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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

News, Politics, & Media Programs


The Life and Times of Norman Cousins: A Peacemaker in the Atomic Age

Monday, October 17, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Best remembered as the longtime editor of the influential weekly magazine Saturday Review, Norman Cousins was also engaged in secret missions behind the Iron Curtain to conduct high-stakes negotiations directly with the Soviet leadership during the decades after WWII. Historian Allen Pietrobon discusses his enormous impact on the course of American public debate, international humanitarianism, and Cold-War diplomacy.


Steve Case Drives Them To Succeed

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET

Entrepreneur Steve Case recognized that jobs and opportunity spurred by technology were concentrated in a select few coastal cities. In response, he launched Rise of the Rest, a nationwide platform to back and spotlight innovative startups outside of Silicon Valley. Join Case, in conversation with Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, as he shares some of the success stories of these startup communities, all leveraging regional strengths and betting on the future of innovation beyond the country’s usual tech hubs.


The Revolutionary Samuel Adams

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Thomas Jefferson once asserted that "for depth of purpose, zeal, and sagacity, no man in Congress exceeded, if any equaled, Sam Adams." But in spite of his celebrated status among America's Founding Fathers, Samuel Adams' life and achievements have been largely overshadowed in the history books. In a spirited conversation educator, author, and speaker Rebecca Boggs Roberts, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff examines this often-overlooked founder.


Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America, his seminal assessment of both the American experiment and the future of democracy after a visit to this country in 1831. Georgetown professor and political theorist Joseph Hartman considers the way in which Tocqueville thought through democracy and its problems and what Tocqueville means for us today.


The Future of the Constitution

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Is an 18th-century document still the right blueprint for the most powerful country in the world at a time of breathtaking social and technological change? Humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson surveys the changing place of the Constitution in U.S. history and considers the proposals for constitutional change that are getting increased attention as America moves into greater and greater paralysis.


An American Ambassador in Prewar Japan: The Countdown to Pearl Harbor

Monday, December 5, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

As America’s ambassador to Japan in the decade that led up to WWII, Joseph C. Grew’s prescient warnings to American leaders about the risks of Japan’s raging nationalism and ambitious militarism were often disregarded in Washington. Author Steve Kemper examines Grew’s tenure in Japan, offering a backstage glimpse at these explosive years from vantage points including the Imperial Palace, the Japanese cabinet, and Grew’s own perspective from the American embassy in Tokyo.


How Weather Has Shaped Human History

Thursday, December 15, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Dramatic weather might seem to be a new phenomenon, but weather and climate change have been shaping human history for thousands of years. Historian Caroline Winterer examines a series of weather-driven turning points that were strong enough to force migration, end wars, and create famines—and how the aftermath of past climate change might affect our future.


Adam Smith's America

Thursday, January 19, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Originally published in 1776, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was lauded by America’s founders as a landmark work of Enlightenment thinking about national wealth, statecraft, and moral virtue. Harvard University lecturer and author Glory Liu traces how generations of Americans have read, reinterpreted, and weaponized Smith’s ideas over time.