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Presidential Colloquium Series

The Presidential Colloquium 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. Come discover, learn, ask questions and engage in the conversation. Lectures are free and open to the public.


2019–20 Events

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy in a directors chair

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy ’02, DFA ’18

On Arts and Activism: Women’s Rights in a Volatile World

Thursday, October 17, 2019
5 p.m., Campus Center Carroll Room

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a journalist, filmmaker and activist. Her work has taken her around the world, where she has filmed and worked with refugees, women’s advocacy groups and human rights defenders. By bringing their voices to the outside world, she has often helped them bring about a critical change in their community. She is the recipient of two Academy Awards, six Emmy Awards and the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian honor awarded by the government of Pakistan. In 2012, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. A member of the Smith class of 2002 and recipient of an honorary degree in 2018, she currently serves on the college’s board of trustees.

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
5 p.m., Campus Center Carroll Room

Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy and law at New York University, was educated at schools in Ghana and in England, and studied at Clare College, Cambridge University, in England, where he took both B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy. His Cambridge dissertation brought together issues in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, which led to two books: Assertion and Conditionals (1985, Cambridge University Press) and For Truth in Semantics (1986, Basil Blackwell). Since Cambridge, he has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke and Harvard universities and lectured for institutions around the world.

Regina McCarthy

Regina McCarthy

In conjunction with the Year on Climate Change

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
5 p.m., Campus Center Carroll Room

Gina McCarthy, professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, has been a leading advocate for common-sense strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. She served under President Barack Obama as the 13th administrator of the EPA from 2013–2017. Her tenure as EPA administrator heralded a paradigm shift in national environmental policy, expressly linking it with global public health. She led EPA initiatives that cut air pollution, protected water resources, reduced greenhouse gases and strengthened chemical safety to better protect more Americans, especially the most vulnerable, from negative health impacts. 

Bryan Stevenson portrait

Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
5 p.m., Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. He is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. He has argued and won multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Stevenson’s work has won him numerous awards including 35 honorary doctorates, the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize and the ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor. 


Previous 2019–20 Events

Cristina Rodriguez portrait

Cristina Rodríguez

Constitution Day Lecture: The President, Immigration Law and the Politics of Constitutional Structure

Thursday, September 19, 2019
5 p.m., Campus Center Carroll Room

Cristina Rodríguez is the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her research interests include constitutional law and theory; immigration law and policy; administrative law and process; language rights and policy; and citizenship theory. In recent years, her work has focused on constitutional structures and institutional design. She has used immigration law and related areas as vehicles through which to explore how the allocation of power (through federalism and the separation of powers) shapes the management and resolution of legal and political conflict.