CHAUTAUQUA - Perhaps the most urgent topic of Chautauqua Institution's 2014 season, "The Ethics of Privacy" is a week of themed programs that will deeply analyze a subject that continues to play prominently on national newscasts, newspaper fronts and magazine covers.
Pulitzer Prize honoree Barton Gellman, former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales and a National Constitution Center-sponsored debate headline the week, which runs July 7-11 with programs taking place in the Institution's storied Amphitheater and Hall of Philosophy.
The week of 10:45 a.m. Amphitheater lectures opens July 7 with Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center and an award-winning journalist on legal issues, who will provide an overview of the history and philosophy of individual privacy. Peter W. Singer, director of Brookings' Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and author of the new book "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar," will remark July 8 upon privacy and responsibility in the U.S. and within the global context.
"The most pressing privacy issue is the growing disconnect between the rapidly advancing capabilities of our new technologies and our leaders' understanding and regulation of them," Singer said. "That is, technology moves ahead at an exponential pace, while political and legal change is now moving at a glacial pace, if that."
Edward Snowden interviewer Gellman, the Time contributor-at-large who was one of three to break the NSA story in June 2013, speaks July 9 on that scandal and on privacy and the press. Earlier this month, The Washington Post was honored with the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for Gellman's reporting with co-writer Laura Poitras. On July 10, Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher in the Pew Internet & American Life Project, will lecture on generational differences in attitudes on privacy, specifically regarding young people and their digital lives.
"We have a generation of young people growing up in the midst of these changes to privacy and sharing, opportunities that also come with reputational risks," Lenhart said. "Understanding today's youth, their notions of digital privacy, and how that's different (or not) from adults is critical for understanding the complicated web of policies around privacy."
To close the week's Amphitheater programs on July 11, Duquesne Law dean Ken Gormley will interview former U.S. attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales on the inherent tension for government in providing national security while respecting individual freedom.
The 2 p.m. Interfaith Lecture Series in the Hall of Philosophy will tackle the week's topic through the lens of "The Ethical Tensions of Privacy vs. Interdependence."
On July 7, Luke Timothy Johnson, R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, will provide the historical longview of the human-invented notion of the private domain within a world that is by nature interdependent. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, director of the Center for International and Comparative Law at Emory University School of Law, has written extensively on civil liberties and human rights and on July 8 will pursue the ethical dimensions of privacy in relation to Islam and to the world communities.
"The most pressing privacy issue in the world today is the lack of truly inclusive discourse about privacy or any other issue of public concern," said An-Na'im. "Who speaks for whom is my question."
July 9 lecturer Rabbi Yehuda Mirsky, associate professor of Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University, ordained in Jerusalem and holder of a law degree from Yale and a doctorate in Religion from Harvard, will provide insights into notions of privacy within the Jewish faith in relation to politics, theology and culture. On July 10, Sharon Duke Estroff, award-winning educator and author of "Can I Have a Cell Phone for Hanukkah?," will focus on the complexities of raising children in a digital age, linking to Lenhart's talk that morning.
"Kids don't consider [privacy] to be an issue at all," Estroff said. "Quite the opposite, as no thought or experience seems complete to them until it's been posted, tweeted or Instagrammed for all to see."
Michael Patrick Lynch, author and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, brings the week of Interfaith Lectures to a close on July 11 with remarks on "Privacy and the Threat to the Self."
In addition to its traditional lecture platforms, Chautauqua offers the week's attendees three special afternoon programs in partnership with notable outside institutions.
The National Constitution Center and its president and CEO, Monday morning lecturer Jeffrey Rosen, will present a debate on privacy issues at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Hall of Philosophy. The week also brings faculty members from Arizona State University's Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics to present a series of lectures on privacy and ethics with regard to health, national security and love, at 4 p.m. Monday and Friday, also in the Hall of Philosophy.
Elsewhere on the Chautauqua grounds that week, attendees will be treated to every form of artistic expression Chautauqua offers, beginning with the Chautauqua Opera production of Puccini's "Madam Butterfly" at 8:15 p.m. July 5 in the Amphitheater. Chautauqua Theater Company closes "A Raisin in the Sun" on July 6 and stages the season's first New Play Workshop, Heidi Armbruster's "Dairyland," July 10 to 12.
The students of the Music School Festival Orchestra perform July 7, and the professional Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra accompanies Charlotte Ballet in Residence on July 8, with excerpts from "Coppelia" and "Carmen," and performs July 10 with guest conductor Rossen Milanov and renowned pianist Di Wu. Chautauqua's Family Entertainment Series stops by the Amp at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with juggling and comedy act The Passing Zone, as seen on NBC's "America's Got Talent!"
To cap the week, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles brings her "That Girl" tour to Chautauqua's main stage July 11.
At the visual arts galleries, the 57th Chautauqua Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Charles Burchfield Exhibition will continue their runs. Author Christopher Wakling presents his acclaimed novel "What I Did" at 3:30 p.m. July 10 in the Hall of Philosophy.
Purchase tickets for "The Ethics of Privacy" at Chautauqua at chqtickets.com. Tickets for lectures only are available the day of the event. To find accommodations for an extended stay, visit athenaeum-hotel.com or reservations.ciweb.org.