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Colloquia Will Explore Issues of Democracy

News of Note


Published August 3, 2021

Six influential thought leaders—writers, public servants, scholars, activists and journalists—will visit Smith during the 2021-22 academic year for a series of Presidential Colloquia exploring ideas related to democracy.

The colloquia—a centerpiece of Smith’s Year on Democracies—will be held in person on the Smith College campus, and also streamed to Smith’s Facebook page.

“The Year on Democracies is an important and visible way that Smith will focus its curricular and co-curricular resources on topics that lie at the heart of the liberal arts,” said Smith President Kathleen McCartney in announcing the programs. “Examining what we mean by ‘democracies’ has never seemed more compelling nor more urgent.“

Smith’s Presidential Colloquium series opens with a visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will join McCartney in conversation at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, in John M. Greene Hall. During the colloquium, McCartney will present Pelosi with the honorary degree she had been scheduled to receive at Smith’s 2020 commencement ceremony.

Pelosi’s visit is the only Presidential Colloquium that will require tickets. Tickets will be free; more information about tickets will be available later in August.

Following Pelosi, the  Presidential Colloquium series will feature:    

  • Thursday, Sept. 16, 5 p.m.—Carol Jenkins, co-president and CEO of The ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality, sister organizations dedicated to the passage and enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment. 
  • Tuesday, Nov. 16, 5 p.m.—Peabody Award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa
  • Tuesday, Feb. 15, 5 p.m.—National Book Award-winning author and New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen
  • Thursday, March 31, 5 p.m.—Harvard law and history professor Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Tuesday, April 12, 5 p.m.—Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin

More information about the speakers and the events is available online

About Smith’s Presidential Colloquium Series
The Presidential Colloquium series regularly features influential thought leaders in a wide range of fields—from poets and writers to economists and policy experts—to share their expertise, offer insights and inspire discourse on key social, political and global topics that call for our attention. Lectures are free and open to the public.

About Smith’s Year on Democracies
In 2021–22, Smith College will host an ambitious set of programs and events under the organizing theme “Year on Democracies.” This collegewide initiative is an opportunity to examine democracies around the world, through every aspect of the college’s educational offerings: the curriculum, exhibitions, performances, lectures, special events, and the work of its centers and institutes.

Top row, from left: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; activist Carol Jenkins; journalist Maria Hinojosa. Bottom row, from left: New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen; Harvard professor Annette Gordon-Reed; Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin.