Inaugural Symposium: The Power of the Liberal Arts — Dean Scanlon to Moderate ‘Yes, It Still Matters: Why and How We Teach the Liberal Arts’


Jennifer Scanlon

The Power of the Liberal Arts,” the symposium that is prelude to the inauguration of Clayton S. Rose as Bowdoin’s 15th president, comprises leaders from the worlds of business, design, government, higher education and public health. The symposium will be held in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall, 2 p.m.­–5 p.m., Friday, October 16, 2015. In advance of the discussion, we continue a series of participant profiles.

Before Jennifer Scanlon became interim dean for academic affairs at Bowdoin, she taught gender studies at the College for more than a decade as Bowdoin’s William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Her classes have focused on U.S. women’s history and include Gender and the Suburbs; Gender, Film, and Consumer Culture; and Bad Girls of the 1950s.

In 2011, the 40th anniversary of co-education at Bowdoin, Scanlon designed and offered a unique class called Forty Years: The History of Women at Bowdoin. She and her students collected hundreds of documents and conducted hours of oral histories, their work culminating in a comprehensive web resource for Bowdoin that is still used today by researchers.

Scanlon said she’s looking forward to President Clayton Rose’s inauguration symposium, because it provides an opportunity to explore and reflect on the role of the liberal arts in higher education.

“We take pride in the liberal arts model, which fosters lifelong learning, critical thinking, imaginative problem solving, and awareness of difference, all of which are elements of citizenship,” she said. “How exciting to devote an afternoon to exploring what it is that we do—and why.”

Scanlon is an award-winning teacher and a widely published scholar in 20th-century U.S. women’s history. She is the author of the well-received Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown, in which she reevaluates and reinforces the Cosmopolitan magazine editor’s feminist contributions.

Scanlon’s book, Until There is Justice: the Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman (forthcoming, January 2016), tells the history of America’s black freedom struggles through the life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman (1899-1990), an until-now vitally important but overlooked civil rights leader. Scanlon earned her bachelor’s degree from Oneonta State College (SUNY), a master’s degree from the University of Delaware, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Binghamton University.

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