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Haverford College

Trans-Div: For the Record: Knowledge, Power, & Profit

August 27-29, 2012

Participating Faculty The Trans-Divisional Logistics Apply

What does it take to get a biologist, a classicist, a political scientist, a librarian, and an English prof together in the same room talking with undergrads? Seed banks and genomes? Information anxiety and addiction? Preservation, networks and memory projects?

For the Record: Knowledge, Power, & Profit

We live in an unprecedented era of information overload, bombarded daily with questions about loss and recovery, corporate profit and social benefit, access and restriction. Our work as scholars and students benefits from increased transparency of information: databanks, archives, and social networks. And yet such exposure also creates new deficits and risks for individuals and communities. Who mediates, who owns, and who curates the world around us—its natural resources, cultural artifacts, knowledge structures, and physical materials? And who or what is left out?

In this customs week seminar, we will draw on five distinct yet overlapping perspectives to wrestle with these questions. Get in on the ground floor for three days of intense discussion with professors from across the divisions. Partner with us as we seek together to understand these crucial issues that define and vex our modern era. Be part of this experimental discourse that may shape how we collect, cultivate and communicate in the 21st century, here at Haverford and in the world beyond.

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Craig Borowiak

Craig Borowiak

Political Science

Laura McGrane

Laura McGrane


Bret Mulligan

Bret Mulligan


Jenni Punt

Jenni Punt


Ben Le

Terry Snyder


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This conversation will span the divisions as currently conceived at Haverford: the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences. Our exploration should raise impertinent questions about topics that are too new, too raw to have been refined and purified by disciplinary methodologies.

This seminar seeks to place both faculty and students in a space of ignorance and surprise, bringing their disciplinary training to bear on a Trans-Div topic while recognizing mutual blind spots.

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The seminar will take place during the week prior to the start of classes (Customs Week) in the Humanities Center's Seminar Room, Stokes 102.

Seminar Sessions:

Monday 8/27: Morning; time TBD
Tuesday 8/28: Morning; time TBD
Wednesday 8/29: Morning; time TBD

*Housing will be provided; TBD. Transportation costs will be provided for participating students, as well as a final meal for the entire seminar at the end of the week.

**A small number of articles will be distributed and should be read in advance of the seminar.

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The Trans-Div Seminar is open to all rising sophomores, rising juniors, and rising seniors at Haverford who do not already have responsibilities during Customs Week. Priority will be placed on selecting up to six students who represent all three academic divisions.

To apply, email a MSWord document with the following information to by 5pm on May 15th. Please put "[your last name] Trans-Div Application" in the subject line.

Email Address:

  1. (150 words):

    Why are you interested in this seminar? What coursework or other experiences at Haverford have influenced your decision to apply?
  2. (500 words)

    Answer one of the following:
    1. Choose an essay or course project from your time at Haverford. Describe briefly the course in which you undertook the project, and your work on that project. Then, reflect on the following questions: Do you think that your work might have benefited if you had been able to approach the project from a Trans-Div perspective? Why or why not? If you think your work might have benefited, describe what other disciplines you might have drawn from, and in what ways?
    2. During the past year, did you encounter an intellectual problem that piqued your interest? Assume that you have the opportunity to tackle this problem at Haverford using a Trans-Div approach. How might you pursue it? Describe the problem in as concrete terms as possible. Which disciplines would you choose to explore your question? Why?
    3. Some of you have chosen a major by now, some of you will do that this coming year. What is it/might it be? Perhaps knowledge in this discipline is defined within a specific "paradigm of inquiry." Describe what this is (or is not) for your (potential) major. Suppose the purpose of a college education is to prepare you for "the whole of life." Describe why your discipline might fall short of this goal.

Please direct any questions to or

Sponsored by the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.