Munroe Center for Social Inquiry

Each academic year, the Ruth and Lee Munroe Center for Social Inquiry continues the pursuit of interdisciplinary learning and public inquiry embodied by the lives and service of two of Pitzer’s most distinguished and beloved professors Robert “Lee” Munroe, research professor of anthropology, and the late Ruth Hagberg Munroe.

The Center sponsors a themed series of events including lectures, seminars and panel discussions.

The Munroe Center for Social Inquiry’s 2017-2018 theme is CONSPIRACY THEORY – CONSPIRACY FACT: Understanding a perplexing social phenomenon.” 

If recent news headlines are any indication, CONSPIRACY THEORY – CONSPIRACY FACT represent a prevalent theme in contemporary public discourse, be it theories that the attacks on 9/11/2001 were an “inside job,” that Volkswagen engineers conspired to disguise their vehicles’ emissions profiles, or that U.S. elections have been “rigged” or otherwise improperly influenced by foreign or domestic actors.  Further, the phenomenon is by no means new; attempting to explain events by appealing to nefarious collaborators working in secret behind the scenes has a long and rich history. Complicating this situation, part of being a historically-informed citizen involves recognizing that sometimes conspiracies do, in fact, occur (e.g., the Watergate conspiracy). Despite this, the academic study of conspiracy theories—what philosopher Matthew R.X. Dentith calls “conspiracy theory theory”—has only recently begun to blossom.  In Fall 2017, Pitzer hosts a distinguished series of investigators from fields as various as Philosophy, History, Political Science, Anthropology, Journalism & Media Studies will visit the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry to share what they have learned about conspiracies and conspiracy theories.

All events are at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesdays unless otherwise noted.

The Director for 2017-18 is Professor of Philosophy Brian Keeley.