Lunch Speakers Series

Each of the lunchtime seminars runs from 12 to 2 pm in room 354 in the CGIS Knafel Building, located at 1737 Cambridge Street in Cambridge. They begin with a lunch, from 12 to 12:30, before the speaker delivers his summary wisdom. We leave plenty of time for questions and disputes.

Videos of past seminars are available on YouTube.


September 13, 2019: Michael Lewis on “Lessons from the Notre Dame Fire.” Lewis is the Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art History at Williams College. A critic of architecture, he is the author of numerous essays and reviews in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Commentary, New Criterion, Architectural Record, Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications. He is the author of, among others, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (2001), The Gothic Revival (2002), American Art and Architecture (2006), and the prize-winning August Reichensperger: The Politics of the German Gothic Revival (1993). His research interests include architectural theory, utopian and communal societies, and the nature of creativity.

October 4, 2019: Walter Russell Mead on "The Information Economy and Global Revolution." Walter Russell Mead is the Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship at Hudson Institute, the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, and the Global View Columnist at The Wall Street Journal. From 1997 to 2010, Mead was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, which received the Lionel Gelber Award for best book in English on international relations in 2002, and God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World. In 2012, the Foreign Policy Research Institute awarded him its Benjamin Franklin Prize for his work in the field of American foreign policy. Mead writes on a wide variety of subjects ranging from international affairs to religion, politics, culture, education and the media. His next book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People will be published by Knopf in 2021.

October 25, 2019: Aaron Friedberg on “The Rise of China and the Strategic Threat to the US.” Aaron L. Friedberg (’78), who got his PhD from the Harvard Government Department, is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, and co-director of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Center for International Security Studies. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Senior Advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research. Friedberg is the author of, among other books, A Contest for Supremacy: China, America and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia, Beyond Air-Sea Battle: The Debate Over U.S. Military Strategy in Asia, and co-editor (with Richard Ellings) of three volumes in the National Bureau of Asian Research’s annual “Strategic Asia” series. Friedberg’s articles and essays have appeared in a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He served from June 2003 to June 2005 as Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs in the office of the Vice President. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations.

November 1, 2019: Anthony Kronman on “The Assault on American Excellence.” Anthony T. Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Formerly Dean, Kronman now teaches contracts, bankruptcy, jurisprudence, social theory, and professional responsibility. Among his books are Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life; Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan, and, most recently, The Assault on American Excellence. Kronman received his B.A. from Williams and a Ph.D. in Philosophy and J.D. from Yale.

November 8, 2019: Stephen W. Smith on “Young Africa’s Scramble For Old Europe.” Stephen W. Smith is a Professor of the Practice of African and African American Studies at Duke University. He holds a PhD in semiotics from Berlin’s Free University. The deputy editor of the foreign desk at Le Monde for five years and, previously, the Africa editor at Libération for twelve years, he had worked as a roving correspondent in West and Central Africa for Reuters news agency and Radio France International (RFI). He is the (co-)author of sixteen books, of country reports (Nigeria, Central African Republic) for the International Crisis Group, and a consultant for the UN and other international bodies. He has widely contributed to many publications and writes regularly for The London Review of Books. He is the author The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa On Its Way to the Old Continent (2019).

November 15, 2019: Irwin Stelzer on “Brexit.” Irwin Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute; U.S. economic and business columnist for The Sunday Times (London); and a consultant, advising clients on market strategy, pricing, antitrust issues, environmental policy, regulatory matters, and the effect of macroeconomic policies. He has been director of regulatory policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute; a managing director of the investment banking firm of Rothschild Inc. and a director of the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to the advisory board of the U.S. Trade Representative. He is editor of Neoconservatism, and with John H. Shenefield co-authored The Antitrust Laws: A Primer. His The Murdoch Method: Observations on Rupert Murdoch’s Management of a Media Empire has recently been published in the U.S. and the UK.

December 6, 2019: Ben Ginsberg on “The 2016 and 2018 Election: Blip or Paradigm Shift?” Ben Ginsberg is a nationally known political law advocate with 30 years of experience representing participants in the political process. He represents them on a variety of election law and regulatory issues, including those involving federal and state campaign finance laws, ethics and gifts rules, pay-to-play laws, election administration, government investigations, redistricting, communications law, and election recounts and contests. He has served as national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns in the 2004 and 2000 election cycles and played a central role in the 2000 Florida recount. In 2012 and 2008, he served as national counsel to the Romney for President campaign.




March 8, 2019: Tamar Jacoby, on “Restoring the Dignity of the Working Class.”

March 29, 2019: Michael Strain, on: “The American Dream Is Not Dead.” 

April 5, 2019: Jeff Bergner, on “The Vanishing Congress: Reflections on Politics in Washington.” 

April 12, 2019: Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, on “The ‘Race Debate’ in America Today.”

April 26, 2019: Amy Wax, on “The Perilous Quest for Equal Results in Academia.” 



September 21, 2018: Allison Stanger, on “Whistle-Blowing as Civil Disobedience; Leaks in the Era of Trump and the Deep State.” 

October 19, 2018: Edward W. Conard, on “The Upside of Inequality.” 

October 26, 2018: William Baude, on “Constitutional Liquidation.” 

November 30, 2018: Heather Mac Donald, on “The Diversity Delusion.” 



February 9, 2018: Shep Melnick, on “The Transformation of Title IX: Regulating Gender Equality in Education.” 

February 16, 2018: Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, on “The Development Narrative versus the Bias Narrative: Persistent Racial Inequality in the 21st Century.”

March 9, 2018: Greg Weiner, on “James Madison’s View of Constitutional Interpretation.” 

March 30, 2018: Eva Brann, on “Compromise Good and Bad.”

April 20, 2018: Nick Eberstadt, on “Men Without Work.”

April 27, 2018: George Borjas, on “We Wanted Workers. Unraveling the Immigration Narrative.” 



September 29, 2017: Jill Lepore on “Re-reading Federalist No 1.”

October 13, 2017: Paul Hollander on “Dictators, Intellectuals and the Spiritual Problems of Modernity.”

October 20, 2017: Diana Schaub on “Lincoln on Discoveries and Inventions.”

October 27, 2017: Stan Veuger on “Health Care and Tax Reform in the 115th Congress.”

November 3, 2017: Philip Kennicott on “The Artist as Citizen: How could anyone quibble with that?”

December 1, 2017: Jack Goldsmith on “The Digital Cold War: The Failure of US Cybersecurity Strategies.” 



February 10, 2017: Christopher DeMuth, on “Congress and the Dilemma of Fiscal Restraint.”

March 10, 2017: Allen Guelzo, on “The Lovely, Fair, Judicious and Democratic Meaning of the Electoral College.” 

March 24, 2017: Ruth Wisse, on “Anti-Semitism and Why It Matters.” 

March 31, 2017: Irwin Stelzer, on “The New Domestic and World Orders: The Meaning of ‘America First.’” 

April 7, 2017: Barton Swaim, on “Donald Trump and the War on Expertise.” 

April 14, 2017: Russ Muirhead, on “Democracy and Demagoguery.”



September 30, 2016: Jeb Bush on TBA. Jeb Bush was a Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential race. 

October 7, 2016: John Judis on “The Populist Explosion. How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.”

October 14, 2016: Jonathan Haidt on “Two Incompatible Values at American Universities.”

November 4, 2016: David Azerrad on “How Equal Should Opportunities Be?” 

November 18, 2016: Christopher Caldwell on “The Election: What Just Happened?” 

December 2, 2016: Dennis Hale on “Debating the American Jury.” 



February 5, 2016: Robert Putnam, on “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.”

February 26, 2016: Jason L. Riley, on “The Liberal State Against Blacks.”

March 4, 2016: Tod Lindberg, on “The Politics of Heroism.”

April 1, 2016: Randall Kennedy, on “What Racial Order Should We Be Attempting to Achieve in the United States of America?”

April 8, 2016: Leon R. Kass, on “The Ten Commandments.”

April 15, 2016: Bruce Cole, on “A Monumental Mess on the Mall: The Eisenhower Memorial.”



September 11, 2015: Roderick MacFarquhar, on The Rise of Xi Jinping. 

October 16, 2015: Jeffrey Tulis, on The Anti-Federal Appropriation.

October 23, 2015: Edward Rothstein, on TBA.

October 30, 2015: Colin Dueck, on his new book The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today. 

November 13, 2015: Peter Wood, on The Idea of Sustainability. 



February 20, 2015:  Adam J. White, on "The Supreme Court in American Law and Politics.” 

March 6, 2015:  Paul A. Cantor ’66, on “The Apocalyptic Strain in Popular Culture.”  

March 27, 2015: David Bromwich, on “The Consistency of Edmund Burke; Are There Burkean Principles?”

April 10, 2015:  R. Shep Melnick ’73, on “Regulation of Campus Sexual Misconduct by the Office of Civil Rights.” 

April 17, 2015:  Elliott Abrams ’69, on “The Middle East Today.”



September 12, 2014:  Jed Rubenfeld, on the problem of sexual consent. 

September 19, 2014:  Russ Muirhead ’88, on "The Constitution and Political Parties. "

September 26, 2014:  Rebecca Goldstein, on her book, Plato at the Googleplex.

October 17, 2014:  Charles Lane ’83, TBA. 

October 24 2014:  Christopher Caldwell ’83, on "The Endless 1960’s: The Roots of Today’s Unrest."

October 31, 2014:  Francis Fukuyama, on his new book, Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy. 

November 14, 2014:  R. Shep Melnick ’73, RESCHEDULED. 

December 5, 2014:  Peter Schuck, on his new book, Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better. 



March 7, 2014:  John P. Walters, on “Addiction and American Democracy.” 

March 14, 2014:  Charles Murray, on “The Bell Curve Revisited.”  

March 28, 2014:  Colleen Sheehan, on “The Education of Jane Austen’s Emma.”

April 25, 2014:  Morton Keller, on “The Rise and Stall of the Modern American State.” 

May 9, 2014:  Ramesh Ponnuru, on “The Future of the Republican Party.” 



September 27, 2013:  Morris Fiorina, on the present political situation in the U.S.

October 18, 2013: Jonathan Last, on his new book, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, the demographic problem faced by liberal democracy in the West.

October 25, 2013:  Christopher DeMuth, “The Bucks Start Here,” on the growth of executive government as connected to the growth of national debt.

November 1, 2013:  Jean Yarbrough, on her new book Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition.

November 15, 2013:  Wilfred McClay, on “The Strange Persistence of Guilt in a Post-Religious Age.” 



October 12, 2012:  Sohrab Ahmari, on the situation in Iran.

October 19, 2012: Lorraine Clark, on the Jane Austen novel Mansfield Park.

October 26, 2012: Irwin Stelzer, on the American economy and the election.

November 2, 2012:  Paul A. Cantor, on Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra.

November 9, 2012:  Michael W. McConnell, on current events at the Supreme Court. 

November 16, 2012: James Piereson, on his forthcoming study of John Maynard Keynes. 

November 30, 2012:  Jim Manzi, on the use and abuse of social science. 



February 3, 2012:  Steven Pinker, on his new book concerning violence, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined(2011).

March 2, 2012:  Jay Cost, on the presidential campaign this year.

March 23, 2012:  Adam Schulman, on “The Discovery of Entropy” and its implications for our understanding and the relationship between philosophy and science. 

April 13, 2012:  Heather Mac Donald, on criticisms of American universities.