Kluge Center Celebrates ScholarFest

Event to Feature 32 “Lightning Conversations” – 70 top scholars, Three Past Kluge Prize Winners to Take Stage

Seventy top scholars in foreign policy, history, ethics, religion and other fields within the humanities and social sciences will convene on Capitol Hill over a two-day period to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress with the premiere ScholarFest, a unique mixture of rapid-fire dialogues, panels and scholarly conversations on a series of thought-provoking topics.

Participants include three previous recipients of the John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, in dialogue together for the first time: sociologist Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the 34th president of Brazil and 2013 prize recipient; historian and 2008 prize recipient Romila Thapar; and historian and 2006 prize recipient Yu Ying-shih. They will join more than 70 top scholars—all former chairs and fellows at the Kluge Center—including astrobiologist David Grinspoon, sociologist William Julius Wilson and Senior Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit John T. Noonan, Jr. during this one-of-a-kind event.

ScholarFest kicks off Wednesday, June 10 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with a private gala reception and dinner conversation among previous Kluge Prize winners Cardoso, Thapar and Ying-shih in the historic Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. The event continues Thursday, June 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with programs in various locations throughout the Thomas Jefferson Building. All Thursday events are free and open to the public, but all attendees must RSVP to specialevents@loc.gov or (202) 707-5218.

At the heart of ScholarFest are more than 30 “lightning conversations,” a format that features senior scholars in discussion with younger scholars about large, universal ideas in quick-hitting, 10-minute intervals. Themes include future definitions of life, the ways we write history, concepts of ethics and morality and notions of world order. The 10-minute dialogues offer different perspectives and intergenerational voices on provocative topics. Each of the 90-minute sessions throughout the morning will feature six or seven 10-minute conversations, followed by 20 minutes of dialogue with audience members. The format embodies a core ethos of the Kluge Center, to foster cross-disciplinary scholarship across multiple generations.

The afternoon features a panel of distinguished scholars on “Freedom of Thought and Why It Matters”.

A complete schedule with all participants and room information is available on the Kluge Center website. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @klugectr and @librarycongress using hashtag #ScholarFest.

June 10

Private event; open to press coverage. Media must RSVP to Donna Urschel at (202) 707-1639.

6 p.m. Reception and Discussion
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Sociologist, 34th President of Brazil
Romila Thapar, Indian Historian
Yu Ying-shih, Chinese Historian

June 11

Free and open to the public

9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Lightning Conversations
Session 1: “Life: Future – Definitions of Life in the 21st Century and Beyond”
Session 2: “Life: Past – How We Write About Those Who Came Before Us”
Session 3: “Life: Present – Personal and Cultural Identity in a Multi-Cultural World”

11 a.m. – 12: 30 p.m. – Lightning Conversations
Session 4: “War/Peace: Perspectives on the Concept of World Order from Former Kissinger Chairs”
Session 5: “Right/Wrong: Perspectives on the Notions of Morality”

12:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 p.m. Video Recording Booth; Kluge Center Open House

2:30 p.m. Reflections: Looking Back and Looking Forward
Remarks by Prosser Gifford and Carolyn Brown, past directors of the Kluge Center

2:45 p.m. Closing Panel
“Freedom of Thought and Why It Matters”

In the 15 years since its establishment, the John W. Kluge Center has hosted more than 600 scholars in an array of disciplines, established competitive chair positions in areas from foreign policy to astrobiology, and created a community of scholarship on Capitol Hill for members of the policymaking community and the general public. The center hosts talks throughout the year by residential scholars who come to the Library from across the country and around the world to use the Library’s unparalleled collections.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site, in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and through its website at www.loc.gov.

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