For three Saturdays over three months, Barnard College will present the Explorers Series to mark the beginning of a new marquee program called Barnard|Next, which is dedicated to fulfilling the College’s promise of intellectual and career support for students beyond graduation. It will feature a cadre of Barnard’s celebrated faculty, alumnae, and invited experts who will lead discussions and audience conversation around three compelling topics: Democracy and the 2024 Elections, Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, and The Vitality of the Humanities.

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Alumnae at the College

“Barnard is doubling down on its commitment to being an institution that cares about the lifelong success of its community,” said A-J Aronstein, assistant vice president of lifelong success and a senior advisor to the provost at Barnard College. Aronstein called Barnard|Next a logical next step in the continuum of a Barnard education and an important additional service under the Beyond Barnard aegis. Beyond Barnard —  the College’s reimagined career center — is dedicated to providing enduring support in career exploration and development, internships, graduate and professional school, and more.

The Explorers Series is a pilot of what promises to become a transformative signature program. It is offered to the community’s inner circle, including alumnae, families of current students, and their invited guests.

“We think Barnard|Next could be really big and important, and we need our community to weigh in on it first, which is why the pilot is open to them first,” said Aronstein. “The fact that we are inviting our alumnae and our community to participate first is a demonstration of our deep care for that community and our hope that they are involved in shaping what it means to be an institution that is invested in the lifelong success of its people.”

Programs like this are so important because they reunite us in a common cause and remind us that Barnard alumnae never march alone.

Paula Franzese ’80

Members who sign up for the inaugural Explorers Series will have access to a three-Saturday series of breakout sessions (on April 20, May 18, and June 22), panel conversations, and opportunities to connect with one another.

“It is vital that women come together for lifelong learning, professional skills development, community building, and networking,” said Aronstein.

Photo of Anna Quindlen on Barnard campus
Award-winning novelist Anna Quindlen ’74

Jessica Madrigal, the director of Barnard|Next, said the program’s interactive design offers a unique approach to postgraduate learning. “Yes, attendees are coming back to their alma mater,” said Madrigal. “But the way they are going to be taught is not how it was [during their time as undergraduates]. It’s not going to be the same as being in an academic lecture because what will matter is what happens once the topic is given to the audience. How do they communicate about it? They are bringing in their life experience and their professional experience.”

Paula A. Franzese ’80, the Peter W. Rodino Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law and visiting professor of political science, will lead a discussion entitled “The Twilight of Democracy?” as a component of the three-part Democracy and the 2024 American Elections series.

“The lessons of history remind us that democracies are both precious and fragile and must be safeguarded. A confluence of factors today renders our democracy vulnerable to what has been described as ‘the lure of authoritarianism,’” said Franzese. “This program examines some of those factors that have taken on added importance in this election year.”

“Barnard taught me to answer the call to service and to see and honor the multitudes contained within people and things,” said Franzese. “Programs like this are so important because they reunite us in a common cause and remind us that Barnard alumnae never march alone.”

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Professor Monica L. Miller
Photograph of Kate Turetsky
Professor Kate Turetsky
Alexander Cooley Headshot
Professor Alexander Cooley

Reena Jana ’91, head of AI Transparency, Trust and Safety at Google LLC, is among the closing plenary speakers. Among the lecturers and luminaries featured across the three-Saturday program will be renowned novelist Anna Quindlen ’74, who will give opening remarks on April 20. Alexander Cooley, professor of political science and vice provost for academic centers and libraries, will deliver a lecture called “Global Perspective on U.S. Elections”; Kate Turetsky, assistant professor of psychology, will lead a talk entitled “The Psychology of AI”; and Monica L. Miller, the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of English and Africana Studies, will speak on “The Harlem Renaissance: ‘How It Feels to Be Colored Me’” as part of The Vitality of the Humanities series.

Barnard Next logo. LIfelong learning and community