Innovation & Tradition

By Annette Kahn

The quote from Barnard COO Rob Goldberg, which opens his profile on page 8 of this issue, perhaps says it best: this is indeed an optimistic moment in the history of Barnard College. With this line-up of articles and features, we can see growth and innovation in academic programs, our physical plant, and in a record number of students both applying to the College and accepting its offer of admission.

Our lead article, which begins on page 18, explains the exciting features of the new teaching and learning center that will rise on the Lehman Hall site, catapulting the College into the future. The center will ensure that both students and faculty have at their disposal all the teaching and learning tools that modern technology affords higher education. We also include renderings of the new LeFrak Center, a renovation of the LeFrak Gymnasium to provide temporary quarters for the library and several academic departments. Given the need to best utilize the space of this most urban campus, and concerns about construction disruptions, innovative design and remodeling seeded by thoughtful study and meticulous planning are key to the successful completion of this major undertaking.

Innovation is not limited to new technologies and new media. Professor Mark Carnes brings the study of history to life with his Reacting to the Past programs, which allow students to enmesh themselves in history’s momentous dialogues and events by reenacting them. What began here has spread throughout the Academy; the phenomenal growth in popularity of these reenactment scenarios illustrates the power of thought-provoking performance to engage attention and spur understanding.

Professors Kimberly Marten, in the political science department, and Paige West, in anthropology, explore more contemporary subject matter. Marten, whose special interest is Russia, provides trenchant observations about Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whose recent forays into Ukraine and Syria have dominated the headlines. Through her research in Papua New Guinea, West pursues questions of economic development within and respect for the contemporaneity of indigenous cultures.