The 2020 Champlain Institute
November 3 — What’s at Stake?

Monday, July 27-Friday, July 31, 2020 

The Champlain Institute is a week-long ideas festival which hosts leaders from around the country and the world to share their expertise on pressing issues of our time. The focus of the 2020 Institute will be November 3 — What’s at Stake? During the week, we will explore the future of US diplomacy, climate change policy, income inequality, national security, the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court, and other issues that will be critical national topics leading up to the presidential elections next November.

We will announce the initial lineup of speakers in early 2020. Please check this page for more details as they are announced. The Champlain Institute is free and open to the public, but registration is required and will open in May. 

We look forward to you joining in the conversation this summer. 

Bryn Mooser, Susan Sarandon, Darron Collins

The 2019 Champlain Institute
Art: Dissent and Diplomacy 

Monday, July 29-Friday, August 2, 2019 

The College of the Atlantic Champlain Institute is a week-long forum of ideas and exchange hosting leaders every summer from around the country and the world to share their expertise on the most pressing issues of our time. 

2019 Champlain Institute Schedule    

Thank you to all of our guests and speakers who helped make the 2019 Champlain Institute a great success! To view archived talks, please visit our YouTube channel   


Selected Readings

We want guests to be as engaged as possible before, during, and after the talks. We asked speakers to recommend inspiring and thought provoking articles, videos, posts, etc. that will contribute to guests’ understanding and increase their depth of perspective. Please reference the attached reading list if you’d like to study the issues further.

Reading List

2019 Speakers

Imbolo Mbue

Imbolo Mbue

Imbolo Mbue is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Behold The Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award, and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and The Washington Post and a Best Book of the Year by close to a dozen publications, the novel has been translated into 12 languages, adapted into an opera, is about to become a stage play , and was recently optioned for a movie. A native of the seaside town of Limbe, Cameroon and a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia universities, Imbolo Mbue currently resides in New York City.

Sam SiftonSam Sifton

Sam Sifton is the food editor of the New York Times, the founding editor of NYT Cooking, and a columnist for The New York Times Magazine. He has also served as the national editor, the restaurant critic, and culture editor. Sifton graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with an AB in history and literature in 1988. He began his journalism career as assistant editor for American Heritage magazine in 1988. From 1990 to 1994, he taught social studies in the New York City public school system. Sifton held a number of positions at the weekly New York Press during his tenure there from 1990 to 1998, including restaurant critic, contributing editor, senior editor, media critic and managing editor. Sifton was a founding editor of Talk (magazine) in 1998. His son, Silas, will matriculate at COA in the fall.

Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline

A #1 New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, Christina Baker Kline is published in 40 countries. Her latest novel, A Piece of the World, explores the real-life relationship between the artist Andrew Wyeth and the subject of his masterpiece Christina’s World. An instant New York Times bestseller, A Piece of the World was awarded the 2018 New England Prize for Fiction and the Maine Literary Award, among other prizes. Kline’s 2013 novel Orphan Train, about a little-known but significant piece of American history, spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Hundreds of communities, schools, and universities have chosen it as a “One Book, One Read” selection. Both novels have been optioned for film. A resident of New York City and Southwest Harbor, Maine, Kline serves on the NYC Center for Fiction and Bar Harbor Jesup Library advisory boards and on the gala committees of the Authors Guild and Friends of Acadia. Her new novel, about Australia’s complicated convict history, will be published in 2020.

Julián Zugazagoitia, the Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO of the Nelson...Julián Zugazagoitia

Julián Zugazagoitia is the director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins, one of the nation’s leading encyclopedic art museums. Born and raised in Mexico City, educated at the Sorbonne and the École du Louvre in France, Zugazagoitia has worked at institutions like UNESCO, The Getty Conservation Institute, The Guggenheim Museum, and Museo del Barrio in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. Since his arrival at the Nelson-Atkins in 2010, museum attendance has increased 43% thanks to improved engagement with the community, superlative exhibitions ranging from antiquities to contemporary, and more inclusive programming. Zugazagoitia is widely known for inspiring the community with his passion for the arts, scholarship, and education, and for his high energy leadership and collaborative spirit. He also currently serves as board chair of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York, NY, and on the board of the Kansas City Art Institute.

Judy GoldsteinJudith Goldstein

Judith S. Goldstein received a BA degree from Cornell University in 1962 with a concentration on European and American history. As a Woodrow Wilson scholar at Columbia University, she studied for a master’s degree in European history and later completed her doctoral studies there after writing her dissertation on “The Politics of Ethnic Pressure: The American Jewish Committee Fight Against Immigration Restriction: 1906-1917.” This work was the beginning of a sustained concentration on immigration and diversity in America and Europe. In 1997, she founded Humanity in Action and has served as its executive director for the past 21 years. Humanity in Action, based in New York City, develops and conducts annual educational programs for American, Danish, Dutch, French, German and Polish college and university students.

Sheila Canby, Islamic curator, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, © 2013 MMA, photographed by Ja...

Sheila Canby

Dr. Sheila Canby was appointed Patti Cadby Birch Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009, having served as Curator of Islamic Art and Antiquities at the British Museum for eighteen years. She oversaw the opening of the galleries for the art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia in 2011. At the Met, her publications include co-editing Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art (2011), Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs (2016), and authoring The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (2011 and 2014). She received her BA at Vassar College, and her MA and PhD at Harvard University. The main focus of her research is on Iranian art of the 16th and 17th century Safavid Dynasty and how court painting reflects the material culture and physical environment of Safavid Iran.

Bryn MooserBryn Mooser

Bryn Mooser is a twice Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker and humanitarian. In 2012, Mooser co-founded RYOT, a next generation motion picture company specializing in documentary films and virtual/augmented reality. Over his career, he has produced more than 200 linear and immersive films garnering multiple Emmy Awards, two Oscar nominations, and a Peabody. Mooser sold RYOT to Verizon in 2016, becoming a SVP and helping create the road map for immersive and documentary films for AOL, Yahoo, and Verizon. As a humanitarian, Mooser spent three years in the Peace Corps in West Africa, and was the country director for Artists for Peace and Justice in Haiti. While in Haiti, he helped build the nation’s largest cholera treatment center, and a high school in Port-au-Prince that today educates nearly 3,000 Haitian youth per year. For his charitable work, he was awarded the prestigious Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award, and Esquire Magazine named him as one of their Americans of the Year.  He has a BA from Bennington College, and grew up in Bar Harbor, Maine, where his mother, Etta Kralovec taught at College of the Atlantic. 

Catherine Clinger

Catherine Clinger

Catherine Clinger, PhD is an artist, art historian, writer, and devoted teacher. Her expertise includes European and American Art from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries; Romanticism and critical theory; print culture in the transnational fields of science and technology; and the emerging field of the Ecological Humanities. Catherine has taught at McGill University, University of New Mexico, University College London, Kent Institute of Art and Design, and New Mexico Highlands University. She is currently the Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts at College of the Atlantic. She received her PhD in Art History from the University of London, an MPhil in the History of Art at University College London, an MA in History of Art from the University of New Mexico, and her BA from the University of Kansas. She is a Master Printmaker of Intaglio and Relief and founder of Hexenspuk Press, New Mexico.  

Julian BellJulian Bell

Julian Bell is a painter living in Lewes, Sussex. His work, often exhibited in London and New York, is held in collections including the Museum of London and Hove Museum and Art Gallery. In addition to painting, he writes about art for various magazines and has also written several books, including Mirror of the World: A New History of Art (2007) and What is Painting? (2017). Bell is the grandson of Bloomsbury Circle artists Clive and Vanessa Bell and the grand-nephew of Virginia Woolf. 


WASHINGTON,DC- SEPT. 13, 2012: Francis Sellers-Moderator at Washington Post Live, Advancing Medic...Frances Stead Sellers

Frances Stead Sellers is a senior writer at The Washington Post. She covered the 2016 presidential campaign, writing about the leading candidates and key figures in the Trump administration, and was a member of the team that produced the 2016 best seller Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President . Sellers has been a senior editor in charge of several sections of The Post, including the signature daily section Style, which focuses on political profiles, personalities, arts and ideas. She is a sought-after commentator on American politics and culture for both US and British radio and TV.




President Darron Collins '92Darron Collins ’92

Darron Collins is a 1992 graduate of College of the Atlantic and, in July 2011, became the seventh president of COA and the first alumnus to hold that position. Over the past eight years, Collins has helped make COA one of the country’s most successful and innovative schools dedicated to the environment. Prior to coming back to COA, Collins enjoyed a decade managing international conservation projects at World Wildlife Fund. Collins holds a PhD in anthropology from Tulane University. His doctoral research and academic work is based on the ethnobotany of the Q’eqchi’-Maya in northern Guatemala. Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Q’eqchi’-Maya, Collins has numerous publications to his name, both in scientific journals and popular media. He is a Fellow National of the New York Explorers Club, a board member of the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, and serves on the Science Advisory Committee of the Schoodic Institute. 

Ashley James at 2019 Champlain Institute

 Ashley James

Ashley James is the assistant curator for Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Prior to the Brooklyn Museum, she was a Mellon Research Consortium fellow at the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art. James is a PhD candidate in the Departments of African American Studies; English Literature; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She holds an MA and an MPhil in English Literature and an MA and an MPhil in African American Studies from Yale. At Yale, she co-curated the 2014 University Art Gallery exhibition Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection. She writes broadly on modern and contemporary literary and visual arts practices, and her dissertation reconsiders the relationship between politics, art, and blackness in the late 1960s.


John WilmerdingJohn Wilmerding

Over the course of his career, John Wilmerding has become one of the most respected and widely known authorities on American art. His many books and articles, which began appearing in the early 1960s and continue unabated today, have helped define the scholarly nature of the field as a whole and have also documented the work of key figures such as Fitz Hugh Lane, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins. Wilmerding has organized many exhibitions on American art, perhaps most memorably the majestic American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850-1875, held at the National Gallery of Art in 1980. Through his teaching and his lectures, he has introduced thousands to the wonders and complexities of our national art. 


Nancy SchaferNancy Schafer

Nancy Schafer is an independent film producer and consultant who has premiered seven feature films at top festivals over the past five years, all of which have received distribution in the United States. Her current film, “Running With Beto,” will premiere at SXSW 2019 and will be distributed by HBO summer 2019. Her last two narrative films, “Barracuda” and “Transpecos,” premiered in competition at SXSW, with “Transpecos” winning the Audience Award. Nancy is executive producer of The Battered Bastards Of Baseball (Sundance, 2014), producer of “7 Chinese Brothers” (SXSW, 2015) starring Jason Schwartzman, executive producer of “Frame by Frame” (SXSW, 2015), and “Come Down Molly (Tribeca, 2015). She worked at and ran the Tribeca Film Festival from its inception to July 2012, a period of 11 years, in which she was executive director of the festival, executive vice president of Tribeca Enterprises, and launched Tribeca Film, their film distribution company. Prior to Tribeca, she created and ran the SXSW Film Festival for eight years. She has also recently launched Original Thinkers, an idea and story festival held in October each year in Telluride, Colorado.

Desson ThomsonDesson Thomson

Desson Thomson is Director of Executive Communications for the Motion Picture Association of America, the political advocacy organization for the Hollywood film industry. A seasoned communicator on many levels, he comes from a 25-year career of journalism with The Washington Post, and seven years as a public policy speechwriter for leading members of President Obama’s executive branch. At The Post, he started out as a feature writer for the Style section before becoming what he would become best known for: one of the newspaper’s longest serving movie critics. In 2008, he left the paper to join the Obama administration where he wrote speeches for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s Louis Susman, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine, and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin. He originally grew up in England before attending American University, where he graduated with a degree in visual communications and cinema studies.

Cat CollinsCatherine Brown Collins

Catherine Brown Collins is the director of Film, TV and Digital Media in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the US Department of State. Catherine oversees ECA film exchange programs, including Global Media Makers and American Film Showcase, and works closely with US embassies around the world to support film and media initiatives. Previously, she was an independent documentary film producer, writer, researcher and fundraiser for award-wining documentaries. She has produced documentaries on a broad array of subjects, particularly on current affairs, science, history and literature for PBS, NHK and ARTE. Most notably, she produced the Peabody Award winning F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams for the PBS American Masters series with filmmaker DeWitt Sage in 2001, and their Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea, also for the PBS American Masters series, was nominated for an Emmy in 2005. Catherine has lived and worked overseas in Jakarta, London, and Dubai. She strongly believes in the importance of cultural exchange and the power of films to facilitate dialogue and foster greater understanding between peoples. She graduated from Harvard College with a BA in American History and Literature. She was also a Henry Luce Scholar in Indonesia.

Tim GarrityTim Garrity

Tim Garrity has been executive director of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society (MDIHS) since 2010. He writes and presents widely on public history, especially on the hidden histories of Mount Desert Island. He serves as editor of Chebacco, a magazine published by MDIHS. Before beginning a second career in public history, he worked for over thirty years in the healthcare field, first as a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy and finally as Chief Executive Officer of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital.




Hannah TraoreHannah Traore

Hannah Traore is an art historian and curator living and working in New York. She was named as part of a rising “new vanguard of black female curators” by NOW magazine. Traore has curated several notable shows including “Africa Pop Studio” for which she received the Periclean Scholar Award for outstanding work, (Tang Teaching Museum, NY) and “Of Ourselves” (Gladstone, Toronto), and served as the curator for Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security Art Forum. She has taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and currently is the Painting and Sculpture 12-month curatorial intern for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Traore graduated from Skidmore College in 2017 where she majored in Art History and minored Studio Art.


Ted Widmer

Ted Widmer

Ted Widmer is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Widmer served as a speechwriter and senior advisor to former President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001, and as a senior advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2012 to 2013. He was formerly the director of The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and the director of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. His books include Martin Van Buren (2005); Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races (with Alan Brinkley, 2001); and Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City (1999). Widmer is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The New York Observer, Politico, The Boston Globe, and The American Scholar.





2018 Champlain Institute: International Affairs

All 2018 Champlain Institute sessions were recorded and can be found in the Videos section of COA’s Facebook profile.

2018 Champlain Institute Schedule