Past Festivals of Ideas

JFK: A Symposium for Dallas

Held on Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, at the South Side Ballroom.

November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event that affected Dallas and the entire nation for decades to come. On Saturday, November 2, 2013, the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, along with its program partners, presented a daylong symposium for the city, “Understanding Tragedy: the Impact of the JFK Assassination on Dallas.” National and local leaders and experts came together to explore the topic with Dallas citizens from four perspectives: Journalism; Politics; Art and the Humanities; and Religion.Headlining the event for Journalism was legendary broadcaster Jim Lehrer; for Politics was author and public intellectual Stephen Carter (named by Time Magazine as one of the 50 leaders of the next century); for Art & the Humanities was National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney; and for Religion was Peabody Award-winning journalist and revered writer Richard Rodriguez. Pulitzer Prize winning author, screenwriter, playwright and journalist Lawrence Wright participated in a special lunch program with Jim Lehrer and Dallas Morning News Sunday and Enterprise editor Thomas Huang which focused on his personal experience of the assassination.

As Jim Lehrer said before the event: “I look forward to being part of a meaningful discussion of what was for me and others the most traumatic outside event of our lives. When President Kennedy died in Dallas those of us who lived here were particularly shaken. What is the state of our shaking now–50 years later? That will be one of the central questions that will be on the table and in the air at the symposium. I can hardly wait to hear the answers–my own as well as those of many others.”

JFK Symposium Morning Program

JFK Symposium Lunch Program

Photos from the JFK Symposium

A Recap of the 2011 Festival of Ideas: Shape the Future

On March 26, 2011, the Dallas Institute conducted its second Festival of Ideas in the Dallas Museum of Art with a public program similar to its Festival on November 8, 2008.

Five highly regarded figures came to Dallas for the day and matched with some of the best Dallas people in their fields. The wisdom of the speakers generated an abundance of dialogue, both with Dallas’ best and also with audiences.

Following is the list of program topics, along with keynote speakers and university partners collaborators.

Ringmaster: Lee Cullum

    • “The Future of American Power”- Keynote: Stephen Krasner University Partner: SMU Tower Center for Political StudiesProgram Team: Seyom Brown, Lee Cullum, James Hollifield
    • “The Future of Journalism and the Media”- Keynote: Ken Auletta
      University Partner: UNT Mayborn School of JournalismProgram Team: Christine Allison, George Getschow, Robert Mong, Shawn Williams
    • “The Future of Medicine and Healthcare”- Keynotes: Ruth Faden
      and Tom Beauchamp
      University Partner: UT Southwestern Medical CenterProgram Team: Fabrice Jotterand, Lynne Kirk, David Markham, John Sadler
    • “The Future of Religion”- Keynote:Mark Oppenheimer
      University Partner: University of Dallas School of MinistryProgram Team: Marti Jewell, Juan Rendon, Daniel Russ, Brian Schmisek, Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh

A Recap of the 2008 Festival of Ideas: The Future of…

Experts tell us that festivals, fairs, parades, and other such activities energize and renew our cities by affording intervals of “anti-structure” that temporarily relieve us of the demands of our structured work lives. On Saturday, November 8, 2008, in the Meyerson Symphony Center, we launched a new venture for Dallas: our first annual Festival of Ideas.

We brought four guest speakers-all experts in their fields-into Dallas for the day and matched them each with two or three of the best Dallas people in the same fields for some brief presentations and an abundance of conversation and dialogue throughout the day. For this festival day, we were not looking for argument, debate, or set speeches. Above all, we wanted the day to generate something important-and even pragmatic-for Dallas.

Our Festival had an urban emphasis with potential for spin-off as we explored the theme for the day: “The Future Of…” Here are the topics, featured guests, and Dallas panelists:

“American Cities & Suburbs”: David Brooks, with Dr. Gail Thomas and Hon. Ron Kirk, moderated by Rod Dreher

“The Environment”: Elizabeth Kolbert, with Hon. Tom Leppert, Judy Pesek, and Michael Decker, moderated by Glenn Arbery

“Global Issues and their Local Impact”: Nicholas Kristof, with Lee Cullum and panelist TBD, moderated by Krys Boyd

“Race, Class, and the Law”: Maya Wiley, with Kim Askew and Marcos Ronquillo, moderated by Randy Gordon

Michael Beschloss: Award-winning historian of the presidency and author of ten books. He appears often on PBS, ABC, and NBC news programs, providing expert analysis of the executive branch. He was recently appointed NBC’s Presidential Historian – the first time a major network has created such a position.

David Brooks: Regular op-ed columnist for The New York Times and commentator on “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.” Former op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal. Author of Bobos in Paradise: the New Upper Class and How They Got There and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense.

Elizabeth Kolbert: Staff writer for the New Yorker and author of the 2006 award-winning Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. Widely acclaimed in her field, she has written on a variety of environmental issues, from the future of the automobile to global warming.

Nicholas Kristof: Op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 140 countries, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island. Widely recognized for his involvement in the Sudan crisis, he is writing a book about women in the developing world.

Maya Wiley: Founder and Director of the Center for Social Inclusion, a national policy advocacy intermediary organization which works to dismantle structural racism. A civil rights attorney and policy advocate, she has litigated, lobbied the US Congress, and developed programs to transform structural racism in the US and South Africa.

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