10:45 a.m. Monday–Friday, Amphitheater

Ideas and opinions are exchanged in an open, challenging atmosphere, and Chautauqua's knowledgeable audiences have the opportunity to participate in question-and-answer sessions at the conclusion of the lectures.

Week One :: June 27–July 4

Climate Change: Prioritizing Our Global and Local Response

How we talk about climate change is rapidly shifting. But amid the ongoing political debates, how are we — and should we be — responding?

  • What does prioritizing a response to climate change mean, and how do we collectively determine the overall benefits and costs of such investments?
  • How do we balance proactive work aimed at reversing climate change with strategies for adapting to the realities of its worst effects?
  • We examine case studies of solutions being sought at a global and local scale, from the work of small U.S. towns to foreign countries, and from corporate investments to military strategies.

More information on Week One 

Week Two :: July 4–11

Forces Unseen: What Shapes Our Daily Lives

We like to think we have ultimate freedom of choice. Yet every product or experience we can possibly consider has been carefully selected for us by a mostly invisible class of societal gatekeepers and tastemakers. Our choices are not only limited, but also affected by everything from explicit advertisements and an industry of “influencers” to secretive campaigns and algorithms.

  • Who are these shapers of modern life? How do they decide what trends to push?
  • Who are they accountable to, and how can we as individuals recognize and contend with them?

More information on Week Two

Week Three :: July 11–18

Art and Democracy

Artist, advocate, activist, citizen. What is the role of art — and the artist — in an active democracy? In this week, we hear from artists raising the social consciousness, challenging the status quo and engaging communities large and small toward meaningful action.

  • We consider how art and artmaking serves as a catalyst for dissent and change and has the unique ability to bring community together to heal following trauma.
  • How are the arts uniquely positioned to move the conversation forward, when other attempts at dialogue fail?

More information on Week Three

Week Four :: July 18–25

The Ethics of Tech: Scientific, Corporate and Personal Responsibility

Big Tech companies have begun to acknowledge their tremendous and sometimes harmful impact on society — particularly with regard to marginalized communities and civil liberties, and usually only following public calls for ethics reform and oversight.

  • Is it enough for these giants to self-police, or is an industry-wide code of ethics or government regulation necessary to protect a future dominated by artificial intelligence, datafication and facial recognition?
  • Does such oversight stifle innovation? How is the rest of the world responding?
  • And, while it’s easy to see ourselves as victims, how do we take personal responsibility as consumers and users?

More information on Week Four

Week Five :: July 25–August 1

The Women’s Vote Centennial and Beyond

As we join the nation in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, we also consider those who were left out of the mainstream suffrage movement, examine the slow progress toward gender equality in the United States, and look to the movement’s relevance to the ongoing battle over voting rights.

  • Despite women having the vote for nearly a century, and a surge in the 2018 election, why are so few women represented in government positions and on the ballot today?
  • How does gender bias continue to be used against candidates, not only by political opponents, but by voters?
  • Why has the Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972, fallen short of ratification?

More information on Week Five

Week Six :: August 1–8

Week Six Theme :: Rebuilding Public Education

In this week we take a comprehensive view of the cradle-to-college pipeline and look beyond the 2020 election to ask how we build more integrated and equitable public schools and best prepare our children for careers and as citizens in a rapidly changing world.

  • With a growing shortage of credentialed teachers, how do we recruit and keep the next generation of educators?
  • How do we navigate what has become one of the most contentious debates in education today and evaluate the impact of charter schools and vouchers in American communities?
  • What does the recent college admissions cheating scandal tell us about how parents, students and society-at-large view the purpose of secondary education?

More information on Week Six

Week Seven :: August 8–15

The Science of Us

In the midst of robust debates about tribalism, isolation and bridging differences, this wide-ranging week explores how 21st-century science is disrupting our social and historical understandings of how “us” happens and who “we” are — as communities, demographies, families, nations and a human race.

  • We look at America’s long narrative of folklore and our “melting pot” narrative. • We explore our obsession with — along with the limitations and repercussions of — genealogical/ancestry services.
  • What are the emerging scientific understandings of heritage and ethnicity?
  • How is science is informing community development and our socioeconomic models going forward?

More information on Week Seven

Week Eight :: August 15–22

Reframing the Constitution

Two-hundred and thirty years after its ratification, the U.S. Constitution remains one of the most difficult to amend of any in the world. During this week we ask if the Constitution is securing the “blessings of liberty” for all Americans and whether constitutional reform — from amendment to outright replacement — is necessary and even possible.

  • We look at constitutional politics to understand the “unamendability” of the U.S. Constitution, consider resistance to a constitutional convention from both the political left and right, and determine what we can learn from younger democracies around the world.

More information on Week Eight

Week Nine :: August 22–30

The Future We Want, The World We Need: Collective Action for Tomorrow’s Challenges

A Week in Partnership with the U.N. Foundation

What will the world look like over the coming decades, and how can we work together to better prepare for the future? From climate change to new technologies, the world faces countless interrelated and fast-moving drivers of economic, political and social change.

  • Where are the most important opportunities to realize a more equitable and sustainable world? What are our biggest collective challenges?
  • During the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we examine what we can learn from international communities and partnerships driving innovative solutions to global issues and identify tools that communities can use to learn from one another and drive collective action.

More information on Week Nine