USC Libraries - USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

University of Southern California

USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

polymath n. a person of much or varied learning; a great scholar.”—Oxford English Dictionary

Catherine Quinlan

Catherine Quinlan

Catherine Quinlan was appointed Dean of the USC Libraries effective August 1, 2007. She is responsible for guiding the university’s efforts to establish the model for the 21st-century library by providing leadership for USC’s library staff; collaborating with other university deans, faculty and friends to optimize and develop resources for scholars; and building partnerships with art, museum and library institutions throughout Southern California.

Quinlan came to USC after a decade at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she headed a library system encompassing 300 full-time staff members and more than 21 sites. Beginning in 2004, she also served as managing director of UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Before joining UBC, she spent seven years as director of libraries and chief librarian at the University of Western Ontario, and as an adjunct professor in the university’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Previously, Quinlan oversaw the health sciences library at Memorial University of Newfoundland and was a member of the adjunct business administration faculty.

She holds an MBA from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a master of library studies degree from Dalhousie University and a bachelor of music degree from Queen’s University.


Spring 2014 Series

Quadrant Series with Edwin McCann

The Academy for Polymathic Study guides its enquiries through four flexible pathways or Quadrants:  (1) critical and integrative thinking; (2) study of the polymaths; (3) the tapestry of knowledge; and (4) communication.

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Undergraduate Series:

Polymathic Pizza, Part II: Global Issues

Ours is a global civilization, and USC is a global university with a global student body.  This spring, the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study will sponsor a polymathic pizza oriented to global issues. 

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Graduate Series:

Objects of Knowledge III

This third season of a series of conversations examines the diverse ways that images and things interact, embody and generate ways of knowing, which guide the course of human action and understanding and engender creativity and innovation. 

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The Goethe Society

The Goethe Society, an undergraduate organization affiliated with the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, will continue its enjoyment of the cultural resources of the USC campus and greater Los Angeles. 

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