Grayson Kirk Distinguished Lecture Series

photo of Grayson KirkGrayson Kirk photo by Gjon Mili, ©Time, Inc.The Grayson Kirk Distinguished Lecture Series was endowed by the Tinker Foundation in honor of Dr. Grayson Kirk, Miami University class of 1924.

After graduating, Dr. Kirk went on to become one of the pioneers in developing international relations as a field of political science and served as president of Columbia University for many years. This lecture series brings in public figures and recognized scholars to address international issues.

Read more about Dr. Kirk's life in the Columbia University Record's December 5, 1997 obituary for Dr. Kirk.


Most Recent Speaker

photo of Robin WrightRobin Wright: "Shifting Sands: Peril and Promise in the Middle East"

October 18, 2016

Robin Wright is a contributing writer to The New Yorker and a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents and has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions. She is a former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, and many others.

Wright has also been a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as well as Yale, Duke, Dartmouth, and the University of California.

Wright's most recent book is Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World. It was selected as the Best Book on International Affairs by the Overseas Press club. Her other books include Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East (2008), which The New York Times and The Washington Post both selected as one of the most notable books of the year.


Past Speakers

Dr. Steven Salaita

[March 2016] Steven Salaita currently serves as the Edward Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. His latest book is Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.

Barry R. Posen

[October 2015] Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, and serves on the Executive Committee of Seminar XXI. His most recent book, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, was released in May 2014 (Cornell University Press 2014).

Sarah Chayes

[April 2015] Sarah Chayes, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is an expert in South Asia policy and the security implications of acute corruption worldwide. An award-winning NPR correspondent, Chayes served as special advisor to ISAF command and special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participating in Cabinet-level decision-making on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Arab Spring. Her books include The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (2006) and Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (2015).

Micah White, PhD

[October 2014] Micah White, Ph.D., is one of today's most innovative social activists. White is the former editor of Adbusters, the American creator of the Occupy Wall Street meme, and the inventor of the innovative debt-activism tactic known as Rolling Jubilee. He has more than 15 years of breakthrough campaign experience. White is now the founder of Boutique Activist Consultancy that specializes in anticipating the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagion. He is currently working on a book about the future of activism.

Dr. Julia Sweig

[October 2013] Dr. Julia Sweig is the Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior fellow for Latin American Studies and Director for Latin American studies at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). She is the author of Inside the Cuban Revolution (2002), Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century (2006), and Cuba: What Everyone Needs To Know (2012).

Zainab Salbi

[April 2013] Zainab Salbi is the author of Between Two Worlds—Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam (Gotham), which details her childhood in Saddam Hussein's inner circle, and The Other Side of War (National Geographic). "The Oprah Winfrey Show" has featured Ms. Salbi and her organization multiple times. Time magazine named Ms. Salbi "Innovator of the Month". Forbes gave her its 2005 Trailblazer Award.

Zha Jianying

[September 2012] Zha Jianying was born in Beijing in 1959 to a family of intellectuals (her father was a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). In 1978, she joined the first class of students at the newly reopened Peking University (now Beijing University). In 2003, she was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in non-fiction.

Ben Wedeman

[March 2012] Ben Wedeman is CNN's senior international correspondent based in Cairo, Egypt. Since 1995, he's reported for the network from scenes of conflict and tension across the Middle East and northern Africa including Israel, Pakistan, Lebanon, the Balkans and Iraq. Wedeman was CNN's bureau chief in Cairo from 1998-2006.

Hooman Majd

[October 2011] Hooman Majd is an expert on US-Iranian Relations and the author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ and The Ayatollahs' Democracy. Majd was born in Iran, and raised and educated in America. The son of an Iranian diplomat, and the grandson of an eminent Ayatollah, Majd has worked as an advisor and translator for two Iranian Presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on their trips to the United States and the UN.

Pico Iyer

[March 2011] Pico Iyer is the author of seven works of non-fiction, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, and The Global Soul. He has also written the novels, Cuba and the Night and Abandon. For a quarter of a century, he has been an essayist for Time magazine. His most recent book, The Open Road, describes more than 30 years of talking and traveling with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Jonathan Morduch

[October 2010] Jonathan Morduch, one of the authors of Portfolios of the Poor, is professor of public policy and economics at New York University He writes and advises widely on microfinance and financial markets. He leads the Financial Access Initiative, a consortium of researchers at NYU, Harvard, Yale, and Innovations for Poverty Action. Morduch holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard.

Brian Nelson and Gregory Wilpert

[March 2010] Brian Nelson and Gregory Wilpert debated controversial issues related to the presidency of Hugo Chávez. Brian Nelson is the author of The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup against Chávez and the Making of Modern Venezuela (Nation Books, 2009). Gregory Wilpert is the editor of Venezuelanalysis.com and the author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The Policies of the Chávez Presidency (Verso Books, 2007).

Nicholas Kristof

[September 2009] Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to more than 140 countries, plus all 50 states, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island. After joining The New York Times in 1984, initially covering economics, Mr. Kristof served as a Times correspondent in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo. His most recent book, co-authored with Sheryl WuDunn, is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Raj Patel

[February 2009] Raj Patel, controversial author, journalist and food policy expert, continuously challenges our presumptions about the global food economy with his work both as a policy analyst and activist. He has worked for some of the most prestigious international organizations and protested against them, and constantly works to find ways to improve the global food system. In his newest work, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, Patel discusses the growing worldwide food crisis and what needs to be done to solve it.

Steven Kinzer

[March 2008] An award-winning foreign correspondent, Kinzer spent more than 20 years with the New York Times and has reported from more than 50 countries on four continents. He is author of many books, including Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds, All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, and his most recent, Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

Andrew Bacevich

[January 2007] Andrew Bacevich is Professor of International Relations at Boston University and author of The New American Militarism. Bacevich is a 1969 graduate of West Point and a Vietnam veteran. He has criticized American foreign policy in the post Cold War era and argues that the United States has relied too often, and often unsuccessfully, on military power rather than diplomacy to achieve its foreign policy aims.

Shibley Telhami

[October 2006] Shibley Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and author of The Stakes. Telhami is a non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, has served as adviser to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Trilateral U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee.

Mark Hertsgaard

[November 2005] Hertsgaard is an American journalist, author and broadcaster. In The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World, Hertsgaard explains to Americans what the world really thinks of their nation and why. To non-Americans he explains why America is the way that it is.