William Stuart Nelson belonged to an influential cadre of black religious intellectuals who in the 1930s and 1940s developed scholarly expertise in nonviolence. Through their writings, sermons, and lectures, they educated a succeeding generation of activists who led and participated in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Historian Dennis C. Dickerson's lecture details how Nelson, through his deep engagement in India with Quaker pacifism and Gandian satyagraha, became an acknowledged authority on nonviolence, went on to lead Quaker meetings in India, and meet with Mahatma Ghandi. From these experiences he learned the primacy of nonviolence and peace in human interactions, which, after his return to the United States, he passed on to Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists. Nelson also went on to teach the first ever course on nonviolence at an American divinity school.
When Elvis Presley joined the US Army in 1958 it was an international event, with media coverage of everything from cutting his famous hair to European fans flocking to meet him. During his two years in uniform, Elvis was transformed in the public mind from the rock-and-roll outlaw to an all-American boy. But Elvis’s service raises questions of greater significance for understanding Cold War America, questions which military historian Brian Linn will address in this lecture: What kind of army did Elvis join? What was its mission? How did it prepare for war? Why was it so fascinated with technology? Why did Americans expect their army to not only train teenagers as soldiers, but to provide education, technical training, and moral instruction?
The biggest threat to America's national security comes not from abroad but from within, argues Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, a Lloyd Cutler Distinguished Visitor at the Academy. Drawing on themes in his most recent book, Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order (2013), Haass advocates for a new US national security doctrine of Restoration, one that would require the US to limit its involvement in wars of choice, shift its focus from the Middle East toward Asia and North America, and rebuild the domestic foundations of American power.
A reading and lecture with New Yorker staff writer Malcom Gladwell at Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus from his most recent book, The Unheard Story of David and Goliath, which uncovers the hidden rules that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty, the powerful and the dispossessed. Beginning with a cadre of women resisting British police oppression in Northern Ireland and an anecdote about the life of the little-known Alva Vanderbilt, Gladwell's lecture adumbrates how the narrative of The Unheard Story of David and Goliath takes readers into the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, and then digs into the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms, all in an attempt to demonstrate how fundamentally we misunderstand the true meaning of advantages and disadvantages. When does being weak have power?
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