The Public Intellectual Project, or PIP, is committed to fostering contemplation and conversation about ideas that matter — and to honoring the people who have brought them to fruition.

Loosely modeled on Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings articles, PIP encourages individual Beloiters to share brief reflections on the public intellectuals they’ve encountered in their college reading.  The interlocutor whose text they crack open may be a person whose “opinions help to set the moral and aesthetic standards of her time,” as Alice Gregory outlined, or a citizen of the world who makes us aware that there are questions to be asked that we’ve heretofore been oblivious to.  In that moment, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has described, “one realizes that it isn’t the cool facts which wise you up, but the awareness of a yawning, limitless, impossible ignorance.” 

Each PIP essay reflects the musing of an individual Beloiter’s mind in encounter.  One part close reading of a text, and one part celebration of the life of a mind, it invites you to think about the power of images, ideas, and arguments to do work in the world.

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Sara Ahmed

McMahon, John.  “Sara Ahmed and the Cultural Politics of Emotion.”

Bernard Iddings Bell

Conley, Ethan.  “Bernard Iddings Bell and the Tragic Character of Early Life.”

Elly Blue

Wilson, Aaron.  “Elly Blue’s Bikes in Space.”

John Lewis

Carpenter, Eleanor.  “John Lewis: The Everyday Hero as Told Through March.”

Siyali Ramamrita (S.R.) Ranganathan

Dowell, Meghan.  “Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library.”

Carl Sagan

Ruffins, Olivia. “Pale Blue Dot: Carl Sagan on the Future of Humanity.” 

Henry David Thoreau

Shea, Erin.  “The Simplicity of a Cabin in the Age of Industrialism.”

Smith, Becca.  “Henry David Thoreau’s Non-Obligatory Account of Government Injustice in 1849.” 

Yang, Meri.  “Henry David Thoreau and His Life in the Woods.”

Alfred Wegener

Rich, Andrew. “The Tale of Alfred Wegener and the Discovery of Plate Tectonics.”