Current Affairs and Policy Issues
Author, Visionary, Sustainable Transportation Pioneer
Urban planner and bicycling and pedestrian transportation advocate Mia Birk used a shoestring budget to help turn Portland, Oregon into America’s #1 cycling city. She documents the crusade to integrate bicycling into daily life in her book Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet. With over 20 years of experience with pedestrian, bicycle, trail, and greenway planning design and implementation, Birk’s message is the educated, can-do antidote to the doom-and-gloom that often seems a staple of the debate over our planet’s environmental dilemmas. Mia Birk is Chief Executive Officer and Principal at the international firm Alta Planning and Design and an Adjunct Professor at Portland State University.
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Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Pulitzer Prize Winner
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has devoted much of her career to writing about poverty here and abroad. A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize and the recipient of the 2012 National Book Award for Nonfiction, her bestseller Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a gripping narrative account of life in a Mumbai slum. A landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the 21st century’s great, unequal cities. In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.
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|Dr. Brian Fagan|
Author │ Archaeologist │ Climate Change Historian
A leading authority on the complex relationships between the environment, climate change, and human society, Fagan places today’s highly publicized climate crisis in a crucial historical context. In bestselling books like The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations and Elixir: Humans and the History of Water, Fagan describes how humans have adapted to environmental change over the eons. His next book, The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present and Future of Rising Sea Levels (2013), will show how societies of the past adapted to rising waters and how the rising sea levels of today impact the lives of millions of city dwellers and farmers around the world. In addition to climate change and humanity’s relationship to natural resources, Dr. Fagan’s lecture repertoire also includes natural history and the development of human society. Fagan is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he has taught since 1967.
Selected Books: The Attacking Ocean, Elixir, The Great Warming
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Author │ Investigative Journalist │ Energy & Environment Expert
“The greatest danger we face is not technological hubris, but human apathy.”
Acclaimed environmental author, investigative journalist, and coal-industry expert (Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future), Jeff Goodell trains his eye on the emergent field of geoengineering in his next book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix the Earth’s Climate (2010). Goodell is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and his articles appear regularly in the New York Times Magazine and Yale University’s Environment 360. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Our Story: 77 Hours That Tested Our Friendship and Our Faith, based on the experience of the Quecreek miners. Big Coal is the subject of a feature documentary called Dirty Business.
Selected Books: Big Coal, How to Cool the Planet
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Bestselling Author │ Cultural Theorist │ Strategist
Law 3—CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS
Law 14—POSE AS A FRIEND, WORK AS A SPY
Law 15—CRUSH YOUR ENEMY TOTALLY
Robert Greene is not a man who preaches random acts of kindness. In fact, the release of his book The 48 Laws of Power prompted New York Magazine to declare, “Machiavelli has a new rival. And Sun Tzu better watch his back.” Spending eleven weeks on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, The 48 Laws of Power sent shockwaves through the business world, Hollywood, Washington, and even the hip-hop music industry. Not only has Greene been called in to Robert Greenepersonally advise industry leaders such as famed film and TV producer Brian Grazer and American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, but he was also asked to collaborate on a business book with the multi-platinum rapper 50 Cent. Rap producer and filmmaker Quincy “QD3” Jones III has even begun working on a full-length documentary about The 48 Laws of Power and its influence on the music industry.
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|Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon|
Author │ Energy & Security Expert │ Political Scientist
A leading expert on the intricate links between nature, technology, and society, Thomas Homer-Dixon is the editor of Carbon Shift: How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future, a collection of six essays by top international experts in economics, geology, politics, and science. He is the author of The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, which was a #1 best-seller in Canada, a Globe and Mail Top 100 pick, and the winner of the 2006 National Business Book Award, along with The Ingenuity Gap and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. In uncomplicated language, Homer-Dixon shows how challenges such as global warming, energy scarcity, economic instability, and infoglut affect us and challenges audiences to consider new ways in which we can adapt and prosper in a world of ever-greater complexity and interdependence.
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Bestselling Author │ Novelist
Hillary Jordan's first novel, Mudbound, was published in 2008 after winning the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, a prize established by author Barbara Kingsolver to recognize literary books of merit that address issues of social justice. The book won numerous other awards including the Alex Award from the American Library Association. Her second novel, When She Woke, published to rave reviews, is a dystopian take on The Scarlet Letter that blends hot-button issues such as the separation of church and state, abortion, and criminal justice with an utterly engrossing story, driven by a heroine as layered and magnetic as Hester Prynne herself.
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Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Essayist
Kidder’s exceptional and prolific writing career took off in 1983 with The Soul of a New Machine, a book celebrated for its insight into the world of high-tech corporate America that earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Other bestselling works include House, Among Schoolchildren, Old Friends, and Home Town. Regarded as a master of nonfiction narrative, Kidder has enjoyed enormous success with Mountains Beyond Mountains and Strength in What Remains, which have been extremely popular with campus and community Common Read programs. Mountains tells the story of charismatic humanitarian Dr. Paul Farmer and his efforts to address the global health crises of AIDS and TB. Strength chronicles the tale of a young medical student, Deo, who survives the genocide in Burundi and emigrates to the U.S. to find redemption through education and service to others. Both books have been enormously popular First Year Experience/Common Read selections and are masterful accounts of real people who have prevailed against seemingly impossible circumstances to better our world. Tracy Kidder’s writing has appeared in numerous periodicals over the years, including the Atlantic, the New Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times. His newest book, Good Prose, is a guide to the craft of nonfiction, written with his long-time editor Richard Todd.
Selected Books: Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Strength in What Remains, The Soul of a New Machine
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Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Documentary Filmmaker
Award-winning journalist Alex Kotlowitz, lauded for his unflinching portrayal of race and poverty in America, is the author of the bestselling works of nonfiction There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River. He recently produced the critically-acclaimed documentary The Interrupters, with director Steve James (Hoop Dreams), which was inspired by an article Kotlowitz wrote about urban violence in Chicago for the New York Times Magazine in 2008. Hailed by A.O. Scott of the New York Times as one of the “must see” documentaries of 2011, The Interrupters was praised by the Miami Herald as “a heartbreaking, empowering documentary about inner-city violence.” The film was awarded the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. A staff writer for the Wall Street Journal from 1984-1993, he remains an active journalist and is a regular contributor to National Public Radio (This American Life, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition) and the New York Times Magazine. He is currently working on a documentary on low-wage workers for Al Jazeera America.
Selected Books: There are No Children Here, Never a City So Real
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|Dr. Peter Kramer, MD|
Bestselling Author │ Psychiatrist │ Novelist
Described by the New York Times as “possibly the best known psychiatrist in America,” Dr. Kramer is a widely sought-after expert on the human mind, brain, and behavior. In addition to his bestselling books Against Depression and Listening to Prozac, he is known for his several years as host of The Infinite Mind, an award-winning radio show that aired on more than 200 public radio stations across the U.S. and Canada. With drama, wit, and a breadth of learning that extends from Freud to neurobiology to the novels of Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf, Dr. Kramer allows us to see how psychiatry—that mystifying amalgam of science, art and simple empathy—works. His latest book is Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind. He has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, Fresh Air, and Oprah. He has written extensively for the popular press, most notably for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Times Literary Supplement, and U.S. News & World Report, in addition to his regular column in Psychiatric Times. Kramer has an MD from Harvard University and is a professor at Brown University. He is currently at work on a new book.
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|James Howard Kunstler|
Novelist │Urban Planning Advocate │Journalist │Social Critic
The author of eight novels and countless articles and essays, Kunstler is best known for his now-classic works in the literature of urban planning and suburban critique: The Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere. His more recent writings on sustainability and the environment include The Long Emergency, which explores issues of social change, community design and the economics of sustainability through the lens of increasing energy costs and natural resource depletion, and Too Much Magic, which analyzes the various technologies being suggested as magic bullets to the energy crisis. With vision, clarity and a pragmatic worldview, he argues that the time for magical thinking is over and the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work with our neighbors is at hand. Publisher’s Weekly says, “With characteristic curmudgeonly enthusiasm, Kunstler brilliantly if belligerently shows us what a pickle we’re in and how inept we are at dealing with it.” Mr. Kunstler has delivered incisive lectures (which he aptly describes as “stand-up comedy with dark moments”) about urban design, energy issues and new economics to audiences across North America, Australia, Europe and Africa.
Selected Books: Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic
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Bestselling Author │ Founder, Constitution & Socrates Cafés │ Social Entrepreneur
Christopher Phillips, the New York Times bestselling author of Socrates Café, Six Questions of Socrates, and Socrates in Love, has a passion for inquiry. A foremost specialist in the Socratic Method, he reminds us that we ought to ask questions—as Socrates put it in Plato’s The Republic, “about the way one should live.” Phillips’s inquiries reveal surprising points of intersection between classical philosophy, modern life, and the intellectual richness of diverse societies. Energized by the initial optimism surrounding Obama’s presidency and concerned with the increasingly fierce nature of the partisanship infecting Congress, Phillips’s latest project is Constitution Café, an effort to engage everyday Americans in constructive dialogue and debate about the nature of our government, the meaning of citizenship, and our most important political documents. Phillips has taught at New York University and is the founder and executive director of the Constitution Café and the Society for Philosophical Inquiry (SPI).
–Los Angeles Times
Christopher Phillips has a passion for inquiry. A foremost specialist in the Socratic Method, he reminds us that we ought to ask questions – “not about any chance question,” as Socrates put it in Plato’s Republic, “but about the way one should live.”
Selected Books: Constitution Café, Six Questions of Socrates, Socrates Café.
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Bestselling Author │ Journalist
Bestselling author Rebecca Skloot spent over ten years doggedly uncovering the truth about the life, death and ultimate "immortality" of a poor black tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks. On a tumultuous educational path until a community college biology instructor utter the words "Henrietta Lacks," Skloot—with remarkable focus and tenacity—set off on a trajectory that would shine the national spotlight on both and become the phenomenal book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
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|Dr. Geoff Tabin, MD|
Physician │ Humanitarian
One of Dr. Tabin’s greatest passions, mountain climbing, directed him to his professional career. After summiting Mt. Everest he came across a Dutch team performing cataract surgery on a woman who had been needlessly blind for three years. It was then he understood his life calling. He is a Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Director of the Division of International Ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah and spends a considerable part of the year working throughout the Himalayas, as well as in Africa. Tabin is only the fourth person in the world to reach the tallest peak on each of the seven continents, however he brings even greater passion and drive to the practice of medicine and healing. He says, “My partner Dr. Sanduk Ruit and I have vowed to work to eliminate all preventable and treatable blindness from the Himalayan region in our lifetime, a goal more audacious than setting out to make the first assent of the East Face of Mount Everest.” The work of their organization, The Himalayan Cataract Project, is documented in David Oliver Relin’s upcoming book Second Suns, which will be released in June 2013
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Author │ Radio Show Host │ Journalist
“It’s always been very important to me to enlarge imaginations about how this part of life we call religious and spiritual actually works in real, far-flung, 21st-century lives.”
A noted commentator on religion, ethics, and spirituality, Krista Tippett is the award-winning host of public radio’s Krista Tippett On Being (formerly Speaking of Faith), a weekly radio program carried by more than 200 public radio affiliates across the U.S. Tippett is highly regarded for the insight she brings to interfaith conversations about belief, meaning, ethics, and religion in a climate too often marred by polarization and partisanship. She is the author of Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit and Speaking Of Faith. She is currently working on The Civil Conversations Project and finishing a new book, slated for publication in 2014.
Selected Books: Speaking of Faith, Einstein's God
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