The following was published on Page 3 of the spring 2016 Chautauquan.

Following eight months of analysis, consultation and community engagement, Chautauqua Institution’s Board of Trustees at its May 7 meeting accepted recommendations from its Nominating and Governance Committee designed to improve and expand its practices of good governance and to increase opportunities for input from the CHQ community.

These actions respond to a motion passed at the August 2015 annual meeting of the Chautauqua Corporation. In that motion, Corporation members asked Chautauqua Institution’s Board of Trustees to consider amending the Corporation’s bylaws to provide for open meetings of the Board of Trustees and to consider additional ways to provide the community with greater transparency about the work of the Board and its proceedings. At its August 2015 meeting, the Board referred the motion to the Nominating and Governance Committee for review and recommendation.

“As Trustees of Chautauqua Institution, we take our fiduciary responsibilities very seriously. Philosophically, we are committed to being as inclusive and transparent as practical within the framework of best practices for not-for-profit governance,” wrote James A. Pardo, Jr., Chair of the Board, in a February letter to Corporation members. “We recognize that the Board must represent the interests of the Institution and everyone the Institution serves — Corporation members and all other stakeholders who benefit from and participate in its mission-driven program. This is in keeping with our CHQ values.”

Analysis & Action on Open Meetings

Beginning in September 2015, the Nominating and Governance Committee conducted an internal and external review, including a legal assessment and a detailed analysis of the transparency and engagement practices in place at CHQ.

As part of its work, the Committee consulted 22 individual experts and organizations — including various not-for-profit corporations, arts organizations, homeowners’ associations, colleges, not-for-profit administrators and other Chautauquas — to understand better the practice of open meetings in the not-for-profit sector.

The Committee reported to the full Board at its November 2015 meeting and again in greater detail at its February 2016 meeting. Its findings included that:

• Nearly all of the organizations contacted — not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporations like Chautauqua Institution — do not hold open meetings, do not plan to do so, and do not recommend it;

• The leadership of 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporations believe (some based on experience) that open meetings would stifle discussion and creative problem-solving among trustees, limit the ability of the corporation to recruit qualified members to its board, and potentially politicize the governance process; and

• Some who were contacted and interviewed cite as an example the current era of social media and how posts, e-newsletters and tweets — instant and sometimes out of context — can quickly negate the intent of open meetings.

Experts and consultants to not-for-profit entities provided similar counsel. Combined with the legal opinion that Chautauqua’s Board is not required by law to hold open meetings, the results of the Committee’s due diligence led its members to recommend that the Board continue its current meeting policy. That conclusion was communicated to the CHQ community in a Feb. 23, 2016, letter from the Board’s Chair.

Expanding Practices of Good Governance

In response to the second part of the Corporation members’ motion, the Nominating and Governance Committee also recommended, and the Trustees at their February 2016 meeting agreed, to re-evaluate, expand, and re-imagine current community engagement practices and to look for additional ways to provide more transparency regarding the Board’s work at Chautauqua Institution.

The Committee once again, this time joined by the four Corporation-elected Trustees, conducted dozens of interviews with community stakeholders — including property owners, one-week visitors, denominational house representatives, leaders of and participants in community volunteer groups, open meetings advocates and off-grounds Chautauquans — to understand their involvement in CHQ and their ideas and recommendations for enhanced transparency and engagement with the Board and its process.

The group’s findings, presented at the May 7 Board of Trustees meeting, included:

• A strong reiteration of the Trustees’ commitment to enhanced engagement with the community and best practices in not-for-profit governance, particularly around critical matters that from time to time come to the Board for consideration;

• Noting that there currently exist a variety of opportunities for the community to engage with the Trustees in public and private settings, but that some times and places for events (such as the Trustee Open Forums and the weekly Hultquist porch chats) are inconveniently scheduled for some community members;

• Recognizing that the community does not, in a broad sense, know who the Trustees are or how the Trustees arrive at the Board table; and

• Some community stakeholders would like additional opportunities to gain insights into the governance process and have timely and regular opportunities for input into issues that come before the Board for discussion, consideration, or decision.

Based on these findings, the Committee proposed to the Trustees a series of recommendations that ensure the community has access to current information about Trustees and the Trustee nominating processes and that give the community additional opportunities to have input into the work of the Board:

Enhanced Transparency and Information Sharing

• Board meeting agenda: Beginning with the August 2016 meetings, the Board will work with the Institution to post a preliminary, draft agenda or list of topics that likely will be covered at the upcoming Board meeting. This will occur as soon as the agenda is close to finalized and, ideally, not later than two weeks prior to the meeting.

• Board meeting minutes: Beginning with the May 2016 meeting, the Board will work with the Institution to post a draft of the Board minutes approximately two weeks after the meeting, even though at that point in time the minutes will not yet have been approved by the Board (which in the ordinary course will not occur until the next regularly scheduled meeting). Where not otherwise contained in the actual minutes, a summary of key decisions also will be posted.

• The Board will work with the Institution to introduce an enhanced Board of Trustees’ webpage prior to the 2016 season that will include:

  • Trustee biographies, photos and terms of service.
  • Relocation of the Trustee email address to a more visible location on the website to encourage community input directly to the trustees.
  • Information about the Class A Trustee nomination process, including how members of the Community might propose individuals to the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee for consideration as future members of the Board of Trustees.
  • Information about the Class B Trustee nomination process.

Additional Opportunities for Trustee Engagement

• The Board will work with the Institution in an attempt (subject to the availability of suitable times and venues) to move the Trustee Open Forums to different dates and/or times to allow for greater community participation during the 2016 season

  • Trustees will host the first two porch chats this season in a different format — these will be trustee-led and focused on a strategic topic of importance to the community. Again, subject to the availability of suitable times and venues, these two initial porch chats will be moved from the traditional 9:30 a.m. Wednesday Hultquist Porch time and location to different dates, times and locations to allow for greater community participation. These will be more discussion-oriented sessions with the community and provide opportunities for input directly to the Trustees. Depending on community response, these sessions may be continued in future seasons or be tweaked with a goal of more direct Trustee and community engagement.
  • The remaining porch chats during the 2016 season will be continue to be held on the Hultquist porch as in prior years and will follow the traditional staff-driven format, but subject to the availability of suitable times and dates the porch chats will be shifted on the calendar to allow for more community member attendance.

• The Trustees plan to attend more events this season including CPOA picnics and other similar community events.

• Our Board Chair will hold weekly open office hours during the 2016 season (tentatively scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Film Room at the Welcome Center) that will be open to any Chautauquan to come and discuss with the Chair any topic.

• Our Board Chair once again has offered this season to meet with any interested stakeholder groups and, subject to scheduling, to continue his informal, ad hoc “coffee in the morning or ice cream in the afternoon” meetings with individual Chautauquans.

These recommendations were adopted by the Board of Trustees at its May meeting with the plan to implement them as proposed. Look for more information on dates, times and places in The Chautauquan Daily this season.

“Throughout this comprehensive process, the Trustees were mindful of the programmatic mission of Chautauqua Institution, and the role of community in the expression of that mission,” Pardo said. “The Board believes that CHQ’s governance structure works well in supporting our mission, and, further, has set the stage for our continued success in sustaining and improving the Institution together — financially, operationally and physically. We welcome community engagement as we work together on the stewardship of this singular place.”

 

Email me 2017 season news & announcements

 

Week One :: June 24 – July 1

Invention

Invention is a way to pinpoint what we value, and we look to men and women throughout history, around the world, who challenged the status quo by what they thought, saw and created. As we celebrate the evolution of humanity, we explore what’s next and how we’ll achieve it.

  • What are the conditions — within society and within ourselves — that make invention possible?
  • Are we in the last age of American invention?
  • What do we need for humanity’s next “giant leap” in our lifetime?
  • Are there ethical and legal limits to be placed on human curiosity?

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Inventing God? A Brief History of Religions 

The search for meaning and imagining the Source of Life are among the hallmarks of being human.  Calling this Source by many names in different ages and among all peoples has inspired ever-evolving ways of knowing and experiencing It, including looking within ourselves.  In this week we will consider both the traditional and the newer ways that the religious imagination has conceptualized our experience of the Holy. 

 

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Week Two :: July 1 - July 8

The Human Journey: Origins, Exploration and Preservation
In Partnership with National Geographic

As a species, as communities, and as individuals, we have altered our physical world, with both beneficial and devastating effects. From our earliest history, humanity’s movement across the globe—driven by survival and curiosity—has impacted our environment. With such exploration also comes a greater understanding of our relationship to the planet. From the depths of the ocean to the plains of Africa, humans are searching for ways to make positive change and help protect the ecosystems and species that contribute to our essential biodiversity on Earth. During this week, in partnership with National Geographic and a renowned team of explorers, scientists and journalists, we look at our past, present and future impact on the planet.

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Celebrating the Genius and Soul of a Nation 

Alexis de Tocqueville said, "The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." Today, global and national events challenge us to initiate introspection, self-analysis, and repair, all while celebrating the greatness of our democracy.  In this week of observing our nation’s birthday we will seek to discern the genius and soul of the nation, and ask how they may be authentically embodied and celebrated.

 

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Week Three :: July 8 – July 15

A Crisis of Faith?

For decades, Chautauqua Institution has brought people of different faiths – and no faith – together for civil, enlightening dialogue. Building on that work, this week we dive even deeper into questions of identity, religion and community. Pew Research Center reports that religions are undergoing dramatic change: a decline in mainstream Christianity and practicing Judaism, demographic shifts pointing toward a growing Muslim population, and more young people than ever who claim no affiliation with any organized religion. Some detect crisis amidst these changes, but in this week we look to the possibilities. What impacts do shifting religious norms mean for other aspects of public life? How are churches reinventing themselves as moral centers of the communities they serve? Together, we imagine the future of faith and of religion as we have come to know it.

 

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Crisis of Faith? 

For decades, Chautauqua Institution has brought people of different faiths – and no faith – together for civil, enlightening dialogue. Building on that work, this week we dive even deeper into questions of identity, religion and community. Major research organizations such as Pew Research Center and PRRI report that religions are undergoing dramatic change: a decline in mainstream Christianity and practicing Judaism, demographic shifts pointing toward a growing Muslim population, and more young people than ever who claim no affiliation with any organized religion. Some detect crisis amidst these changes, but in this week we look to the possibilities. What impacts do shifting religious norms mean for other aspects of public life? How are churches reinventing themselves as moral centers of the communities they serve? Together, we imagine the future of faith and of religion as we have come to know it.

 

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Week Four :: July 15 – July 22

Geopolitics Today:

A Partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies

For more than 50 years, the Center for Strategic and International Studies has worked to develop practical solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. From the economics of energy and climate change, to international security in the age of terrorism, CSIS and its experts bring the issues of the world to CHQ’s doorstep.

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Religion and Statecraft Today: The Soft Power of Global Peacemaking 

Across the global community a shared consciousness is arising that can guide us towards a sustainable, healthy, and peaceful earth for humans and for all living beings.  Increasingly, interfaith traditions are promoting new paradigms for conflict transformation, understanding, and collaboration through promising practices, rituals, visions, and ideals.  In this we week will learn from organizations and individuals who are exploring and practicing these emerging paradigms for global peacemaking, reconciliation, and enhancing the quality of life. 

 

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Week Five :: July 22 – July 29

The Supreme Court: At a Tipping Point?

President Donald J. Trump is likely to nominate several justices to the Supreme Court, shaping the future of our country and, in particular, how we govern ourselves for decades to come.

  • What impact have presidential appointments to the Court had on major Court decisions?
  • What potential appointments are looming in the 45th president’s first term, and what impact can those appointments have on major cases before the Court?
  • How has the balance of power among the three branches of government changed throughout the Court’s history?

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: The Supreme Court and Religious Communities: Holding America Accountable? 

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that “The conscience of the country must be both the Supreme Court and the Religious Communities.”  How are these, as well as other civil entities, informing the moral compass of the nation today?  In this week we will seek to discern how our social conscience is faring.

 

 

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Week Six :: July 29 – August 5

Comedy and the Human Condition:

In Partnership with the National Comedy Center

We partner with the National Comedy Center — the first cultural institution and national-scale visitor experience dedicated to the art of comedy, under construction now in nearby Jamestown, New York — for a week that engages both the mind and the funny bone.

  • We’ll explore the politics of comedy and political satire — comedy often serves as our greatest mirror, a unique conduit of truth.
  • We venture into the writers’ room for insight into the craft of comedy for television and film.
  • We travel the globe to see if there is such a thing as “universally funny”
  • When has a joke gone too far? We consider issues of free speech and ask, “Is there such a thing as too offensive?”

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: The Spiritual Power of Humor

Many religions tell stories in which ‘the gods laughed.’  In the Hebrew Scriptures Abraham and Sarah named their only son Isaac – meaning ‘she or he laughs,’ because of Sarah’s improbable advanced age to be giving birth – and Buddhism often depicts the Buddha laughing.  In this week we will look at the power of humor to create in-sight and healing of the spirit.

 

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Week Seven :: August 5 – August 12

The Nature of Fear

Now more than ever, fear dominates us in ways we may not even be aware of — in politics, in advertising, in media. In this week, we grapple with recognizing fear and what it does to us.

  • What is the history of fear as a political tool and how effectively has it been used to shape our politics?
  • We examine fear’s effect on the brain and how fear has been shaped by evolution.
  • How and why does fear work in persuading, motivating and manipulating us?
  • We look at what it means to seek out that which scares us, from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and ghost stories to rollercoasters and haunted houses.

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Spirituality in an Age of Anxiety 

Theologians have begun calling the time in which we are living ‘The Age of Anxiety,’ and describing an immersion in an ocean of fear and insecurity. In this week we will strive to identify the presenting causes of anxiety in our times, and in previous times, and to discern what secularists, religions, and spiritual modalities can offer as antidotes.

 

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Week Eight :: August 12 – August 19

Media and the News: Ethics in the Digital Age

Program Sponsor:
GrantThornton logo web
The creative disruption of traditional media is bringing about a crisis in local journalism and changing the role of journalists in a changing America. In this age of information overload, who and what do we trust and how do we become smarter news consumers?

  • How is data journalism bridging tradition and innovation to provide a deeper understanding of our world?
  • Do emerging business models aimed at “saving” news organizations threaten journalistic independence?
  • In the age of podcasting, where do we draw the line between information and entertainment? What are the challenges of a reporter becoming part of the story?

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Media, News, and Ethics in the Digital Age

The world community now experiences a 24/7 barrage of news and information that penetrates all aspects of the world’s culture – indeed, that not only shapes commerce, consumerism, and world affairs, but also permeates the private sphere.  What are the ethical obligations of information consumers?  Of the community?  What are the ethics of reporting and advocacy?  How does the citizen discern truth and make ethical choices in the face of Big Data and big distortions?  In this week we will ask how to stay afloat in the flood of information-overload. 

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Week Nine :: August 19 – August 27

At the Table: Our Changing Relationship with Food

The way we interact with our food is changing, from fast food to farm-to-table. Food is tied to our well-being, our sense of community. Joined by world-renowned chefs, leading food journalists, and other experts, we look at the value of food across the socioeconomic spectrum and learn what it is about our meals that bring us together. During this week, our celebration of food moves beyond the Amphitheater stage to several venues throughout the CHQ grounds, with cooking demonstrations, food fairs, master classes and much more.

 

Interfaith Lecture Theme :: Food and Faith

Eating is essential for life, but it is so much more.  All cultures have developed rituals around food and eating that shape the life patterns and rhythms of family and communal life, and religions also utilize food for spiritual nourishment in sacred meals, religious dictums for self-discipline, and for the formation of communal identity.  This week will be a rich and full exploration into the relationship between food and faith.

 

CHQ FoodFestival logo color web

Chautauqua Food Festival

From Aug. 20 to 25, Bestor Plaza will come alive with delicious food, craft beverages and entertainment during the Chautauqua Food Festival.

Learn more

 
 

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June 26 – July 18,  Strohl Art Center 

Opening of exhibition, 3-5 p.m., Sunday June 26
The Chautauqua Annual Exhibition is one of the oldest continuously running juried shows in the country.

Chautauqua’s Athenaeum Hotel and most private rentals are taking reservations for the 2018 season:

• Visit chq.org/accommodations

• Visit athenaeum-hotel.com or call 1-800-821-1881

 

Email me 2018 season news & announcements

 

Interfaith Engagement

Recognizing the moral imperative of fostering deeper, more meaningful dialogue among people of different faith traditions, Chautauqua launches a series of programs throughout 2018 that engage religious leaders and communities in public and private dialogue. We build upon Chautauqua’s historic convening power and 20-year Abrahamic Program, and its growing role as a lived interfaith community, with multi-year work that brings leaders and scholars into conversation — with one another and with the broader community — and challenges us all toward interfaith learning and understanding.

Week One :: June 23 – 30

The Life of the Written Word

Language is a living and dynamic thing, passed along through writing. Words and the act of writing can erase or reclaim history, identity. We write to communicate our truths, and we read to understand, to gain new perspectives, new knowledge and new empathy. For these reasons, the literary arts find themselves at the forefront of cultural, political, and artistic conversations in the U.S. and around the world. As the line between writer and reader is blurred, we recognize that human beings are storytellers as well as story readers. In this weeklong festival, Chautauqua builds upon its traditions as a literary community, and we hold up the power of language and pledge to be responsible stewards of that power.

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Week Two :: June 30 - July 7

American Identity

Who are we as Americans? Everyone has their own definition of the American identity, and most agree it’s being lost. A recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 71 percent of Americans feel the United States is losing its national identity — that is, the beliefs and values the country represents. During this week, we reach across the aisles of both politics and faith. We examine how we’ve defined American identity throughout our history and the stories we’ve told to shape that identity; the political, economic and social factors that shape our contemporary definitions; and what these different national identities — at times in conflict with one another — mean for our democracy and the prosperity of all Americans. We’ll consider whether a new foundation of American identity is necessary — or even possible.

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Week Three :: July 7–July 14

The Art of Play

Play is critically important in the social and emotional development of a child, but research also tells us that play shouldn’t end when we grow up. This week, we take a multigenerational approach to play, to the act of instructive fun. How does play help people of all ages build community, keep our minds sharp and strengthen the relationships with those we love? From the free-spirited, free-form play of youth to the intellectual challenge of puzzles and games to the creative problem-solving exhibited in board rooms, we examine the science behind the importance of play, the changing culture of play and gaming, and the innovative work aimed at improving our personal and professional lives through play.

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Week Four :: July 14 – July 21

Russia and the West

A quarter-century has passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union — and the promise of new relationship with the West — yet we find ourselves at what some consider the brink of a new Cold War. What has happened to damage relations between Russia and the West over 25 years, how have power dynamics changed in the age of digital and information warfare, and what must we understand about the recent history of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and its relationship with the West and the world? Building upon the work of the Chautauqua Conferences on U.S.-Soviet Relations of the 1980s and 1990s, we reaffirm our need for a deeper cultural understanding of Russia, its history and its people.

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Week Five :: July 21 – July 28

The Ethics of Dissent

If dissent is the “highest form of patriotism,” at what point does dissent become harmful subversion? How does the First Amendment color the American debate on this subject, and what about other countries where these protections are nonexistent or less explicit? Is violence ever justified, and, if so, at what cost? In this week, we’ll examine the obligations of active citizens and cultural critics, look at the role dissent has played in the development of democracy and a muscular civic dialogue, and consider how dissent has changed — in the forms it takes, how it is responded to, and the rules by which society allows or prohibits it.

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Week Six :: July 28 – August 4

The Changing Nature of Work

The state of work in America exists in contradictions. Wealth creation is up, but the per-capita GDP is stagnating. Working-class wages have been flat for decades, but the “gig economy” is booming. This week we study the nature of work in this country, examining the future of automation, the changing role of labor unions, the identity politics of the working classes, and the disappearing line in work-life balance. We look across generations and social classes, seeking to find who we are in a culture that ties identity to the jobs we hold, and reclaiming and honoring the dignity of work.

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Week Seven :: August 4 – August 11

The Arts and Global Understanding: A Week Featuring the Silkroad Ensemble, Culminating with the Silkroad Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma

Art can create a culture; it can cross borders; it can sing of possibility. In this week of performances, lectures and workshops led and influenced by the work of The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, we focus on the role of art — particularly music — in a culture, with an eye toward cross-cultural collaboration and global understanding. We explore and celebrate cultures different than our own; we examine critically the path of good intentions leading from cultural tourism to cultural appropriation; and we look for ways that earnest understanding and a shared loved of our art and each other can perhaps change the world. The Silk Road Ensemble opens the week’s lecture platform exploring the notions of home through distinct traditions and personal stories, and continues its Chautauqua residency with master classes and performances. The week culminates with a morning presentation and evening performance by renowned cellist and Silk Road Ensemble founder/artistic director Yo-Yo Ma.

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Week Eight :: August 11 – August 18

The Forgotten: History and Memory in the 21st Century

It is said that those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it. So we look to that history, and to the communities, movements and ideas existing at the fringes in our world today. What do we forget, at our own peril? How can we be stewards of remembering, and what must we remember? We are responsible for the histories of our societies, our families, and of our own individual selves. How can we preserve, honor, and ultimately learn from what was and what is? This meeting of the past and present hinges upon what — and who — we must remember.

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Week Nine :: August 18 – August 26

Documentary Film as Facilitator: Storytelling, Influence and Civil Discourse
A Chautauqua Film and Food Festival

With crowdsourcing, social media campaigns and new distribution channels, films aimed at effecting social and cultural change have found audiences unlike any time in the history of the art form. But how do we measure the impact of such feature and documentary films — from changing minds to changing policy? To close the 2018 season, filmmakers and film lovers gather for a weeklong festival featuring screenings and conversations in venues throughout the grounds, all alongside the Institution’s renowned lecture and arts programs. We consider the filmmaker’s role and intentions as artist, storyteller, journalist, advocate and activist; the business decisions that influence the distribution and marketing campaigns behind such films; and the effectiveness of films to create empathy — and prompt action — in its audiences.

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