USC Libraries - USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

University of Southern California

USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

“The weave of art, technology, and philosophy. ”—Sidney Harman

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.


Fall 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 I: On Being Human

What does being “human” really mean and can we ever plumb the depths of the complexity of our humanity? Is being “human” a social, spiritual, or biological reality –or perhaps some combination of all three? Throughout Fall 2014, we will consider what it means to be human, beginning with the personal and expanding outwards to the global implications of our “humanness.”

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Polymathic Workshops, Panels, and Special Events

In Fall 2014, the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study is partnering with leading global and academic institutions and scholars, holding workshops and symposia to explore topics and issues from a polymathic perspctive.   

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Graduate Series:

Objects of Knowledge IV

Conversations regarding objects of knowledge, visual and material worlds from a polymathic perspective.

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