Conference on World Affairs

CWA Athenaeum

The CWA Athenaeum was established in 1999 as a means of extending the cultural, intellectual environment of the Conference on World Affairs throughout the academic year.

While the Conference hosts over 100 speakers and performers during one week in April, the Athenaeum is designed to focus on individual distinguished guests, and these visits are scheduled throughout the fall and spring semesters. An Athenaeum guest speaker interacts with students in different settings over several days. Athenaeum programs are interdisciplinary explorations of ideas, drawing together students from various schools and colleges on the Boulder campus. Notable guests not only inspire students, but also find the Athenaeum to be a personally rewarding and exhilarating experience.

Athenaeum guest speakers are hosted by two Athenaeum Student Fellows during the course of their visit. The Student Fellows are responsible for coordinating events, classes, meals, transportation, and attendant logistics. An Athenaeum program typically includes classroom visits, an evening public talk or performance, and a social event on another evening with students, faculty, staff, and community supporters. At all events and meals, there is a particular focus on personal exchanges between students and speakers.

Students, email us at for more information or to request to be added to the Athenaeum student fans e-list. Community members (non-students) who would like to be notified of the Athenaeum and CWA public events can sign up here.

Past Participants


Linda Greenhouse

Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, Greenhouse is a journalist covering the Supreme Court and the law. She reported on the Supreme Court for The New York Times from 1978 to 2008. She teaches at Yale Law School and is the author most recently of the book The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction, as well as a biography of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun. She is also the co-author, with Reva B. Siegel, of Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling.

Mike Giant

Graffiti writer and Tattoo Artist. Giant began writing graffiti under the name “Giant” just before starting college. In 1998, Giant began tattooing full-time and worked in legendary shops like East Side Ink, Newskool and Everlasting. Giant made tattoos full-time for a decade before switching his attention to REBEL8, a clothing brand he founded with his friend in 2003.

Jo Becker

Journalist and Author. Becker is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, where she has broken stories on everything from the United States’ lethal program to kill suspected terrorists to the British phone-hacking affair, the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal and Vladimir Putin's Russia. A University of Colorado graduate, she has taught investigative journalism as a visiting professor at Princeton University, and her work has earned her numerous awards.


Andrew Revkin

Writer and environmentalist. In his 15 years as the environment reporter for The New York Times, Revkin broke stories on the Bush administration’s interference with scientific research at NASA and was the first Times reporter to file stories from the North Pole. He currently writes the Dot Earth environmental blog for The Times is also senior fellow for environmental understanding at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. Previously, he wrote and edited for Discover Magazine and Science Digest.


Alison Klayman

Director. Klayman was named one of the 20 directors to watch by The New York Times. Her debut documentary Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry was shortlisted for an Academy Award and won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film follows the internationally renowned Chinese artist as he garners international attention for his artwork, as well as his political provocations of the Chinese government.

Jean Kilbourne

Author. Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the portrayal of women in advertising and for her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. She is the creator of the renowned Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series and author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel.

Hedrick Smith

Journalist and Author. Smith spent 26 years at The New York Times as a reporter and editor. In 1971, as chief diplomatic correspondent, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. In 1974, he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe. Smith's most recent book, Who Stole The American Dream? (2012), demonstrates how a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions have transformed America.

Lillian Boutté & Henry Butler

Singer and Pianist. Lillian Boutté is a monument to jazz, gospel, and rhythm and blues. She was decorated Ambassador of Music by the city of New Orleans (the only musician since Louis Armstrong to receive this honored title) for her many decades of activity. Henry Butler is a ten-time Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Blues Foundation Award nominee. Combining a rich mixture of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, blues, and R&B influences with his classically-trained voice, his music is as excitingly eclectic and unique as that of his New Orleans birthplace.


Steve James

Steve James

Director and Producer. Hoop Dreams, for which Steve James served as director, producer and co-editor, was nominated for an Academy Award and won every major critics award in 1994. He has had five feature films selected for the Sundance Film Festival, including: Stevie, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson and most recently in 2011, The Interrupters.
Jenni Schaefer

Jenni Schaefer

Author and Speaker. Schaefer's national bestseller Life Without Ed helped expand and improve approaches to treating eating disorders. She is a regular commentator on television shows such as Dr. Phil and Entertainment Tonight. In addition to her books, Schaefer's writing has appeared in The New York Times and Cosmopolitan.
Colin Goddard

Colin Goddard

Assistant Director, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Goddard was shot four times during the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. He was one of seven out of a class of seventeen to survive the shooting. Now assistant director of federal legislation at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Goddard educates others about gun violence and weaknesses in U.S. gun laws.


Jim Shepard

Jim Shepard

Author. Jim Shepard is the author of six novels and four story collections. His novel Project X won both the 2005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction and the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. His short fiction has appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, the New Yorker and Playboy, as well as other journals.
Michael Elliott

Michael Elliott

President and CEO, Elliott is an award-winning journalist and editor. Before joining, he served as editor of TIME International and deputy managing editor of TIME Magazine. He has held senior executive positions at Newsweek and The Economist, where he founded the "Bagehot" and "Lexington" columns.


Maria Hinojosa

Maria Hinojosa

Broadcast journalist. Hinojosa is the host of the PBS series Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One and NPR's Latino USA. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine.
Yes Men

The Yes Men

Sociopolitical satirists. The Yes Men attempt to raise awareness of public issues through large scale hoaxes. They have produced two films documenting their work: The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix the World, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Dorian Haarhoff

Dorian Haarhoff

South African storyteller. Haarhoff is a former professor of English at the University of Namibia. His work is strongly influenced by mythology, whole brain theory, Jungian and Eco psychology, creation spirituality and narrative therapy.
Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi

Journalist and athlete. Taibbi has written for: The Nation, Playboy, New York Press, The Moscow Times, Rolling Stone, and the New York Sports Express. He has been a regular on Real Time with Bill Maher and The Rachel Maddow Show, while also being one of the first Americans to play professional baseball in Russia.


Beatboxer and hip hop artist. Shodekeh is the official "hip hop ambassador" of Baltimore, and the founding director of Embody: A Festival & Series of Vocal Arts


Randy Olson

Randy Olson

Scientist-turned-filmmaker. Olson has made a number of short films and two feature-length films, Flock Of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circusand SIZZLE: A Global Warming Comedy. Olson spent fifteen years as a Marine Biologist before pursuing a career in film and earning a degree from the U.S.C. Cinema School.
Joe Cirincione

Joe Cirincione

President of Ploughshares Fund and author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. Cirincione teaches at the Georgetown University Graduate School of Foreign Service, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a frequent commentator on nuclear security issues.
Patricia Elliott Kathleen Chalfant

Patricia Elliot & Kathleen Chalfant

Tony Award-winning actresses. Elliot (a CU Alum) and Chalfant received favorable reviews for their Off Broadway play Vita and Virginia-a story of the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West.
Kay Redfield Jamison

Kay Redfield Jamison

Clinical psychologist and author. Jamison is an expert on manic depressive illness and is the critically acclaimed author of books such as An Unquiet Mind, Exuberance: A Passion for Life, and her recent memoir Nothing Was the Same. She is professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an honorary professor of English at the University of St Andrews.
Julia Sweeney

Julia Sweeney

Actress, comedian, author and veteran cast member of Saturday Night Live. More recently, she has earned the praise of critics with her successful one-woman shows God Said Ha!, In the Family Way and Letting Go of God.


John Cameron Mitchell

John Cameron Mitchell

Golden Globe-nominated filmmaker, writer, actor. Mitchell wrote, directed and starred in the rock musical film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), for which he received the Best Director and Audience Awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Bill Reinert

Bill Reinert

National Manager of Advanced Technology for Toyota Motor Sales, USA. Reinert coordinates Toyota's various research, development and marketing activities related to alternative-fueled vehicles and emerging technologies. He and his team were responsible for product planning of the current generation Prius.
Clifford Stoll

Clifford Stoll

Astronomer, educator, computer guru, internet critic, cyberspace sleuth, and chief bottle washer, Acme Klein Bottle. Stoll's bestselling book The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage chronicles the true story of how he caught a ring of hackers who were stealing U.S. military secrets and selling them to the KGB.
Les Blank

Les Blank

Critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker. Blank's work provides vivid depictions of a wide range of human appetites, endeavors and obsessions-from music to food and drink. His numerous international awards include Best Feature Documentary from the British Academy for Burden of Dreams, his portrait of director Werner Herzog.


Jessica Seigel

Jessica Seigel

Journalist, commentator, editor and humorist. Seigel's award-winning commentary on popular culture and women's issues has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The New York Times, NPR, and Glamour.
Stuart Schoffman

Stuart Schoffman

Columnist for the Jerusalem Report and board member of Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. Schoffman's work supports religious pluralism and equality of opportunity in Israel.
Colonel Andrews

Colonel William Andrews

Colonel Andrews, whose combat tours include Desert Storm, Southern Watch, and Enduring Freedom, currently teaches at the National Defense University. He is also the author of two books on military strategy.
Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Best known as a member of the Monty Python comedy team, Terry Jones is a comedian, screenwriter, actor, film director (including Monty Python's Life of Brian and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life), children's author, popular historian, and political commentator.
Christopher Meloni

Christopher Meloni

C.U. alumnus Chris Meloni is an Emmy-nominated actor, with acclaimed credits in both television (NYPD Blue, Law and Order, Oz, Scrubs) and film (Twelve Monkeys, Bound, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle).



Mark Jonathan Harris

Documentary filmmaker, author and professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.
Don Grusin

Don Grusin

Jazz musician, composer, producer and arranger. Grusin has recorded 18 solo albums and produced many more, including the Grammy-winning Musican for Ernie Watts. Grusin received a 2005 Grammy nomination for The Hang and is the recipient of the CU Alumni Association's 2006 George Norlin Award for distinguished lifetime achievement.

Stephen Okazaki

Academy Award and Peabody Award winning documentary filmmaker. Okazaki’s film shorts include Days of Waiting and The Mushroom Club.
Sheik Richardson

Armand "Sheik" Richardson

Jazz musician, photographer, and tenth generation New Orleanian, is founder of the Arabi Wrecking Krewe, a band of musician volunteers who offer assistance to hurricane victims.
Joy Zarembka

Joy Zarembka

Executive Director, Break The Chain Campaign, Institute for Policy Studies, an organization working to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking in the United States.


Charles Burnett

MacArthur Award winning filmmaker and writer. Burnett's morally complex films include To Sleep With Anger and Killer of Sheep, which has been declared a national treasure by the Library of Congress.

Derek Nash

World-renowned jazz saxophonist and composer. Nash's original composition "Flatirons Suite" is a tribute to Boulder, inspired by his participation in the Conference on World Affairs.

Shaul Gabbay & Amin Kazak

International Affairs professors of the course "Israel and Palestine: Peace in the Middle East from Two Perspectives." Gabbay is a former commander in the Israeli Infantry, and Kazak studied for his doctorate as a Palestinian refugee in Beirut.

Simon Deng & Brian Steidle

Former Sudanese slave Deng and former U.S. Marines Captain Steidle raise public awareness about the genocide in Sudan.


Governor George Ryan

Former Illinois Governor who commuted the sentences of 167 death row inmates before leaving office.

Katy Chevigny & Kirsten Johnson

Filmmakers of the documentary Deadline about former Illinois Governor Ryan’s decision to commute the sentences of 167 death row inmates.

Eve Ensler

Creator of the Vagina Monologues; founder of "V-day," a global movement to increase awareness of women's issues through anti-violence organizations.

George Butler

British born documentary film maker of Pumping Iron about body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger and Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry.

Simon Hoggart

Parliamentary sketch writer for The Guardian, London.

Christopher Trumbo

Author of Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted about his father's experiences as a Hollywood screenwriter during the McCarthy era.


Godfrey Reggio

Filmmaker of the Qatsi trilogy, including Koyaanisqatsi, Powwaqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi.

Clay Johnson

White House Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Budget and Management; formerly Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel and Chief of Staff for Governor Bush of Texas.

Sister Helen Prejean

Death penalty activist and author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated book Dead Man Walking, which inspired the Academy Award winning film by the same title.

Giandomenico Picco

An Italian UN diplomat who successfully negotiated crises associated with Afghanistan/Soviet-Russia War, Iran/ Iraq War and the Lebanon hostage crisis.

Adam Hochschild

Writer and founding editor of Mother Jones magazine. Author of: Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves and King Leopold's Ghost.


Marco Williams & Whitney Dow

The Two Towns of Jasper, a documentary about the racially motivated killing of James Bird in the town of Jasper, Texas.

Anna & Frances Lappé

Authors of Diet for a Small Planet and Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet.

Sanho Tree

Fellow and Director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

Tim Long

Co-Executive Producer and writer for The Simpsons.

Rick Reilly

Author of Who’s Your Caddy, among other titles; columnist for Sports Illustrated.


Daniel C. Dennett

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.

Deirdre McCloskey

Chair of the National Security Policy Department at the National Defense University.

Janet Breslin-Smith

Chair of the National Security Policy Department at the National Defense University.

Margot Adler

National Public Radio Correspondent; author of Drawing Down the Moon.

Gary Hart

Former Senator and co-author of the Hart-Rudman Report on Homeland Security.


Werner Herzog

Internationally renowned documentary and feature filmmaker, including Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

Jed Purdy

Author of For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment.

Patch Adams

Humanist healer and author of Gesundheit! and founder of the Gesundheit Institute.

Judith Kipper

Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Charles Clements

Member of Physicians for Human Rights and activist on water and landmine issues.


Susan Faludi

Author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women and Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male.

Richard Rodriguez

Social commentator and essayist, Lehrer News Hour; author of Brown: The Last Discovery of America.

Peter Copeland

Editor and General Manager of Scripps-Howard News Services.