The Champlain Institute 

College of the Atlantic’s week-long forum of ideas and exchange will explore the ways art challenges, promotes, undermines and advances political, social, religious and cultural norms. The Champlain Institute hosts leaders every summer from around the country and the world to share their expertise on pressing issues of our time.

Amb. Susan Rice in conversation with Ted Widmer at the 2018 Champlain Institute.Panel discussion on US-EU relations at the 2018 Champlain Institute.






The opening kickoff conversation will be held Monday, July 29 and we will close the series on Friday, August 2. We will announce speakers over the next several months and a preliminary schedule will be available April 15. Please check back for more details as they are announced.


The Champlain Institute is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Current Champlain Society members can register May 1 and general registration will open June 1. Not sure whether your membership is current? Please email Amanda Mogridge at or call 207-801-5624. Want to renew? Give online now. A link to online registration will be available on this page at that date.

2019 Class of Speakers

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 NYT 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. Kline is currently working on a novel about the convict women who transformed Australia and the Aboriginal people whose lives were ruptured when colonists invaded their shores. She lives in New York City and in Southwest Harbor, Maine. 

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. Besides 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. 


Sheila Canby, Islamic curator, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, © 2013 MMA, photographed by Jackie Neale Chadwick

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.

Ashley James at 2019 Champlain Institute

Ashley James

Ashley James comes to the Brooklyn Museum from the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art, where she was a Mellon Research Consortium fellow. James is a Ph.D. candidate in the Departments of African American Studies; English Literature; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She holds an M.A. and an M.Phil. in English Literature and an M.A. and an M.Phil. 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.


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, 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 lives in New York City.

WASHINGTON,DC- SEPT. 13, 2012: Francis Sellers-Moderator at Washington Post Live, Advancing Medical Innovation held at Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center , on 9/13/12, in Washington,DC.( Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan )

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 U.S. and British radio and TV.



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.




Julián Zugazagoitia, the Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, is seen in the Bloch Lobby near Ghiberti'sJulián 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 grown 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.


More speakers will be announced shortly. 

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

The 2018 Champlain Institute was sponsored by:

Compass Group Logo 

IDS International Government Services

Interested in sponsoring the 2019 Champlain Institute? Contact Wes Norton at 207-801-5627.