Friends of the Heyman Center

The Friends of the Heyman Center, under the direction of Gareth Williams, Violin Family Professor of Classics and Chair, Department of Classics, comprises people who help ensure the advancement and vitality of the Heyman Center for the Humanities. For more than twenty-five years, tuition and donations from the Friends colloquia have contributed to a variety of activities, most significantly, the Lionel Trilling Seminar, which is free and open to the public.

The Friends of the Heyman Center offers discussion courses led by Columbia's most renowned teachers and scholars to alumni and friends of the University who wish to continue organized education without the need for academic credit. These colloquia, titled the Carl Hovde Colloquia, are planned as active discussions rather than lectures, and the faculty leaders are among the best teachers in the University. No papers or examinations are required. We charge only a small fraction of normal tuition, and after expenses, these funds help both to improve our programs and maintain the building -- one of the most congenial on campus.

If you would like to donate to the Friends of the Heyman Center, you can do so here. Please enter “Friends of the Heyman Center” in the comment box so that your donation is properly credited.  Thank you!

Fall 2014 Colloquia

China and its Civilization: Six Western Perspectives

Conrad Schirokauer
Tuesdays, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Both China and the West have long traditions of employing history as a mirror. By studying
prominent Western reflections on China we look for insights into the past and present of both
and hopefully even into inter-civilizational optics. The colloquium will be led by Conrad Schirokauer, Senior Scholar at the Heyman Center for the Humanities.

Download Syllabus and Schedule

Human Identity and Human Nature

Robert Pollack
Thursdays, 5:30pm-7:30pm

This colloquium will be led by Robert Pollack, Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of
University Seminars, and Carl Hovde’s successor as Dean of Columbia College, 1982-1989. We
will look at the shifting notions of human identity, human nature and the links between these two, through a series of books written between the mid-19th and late-20th centuries. One new book, a collection of drawings by Amy Pollack, will be read in addition, as an attempt to bring together insights from these and other students of the oddity of our place in nature. This colloquium derives from the senior-level course “Human Nature: DNA, Race and Identity” which Professor Pollack co-teaches with Marya Pollack, M.P.H., M.D. Secondary readings will be provided to participants in the colloquium.

Download Syllabus and Schedule

General Carl Hovde Colloquia Information

We offer two courses each term, typically one dealing with East/West topics, and another about some aspect of Western thought. Classes meet from 5:30-7:30 every other week for six sessions. This fall and spring the charge is $500 for one course and $800 for both - and at this higher level, spouses are welcome without further charge. You would pay far more for courses carrying academic credit, and at the Heyman Center, you will be studying with Columbia's finest teachers.

Books for both courses can be purchased at Book Culture (formerly Labyrinth Books), located on 112th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, and can be reached by phone at 212-865-1588. These courses are not listed in the regular University Bulletin; if there is confusion, ask for the text-book department.


Additional support beyond our fees is very much appreciated and brings notices of the Lunchtime Lecture Series at the Heyman Center. All support beyond the course charge is fully tax-deductible. A gift of $25 or more also brings a subscription to the Columbia University Record. Acceptance is on a first come, first served basis, and you will be notified of your registration status upon the Heyman Center's receipt of your registration form with payment.

To register for one or both of this semester's colloquia, download, complete, and return the

Registration Form (pdf)

Please contact Conley Lowrance at 212-854-1277 with any questions. Classes are held in the Second Floor Common Room at the Heyman Center.