Seyb to give Honors Forum's Ramsey talk Dec. 4

Seyb to give Honors Forum's Ramsey talk Dec. 4

November 30, 2012

Ron Seyb
Ron Seyb (photo by Gary Gold)

Ron Seyb, Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Professor of Government, will present the Jon Ramsey Honors Forum Lecture at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall. Admission is free and open to all.

The talk is titled "Still Working on the Penske File: The Validity of Self-Doubt." Seyb explains, "The art critic Robert Hughes's comment that 'The greater the doubt, the greater the artist. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize' may have secured a place in the pantheon of trenchant aphorisms but it has not penetrated the cultural carapace. Confidence is not merely celebrated in America. It is often treated as necessary for the acquisition of psychological health, occupational success, and social connection."

He continued, "But doubt is the basis of imagination, empathy, and discovery. This is a lesson that people as disparate as Rene Descartes, James Madison, William James, and Hunter S. Thompson understood. It is, however, a lesson that is losing traction in the face of significant cultural forces celebrating confidence and certainty in ways that contribute to the polarization of our politics, the constriction of our intellect, and the attenuation of our relationships."

A political scientist known for his wit and his vast knowledge of American culture, Seyb is also known regionally for providing political and election-season analysis on WNYT-TV's news programs. He has been active this fall in a number of special election-season events hosted by the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery as part of its "We the People" exhibition.

Seyb is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Irvine who earned two masters and a doctoral degree (all in political science) at Yale. His Skidmore honors include receiving the Ralph A. Ciancio Award for Excellence in Teaching and being selected by the Class of 1991 as the faculty speaker at commencement that year.

The annual Honors Forum Lecture, launched in 1999, was renamed in 2004 in honor of newly retired Skidmore English professor and administrator Jon Ramsey. In nearly three decades at Skidmore, Ramsey served as associate dean and dean of studies and as director of student academic affairs; he was instrumental in creating the Honors Forum and the Office of International Programs. 
 According to David Vella, professor of mathematics and director of the Honors Forum, selecting the annual Ramsey Lecture speaker is a student-driven process and "an opportunity for the Honors Forum students to hear Skidmore faculty members talk about their academic passions."

Tags: , Honors Forum, Jon Ramsey Honors Forum Lecture, Ron Seyb, Faculty, Government Department, Gannett Auditorium
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