A Modern Lyceum


“Thoreau’s Legacy: A Modern Lyceum” brings back the movement that spawned adult education in America with public forums that promoted thoughtful conversation and education about the social, intellectual and ethical questions of 19th-Century society. Guided by accomplished scholars on related topics, our Modern Lyceum will engage the public in an investigation of current social issues, with respect to and through the lens of Henry David Thoreau’s still-poignant writings and actions—incorporating many of his contemporaries.

Throughout 2016, we will host three Lyceum events, each in a different part of Massachusetts. The three topics for our events will be Technology and Society, Education and Educational Access, and Racial and Other Social Injustice. Each event will start with a lively discussion by our scholar panelists, followed by time for the audience to pose questions to the panelists and offer their own remarks on the topic.

Our Lyceum events will not seek to provide easy answers to today’s dilemmas and debates, but to highlight the way in which the voices and perspectives of the past can shed light on and help us to critically examine our current situation. We anticipate that our panelists will—all drawing from Thoreau’s texts and actions—come to slightly different conclusions to some very complex questions, and by doing so, broaden our perspectives on events of today.

Please click the links below for details of each of our three programs:

Technology and Society

Tuesday, February 9, 2016, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute , Worcester, MA
Panelists: William Powers, Kristen Case, and Jeffrey S. Cramer

Education and Educational Access

Thursday, April 14, 2016, at Old South Meeting House, Boston, MA
Panelists: Megan Marshall, Lawrence Buell, and Jeffrey S. Cramer

Racial and other Social Injustice Then and Now

Smith College, Northampton, MA – Fall 2016 (exact date TBD)
Panelists: Sandra Petrulionis, Lois Brown, and Jeffrey S. Cramer

Please click here to read more about Henry David Thoreau’s involvement with the 19th-Century Lyceum Movement in the United States.