The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) is pleased to announce that Dr. Tim Minella, one of the first undergraduate students to be nurtured by the AHI, will return to Clinton to speak to students on history and science on Wednesday, April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45a.m., Room 201, Kirner-Johnson Building, Hamilton College. A Leadership Dinner for AHI Undergraduate Fellows and Dr. Minella will be held Tuesday evening April 5 at the AHI headquarters. For further information, please contact

Tim Minella '09 to Speak at the AHI

Dr. Minella was graduated in 2009 from Hamilton College, Phi Beta Kappa. He majored in physics and government. Inspired by AHI Charter Fellow Douglas Ambrose, Minella pursued an advanced degree in history. He received a prestigious Presidential Scholarship from the University of South Carolina to pursue a Ph. D. in the history of science. He received his doctorate in 2015, completing a dissertation “Knowing in America: The Enlightenment, Science, and the Early Republic.”

Dr. Minella describes his dissertation as follows: “This dissertation analyzes practices of science and technology in the early United States as windows onto the American Enlightenment. Although scholars have emphasized the important impact of Enlightenment thought on the American founding, the historiography tends to argue for the decreasing influence of the Enlightenment on American culture as the nineteenth century progressed. In addition, scholars tend to see a decline in American science after Benjamin Franklin as nineteenth-century Americans began to focus primarily on the practical problems of everyday life. I question these interpretations by connecting scientific practice in the Early Republic with transatlantic Enlightenment thought and analyzing American conversations about knowledge creation in practical pursuits such as agriculture. I place American science in the context of Enlightenment debates about how human beings could create knowledge, or epistemology. This part of the dissertation involves a review of American exposure to such Enlightenment thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, and Thomas Reid. Then, I conduct several case studies of different kinds of science in America, including agriculture and natural history, and I analyze how Enlightenment epistemology informed the practice of these sciences. Finally, I consider how Enlightenment epistemology and American scientific practice shaped American discourse about political economy and political philosophy. In books and pamphlets that discussed political topics, American writers attempted to support their arguments by applying what they saw as proper epistemological methods. Through discussion of these aspects of science, I show that the Enlightenment continued to make its mark on American culture throughout the early nineteenth century.”

According to Charter Fellow Bob Paquette “Tim Minella has pride of place as one of the very first undergraduates nurtured by the AHI. He stands out in my mind not only for his impressive intellectual gifts and range of interests but for his rock solid Middle-American character as well. We are so pleased that he is able to return to the AHI to help mentor another generation of Undergraduate Fellows.”