2022 Season: June 25–August 28

Eric Klinenberg giving a lecture in the Amphitheater

Week One: June 25–July 2

What Should be America’s Role in the World?

In the summer of 2022, more than a year into President Joe Biden’s administration, we offer a “check-in” on the state of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy, while looking historically to America’s role in the world. What is the current state of international relations, and what role is the United States playing on the global stage? How can our position be strengthened, and how in this century have our allies’ and enemies’ views of us changed? Exceptionalism, isolation, cooperation — what is the best path forward for our nation and our world?

Week Two: July 2–9

The Wild: Reconnecting with Our Natural World

Since the middle of the 20th century, study after study suggests that humans have become more and more disconnected from the nature surrounding us. What are the human costs of our increasing alienation from nature, both for the individual and society? In this week we examine how this disconnect has come about, from urbanization and sprawl to our work and school lives, to the rise of digital communications. Are we in greater need of nature than ever before? What are the physical and mental health benefits we find through reconnection? We’ll consider various movements in art, architecture, education, faith and urban planning that aim to reconnect us to our natural world.

Children catching minnows in the creek
Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Declaration of Human Rights

Week Three: July 9–16

The Future of Human Rights

Human rights have long been held as foundational, moral principles protected by national and international law. In this week, Chautauqua looks to the future of human rights both abroad and at home. Great strides have been made across the globe in the more than 70 years since the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights; indeed, human rights have become central to the conversation regarding peace, security and development, and more explicit protections in international law now protect women, children, victims of torture and many other populations. There is much to be celebrated, and still much to be accomplished. What work must still be done in this critical global field, central to our ethics and morality as a human species? What newly recognized rights will shape this work going forward?

Week Four: July 16–23

The Future of History

We live our lives swimming in a vast sea of information; what will wash up on the future’s shores and be deemed our history? When data is stored in the cloud rather than compiled in physical files, when we send emails and tweets rather than letters, how do the records of today become primary sources tomorrow? There are more ways to record history than ever before, but how can those records live in a useful way for the historians of the future — or, with everyone having the technology, and thus the capability, to be their own historian, their own librarian, will a need to study history as a formal vocation even exist? Beyond the logistics of such questions, broader issues are at play: Who are the gatekeepers of our stories, and who do we trust to be stewards of our lives and memories?

Digital technology concept
People waiting in line to vote

Week Five: July 23–30

The Vote and Democracy

In the first months of 2021, hundreds of bills have been introduced in state legislatures aimed at restricting, expanding and protecting voting access for millions of Americans. Following the 2020 election, what is the state of the American franchise? Is our system truly one person, one vote, and how can we ensure that every eligible voter has access to the polls, and that the vote is trustworthy and secure — particularly from the threat of foreign intervention? We’ll also examine what distinguishes America’s elections, especially the state-by-state approach to navigating and employing systems of voting, and carrying out mandatory redistricting following the 2020 census.

Week Six: July 30–August 6

After Dark: The World of Nighttime

What happens to us and our world after the sun goes down each day? From our homes and cities to flora and fauna, each night brings with it a markedly different landscape than the daylit one that preceded it. Nighttime is full of contradictions: It provides cover for all manner of illicit activity but also for safely creating community; it is the domain of both heroes and villains in our favorite cultural touchstones; it is a period many of us spend largely unconscious yet during which our brains are ablaze with creative energy; it engenders paralyzing fear and also incredible beauty. It’s a critical period every day for our economies, including for nightshift workers, and provides essential protection and opportunities for many in the animal kingdom. In the summer of 2022, we look to understand the mysteries of nighttime and, through a variety of other programs on the grounds this week, celebrate the possibilities of Chautauqua after dark. 

Campers looking up at the night sky by their campfire
Homeless man holding sign that says "I need a home"

Week Seven: August 6–13

More than Shelter: Redefining the American Home

What is the 21st-century American home? Home ownership has long been considered part and parcel of the American Dream, but trends are rapidly shifting: More and more homes are multi-generational, rentals are up and home ownership is down, and gentrification persists while the nation’s unhoused population is increasing. We are also redefining the idea of “home” — it can be a house, an apartment, a tiny home, a trailer, an RV — and this redefinition in many ways is driven by forces both in and out of our control. How can urban planning, banking practices, and local policies move the needle in creating a sustainable market in which everyone is able to have a home of one’s own and of one’s choosing?

Week Eight: August 13–20

New Profiles in Courage

It’s been more than 60 years since then-Senator John F. Kennedy published Profiles in Courage, a collection of short biographies detailing acts of bravery and integrity. The book went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™ is still awarded every year. Now, two decades into the 21st century, who are these people creating new profiles in courage, the leaders demonstrating bravery and integrity in ways that Kennedy could not perhaps have imagined? Over the course of the week, we lift up these people and their work, with the hope that their stories will inspire all of us to be our best selves.

Mountain Climber at sunrise
The Avett Brothers performing in the Amphitheater in 2018

Week Nine: August 20–28

An American Tapestry: Exploring Culture, Folk and Faith with Smithsonian Folklife and The Avett Brothers

There is no one story, no single author of our identity or single tradition that defines us. A great blending of cultures and peoples has made and shaped America, like a tapestry with its many hues, textures and layers woven together. In this week, we welcome a diverse line-up of multi-disciplinary folk artists, including The Avett Brothers for morning and evening Amphitheater programs, and Smithsonian Folklife to help guide our work in the Interfaith Lecture Series. Together, we’ll trace the threads of the American tapestry in search of the origins, evolution and impact of our country’s music and culture.

Featuring the fifth annual Food Festival