Chautauqua Institution

Self-improvement through lifelong learning was at the heart of the impulse that motivated Americans and founded Chautauqua in 1874. Chautauqua's tradition of self-improvement through lifelong learning continues today through a variety  of programs aimed at the exploration and exchange of ideas in an atmosphere that encourages civil discourse.


Week One — June 23–27
Roger Rosenblatt and Friends

“We write to make suffering endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable and love possible.”

Roger Rosenblatt

Join the Chautauqua-favorite memoirist and novelist and another set of his distinguished friends for five days on the art of storytelling through the written word.

Afternoon Theme: The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

John Shelby Spong is a master story-teller and innovative interpreter who brings Biblical wisdom, story, and truth to Chautauqua with an ability to engage audiences profoundly – both those who agree with him and those who disagree. In his most recent book he argues that Jesus never spoke a literal word in the Fourth Gospel, and that most of the characters that populate the Gospel’s pages are literary, not historical, figures. He asserts, however, that as we break the Gospel out of its literal prison, it reveals the deepest and most profound understanding of Jesus in the Bible. In this week he will explore this deeper understanding. 

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national-geographic logo 2linesFL webWeek Two — June 30–July 4
Feeding a Hungry Planet

In partnership with National Geographic Society

As the world’s population swells and more countries become industrialized, Chautauqua and National Geographic present a week focused on the increasingly stressed global food supply, a subject the magazine is making into a yearlong series in 2014. Dennis Dimick, National Geographic magazine’s executive environmental editor, will lead off the week with photographer Jim Richardson with a visual introduction to the state of the food supply. On Tuesday, Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating, and photographer Amy Toensing will illustrate Americans’ relationships with food. Professor of plant pathology Pamela C. Ronald, co-author of Tomorrow’s Table, speaks Wednesday on the role of genetically modified foods. For Thursday, Barton Seaver, director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, will highlight the important connection between environmental resiliency and human health. To end the week, Jonathan Foley, incoming executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, speaks on sustainability of civilization and the global environment.

Afternoon Theme: With Economic Justice for All

All of the world’s religions call us to feed the people. As we celebrate Independence Day, we reclaim the founders’ vision of liberty and justice for all. This week we will re-examine our moral obligation to feed a hungry planet by working towards economic justice for all, both globally and locally. 

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Week Three — July 7–11
The Ethics of Privacy

The erosion of individual privacy — with and without consent — carries the promise of a more secure country, greater collaboration and a personalized consumer experience. In an honest exploration of this shifting balance, Chautauqua brings together differing views on expectations and limits of privacy.

Afternoon Theme: The Ethical Tensions of Privacy vs. Interdependence

In both our personal and professional lives, how do we safeguard the rights of the individual while protecting the good of the whole? In this week a pastor, a parent, a patient and doctor, and a teacher will explore theethical challenges of privacy vs. interdependence within our communities. 

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colonial-williamsburg-2-webWeek Four — July 14–18
Emerging Citizenship:
The Egyptian Experience

A Colonial Williamsburg/
Chautauqua Institution Series

From the American revolutionaries in 1776 to present-day efforts across the globe to achieve greater participation in government and a more democratic society, this week we analyze the citizen half of the social compact. Using Egypt as a case study, what is the citizen’s responsibility in a 21st-century democracy?

Afternoon Theme: The Role of a Citizen in a Just Democracy

From Social Entrepreneurship to Social Investing, governments as well as public-private partnerships are exhibiting and in some cases re-creating classic understandings of the social compact that theologians and religious organizations have long espoused. In this week prominent religious voices and civic activists will remind us of the responsibilities of an enlightened citizenry. 


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Week Five — July 21–25
The American West

As Chautauqua’s arts programs prepare an original production on American expansionism, the week’s lecturers prospect the history of the country's frontier. What did our nation gain — artistically, culturally, politically, economically — from westward expansion? 

Afternoon Theme: The American West: Religious Evolution and Innovations

The growth of the West brought new ways of experiencing religion and spirituality to American culture. Native American spirituality contrasted with the Catholicism of the Conquistadors; the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormonism) allowed a unique 19th century North American religion to flourish; and Scientology brought yet a new 20th century expression of spirituality. How did the awe-inspiring, untamed, and breathtakingly beautiful landscape of this land help to shape these new ways of experiencing the “More Than” of life? 

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Week Six — July 28–August 1
Brazil: Rising Superpower

The host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, the Federative Republic of Brazil is South America’s largest country, and the fifth largest in the world. Lecturers this week chart its history, politics, culture and growing influence in global affairs.

Afternoon Theme: Brazil: the Interplay of Religion and Culture

Brazil is a richly spiritual society formed originally from the interplay of the Roman Catholic Church with the religious traditions of African slaves and indigenous peoples. This confluence of faiths during the Portuguese colonization of Brazil led to the development of a diverse array of syncretistic practices characterized by traditional Portuguese festivities, experienced as a form of fusion. In the 21st century secularism and evangelical Protestantism have also become predominant expressions. This week will explore the rich intermingling of all these traditions. 

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Week Seven — August 4–8
A Week with Ken Burns:
Historian, Documentarian and American Conscience

Perhaps the best-known storyteller of our history, filmmaker Ken Burns returns to Chautauqua to host a week of lectures and dialogues on the subjects his documentaries have brought back to life.

Afternoon Theme: Conversations on the American Consciousness

America, land of opportunity and freedom, has from the beginning exhibited a unique self-consciousness about itself and its place in the world. Is that changing in our time? Are Americans' core values shifting as technology and globalization transform our relationships, our institutions, and the very meaning of community? In this week we will welcome back Krista Tippett, host of public radio's On Being and creator of The Civil Conversations Project. With wise guests and citizens, she will explore our noblest intentions and the human side of our national identity.

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Week Eight — August 11–15
Chautauqua’s Global Public Square

Fareed Zakaria, the respected analyst and host of “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN, leads off a week demonstrating the interconnectedness of the global society. Expert lecturers will take us to different areas of the world, illuminating issues that rarely receive serious attention from American media, politicians and audiences.

Afternoon Theme: The Global Religious Public Square

In a week illustrating the interconnectedness of the global community, each day we will focus on a different part of the world in which religion either can or does play a role – for better or for worse – in addressing challenges or creating conflict. Renowned religious leaders will shine a light into these pivotal areas of global interest and influence.

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Week Nine — August 18–22
Health Care: From Bench to Bedside

In the second of a three-part series on health care in America, Chautauqua explores innovations throughout the health care delivery experience, from lab bench science to patient care.

Afternoon Theme: From Here to Hereafter:  Facing Destiny with Hope and Courage

As one author expressed, avoiding thinking about death does not confer immortality. Death is inevitable and is, indeed, each person’s destiny. Recognizing mortality, often terrifying at first, can provide ultimate meaning for living when faced with acceptance and preparation. In this week we will face destiny with practicality, inspiration, and perhaps joy. 

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Week Nine Presenting Sponsor:   LECOM logo shield