May 21, 2015 Top Scholars Engage in Rapid-Fire Dialogues at ScholarFest, June 11

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213
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ScholarFest, which celebrates the 15th anniversary of the John W. Kluge Center, will feature 70 top scholars discussing an array of provocative topics in 10-minute “lightning conversations.”

The full day of rapid-fire dialogues will be held on Thursday, June 11 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in various locations throughout the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees should RSVP to

Topics to be discussed include human rights and the prevention of atrocities; the role of bicultural experiences in shaping individual identities; the effects of stress and trauma on the young; religious law in liberal democracies; and the multiple lives of religious imagery.

The participants—all former resident scholars at the Kluge Center—are experts in foreign policy, history, ethics, religion and other fields within the humanities and social sciences. They include noted astrobiologists David Grinspoon and Steven Dick, distinguished sociologist William Julius Wilson, President of the American Council of Learned Societies Pauline Yu, writer and former Washington Post books section editor Marie Arana and former Ambassador Teresita Schaffer.

ScholarFest will feature more than 30 “lightning conversations,” a format that features senior scholars in discussion with younger scholars about universal ideas in 10-minute intervals. The quick-hitting dialogues offer different perspectives and intergenerational voices on an array of provocative topics. Each of the 90-minute sessions throughout the morning will feature five to seven 10-minute conversations, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of dialogue with audience members. The format embodies a core ethos of the Kluge Center—to focus cross-disciplinary scholarship across multiple generations.

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

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

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. Kluge Center Open House and Video Recording Booth
Kluge alumni will be invited to share on film their memories and recollections of the Kluge Center and the Library.

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 Expression 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

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 160 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


PR 15-088
ISSN 0731-3527