Special Lecture Previews

Randall to present lecture on Ethan Allen

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George Cooper | Staff Writer

Willard Sterne Randall encountered history at a young age, growing up in Philadelphia, seeing history of the revolution all around him and following his father’s footsteps — from Valley Forge to Gettysburg, wherever their 1950 convertible would take them.

The author of a dozen books, Randall will speak on his most recent subject, Ethan Allen, at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy. The lecture is part of the Oliver Archives Heritage Lecture Series. A book signing will follow.

Always interested in history, Randall went to work for a daily newspaper at the age of 18. He wrote occasional history columns about local events. He was so busy working as a journalist that he didn’t have time for organized school, although he was learning all the same.

“I didn’t go to college right away,” Randall said.

He went at night for nine years, dropping more courses than he completed.

“I just didn’t have time to complete the coursework all the time,” he said.

He nonetheless knew what to do with his time. Randall completed his undergraduate degree at the age of 40, having already written five books. He eventually went on to finish graduate school, but he didn’t let that stop him; he continued writing, especially biographies.

On his website, Randall wrote, “Biography enables the reader to approach the great mass of ideas, actions and struggles that historians have too often rendered impenetrable. We need some path or bridge to approach history and biographies provide that approach. Writing about great men and women prompts us to discuss leadership, charisma, the relationships between leadership and power, between leaders and the people. But the lives of the not-so-great can also show us how people in everyday life react to the same events and problems. They provide case studies into the periods in which people lived.”

Upon moving to Vermont in 1984, Randall found it strange there had not been much written about Ethan Allen, patriot and Revolutionary War hero. Allen had founded the state of Vermont. Randall said that Allen was irrepressible; no matter how many setbacks he encountered, he got back on his feet and charged ahead.

The Revolutionary War and Founding Fathers such as Ethan Allen are of particular interest today, and there is a current spate of books being published on the Revolutionary War period.

“People wonder about how well government is working and wonder what was the original idea of the founders,” Randall said.

The country started in an economic crisis, and people want to know how debt was dealt with after the revolution.

Vermont had paid its own way, Randall said. Allen opposed giving money to help out the other thirteen states. Even today, the people of Vermont have questioned government.

In his career as journalist and historian, Randall received the National Magazine Award for Public Service from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, the Hillman Prize, the Loeb Award and three Pulitzer Prize nominations during his 17-year journalism career in Philadelphia. After completing his graduate studies in history at Princeton University, he turned to writing biographies, which also have garnered three Pulitzer nominations, according to Randall’s website.

Glasser maintains bird’s-eye view on the world

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Lori Humphreys | Staff Writer

Susan Glasser
Susan Glasser

Is it so unreasonable to experience a Chicken Little “the sky is falling” response to the current cascading changes in the international order that Americans have expected since the end of World War II?

Even an informed, attentive response to news of the “Arab Spring,” the rise of China, the economic crisis in Western democracies, might include looking up to be reassured that the sky isn’t falling.

Susan Glasser, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine and, is the antithesis of Chicken Little.

Her description of  “What In The World Is Going On?” at the 3 p.m. Saturday Contemporary Issues Forum at the Hall of Philosophy reflects foreign policy of the “realpolitik” mode.

Glasser is unafraid to challenge popular orthodoxy. She said her comments will include what to make of the “Arab Spring” and what not to make of it.

“It is at our peril to imagine that democracy will be the result of the Arab revolutions,” she said. “Counter-revolutions have been as successful as revolutions. There is the example of Bahrain and the emerging authoritarian governments in the Russian states. Pakistan may be as realistic a model (for Egypt) as Poland.”

But what might prove most interesting to the audience is Glasser’s analysis of the important events reporters are missing. One is the possibility, indicative of her unwavering interest in Russia, of Vladimer Putin’s return as Russian president. Another is the hidden consequence of the “enormous rift” between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Continuing the avian metaphor, if there is anyone who has a bird’s-eye view of the world, it’s Glasser.

As editor-in-chief, she receives a daily update of world events. She was in charge of the 2009 launch of, which has grown dramatically in the past two years.

“We had over 20 million visitors to the site when Osama bin Laden was killed,” Glasser said.

Under Glasser’s guidance, Foreign Policy has won two National Magazine Awards. She was co-chief of The Washington Post’s Moscow Bureau for four years and covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the battle of Tora Bora.

Glasser and her husband, New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, co-authored Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution, which was published in 2005.

Glasser is a graduate of Harvard University. This is her first visit to Chautauqua.

The Contemporary Issues Forum is sponsored by the Chautauqua Women’s Club. Glasser’s presentation is underwritten by the Brown-Giffen Lectureship.

Lecture to recall historic ‘I Hate War’ speech

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George Cooper | Staff Writer

It might be that the name, Mary Frances Bestor Cram, is a mouthful. On the other hand, she had a lot to say. Her father, Arthur Bestor, presided over Chautauqua for some 30 years — through two world wars and the Depression. One remarkable event during those years was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s visit to Chautauqua in August 1936, when he gave his “I Hate War” speech.

Roosevelt’s speech and Bestor Cram’s reminiscence of the president’s visit will be the subject of the Oliver Archives Heritage Lecture at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ.

Presiding over today’s activity will be Jon Schmitz, Chautauqua’s archivist and historian, and Greg Peterson, chairman of Jamestown’s Robert H. Jackson Center Board of Directors.

The speech and Roosevelt’s presence on the grounds stand as important moments in Chautauqua’s history. The Institution was just emerging from difficult financial circumstances, and the presence of such a formidable figure generated a lot of attention. Roosevelt became yet another in the series of presidents who have come to Chautauqua. And the speech itself is something of a curiosity, being, at least in title, an anti-war speech, delivered at a time when the rumblings of war were becoming audible in Europe and northern Africa.

“Roosevelt didn’t want to look like an interventionist, even as he had to intervene,” Schmitz said.

The speech as represented in the statement, “I hate war,” was a personal claim made in a public arena, but the public reality was otherwise.

Schmitz said Roosevelt knew war was coming, but, just like many American citizens, he hated the idea of war.

“Roosevelt had a way of calming people and focusing attention on issues productively,” Schmitz said.

Roosevelt came to Chautauqua with just a few days’ notice. Security was tight.

“He came because he felt he could reach a large audience by way of radio,” Schmitz said.

It all caused quite a stir on the grounds.

Some of the drama of the occasion is captured in Bestor Cram’s memoir of Chautauqua, Chautauqua Salute: A Memoir of the Bestor Years.

More intimate will be Peterson’s 2004 interview with Bestor Cram.

Peterson brought her to the Jackson Center for a tour and a showing of the 16-minute “I Hate War” film — a showing of which will be included in today’s program.

Peterson then interviewed Bestor Cram, providing a rare first-person account of Roosevelt’s visit to Chautauqua, including the preparation, her father’s relationship with the president and the circumstances of the invitation.

In conjunction with this 75th anniversary of the speech and Roosevelt’s presidential visit to Chautauqua will be an exhibit at the Oliver Archives relating to the five presidents who visited the grounds during their presidency, as well as other figures who visited and later went on to be president, Schmitz said.

Watch the ‘I Hate War’ speech

Leach to lead discussions on civility in public discourse

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Sarah Gelfand | Staff Writer

Jim Leach
Jim Leach

Adding further depth to this week’s theme of “Government and the Search for the Common Good,” Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be holding two additional sessions this week to augment his 10:45 a.m. Monday lecture.

At 3:30 p.m. today in the Athenaeum Hotel Parlor, Leach will lead a Town Hall-style meeting, opening up the discussion of the topic at hand for a more advanced dialogue with Chautauquans.

“I think Chautauqua, first of all, is a center of a dialogue movement that symbolizes the best in American conversation,” Leach said.

Leach said he is looking forward to an avid discussion about government and responsibility. His current position as the head of a federal agency invested in an aspect of the common good — the humanities — and his past government service as a congressman lend some personal experience to his discussion.

Today’s Town Hall is representative of one of Leach’s major focuses, involving citizens in conversation about the government and civic responsibility.

“We’re in a country that has always been one in which citizens are considered to be the center of vitality of governance,” Leach said. “One of the great challenges is for all of us as citizens to insist that the government be accountable to us. That is a challenge at all times to American life and that we are all responsible and accountable for, and I think Chautauqua is a great place to bring that out.”

Leach hopes his Town Hall meeting will ignite the conversations necessary for inspiring action and responsibility but also provide him with new insight.

“What I have found around the country is that thoughtful citizens are loaded with not only questions, but observations that often are far more profound than anything I have suggested, and the Town Hall format is one in which the audience is likely to learn more from their colleagues than they will from me. I look at this as a great learning experience, and I have always enjoyed interactive events more than  the set up of a speaker lecturing,” Leach said.

At 12:15 p.m. Wednesday in Smith Wilkes Hall, Leach will open up this conversation further at an Elected Officials Panel. Leach will moderate questions and discussions among the panelists, who include William Clinger, a former congressman from Pennsylvania, and Amo Houghton, Stan Lundine, Jack Quinn and Thomas Reynolds, all former congressmen from New York. Clinger and Lundine are Chautauqua residents and have served on the Institution’s board of trustees.

“The panel is going to be fabulous,” Leach said. “I think you’re going to get a lot of commentary about how things work as well as what the issues are. We’ve got issues of war and peace, spending and taxation, just simply the ability of the government to make decisions. This particular group of panelists should be very enlightening, and I look forward to hearing their perspectives.”

Adding a call to action as a secondary function of the government panel, Leach said he hopes Chautauquans will come away from the event with an expanded view of American government and its functions and, most importantly, the impact of citizens.

“We’ll be trying to provide a perspective of American history on challenges of the time, which are extremely unique, and of a degree of importance that cannot be underestimated in where America is in the world today,” Leach said. “That is, we are facing challenges of a different nature than we ever envisioned as a country. In looking at these challenges, we’re going to have to adapt in new and profound ways.”

Applied ethics series to examine country’s fallen standards

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Sarah Gelfand | Staff Writer

If there is nothing more patriotic than dissonance, Chautauquans will certainly celebrate Independence Day in good form with a series of special lectures focusing on U.S. government dysfunction that starts this afternoon. Four speakers from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University will lead the Lincoln Applied Ethics Lectures at 4 p.m. today through Wednesday at the Hall of Philosophy.

Peter French, the director of Lincoln Center, along with two Lincoln Professors and one Lincoln Fellow, will speak in conjunction with this week’s “Applied Ethics: Government and the Search for the Common Good” theme, while also engaging in discussion with their audiences.

In 1998, Chautauqua residents Joan and David Lincoln established the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU to emphasize the importance of providing students with an ethical education. The Lincolns created a partnership between Chautauqua Institution and the Lincoln Center that has lasted more than a decade, sponsoring theme weeks ranging from “Business and Ethics” to “the Ethical Frontiers of Science.”

In his 10th year leading the ethics series at the Institution, French will open the series today with Jason Robert, a Lincoln professor. Tuesday afternoon, Lincoln professor Braden Allenby and Lincoln fellow Thomas Seager will speak, and on Wednesday, the four will give brief reprisals of their presentations and hold an open discussion and Q-and-A session with the audience.

Peter French

Peter French

Chair and director of the Lincoln Center since its opening in 2000, French will begin the lectures with a discussion about America’s change in standing over several decades in regard to “common good” issues such as education, life expectancy and health care.

“This year, I’m going to lead off with a discussion about what’s gone wrong in our country in the last few decades as to why, perhaps, the country has fallen significantly down on the standards that are used to evaluate where countries stand in regards to achieving what we call the expectations of the common good,” French said.

French plans to examine governmental structures in-depth and discuss their failings, as well as possible solutions.

“In terms of government structures, there are systemic elements not particularly suited to respond to these kinds of changes in a particularly effective way,” French said. “I’ll talk about how we can confront some of these problems from other angles than just hoping the government is somehow going to fix itself and improve matters for us all.”

French will not just focus on the government, but also the public and its perception of what constitutes the common good and who is responsible for it.

“We’re trying to open up people’s thinking to look at issues in this world that we’ve tried to ignore as a country and as individuals for much too long,” French said.

French has also written several books on ethics. His most recent is War and Moral Dissonance, a memoir of French’s experience teaching ethics to Marine and Navy chaplains during the Iraq War.

Jason Robert

Jason Robert

As the Lincoln professor of ethics in biotechnology and medicine, Robert will speak about health and health reform. He will look at the intersections between government and health in terms of the common good.

“I think I’m going to be more hopeful and optimistic than the other speakers,” Robert said. “With health as my focus, I want to argue that the common good is imaginable and achievable, and that government can be a good thing rather than a bad thing.”

Like the other speakers from the Lincoln Center, Robert will address the angle and attitude with which the public views and affects the common good.

“Part of the issue is that we’ve just been thinking about the common good in the wrong way,” Robert said. “I want to demonstrate how to re-imagine the common good in a way that’s genuinely American.”

“Of course, that’s a challenge for me because I’m Canadian,” Robert joked.

Robert’s first visit to Chautauqua was in 2009, and he said that during his second time here, he hopes Chautauquans can impart as much wisdom on him as he does them.

“Really, I hope to gain a sense of how big a challenge this is, that other people are optimistic, and I’m not the only optimist,” Robert said.

Braden Allenby

Braden Allenby

“The subtitle of my speech is, ‘If You Want the Future, You Can’t Handle the Future,’” Allenby said.

Allenby, the Lincoln professor of engineering and ethics, will use his expertise of environmental engineering as a framework for his speech Tuesday. As does French, Allenby plans to highlight the recent drastic changes in U.S. life.

“This particular set of changes is more important than anything we’ve ever gone through as a society,” Allenby said.

Ending on a positive note, Allenby will reinforce the public’s ability to impact the government.

“If we can realize how badly broken the traditional ways of thinking are, then we can begin to discuss the ways in which we can enact change,” Allenby said.

During his fourth visit to Chautauqua, Allenby said he would like his audience to adopt a critical, but hopeful, eye in regard to the decline of the common good in the U.S.

“I’d like Chautauquans to take away a healthy skepticism for much of what passes as dialogue today, along with a sense of optimism for the future,” Allenby said.

In the past, Allenby served as Environmental, Health and Safety vice president for AT&T and as director for Energy and Environmental Systems at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in addition to his professorial posts.

Thomas Seager

Thomas Seager

Seager is a Lincoln Fellow of Ethics & Sustainability. At ASU, he is leading a National Science Foundation project that uses game theory in order to develop new strategies to teach ethical reasoning skills to science and engineering graduate students.

Along with his colleagues, Seager will address government dysfunction and approaches that might be utilized to take the place of where the U.S., in particular, has failed.

Given his research, Seager is expected to focus on education as a “common good” issue, as well as the way education can be used and reformed to serve as a solution to many of the issues French and Allenby will bring up.

This will be Seager’s first visit to Chautauqua.

French, Robert, Allenby and Seager said they are particularly enthusiastic to lead these discussions at Chautauqua and continue the Lincoln Ethics Series at the Institution.

“People at Chautauqua seem to be open in looking at the complexities of issues and not just accepting simplistic answers to questions that are anything but simplistic,” French said. “I enjoy the fact that after we finish the session, there’s always a whole line of folks who want to talk some more and continue the discussion.”

Steere to explore links between music, medicine in Chautauqua Speaks lecture

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Lori Humphreys | Staff Writer

Ancient Greek mythology did not separate medicine and music. Apollo was the god of both. Dr. Allen C. Steere will present both scientific and intuitive evidence that suggests the Greeks may have been onto something at 9:15 a.m. Thursday at the Chautauqua Women’s Club. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet and hear Steere discuss the links between medicine and music at the first “Chautauqua Speaks” program of the season.

Steere is a professor of medicine at Harvard University, an internationally recognized Lyme disease researcher and a concert pianist

His presentation, “Medicine and Music: A Personal Memoir,” seeks to answer this question: Is music linked to medicine more so than to other professions? Steere’s response integrates research and experience, science and intuition.

Steere offered three facts to bolster his claim that there is a link between medicine and the healing art of music, particularly the art of the instrumentalist.

There are a number of American cities with all-doctor orchestras including Boston’s Longwood Symphony and the World Doctors Orchestra in Berlin.

Between 70 to 80 percent of doctors have had training playing musical instruments.

The changes in the brain resulting from playing an instrument suggest a possible relationship between music and the skills that enhance medical doctors’

Steere recently played piano in a special concert sponsored by the Rheumatology Education Fund of the American College of Rheumatology.

Steere’s program includes a musical answer to his question. He will play Franz Schubert’s “Song Without Words” and will accompany Jarrett Ott, Curtis School of Music and Marlena Malas’ student. Ott will sing “The Impossible Dream” by Mitch Leigh and “Zueignung” by Richard Strauss. There will also be a Q-and-A session.

Steere is also the director of Clinical Research in Rheumatology at Harvard. Among multiple honors, he received the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute for Lyme disease vaccine development in 1999 and, 20 years later, the Clinical Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology. He graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1965, and in 1969, he graduated with a degree in Medicine from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has come to Chautauqua for 42 years.

For more information, Steere suggests The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song by Ellen Mannes.

Barcott to give special lecture on development efforts in Kenyan slum

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This article originally appeared on Page 3 of the Tuesday, June 28, issue of The Chautauquan Daily

Sarah Gelfand | Staff Writer

Rye Barcott will discuss his book It Happened on the Way to War at 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy.

It Happened on the Way to War is an account of Barcott’s experiences living in the Kenyan slum of Kibera. Barcott initially visited Kibera as a 20-year-old student from the University of North Carolina on his way to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.

While serving in Iraq and Bosnia, Barcott founded Carolina for Kibera, a non-profit organization, along with Tabitha Atieno Festo, a local Kibera nurse, and Salim Mohamed, a community organizer.

According to the organization, Kibera residents, ”struggle to meet basic needs — daily meals, clean water, adequate housing,” in addition to gender inequality, limited access to education and ethnic violence. Carolina for Kibera addresses these issues using a participatory development model, emphasizing local leadership.

As part of Week One’s theme of Global Health and Development as Foreign Policy, Barcott’s work as both an author and advocate highlights the struggles of the Kibera community on both a local and global scale.

Carolina for Kibera focuses extensively on the health problems of the Kibera community, 10 to 25 percent of which is infected with HIV and AIDS. In response to this particular issue, Carolina for Kibera created a community-based clinic that serves more than 40,000 patients a year.

Barcott and his organization are relevant to this week’s theme because of the focus on health but also in the way they operate. Committed to inspiring change from within the community, Carolina for Kibera’s Kenyan office is staffed only by locals. The organization focuses not only on health but also social and economic issues, using a three-pronged approach to alleviate Kibera’s hardships.

After returning from his military service, Barcott was a Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellow at Harvard University, from which he received master’s degrees in business and public administration. He currently works for Duke Energy and serves on Carolina for Kibera’s board of directors.

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