CNN’s Fareed Zakaria opens Week 1, examining U.S. role in world

Giving the world his take twice every Sunday, Fareed Zakaria, broadcast journalist and bestselling author, is best known for his CNN program “Fareed Zakaria GPS” and his columns for The Washington Post. 

Zakaria serves on the boards of the Council of Foreign Relations and New America, and has written extensively on liberal education, freedom and post-pandemic life. At 10:45 a.m. Monday, June 27, in the Amphitheater, he opens Week One of the Chautauqua Lecture Series: “What Should be America’s Role in the World?”

“Our ask to him has been to both open our season and our week with that question: ‘What do I think is, and what should be, America’s role in the world?’” said Matt Ewalt, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, whose department coordinates the morning lecture series. “From that will also be an understanding of how the impact of the war in Ukraine (affects) other foreign policy issues and America’s standing in the world.”

Zakaria’s work with geopolitics and his CNN broadcast have equipped him to open the Week One lecture series.

“He’s also uniquely positioned into quarters to provide a global kind of mindset for us to be able to take in, consider, challenge assumptions and ultimately engage with one another,” Ewalt said.

When it comes to planning the Week One morning lectures, Ewalt and his programming team are charged with finding speakers who are experts on foreign policy and geopolitical issues.

“It’s an opportunity to go beyond headlines, and even great journalism out there that has dug into these issues, (to) really try to better understand the larger context for the world and think about America’s role in the broader geopolitics,” Ewalt said.

Zakaria has spoken at Chautauqua three times previously about Pakistan, global affairs and artificial intelligence in 2012, 2014 and 2016 respectively.

From Zakaria’s CNN program, “GPS,” he noted that “Ukraine and its Western partners must consider what an end game with Russia might look like or risk an unending war.”

The impact of the war in Ukraine frames this week’s morning lectures and connects it to larger foreign policy issues.

“None of these things are happening in a vacuum,” Ewalt said. “Not only looking at the kind of impact, but the war in Ukraine and the way in which the United States has or has not decided to support Ukraine, all of that is connected to other decisions and other geopolitical issues.” 

Ewalt said Zakaria has “a unique ability to go even deeper and provide greater context for what is going on in the world.”

When picking their speakers, the programming team adapted the first week to hone in on Ukraine and Russia.

“Kathryn Stoner, our speaker on Wednesday, is really going to focus in on Russia,” Ewalt said. “I think with all the speakers we have during the week, and certainly with Fareed Zakaria, that will be the issue front and center.”

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The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.