Alumni College 1999

Thomas Wieting, Professor of Mathematics Lecture: "De Revolutionibus"

Michael Foat, Assistant Professor of Religion and Humanities Lecture: "Cosmology and Contemplation"

David Reeve, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Lecture: "Aristotle's Living Universe"

Heavenly Spheres and Revolutions: How Copernicus transformed the order of the World

"I may well presume, most Holy Father, that certain people, as soon as they hear that in this book about the Revolutions of the Spheres of the Universe I ascribe movement to the earthly globe, will cry out that, holding such views, I should at once be hissed off the stage."

With these words, Nicholas Copernicus introduced his manuscript on planetary astronomy to Pope Paul III in 1543. He asserted that not the Earth but the Sun lies at the center of the universe and by such assertion collided with the great intellectual and moral forces of his time. How did Copernicus come to hold such a provocative view? How in precise terms did his view contradict contemporary philosophy and theology? How then did his view come in time to transform Western cosmology from an order of morality to the order of science? These questions will define this Alumni College course on the Copernican Revolution.

The course will feature lectures on Aristotelian philosophy, on cosmology and morality, and on planetary astronomy, and will break into small conferences for discussions. Readings will be from Aristotle, Augustine, Copernicus, and Thomas Kuhn's The Copernican Revolution.

The Alumni College presupposes no qualifications other than a willingness to read and discuss a common set of texts, in a setting that recalls the student experience at Reed. Enrollment is open to all Reed alumni and their families, as well as to parents of students and alumni and other friends of the college.

The Alumni College begins on Wednesday morning, June 9, 1999, and concludes on Friday afternoon, June 11.

Participants may live in the college dorms and eat on campus. All meals must be reserved in advance. Room and board are offered at a reduced rate for children. The college will work with interested participants to locate child care. The library, sports center, and other facilities will generally be open.

Costs & Registration
Tuition: $160. Includes a nonrefundable deposit of $75, for books, fees, and materials. Information and registration forms are available by calling 503/777-7789, sending email to, or writing to the alumni office, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199.

xEnrollment deadline (including final payment): May 15. We strongly encourage early registration to ensure space. Reading materials will be mailed as soon as possible after registration is received.

Note: If you are in a reunion group, you will receive registration materials for both reunions and alumni college april. you may register for alumni college then, but we recommend early registration by following instructions above.

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