Kennan Lectures

Named in honor of diplomat, scholar and Milwaukee native George F. Kennan, the Kennan Distinguished Lecture Series brings internationally renowned thinkers to our community to discuss issues critical to citizens in a democratic society.

Previous Kennan Lectures: 

Dec. 5, 2019: Disinformation and Democracy

In our digital age, the diverse media pipelines through which information flows are critical strategic assets. In the US and societies around the world, we’ve witnessed the profound and corrosive effect injecting false information into this stream has on the democratic process. Why has this happened and is there a way out?

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter, author and professor of Journalism Dana Priest discussed efforts to weaponize media and what we can do to protect the information environment.

Nov. 1st, 2018: Embattled Earth: Commodities, Conflict and Climate Change in the Indian Ocean 

Amitav Ghosh, one of the most important novelists and essayists of our
time, traces the entangled history of commodities, conflict and climate
change in the Indian Ocean. Since the time of Vasco da Gama’s voyage,
the Indian Ocean has been the theatre of intense imperial rivalries over
commodities and resources. For centuries the main players in these
conflicts were Western colonial powers, but lately the countries of the
Indian Ocean rim have themselves become major consumers of
resources, and thus, the principal drivers of anthropogenic climate
change, an ongoing process that will have catastrophic consequences for
the billions of people who live around the Indian Ocean.

His lecture explored the continuities between the resource conflicts of the past and
the future by focusing on two transformative imperial wars: the
Anglo-Dutch spice wars of the 17th century and the 1st Opium War of
1840-42. It also posed the question: are the imperatives of empire and
military supremacy among the major drivers of climate change?

Book Sales were provided by Boswell Books

Vilas Trust and Institute of World Affairs

Co-sponsored by:
Department of English, Humanities Division of the College of Letters and Science,
Center for 21st Century Studies, Boswell Books, Geography, Creative Writing,
SARUP, Anthropology, Urban Studies, Cultures and Commununities

Oct. 19, 2017: US-Russian Relations in the 21st Century: Why America Needs Another George F. Kennan

At the beginning of the Cold War, when few in the US understood what motivated leaders in the Soviet Union, George F. Kennan provided a coherent policy framework for containing Russian influence. Seventy years later, Washington is once again in need of a conceptual roadmap to guide relations with Moscow. This Kennan Distinguished Lecture will explore Russia’s strategic imperatives in the 21st century and how the US should respond.

Ambassador Jack Matlock served as a member of the National Security Council as US Ambassador to Moscow during one of the most consequential periods for US-Russian relations.

Oct. 6th, 2016: Citizenship and Identity in the 21st Century 

Ideological tests for immigrants; threatened mass deportations; burkini battles – issues of identity, assimilation and citizenship are roiling political waters around the globe. The UWM Institute of World Affairs is pleased to welcome Mme. Christiane Taubira, former Minister of Justice of France to deliver the 2016 George F. Kennan Distinguished Lecture: Citizenship and Identity in the 21st Century.

Mme. Taubira has served as a Deputy in the French National Assembly, member of the European Parliament, candidate for the French Presidency, and most recently, Minister of Justice. She resigned her cabinet position in January 2016 after openly disagreeing with the French president’s proposal to strip French nationality from dual-citizens who are convicted of terrorism.