Past Themes and Speakers

2023 – The State of Democracy Abroad and at Home

Chair: Greg Dixon


Nicole Bibbins Sedaca is the Executive Vice President of Freedom House, a non-governmental organization that works to expand and defend freedom globally, where she oversees the organization’s strategy and programs.

Gabrielle Bardall, Ph.D is an educator, advisor and activist who has worked to advance democracy and human rights in over 60 countries over the past two decades.

John Carey is the John Wentworth Professor in the Social Sciences and the Associate Dean of Faculty for the Social Sciences at Dartmouth.

Vasu Mohan currently serves as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) senior global advisor for conflict, displacement and minority rights.

Dhanaraj Thakur is Research Director at the Center for Democracy & Technology, where he leads research that advances human rights and civil liberties online.

2022 – Systemic Racism and What We Can Do About It

Chair: Laura Espinosa


Robert Trent Vinson is Director & Chair of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American & African Studies at the University of Virginia and a Research Associate at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Maria Estrada has years of experience as a community leader and change maker, a strategic planner and implementer of JEDI initiatives, and an academic and trainer of trainers to advance equity work in education and the environment.

Al Race was Deputy Director and Chief Knowledge Officer at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University for 15 years, until his retirement in 2021.

Christina Rivers, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Political Science at DePaul University and has written about ballot access for pretrial detainees, felony disenfranchisement laws and prison-based gerrymanders.

Penn Loh is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Master of Public Policy Program and Community Practice at Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.

2021 – Women in Leadership: Why it Matters

Chair: Iyabo Obasanjo


Jeanne Dietsch is a former state senator and three-time tech entrepreneur who led startup MobileRobots Inc to become the world’s leading manufacturer of intelligence research robots.

Linda Leehman  has focused 20 years of political energy on videotaping, producing and airing a weekly cable access program called “Down By The Riverside”.

Gretchen Donehower is a demographer at UC Berkeley researching the role of age and gender in shaping how people produce, consume, share, and save resources.

2019 – Human Migration: Law, Policy and Human Rights

Chair: Dan Hotchkiss


Pardis Mahdavi has recently become director of the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University after many years at the University of Denver.

Maddalena Marinari is an Associate Professor in History, Peace Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Daniel Kanstroom is Professor of Law and Thomas F. Carney Distinguished Scholar at Boston College Law School.

Julie Dahlstrom is Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law.

Mónica Ortiz Uribe is a freelance multimedia reporter specializing in issues on the U.S./Mexico border.

2018 – America’s Place in the World: Power, Influence, and World Order

Chair: Lucia Green-Weiskel


  • Barry Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT and the director of MIT’s Security Studies Program.
  • Charles Maynes is an independent radio producer based in Moscow.
  • Patrick Lawrence is a longtime columnist, essayist, critic, and lecturer.
  • Jendayi E. Frazer is a visiting professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a former US Ambassador to South Africa, and the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2005-09.
  • Syaru Shirley Lin teaches political economy at the University of Virginia and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

2017 – The World’s Oceans: Protecting an International Resource

Chair: Brian Williams


2016 – Education

Chair: Becky Miller


  • Andy Calkins, Deputy Director, Next Generation Learning Challenges at Educause
  • Elizabeth Suneby, Author – books for children and teens
  • Sameer Honwad, Assistant Professor of Education, University of New Hampshire
  • EK Cho, Associate Professor of Education, University of New Hampshire

2015 – Climate Change

Chair: Beth Miller


  • Stephen P. Hamburg, chief scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund
  • Kate Sheppard, senior reporter, environment and energy editor, Huffington Post
  • Keya Chatterjee, executive director, Society of Environmental Journalists
  • Dale Jamieson, professor of environmental studies and philosophy, New York University

2014 – Pakistan: Challenges and Opportunities

Chair: Ted Trainer


  • Marvin G. Weinbaum, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Fawzia Afzal-Khan, professor of English at Montclair State University
  • Khan Hussan Zia, writer and former Pakastani Naval Officer

2013 – Europe and the Eurozone

Chair: Lisa Braiterman


  • Heather Conley, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Dr. Vello Pettai, professor of comparative politics at the University of Tartu in Estonia
  • Dr. Catherine L. Mann, International Business School at Brandeis
  • Dr. Thomas Wright, fellow in the Managing Global Order project, Brookings Institution

2012 – Arab Spring and Beyond

Chair: Maria Getoff


  • Hisham Melhem, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya Television
  • Jillian Schwedler, associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • Michele Dunne, director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council
  • Jon B. Alterman, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and Director, Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

2011 – Water: A Human Right and Resource

Chair: Nick Dempsey


  • R. Allyn Clarke, Bedford Institute of Oceanography
  • Dr. Christopher L. Kukk, Western Connecticut State University
  • Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, Pacific Institute
  • Dr. Shimon C. Anisfeld,Yale University
  • Patricia Jones, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

2010 – Empowering Women and Children for Global Health

Chair: Suellen Peluso


  • Jennifer Prah Ruger, core investigator for the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS
  • Susan M. Davis, president & CEO of BRAC USA
  • Scott Hansen, American Institute in Taiwan’s Economic Section
  • Lisa Adams, assistant professor in the department of medicine, Section of Infectious Disease and International Health, Dartmouth Medical School, and Director of the Global Health Initiative (GHI).
  • Richard Waddell, assistant professor of medicine in the Section of Infectious Disease and International Health at Dartmouth
  • Ann Cotton, founder of the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED)

2009 – Global Justice

Chair: David Cummiskey


  • Joel H. Rosenthal, president, Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs
  • Janice Bially Mattern, associate professor international relations, Lehigh University
  • Linda Bishai, senior program officer, Education and Training Center/International, United States Institute for Peace
  • Dr. Lee R. Schwartz, director of the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, US Department of State
  • Allen Springer, professor of government, Bowdoin College

2008 – Religion and International Politics, Now and into the Future

Chair: Rosemarie Smurzynski


  • Stanley R. Sloan, author, educator, visiting scholar at Rohatyn Center for International Studies, Middlebury College
  • Jayakiran Sebastian, director of Multicultural Mission Center, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
  • Emmanual Twesigye, professor of Christian studies, Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Emran Quereshi, author, educator, Wertheim Fellow at Harvard University
  • Paul Beran, director for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University
  • Hilary Rantisi, director, Middle East Initiative, Kennedy School of Government

2007 – Island Opened Late – No IA Conference Held

2006 – Power Shifts: Regional Hotspots Confronting the U.S.

Chair: Josh Spero


  • Jeffery Taliaferro, associate professor of political science, Tufts University
  • Sean Kay, associate professor of politics and government, Ohio Weslyan University
  • Alan Stolberg, assistant professor of national security studies, U.S. Army War College
  • Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, Washington DC
  • Eric Budd, associate professor of political science, Fitchburg State College

2005 – Food Security: Global Challenge to People, Cultures and Nations

Chair: Lloyd Yanis


  • Ellen Messer, visiting professor of international affairs and anthropology, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
  • Sara Sievers, director for research, advocacy and policy, Association Francois Xavier Bagnoud
  • Mark McPeak, deputy director, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • Brian Tokar, author, educator, faculty at Vermont’s Institute for Social Ecology
  • Jim Slama, founder and president of Sustain and

2004 – The World’s Largest Democracy: India

Chair: Joann O’Hara


  • Harry G. Barnes, Jr., former United States ambassador to India
  • Anne E. Monius: professor of South Asian Religions, Harvard Divinity School
  • Kilaparti Ramakrishna, senior associate for international environmental law, Woods Hole Research Center
  • Katharine Sreedhar, director, UU Holdeen India Program
  • Dr. Prabhakar Tamboli, executive director, international training programs, University of Maryland

2003 – Islam: One-Fifth of the World’s People

Chair: Karen Mathiasen


  • Dr. Hibba Abugideiri, professor, George Washington University
  • Dr. Anthony F. Lang, program officer, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs
  • Dr. Azza Karam, director, Women’s Program at the World Conference on Religion and Peace
  • Heather Gregg, Ph.D. candidate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2002 – Contemporary China: Challenges of Global Engagement

Chair: Anne Howe


  • Brantly Womack, professor, University of Virginia
  • Yasheng Huang, associate professor, Harvard Business School
  • Dan Hai Mu Esquire and Dr. Rong Yi, Boston University
  • Xiaorong Li, research scholar, University of Maryland (presented by Helena Cobban)
  • Harry Harding, dean, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

2001 – The U.S. and the Challenges of International Leadership and Cooperation

Chair: Ross Fenster


  • Stewart Patrick, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
  • Michael Klare, Hampshire College
  • Aaron M. Knight, chief of staff, World Federalist Association
  • Joshua Spero, Dartmouth School of Government
  • Rose Gottemoeller, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2000 – International Ethics

Chair: Caren Yanis


  • Valora Washington, executive director, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • Joel Rosenthal, president, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs
  • Sherman Teichman, director, Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University
  • Lawrence Grossman: president, NBC News from 1984 to 1988 and of PBS from 1976 to 1984
  • Lori Knowles, professor, University of Wisconsin Schools of Law and Medicine

1999 – Reaching Beyond States: The Role of International NGOs

Chair: Helena Cobben


  • Ann Florini, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Heather Foote, UU Service Committee
  • Ricky Goldstein, Human Rights Watch
  • Xiaorong Li, University of Maryland
  • Susannah Sirkin, Physicians for Human Rights Campaign against Land Mines

1998 – People, States, and Globalization

Chair: Tom McNaugher


  • Stephen Blank, Pace University
  • Bridget Rosewell, Business Strategies Ltd. London
  • Ed Lincoln, Brookings Institue
  • Michael Berlin, Boston U. School of Journalism
  • Shibley Telhami, Univ of Maryland

1997 – Trouble in the Neighborhood: Co-Existence in North America

Chair: Susan Rak


  • Marilyn Halter, Boston University
  • Betty Haskins, United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • William LeoGrande, American University
  • Susan Purcell
  • Monique Simard, deputy leader, Parti Quebecois

1996 – The Impact of Political Decisions on World Health

Chair: Burt Jaffe


  • John Hammock, director, Oxfam America
  • Elizabeth Reed, director, AIDS Program, WHO
  • Leonard Marcus, M.D., Tufts University Medical School
  • Ellen Chesler, author
  • David Cummiskey, professor of medical ethics, Bates College

1995 – Competing Interests in the Global Village: The UN at 50

Chair: Margaret Noel


  • Franics Deng, Brookings Institution and special envoy to the UN
  • Jane Holl, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict
  • Kemal Kurspanic, Oslobodeniye, Sarajevo
  • Lorenzo Morris, Howard University
  • George Moffett, Christian Science Monitor

1994 – Religion, Race & Ethnicity: Sources of Conflict in International Affairs

Chair: Ken Cummisky


  • Stanley Heginbotham, Ford Foundation
  • Adrien Wing, University of Iowa Law School
  • Ian Lustick, U. of Pennsylvania
  • Ann Mayer, U. of Pennsyvannia
  • Karen Dawisha, U. of Maryland

1993 – Transitions to Democracy: Implications for War & Peace

Chair: Ellen Brandenburg

1992 – Japan, China & Pacific Basin Challenges for the U.S.

Chair: Don Zagoria

1991 – End of the Cold War: Challenges for the U.S.

Chair: Jean Hay

1990 – Exhausted Earth: Environmental Threats and Questions

Chair: Bill Maynes

1989 – U.S. in a Changing World

Chair: Richard Weinert

1988 – Is There a New Soviet Union?

Chair: Des O’Hara

1987 – China: The Next Superpower?

Chair: Sam Frieberg

1986 – The Middle East: Societies and Schisms

Chair: Judy Williams

1985 – Africa

Chair: Eleanor Jaffe

1984 – Latin America: Dilemma on Our Doorstep

Chair: Gordon Noel

1983 – The Nuclear Dilemma: Security Without Annihilation

Chair: Sam Zagoria

1982 – Leadership in a Troubled World

Chair: Phyllis Claus

1981 – Confrontation – and the Alternatives

Chair: Dave Stanley

1980 – The Causes of War

Chair: Ron Buck

1978 – Our Shrinking World

Chair: Naomi Yanis