Socrates Winter Seminars
Socrates Seminars begin with an opening reception on Friday evening, and conclude Monday afternoon following the final seminar session. The weekend program consists of three four-hour seminar sessions with free time and activities each morning. The seminar tuition is $2,000. Scholarships are available by application. Please see below for descriptions of seminar offerings:
Geopolitical Ramifications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s 70-country, $110B+ trade and investment plan to undergird a larger role for itself in global affairs. Some liken the BRI in the early 21st century to the U.S. Marshall Plan in the mid-20th century. Others decry a resource-extractive model that relies on support of strong-man leaders to the detriment of longer-term interests in these various Belt & Road countries . From any perspective, though, the BRI initiative is potentially transformative – culturally, in terms of its revival of centuries-old relationships along the two routes; economically, as a circuitry for new trade and investment relationships; and politically, as either a mechanism for realigning shared national interests or as a flashpoint for neo-hegemony. Especially in light of current doubts about the U.S. commitment to its partners in past trade deals, is there reason to believe that the post-WWII world order is giving way to a new, more China-centric world order? If so, what does the landscape of the future look like for multi-national corporations, institutions of high learning and the defenders of the rule of law? Will the replacement of a uni-polar world order by a more China-leaning one bring balance and improved prospects for peace or more competition and greater risk of open conflict around the globe?
Moderators: Terry Cooke, Founding Director of the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia; Wing Woo, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis and President of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia
Age of Disruption: The Changing Role of News Media in America
Considering the past year, it appears that the carefully constructed principles and precedents that have guided the news profession for years have now seemingly been thrown out the window. To focus solely on President Trump as the disruptor of political journalism and the country as a whole, however, is to ignore the underlying disruption that’s been taking place over the last twenty to thirty years. In this seminar, we will look at how the demographic, economic, social and cultural changes that are roiling modern America have helped pave the way for our current media environment. We’ll explore questions about trust, expectations and, most important, the definition of media in a 21st Century world where anyone with an internet connection and a “brand” can become a source of news.
We’ll also examine whether President Trump has fundamentally and permanently changed the way in which candidates and presidents interact with the media. Is he a “once-in-lifetime” challenge to the status quo, or has he permanently remade the relationship between press and president?
Moderator: Amy Walter, National Editor of The Cook Political Report
Learning from Lincoln: The Business, Politics and Art of the Nation’s Greatest Leader
Abraham Lincoln is the nation’s greatest leader and one of its greatest writers and orators. This seminar focuses on Lincoln’s great speeches and public letters. They provide a road map not only for understanding how Lincoln evolved as a leader, but for helping us to become better leaders. Lincoln defined leadership as the art of the possible. The methods that distinguished him as a leader are crucial for leaders today. And the critical issues of Lincoln’s time remain the critical issues of our time: the function and limits of government; meanings of freedom and equality; the limits of civil liberties; and the ways in which blacks and/or other minorities alter or transform society or an organization. Each session focuses on a speech or public letter by Lincoln that raises critical issues about a problem both in his time and ours, and that offers ways to address the problem.
Moderator: John Stauffer, the Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, is an award-winning teacher and best-selling author of GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.