Our view: Seminars success story

At issue:

Seminars at Steamboat is celebrating its 15th year of bringing high level speakers to town to discuss important issues.

Our view:

Seminars is satisfying Steamboat’s thirst for intellectual programming.

Seminars at Steamboat has released the summer’s speaker line-up, and, once again, the free talks will focus on timely and important topics, such as climate change, Brexit and fake news.

Our view:

Seminars is satisfying Steamboat’s thirst for intellectual programming.

This summer will mark the 15th year Seminars has been bringing nationally renowned speakers and leading thinkers to the Yampa Valley to discuss issues of national and international importance, and we hope to see the widely popular program continue for another 15 years and beyond.

Since the program’s inception in 2003, Seminars has brought an impressive array of speakers to town. In 2004, Daniel Marcus, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who served as general counsel of the 9/11 Commission, spoke about the commission’s 9/11 report, and the following summer, New York Times columnist David Brooks presented a talk titled, “Barbecue Grills and the Future of America: How Our Stratifying as a Society is Affecting Lifestyles and Politics.”

Other speakers have included Steve McCormick, president of the Nature Conservancy; Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations; David Sanger the New York Times’ chief Washington correspondent; and Paul Tagliabue, former commission of the National Football League, to name a few.

This year’s line-up also doesn’t disappoint, with founder and operator Kathleen Hall Jamieson speaking about fake news and the role of the press in society; former British Labour politician Douglas Alexander talking about Brexit and what lies ahead for Britain and Europe; Marcia Coyle, a journalist and attorney who covers the Supreme Court for the National Law Journal, tackling the subject of the nation’s highest court; Northwestern University economics and social science professor Robert Gordon talking abut the future of the U.S. economy; and New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert, who is author of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” addressing climate change.

As in previous years, the Seminars board has demonstrated insight when it comes to choosing relevant topics and lining up speakers to address them a year in advance. As Seminars’ board chair Bob Stein described it, it requires a lot of foresight to plan five different presentations that are “fresh, topical and important.”

The Seminars series brings the world to Steamboat and provides intellectual nourishment for a community that is most widely known for its outdoor recreation. Like our world class library and our rich arts and culture offerings, which include Strings Music Festival and the Emerald City Opera, Seminars is another piece of the community quilt that makes Steamboat so special.

Every Seminars talk draws a full house, which shows us the programs are tapping into a hunger and desire for these types of presentations, and Seminars in Steamboat has become a mini Aspen Institute.

Seminars talks are videotaped and posted at and also broadcast on KUNC, which allows more people beyond the 450-seat Strings audience to have access to the high-quality talks. We encourage the Seminars board to continue to look for new ways to expand the reach of the program through live streaming or possibly enticing the Seminars speakers to talk to a CMC class while they are in town to reach a younger audience.

We thank founders Freddi Goodrich, Jim Goodrich, Belle Sawhill, Bob Stein and Jane Stein for their vision and devotion to Seminars. And “bravo” to the current 16-member board of directors for its continued commitment to bringing these type of high-profile presentations to the Steamboat community, then providing the talks for free to a public that is obviously thirsting for such programs.

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