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From the Director’s Desk

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We hope you have had a chance to attend a recent event sponsored by The Kluge Center. We ended the month of April with Distinguished Visiting Scholar Martin Hilbert taking questions  from me and a public audience on the latest developments in the mining of big data as they pertain to elections and governance.

As you can see below, there are more opportunities to attend our events in May.

This month we are also busy notifying selectees for the 2018 Kluge Fellowships. We are accepting applications for the 2019 class of Fellows through July 15.

Below are some highlights of what we’ve been doing and what is coming up.

The Kluge Prize – Announcement in June
After a long and laborious process involving vetting well over 100 nominees, the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, is reviewing materials on the finalists for the one million dollar Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity. The announcement of the winner will be in June.

The criteria for selection dictate that the winner should be distinguished by his or her intellectual achievements, by the fundamental importance of the body of work and its impact on society, and by the ability to communicate the significance of the work to broad audiences.

Public Events
This month we continue our conversations on the challenges facing democracy with a May 9 event (starting at noon) in Coolidge Auditorium featuring the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum on “Disinformation and the Threat to Democracy.” Applebaum has an international reputation for her insights on Eastern Europe and Russia in particular, but also more broadly how the breakdown of the established media has left an opening for disinformation campaigns.

Following that, Seth Masket, who began this month as the Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance, will be featured in a panel discussion, “The Future of Political Parties,” with Yuval Levin (National Affairs and the Ethics and Public Policy Center) and Jennifer Victor, Professor of Political Science at George Mason University. The event will be held May 21 in the Montpelier Room of the Madison Building (4pm) and is co-hosted by Seth’s home institution, the University of Denver.

On May 22, former Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy, Bruce Jentleson, will be discussing his new book, The Peacemakers: Leadership Lessons from 20th Century Statesmanship, in Jefferson 119 at 4pm.

Rounding out the public events this month, as part of the European Union Month of Culture and in collaboration with the Italian Embassy, I will interview Kluge Fellow Davide Ceriani about his research into the formation of a distinct Italian cultural identity related to the arts, and particularly opera, between the 1860s and 1940s. This event will be at 4pm, May 30, in Jefferson 119.

Congressional Events
May brings the kick-off of the Kluge Center’s second year of educational programming developed specifically for congressional staff – the Dinner and Democracy series. Frances Lee from the University of Maryland and Eric Schickler of the University of California-Berkeley are holding an interactive seminar May 10 on a key inflection point in the evolution of the separation of powers – when Congress bolstered its capacity to deal with a growing federal government with the passage of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. Two more sessions will follow in June and August.

The Center also brings in the Cook Political Report team to discuss with Members of Congress the trade-offs inherent in the complex process of drawing congressional district lines. This will take place in an off-the-record Kluge breakfast conversation on May 23rd.

Connected to our engagement with Congress, the Center is finding new ways to partner with the Wilson Center and the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), both of which provide valuable educational experiences for Congress. Just this week Wilson and Kluge are co-sponsoring a two-day symposium on foreign policy for high level congressional staff. We begin our official association with PSA with events in the Library this August.

Announcing New Chairs
The Center has announced that Stephen Houston of Brown University will be our first Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas. Dr. Houston is the Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University. He has worked on the excavations of several major Mayan cities, most recently the ancient city of El Zotz in Guatemala, and on collaborative advances in mapping with lidar technology. A major participant in the decipherment of Maya script, Houston draws on inscriptions and figural art to reconstruct the political and social structure of Mayan civilization, including the dynamics of royal court life and the role of religion.

Kluge will be announcing the inaugural chairs in U.S.-Russia Relations and U.S. China Relations, funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the week of May 7.

For more information about the Kluge Center, see

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