News & Announcements

Nicholas Thompson, Rana El Kaliouby, Michael Sandel, Rabbi David Wolpe Headline Week Four of the 2020 CHQ Assembly

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week Four of its 2020 season. The week, which begins July 18 and concludes July 25, features presentations released on the new digital collective called CHQ Assembly. Week Four includes renowned guests such as Wired Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson; computer scientist and entrepreneur Rana el Kaliouby; Harvard political philosopher and bestselling author Michael Sandel; and one of America’s most influential rabbis, David Wolpe.

Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season features weekday lectures focusing on weekly cultural themes. Week Four examines “The Ethics of Tech: Scientific, Corporate and Personal Responsibility,” in which speakers in the 10:45 a.m. EDT Chautauqua Lecture Series program explore the tremendous and sometimes harmful impact Big Tech companies and their products have on society. The 2 p.m. EDT Interfaith Lecture Series is themed “Ethics in a Technologically Transforming World?” which will examine the ethical, spiritual and religious dimensions of “new tech.” Is it a step away from our own spiritual growth or can it be harnessed to create greater understanding?

Rabbi David Wolpe will serve as guest chaplain for the week, only the second rabbi chaplain in Chatuauqua’s history. He will participate in services at 10:45 a.m. EDT Sunday and at 9:15 a.m. EDT weekday. Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple, and has previously taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College and UCLA.

Further details on all programs, including where to access them within the suite of CHQ Assembly platforms, are available at



Chautauqua Lecture Series: Nicholas Thompson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, details the story of how science and tech will change our lives and why it’s one of the most important stories in the world. Thompson is often the first person to know — and investigate — both the technological and ethical developments as they unfold in Silicon Valley.

Interfaith Lecture SeriesGerard Magill explores a faith-based reaction to a world transitioning to technology first. Since 2007, Magill has held the Vernon F. Gallagher Chair for the Integration of Science, Theology, Philosophy, and Law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he is a tenured professor in the Center for Healthcare Ethics.



Chautauqua Lecture Series: Rana el Kaliouby is a computer scientist, technologist, entrepreneur and business leader who will share her mission to humanize technology with artificial intelligence that understands not just our commands, but our facial expressions, body language and emotional states.

Interfaith Lecture Series: Jason Thacker, chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives a presentation based on his work, at the cross-section of human dignity, ethics, technology, and artificial intelligence.



Chautauqua Lecture Series: David DanksJennifer Keating and Illah Nourbakhsh will join in a panel discussion centered around Week Four’s theme of “The Ethics of Tech.” Danks and Nourbakhsh serve as professors at Carnegie Mellon University and Keating is a senior lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Interfaith Lecture Series: In a special presentation on the day the Avett Brothers would have graced the Amphitheater stage for the second time, the band’s bassist, Bob Crawford, joins Gene Robinson, Chautauqua vice president of religion and senior pastor, for a special conversation about faith, art, religion and theology. The program will be recorded for Crawford’s podcast with history professor Ben Sawyer, The Road to Now.



Chautauqua Lecture Series: Deborah G. Johnson examines new technologies that challenge both cybersecurity and the integrity of elections, and how we as citizens can ethically and responsibly navigate a digital world of disinformation, deepfakes and general foreign interference. Johnson recently retired as the Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics in the University of Virginia’s Department of Engineering and Society.

Interfaith Lecture SeriesNoreen Herzfeld explores humanity’s relationship with technology, and asks how autonomous we should allow technology to be. Herzfeld is the Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professor of Science and Religion at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, and is a frequent speaker on the prospects for AI, ethical issues in technology, and Islam.



Chautauqua Lecture Series: Michael J. Sandel, Harvard political philosopher and bestselling author, returns to the Chautauqua to close the inquiry into “The Ethics of Tech” with a Socratic discussion on what audiences have learned throughout the week, drawing on his Harvard course “Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature.”

Interfaith Fridays: Chautauqua continues its Interfaith Fridays series, this week featuring Lisa Sharon Harper, representing progressive Christianity. Harper is the founder and president of Freedom Road, a groundbreaking consulting group that crafts experiences that bring common understanding and common commitments that lead to common action toward a more just world. 



Aside from daily lectures, Week Four features a variety of artistic offerings across the CHQ Assembly platforms.

4 p.m. EDT Monday, July 20 • Chautauqua Chamber Music: Chautauqua partners with the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization to feature two artists who are siblings and former winners of the Sphinx Competition. Violinist Alexandra Switala has performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras in the United States, and Robert Switala is principal viola of the SPHINX Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and faculty at the Des Plaines School of Music. Sphinx is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.

5 p.m. EDT Monday, July 20 • Cocktails, Concerts and ConversationsChautauqua Opera Company with Steven Osgood and guest host Alan Held provide a musical performance followed by conversation. Featured Young Artists include Zachary Barba and James Eder.

5 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 21 • Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations: Silas Farley, former New York City Ballet dancer and 2007 Chautauqua School of Dance alum, joins Chautauqua Dance Artistic Advisor Sasha Janes for an evening of conversation about family, training, and success as a rising star both on and off stage. 

8:15 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 21 • Into the Music with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra:  Hosted by Sphinx Organization President and Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin, this conversation will begin with the 2021 Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellows and the principal bassist for both the Chautauqua and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, Owen Lee. Afa will interview the panel of musicians with the goal of hearing their perspectives and giving them the opportunity to voice ideas on how Chautauqua can experience and drive change in terms of IDEA.

4 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 22 • Afternoon Recital: Chautauqua Piano Program presents An Afternoon Piano Recital with celebrated pianist Alvin Zhu.

8:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 22 • Chautauqua Theater Company New Play Workshop No. 2: CTC is thrilled to welcome award-winning playwright and performer Heather Raffo, whose sweeping new drama, Tomorrow Will Be Sunday (working title), explores migration and the global economy on an epic scale. Developed through a McKnight Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, the smart and suspenseful thriller follows people on the move from around the world, and the invisible strings that tie us together. Directed by Jenny Koons and followed by live Q-and-A. 

10 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 23 • Weekly Virtual Gallery Tour: Judy Barie, the Susan and John Turben Director of Chautauqua Visual Arts Galleries, takes viewers on a tour of 2020 exhibitions, which can be experienced online at CHQ Visual Arts:



6:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 14: Miguel Luciano, a multimedia visual artist, will present the season’s second Chautauqua Visual Arts Lecture. Luciano’s work explores themes of history, popular culture, social justice and migration, through sculpture, painting and socially engaged public art projects.

3:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 15: Carnegie Mellon Professor David Danks builds upon the Chautauqua Lecture Series presentation on Wednesday morning with a separate lecture for the African American Heritage House at Chautauqua.

3:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 16: Author and journalist Tim Maughan presents his debut book, Infinite Detail, for the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, discussing his work using both fiction and nonfiction to explore issues around cities, class, culture, technology and the future.

3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, July  17Rick Swegan, a longtime Chautauquan with family ties to the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, will present on the beginnings of the woman's suffrage movement as part of the Heritage Lecture Series sponsored by the Chautauqua Institution Archives.



Chautauqua’s Mystic Heart Meditation Program offers community members daily meditation sessions at 8 a.m. EDT and 1 p.m. EDT throughout the week.

Chautauqua community members will have further opportunities for entertainment and engagement through the Virtual Porch,, including events such as Brown Bag lectures and webinars with Institution leadership.



A complimentary gate pass is required to access the grounds during our 2020 season, whether for a day visit or an extended stay. Guests must order passes via phone (716-357-6250) or through our online ticketing portal. Visit The Main Gate Welcome Center is not open to the public. All residents and guests must follow New York state regulations regarding social distancing and wearing cloth facecoverings.



About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.