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Interfaith Engagement

Recognizing the moral imperative of fostering deeper, more meaningful dialogue among people of different faith traditions, Chautauqua continues programs throughout 2019 that engage religious leaders and communities in public and private dialogue. We continue to build upon Chautauqua’s historic convening power and 20-year Abrahamic Program, and its growing role as a lived interfaith community, with perennial 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 22–28

Moments that Changed the World

How did we get to now? The answers may surprise you. In this week, Chautauqua asks five historians to each choose a little-known moment when the ground shifted beneath humanity’s feet, and examine how those moments impacted the world of today.

  • We look at unsung heroes — and villains — as well as unsung moments that altered the course of history.
  • History often offers surprises, revealing how and why certain stories are obscured, erased or lesser-known.
  • How can those surprises be instructive? How can our newfound knowledge of these moments be useful in our time?

More information on Week One 

Week Two :: June 29–July 5

Uncommon Ground: Communities Working Toward Solutions

In an age of divisive posturing at the national level, are communities uniquely positioned to come together on the toughest issues, to find a way forward for the common good? We recognize the role of communities in effecting real change, and present a solutions-focused week of power and promise.

  • Each day, we highlight case studies of communities at work, finding sustainable solutions to society’s most pressing problems.
  • What conditions must exist for community stakeholders to engage one another, and who needs to be at the table? What’s possible when there isn’t a shared sense of community? Do differences need to be bridged in order for solutions to be found and sustained?

More information on Week Two

Week Three :: July 6–12

A Planet in Balance: A Week in Partnership with National Geographic Society

In response to a rapidly changing planet, National Geographic is leveraging its legacy of exploration, innovation and vibrant storytelling to further solutions. From funding cutting-edge technologies to leading advancements in science communication, we’ll uncover how National Geographic is using 21st-century tools to shape the future of exploration and to address the greatest challenge our world has ever faced.

  • The week opens with a look at the status of the planet, and how the most advanced conservation technology is being deployed to show how nature and culture are changing in real time.
  • We study how exploration and the communication of science work in tandem to protect the environment so that all species have a shot at survival.
  • Next, we travel to Earth’s last wild places to learn about the efforts to protect and restore those habitats before it’s too late.
  • We examine life in the planet’s extreme environments, and seek clues offered there for surviving the impact of the changes we are facing.
  • Finally, we explore our own choices and discover how we can reduce our human footprint.

More information on Week Three

Week Four :: July 13–19

The Longevity Opportunity: How Longer Lives Are Changing the World

Do we really want to live forever? While being “forever young” may still be the stuff of dreams, longer lifespans are a reality of modern life. Living to 110 years old — at least — means new challenges for both individuals and society; how we meet those challenges will have lasting ramifications.

  • What issues do longer lifespans present? We examine the political, the financial, the biological, the emotional.
  • Where the scientific meets the ethical, we ask: We can live longer, but should we? Will longer lives exacerbate existing inequities?
  • This isn’t a question for future generations — this is a question for us, right now. How are you going to adapt in this changing reality?

More information on Week Four

Week Five :: July 20–26

The Life of the Spoken Word

As consumers, creators and critics, we are experiencing a renaissance of the spoken word. We join together the history and modernity of compelling oratory to explore broader themes of social and intergenerational connectedness and the ways that our speech, our stories, bring us together.

  • The week begins with “This American Life” host and storyteller extraordinaire Ira Glass, in a Saturday evening Amphitheater special.
  • From political rhetoric and civil discourse, to the arts of theater and poetry, to podcasts and stories told around the campfire, what is the power of the spoken word?
  • Throughout the week, as we look to the future of the spoken word, we present ways to use technology to preserve our past, our history, our stories.

More information on Week Five

Week Six :: July 27–August 2

What’s Funny?

In Partnership with the National Comedy Center

Come learn and laugh with us as Chautauqua Institution again partners with the National Comedy Center for a week exploring how comedy changes us and, in turn, society.

  • Comedy can do more than hold up a mirror to our world; it can, in fact, change it. We look at the potential of comedy — particularly political comedy — to change minds and influence decision-making.
  • Among the topics to explore are: What does your sense of humor reveal about you? How can we be challenged by things we don’t find funny?
  • We look at the challenging intersection of free speech, political correctness, and humor, and what we can learn from that uncomfortable space.

More information on Week Six

Week Seven :: August 3–9

Grace: A Celebration of Extraordinary Gifts

Be it emotional, physical or spiritual, grace takes many forms. It exists in the way we treat one another, the way in which we move through the world, and the way in which we use our gifts, our grace, to lift up others.

  • Grace, as defined by religious terms, is the means by which we receive an unearned gift, one we’re not worthy of. Beyond religion, what does grace look like in the secular world?
  • When is grace difficult? In talking across differences? In compromise? In the face of adversity? We look at the moments in which grace is most needed.
  • How can we go out into the world, actively moving with more grace throughout our own lives?

More information on Week Seven

Week Eight :: August 10–16

Shifting Global Power

Power is shifting on the international stage. It always has been. In this week we focus on the geopolitical hot-spots of the moment, examining the new holders, and even the new definitions, of global power.

  • Each day, we explore one topic or definition of power, and identify the major players in that arena.
  • How is power even defined, beyond money and military might? Is it natural resources, technology, education, diplomacy and aid, culture?
  • As power shifts, so too do identities and values. Are there ways power ought to shift?

More information on Week Eight

Week Nine :: August 17–25

Exploring Race and Culture in America with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center

Description in progress.

Week Nine also features the third annual Chautauqua Food Festival on Bestor Plaza

More information on Week Nine