hearing him think will remind one of the depth of Reinhold Neibuhr’s Nature And Destiny Of Man, or Karl Barth’s Nein!, both of which were responses to the utopianism coming from the 19th century optimism that we were just about perfecting everything. “Just one or two more distillations and we’ll have things perfected!” was the spirit of the age before that was shattered by WWI.

What of our own times? Can we extricate ourselves from the maw of futile and lethal wars and commitments? Dr. Noble is no utopian, and shows the folly of utopian orthodoxies. Do we have orthodoxies, known and unacknowledged. What does a just society look like? Dr. Noble has had a lengthy teaching career during which to ponder, question, refine these concerns through the range of disciplines.




Director's Notes:
R. Alan James

Dr. Noble will not be able to present on Friday. The new program will be entitled The Unconquerable World. The title suggests that conquering is a major human enterprise, though normally people do not think their minor conquests are a piece of a larger notion of "world conquering." But how do we keep our conquests on a human scale? And who, indeed, wants to be conquered, unless one were wanting to be conquered by a "benevolent" ruler. Maybe this is where religion also gets grubby hands into the contest. Well, that is a very brief beginning for the evening thoughts.... RAJ


The past three months we have obsessed with education issues. Our country founders, most of whom did not have schooling beyond eighth grade, believed that education was the route to national development and civic decency. It was not a new idea historically, but the zeal with which it has been pursued is without precedent, so far as I can tell. We have believed that the public school would abridge class stratification, because children who play and learn together can learn common language, cooperation and grow into common civic cooperation. We have come a long way, with at least 12 years of formal schooling virtually guaranteed to every growing youth.
But what of the university? Universities have become huge scientific search engines, and schools of social observation. Or perhaps social analysis. Or even better, an enterprise bringing several disciplines together to rehearse the human story, and distill the lessons of history, the arts and sciences.
In March some severe questions of the purposes, ethics and expectations of colleges were aired and discussed. In April, we are undertaking searching questions about the relationships between the educational enterprise and development into responsible adulthood. With Dr. Noble, we'll be looking at the sweep of American life, expectations and achievements have developed, shifted and sometimes staggered.
Distinguished Professor David Noble has virtually shaped the American Studies program for the last fifty years. We'll learn how it is we live with orthodoxies, and how they can become terrible.