Carol Christ

Carol Christ: Panel Discussion

Carol Christ
Carol Christ

Carol Christ

Carol Christ: Panel Discussion

President of Smith College, former provost of the University of California at Berkeley. She hopes to leverage the Smith experience to advocate for expanded hiring of women on science faculties nationwide. She is interested in trying to communicate “a more urban sense” of the world to students.

Event Details

October 27, 2007 7:00 pm

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Speaker Bio

In June 2002, Carol Christ became the 10th president of Smith College. There, she has encouraged development of coursework emphasizing fluency in American cultures and in the diversity of experience of American ethnic groups.

Following receipt of a Ph.D. in English from Yale University, Christ joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. She entered the University’s administration in 1988, serving first as dean of humanities and later as provost and dean of the College of Letters and Sciences. In 1994, she was appointed vice chancellor and provost (and later became executive vice chancellor); in that role, she helped shape policy in response to Proposition 209, the 1996 California law barring the consideration of race in college admissions.

In various forums, such as the American Chemical Society, the Chautauqua Institute, and the Council for the Advancement of Education, Christ has addressed such issues as women’s careers, civil discourse, and the expectations and demands of accountability in the academy. In 2004, she and Mount Holyoke College President Joanne Creighton co-hosted an international conference on issues and challenges in women’s education, which also examined women’s study of science.

Throughout her administrative career, Christ has remained an active teacher and scholar. She has published two books on Victorian literature and has edited a Norton Critical Edition of George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss and co-edited the Norton Anthology of English Literature and Victorian Literature and The Victorian Visual Imagination. She continues to teach at Smith, offering seminars on science and literature, and on the arts. In 2004, she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Discussion Topics

Developed by the Christ faculty team for her campus visit

The accessibility and affordability of higher education, especially as these problems relate to the class and racial/ethnic composition of the student body.
If we fail to address problems of accessibility and affordability, or do so ineffectively, what do we lose? What costs are entailed by the disproportionate exclusion from higher education of college-qualified low-income and minority students? What do we gain by expanding opportunities for higher education, and through what means might we pursue this goal? What are colleges, especially elite colleges, currently doing to address this issue, e.g., merit-based versus need-based financial assistance?

The public responsibilities of the college and the commitment to responsible citizenship.
What can colleges do in their curriculum and pedagogical practices to promote the principle of responsible citizenship, and what can and should they do as institutions to fulfill their own citizenship responsibilities and to play a meaningful public role? What is the proper relationship between the college and the local community? In what respects are we succeeding and in what respects are we failing to assist our students in becoming responsible citizens? What model of responsibility citizenship do liberal arts colleges typically assume, and can we imagine more effective and “transformative” alternatives to the standard model?

The purposes of a liberal arts college and the role of a liberal arts education in the twenty-first century.
How, if at all, does the practice of a liberal education need to change to keep up with a changing, and increasingly global, world? Consider changes in the demand for labor, in the requirements for responsible citizenship, and in the needs of today’s students. How do we resolve the possible tension between preparing students for graduate school and professional careers, which might imply the need for more specialized training, and preparing students, more broadly, in the liberal arts tradition? What implications does this entail for the meaning and value of majors? What do graduates need to know to be responsible citizens in the twenty-first century?


Dr. Ed Royce, Associate Professor of Sociology

Dr. Lisa Tillmann, Associate Professor of Communication