Amherst College hosts a number of special colloquia and seminars that enhance the intellectual life of the College. Some involve invited participants, and many offer programming that is open to the wider college community and the public.

Faculty-Led Seminars

  • The Bruss Seminar is part of the Bruss Memorial Program, established in memory of Professor Elizabeth Bruss, and includes the Bruss Readership.  Members of the Amherst faculty are appointed to the readership for two- or three-year terms, and it is rotated among the academic disciplines in order to promote curricular change, specifically the expansion of offerings that include the study of women.  Bruss readers serve as a resource for faculty colleagues, contribute to the revision of departmental offerings, and teach the Bruss Seminar on topics of their choice. 
  • Kenan Colloquia: The William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship is awarded to members of the Amherst faculty for a three-year term in recognition of distinguished scholarship and teaching. Kenan Professors devise a colloquium or seminar, usually interdisciplinary in nature, to be taught in conjunction with one or more junior faculty members. 
  • Mellon Seminar: The Andrew W. Mellon Professorship is awarded for a three-year period to members of the Amherst faculty in recognition of scholarship and teaching that transcends normal disciplinary lines. Mellon Professors contribute to the continuing process of curriculum revision and revitalization by developing courses or colloquia that explore new ways to teach and learn within the professors’ areas of interest and inquiry. 
  • Mellon Tutorials: Amherst is conducting a three-year pilot project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Amherst will develop and offer a series of experimental tutorials, small-group experiences based on the research of our colleagues.
  • The Pick Colloquia are part of the Pick Readership, established in 1999 by Thomas and Sue Pick to encourage the inclusion of courses in environmental studies in Amherst’s curriculum. Faculty members are appointed Pick Readers for three years, during which they coordinate lectures and panel discussions on environmental themes and organize one or two interdisciplinary colloquia on the environment each year. 

First-Year Seminars

First-year seminars are courses taught by one or more faculty members to introduce students to liberal studies through innovative and often interdisciplinary approaches. Learn more about first-year seminars and see a list of current seminars.

Sophomore Seminars

Sophomore seminars are courses designed primarily for sophomores that address a variety of themes and contexts around the central topics of race and anti-racism.  These courses build on foundational points covered in first-year seminars by elucidating how specific disciplines or fields conceive of this pressing subject matter.  Learn more about sophomore seminars.

Center for Humanistic Inquiry

Located in Frost Library, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) provides space and resources for Amherst faculty and departments holding seminars and developing programming that take inspiration from an annual theme.

Colloquia and Symposia for the College and Wider Community

  • Established in 2009 in honor of Gerald R. Fink ’62, the annual Fink Bioscience Symposium enables students who aspire to careers in health care policy, medicine and bioscience research to interact with Amherst alumni who are leaders in these fields. 
  • The Copeland Colloquium provides small groups of scholars, artists and performers the opportunity to explore a common theme in residence at Amherst College in colloquy with each other, Amherst faculty and Amherst students.

Data Science Initiative Speaker Series

The Data Science Initiative organizes talks and panels by internal and external speakers around the theme “data and society.” Learn more at the Data Science Initiative webpage.

Courses Taught as General Colloquia

Colloquia are interdisciplinary courses not affiliated with particular departments. Whether colloquia are accepted for major credit by individual departments is determined for each colloquium separately; students should consult their major departments. See current special seminars and colloquia.