Summer Lectures Address U.S. Role  In the World

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/5/2017 10:00:55 PM
Modified: 6/5/2017 10:00:58 PM

Since the end of World War II, the assumption internationally and domestically has been that the United States leads on issues of human rights, scientific and technological innovation, military superiority and in ensuring a certain stability in the world order.

In the 21st century, however, new threats have materialized in the form of climate change, terrorism and cyber warfare. There have always been questions about America’s role and effectiveness as a world leader, but the current challenges seem sharper and more perilous.

With the election of Donald Trump, and the often contradictory messages coming out of the White House on foreign policy, the question becomes: How will the U.S. negotiate the political and environmental perils that it faces? Where does the U.S. stand? And what does it stand for?

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth’s summer lecture series marks its 20th anniversary with a series of lectures that will attempt to answer some of these questions. As in past years, the talks are thematically linked. This year’s behemoth of a subject is “Global Challenges Confronting the United States.”

Every September the Osher at Dartmouth committee sits down to come up with a list of possible subjects and speakers. This summer’s slate of subjects was chosen before the November election, said John Sanders, the president of Osher at Dartmouth. But they were selected with an eye toward problems that would likely face the incoming president, whoever that would be.

“The topics could not be more timely. They were chosen on the basis of areas that the committee thought would be topics that a new administration would have to address, or would foist themselves on an administration. Any one of the topics could be its own summer series,” Sanders said in a phone interview from his home in Lyme.

The series runs on consecutive Thursdays from July 13 through Aug. 24 in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center. It features, in order of appearance:

James Steinberg, former deputy secretary of state, who will talk on “U.S. Policy Toward a Rising China”;

Chris Inglis, former deputy secretary of the National Security Administration (NSA), speaking about “Cyber Warfare and Cyber Defense”;

William Perry, former secretary of defense, who will talk on “Nuclear Proliferation”;

Julie Smith, former national security adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden speaking about Brexit and the European Union;

Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., talking about “Why Russia Matters”;

Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will talk about “Global Warming”;

And rounding out the series Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe and dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, who will tackle “Beyond the Horizon: 21st Century Global Security and Risk.”

The speakers are paid a modest honorarium, reimbursed for their expenses and put up for a night at the Hanover Inn. Apart from that there is no large speaker’s fee to tempt them to make the trip to northern New England.

“People have the idea of wanting to express a point of view to an audience,” said John Ferries, co-chairman of the summer lecture series. “They are wonderful people who aren’t out for the buck.”

Based on the level of interest he has heard expressed, said Sanders, the tickets should go fast. Close to 200 people have pre-bought tickets for the entire series. And for the first time in its 20-year-history, Osher at Dartmouth will send a live feed of the lectures to a small audience in Burlington at a yet-to-be-determined location. It’s a pilot program, Sanders said. Audience members in Burlington will be able to text questions to the speakers during the morning intermission.

All lectures will be held in Spaulding Auditorium from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on consecutive Thursdays from July 13 through Aug. 24. Osher members pay $95 for the entire series; non-members pay $120. Tickets for individual lectures are $25 per person. Register online at or purchase tickets at the OSHER at Dartmouth office, 7 Lebanon St., Suite 107, Hanover. If a lecture isn’t sold out in advance, you may also purchase tickets on the morning of a lecture at Spaulding Auditorium.

Nicola Smith can be reached at

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