Telling Our Story: The Power of Positive Narrative in U.S. Politics and International Relations

"Those who tell the stories rule the world."
-Proverb of the Native American Hopi Tribe

On March 12 1932, America was in crisis: banks closed, industries shut down, many millions thrown out of work. Desperate bands roamed the countryside in search of food and shelter. Worse still, in large sections of the country the weather had changed violently, covering once productive fields and towns with vast quantities of dust that choked out every living thing. People were frightened. It seemed that the very edifice of government was beginning to crumble. But one man was not afraid. That evening, in a calm and steady voice, he sat down to speak to the American people, directly: "I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States…," he began. "I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be."

With that simple start, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began to heal a wounded nation. He accomplished this in no small part through the use of positive narrative — ‘storytelling’ — the hallmark of successful presidents from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt. Throughout his 40-odd Fireside Chats, his over 900 press conferences and his countless speeches, again and again Roosevelt used stories to tap into humankind’s primeval need to understand issues not only in intellectual terms, but on an emotional level as well — a method that drew listeners into the narrative and made them active participants in the outcome of their own story. Color, creed or political stripe didn’t matter, insisted Roosevelt at every opportunity. We were all simply in this together. Later, with the arrival of war, FDR further honed this message. America was not simply fighting the Axis, he reminded us, Americans were fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear — throughout the world, for everyone.

Seventy years later, we in America have for the most part abandoned or corrupted the use of positive narrative in US domestic politics, choosing instead to bury opposition under a deluge of competing noise, slice political discourse with divisive accusations, and worst of all use demagoguery to cloud vital issues that affect us all.

Internationally, the situation is even more bleak. Lacking strong, shared convictions about what America is or represents, we’ve allowed others to hijack our national narrative, twisting and contorting it to their own purposes, often to the danger and detriment of the United States and its allies.

On Saturday, November 14th, The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation will bring together a unique confluence of diplomats, politicians, historians, social scientists and most important of all — professional story-tellers — to examine this problem. Beginning with a study of FDR’s use of narrative, we’ll explore the psychological power of story-telling on the human mind, and propose multi-disciplinary ways to restore and invigorate the narrative of the United States at home and abroad.


R.J. Bee is Senior Vice President, Hattaway Communications where he manages day-to-day operations at Hattaway and leads project teams to create research-based strategies, content and campaigns for U.S. and international organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, Energy Foundation, USAID, World Health Organization, City Year and Packard Foundation. Before joining Hattaway, R.J. consulted for technology and clean energy startups, political candidates and nonprofit organizations. R.J. earned an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Political Science from the Ohio State University.

Katherine Brown currently serves as the Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy at the State Department. She previously served in the U.S. government as an assistant to the National Security Advisor at the White House; as a communications advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul; and as a Professional Staff Member at the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the U.S. House of Representatives. Katherine also worked throughout South Asia as a Communications Manager for The Asia Foundation and as one of the original editorial staff members for Bloomberg View, the opinion platform for Bloomberg News. She has taught international political theory and communications at American University and at Columbia University, where she received her Ph.D. in Communications in 2013.

Brett Bruen is president of the Global Situation Room and the former Director of Global Engagement at the White House. During twelve years as a U.S. diplomat, Brett became a specialist in using strategic communications to influence the course of crisis and conflict. As Director of Global Engagement at the White House, he created some of the government’s most innovative programs for reaching new audiences around the world. While at the White House, he was responsible for public diplomacy programs, international media, crisis communications, and globalentrepreneurship. In his current role as President of the Global Situation Room, he runs a consulting firm specializing in strategic communications, international public policy, and crisis management. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Federal Executive Institute, where he trains senior U.S. Government leaders on strategy and world affairs.

David Ensor is a Fall Term Fellow at the Shorenstein Center in the Harvard Kennedy School, writing about U.S. international broadcasting and digital media. In May, he completed four years serving as Director of the Voice of America in Washington, DC. VOA is a U.S. funded, editorially independent media organization, which reaches over 170 million people a week in 45 languages through television, radio, internet and social media. Ensor also served as Communications director at the US Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan and as Vice President of a Swiss commodity trading firm. He was a network news correspondent for 32 years, at NPR, ABC News and CNN.

Isaac Fitzgerald has been a firefighter, worked on a boat, and been given a sword by a king, thereby accomplishing three out of five of his childhood goals. He is the editor of BuzzFeed Books and co-author of Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them. More at






Joshua Green is a VP of Digital Strategist at Arnold. His experience includes developing consumer-facing online and mobile products and helping create the organizational changes to realize them. He’s designed near and future-states for customer service systems, created new products and editorial practices for content companies, run influencer and digital campaigns, and created and run original consumer research projects using custom-built research techniques. Joshua earned a PhD in Media Studies writing 300-pages about Dawson’s Creek and Australian television, and is a big fan of home cooking and mass transit.

Ambassador (r.) David Huebner is a partner in Arnold & Porter LLP’s international arbitration, public international law, and national security practices. Previously he held senior positions in the Asia Pacific region, including as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, chairman & CEO of an international law firm, founding chief representative of a firm in Shanghai, and special policy assistant to a member of Japan’s Diet. He is a graduate of Princeton University (summa cum laude) and Yale Law School, and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Brad Jenkins is the Managing Director and Executive Producer of Funny Or Die DC. For the last four years, Jenkins served as President Obama’s liaison and director of engagement to the creative and advocacy communities, bringing together creative executives, advocacy leaders, and some of the world’s biggest stars to advance the President’s agenda — including his Emmy-award winning “Between Two Ferns” interview on the Affordable Care Act. Jenkins also served President Obama in the 2008 Presidential campaign as the Deputy Director of Special Projects directing the intersection of youth media and grassroots engagement. Before the 2008 campaign, Jenkins worked on the trading desk for asset management firm, Farallon Capital in San Francisco, CA. He now resides in Bloomingdale in Washington D.C. and spends most of his time changing diapers and performing living room comedy for his 2 year-old daughter, Sadie and 6 month-old son, Oscar.

Cynthia M. Koch is Public Historian in Residence at Bard College. She was Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Hyde Park, NY, 1999-2011. She holds B.A. Pennsylvania State University; M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania. Her publications include a number of articles on Franklin Roosevelt, including “Franklin Roosevelt’s Dutchness: At Home in the Hudson Valley” in Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture (Oxford, 2009). In 2011, Cynthia delivered the 5th Annual Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Lecture at Adams House, Harvard.

John W. Rendon, Jr., is CEO and President of The Rendon Group, Inc. a leading global strategic communication consultancy that has worked in or on 127 countries. He is considered to be a leading pioneer in the use of strategic communications as an element of power and a thought-leader in harnessing the power of emerging technologies in support of real time information management. He has served as an executive communications consultant to the White House, U.S. Department of Defense, and Fortune 500 companies. He participates in forward-thinking organizations including the Aspen Institute, Highlands Forum and lectures at many institutions and universities on the impact of emerging information technologies on the way populations think and behave. For TRG, there are no foreign countries, only new ones.

Lieutenant Colonel Scott Thomson joined the United States Army in 1987, serving in various Armor and Cavalry units as an enlisted Soldier and as an Armor officer. He has served as a Psychological Operations officer in the United States Army Reserve since 2006 in various capacities, including detachment commander, company commander, battalion operations officer, and battalion commander. LTC Thomson holds master’s degrees in communications management and military arts and sciences. He is currently a National Security Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Anne Terman Wedner currently serves as a commissioner on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Previous to her political involvement, Anne developed strategic marketing and communications programs in the advertising and the financial services industries. In her early career, Anne represented the United States as a foreign service officer in France and Venezuela. Anne is also currently a board member of Harvard GlobalWe and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Anne holds a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a AB from Harvard University.

Jed Willard directs the FDR Center for Global Engagement at Adams House, honoring the 32nd President’s legacy by pursuing solutions to current global challenges and keeping in mind their historical origins. Current efforts focus on climate change, information and influence, and revitalizing faith in the post-Enlightenment tradition, the Arctic, the Transatlantic Alliance, and the linkages between cultural and economic diplomacy. Willard is also a consultant and Founding Director of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at the Kennedy School. Earlier he was a founding partner and board member at LanguageCorps, launching 16 work-abroad programs on four continents. Willard is from New Orleans, with a Bachelors Degree in History (Adams House ’96) and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard.

Schedule of Lectures and Workshops


Welcome by Judy Palfrey, Master of Adams House


"The American Story: From Washington to Roosevelt, Reagan and Beyond" History has been put to use by American leaders since the earliest days of the republic. It helped form—and expand—a nation based on principles of freedom, equality, and divinely inspired exceptionalism. In the 20th century Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, two of the nation’s greatest communicators, used history to advance their political agendas. But in the 21st century we realize that many Americans were left out of this triumphalist vision. Is the “master narrative” of American exceptionalism still available to American leaders? If not, what can replace it?

Cynthia Koch


Morning Panel: "Storytelling in a Noisy World" America has failed to present a coherent, convincing, and consistent counter narrative to the aggressive propaganda efforts of Russia and ISIS. Instead, the United States often falls into the trap of merely countering misinformation. To win on the modern information battlefield, the United States must place greater emphasis on creating and advancing a compelling meta-narrative across its programs and those of its allies.

Brett Bruen, Isaac Fitzgerald, Scott Thompson



12:45-1:30 – (choose one)

Workshop 1A — Public Relations — "What Motivates the Millennial Generation?"
How is the "digital generation" influencing America’s 21st-century story? Do those born after 1980 engage with peers, policies, corporations and brands differently from their forebears? Explore the intersection of politics, public relations, and youth-organizing.

R.J. Bee and students

Workshop 1B — Political Science — "Influence Operations: Art or Science?" Discuss the use of strategic communications as an element of power. How do we harness the power of emerging technologies in support of real time information management? What does this practice look like from the White House? From the Defense Department? From the private sector?

John Rendon

Workshop 1C — Public Diplomacy — "The Limits of Persuasion" Does America’s hard (material) power eclipse its soft power? Do US information activities effectively support foreign policy objectives? Participants in this workshop will learn how the US employs smart power tactics and share their feelings and advice about the government’s limitations.

Katherine Brown

1:45-2:30 – (choose one)

Workshop 2A — History —"The Fictional Inevitability of Liberal Democracy""Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others" – Winston Churchill

Was FDR’s chum right? Join our breakout group to consider current and historic forms of government that continue to appeal to world audiences. Through role play, discussion and debate, isolate the factors that create contemporary governing challenges for liberal democracy and help us answer the question: Is liberal democracy something for which we will still fight?

Jed Willard, Anne Wedner

Workshop 2B — International Broadcasting — "International Broadcasting and Media: Exporting the First Amendment in the Digital Age" In an increasingly crowded and competitive global media space, does advocacy trump impartiality? Should the Voice of America be a full-throated advocate for American policy–for the White House of the day–or should it be as it is now, an independent journalistic organization with the goals of balance, objectivity and honesty? That is a debate underway in Washington. I am on one side of it, but want my workshop participants to understand both points of view.

David Ensor

Workshop 2C — Advertising — "Framing and Narrative in the Digital Age" Which traditional rules of advertising still hold, and which traditions are out of date? How do leading brands understand the social networks where they wish to communicate and "cut through the noise?" Do product lines need story lines? At this workshop, learn how is branding today different from branding in the 20th century.

Josh Green


Afternoon Panel: "Where We Go From Here" Building on the discussions throughout the day, we’ll talk about the overall challenges and opportunities that have been surfaced, and focus on potential solutions and ideas for using the power of positive narrative and strategic storytelling to help restore our image abroad and advance the goals of the United States.

R.J. Bee, Brad Jenkins, Cynthia Koch


8th Annual Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Lecture" ‘What is Our Story, Anyway?’ American Narratives in the 21st Century"

Ambassador David Huebner


Reception in the Gold Room

Beyond Tomorrow: Safeguarding Civilization Through Turbulent Times

Adams House, Harvard College, The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation and the El Camino Project are pleased to co-present a three-day conference and concert experience, bringing together a diverse community of scholars, artists, writers and activists dedicated to preserving our past and charting our future in turbulent times.

Program Description

Modern civilization has at its core a mission of preservation: it is by its very definition the physical manifestation of the entire human experience, using the collected expressions of art, music, literature and philosophy as a well-font to feed and inform future endeavor. We presume as a matter of course that this knowledge base will continue to be valued and augmented, and that the core principles of civilization — the rule of law, the right to enlightenment and self-expression, the concern for general health and welfare — will continue to guide the march of human progress.

But what if…. Not?

What happens when the foundations of modern civilization come under deliberate and determined assault? What happens when certain people or groups attempt to obliterate entire aspects of human endeavor in order to hasten their own view of the world?

What happens to civilization when evil regimes attempt to re-write history, shifting or killing entire populations? What happens when entire cultural systems are swallowed and destroyed by uncontrolled commercial development? And perhaps most worrisome of all, what happens when shifting patterns of climate force drastic and deadly changes on entire populations? What happens to modern civilization then? If history is any guide, it eventually collapses.

At Harvard this October 16-18, we will accept the inevitability of this change, and begin the process of planning beyond the short term — Beyond Tomorrow. How do we go about selecting what to save and what to lose? How do we harden these elements against assault? How do we increase the odds of our civilization surviving through the dangerous times ahead?

Conference Schedule

4:00-6:30pm: Opening Session
Adams House Lower Common Room

Greeting: Marcela Davison Aviles, Managing Director, El Camino Project

“Climate Change and the Fall of the Roman Empire”. Michael McCormick
Drought, fire, pestilence and shifting weather patterns? It sounds familiar in 2015. But how about 215? Join us to hear one of the world’s premiere historians, Michael McCormick, the Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History, discuss how changes in weather patterns may have hastened the end of the empire in the West. Then, picking up precisely where Professor McCormick leaves off, renowned operatic diva Carla Dirlikov explores the transformation of Latin to Latin America in an inspired half-hour program of vocal magic that bridges two millennia. An intermezzo of specially themed Latin-inspired food & wine links the programs.

Alumni and Guests: $20. Students free. Limited to 75.

Location: Boylston Hall, Harvard Yard:
Saturday’s program of lectures and workshops will focus on historical societal collapses, and delve into stresses on our present systems.

Morning Program
10:00-10:45am: Coffee meet-and-greet
10:45 AM Welcome, Michael Weishan, Executive Director FDR Foundation
11:00am-12:15pm: “Don’t Worry, It’s Not the End of the World — Just the End of Ours
Ambassador Bruce Oreck

The term “existential threat” has been bandied about so often that it’s lost much of its force, but the reality is that it’s increasingly unlikely that the nations of the West can maintain anything like their current standard of living beyond the next few decades. Ambassador Oreck surveys the challenges confronting us, and spotlights why this conference is so timely and urgent.

12:15-1:30pm: Lunch in Ticknor Lounge, Courtesy of the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

1:30-2:15pm: Afternoon Workshops (choose one):
Lessons from the Past: “The Fate of the Maya: Climate and Social Justice” Alex Tokovinine
A variety of factors led to the end of the Classic Maya civilization. Many of their great cites were abandoned and swallowed by the forest. But the Mayan people remained and adapted to the new, post-Classic period. What was lost and what was retained during the transition, and what can we learn from the survival of the Mayans?

Lessons from the Present: “Too Hot to Handle: Business Strategies for Surviving Climate Change” Nancy Israel
One forward-looking company responded to change by transforming itself from a stagecoach company to a banking conglomerate. Another from long distance telegraph to high tech security. The lesson is clear: in business you adapt or die. So what are the strategies corporations need to survive in a world of rising temperatures?

Lessons from the Present Lina Perla Perelman “Out of Water: Resilence of Urban Water Structures in the Wake of Disruptions”
Using an innovative attack-defender game, this workshop explores the dangers faced by urban water networks from natural disasters and manmade attacks.

2:30-3:15pm: Afternoon Workshops (choose one):
Lessons from the Past: Sandeep Das “Preserving Culture through Music”
Music is perhaps the preeminent human practice for preserving past cultures. Through music we keep the past vividly alive, and experience as closely as possible the feelings of our ancestors. In this performance and lecture we will describe how history is preserved through music and help participants get into the minds of those who came before us.

Lessons from the Present: Laurie Rush “The Practicalities of Protecting Antiquities”
There are forces in Iraq, Syria, and around the world working to destroy the physical legacy of thousands of years of art and culture. What are the US Army and our allies doing to save our ancient heritage – and to document what cannot be physically saved? And how have these ancient monuments survived over the millennia in the first place?

3:30-4:40pm: Afternoon Panel “What’s Worth Saving” with David Brooks, Carla Dirlikov and Mark Plotkin, moderated by Ambassador Bruce Oreck.
What is the essence of our civilization? Our books? Our buildings? Our sculpture? Our song? Is it our philosophy of governance? Our social structure? Our “way of life?” With sea levels rising, alternative ideologies spreading, and time marching relentlessly along, how do we identify what it is about our culture that we hope to leave as our legacy?

Alumni and Guests: $20. Students free, though sign-up required. Limited to 125.

Gala Dinner and Concert at Adams House
followed by the concert: ‘Take Care Of This House’: Leonard Bernstein, Music and Hope.
Join Mezzo-Soprano Carla Dirlikov, Maestro Bernstein’s son Alexander, and pianist Justin Snyder as they create a program of music, conversation and images illustrating Bernstein’s lifelong commitment to a love of learning and a faith in a music as a force for justice.

Alumni and Guests $100; Limited to 60

Location: Boylston Hall, Harvard Yard
Sunday’s program of lectures and workshops will focus on possible causes of future collapses, and the means to avoid them.

Morning Program

10:45am-12:00pm: “Legacy & Resilience” Laurie Rush, Julie Wormser, Erik Conway, moderated by Mark Plotkin
Every civilization ends. Some leave a rich legacy of language, art, and culture. Some become idealized as “classical” periods. Some leave bricks in the desert. Some disappear entirely. Looking to the future, what can our civilization do to ensure a positive legacy?

12:00-1:00 Brunch at Adams House, courtesy of the FDR Foundation

1:00-1:45 “Cultural Capital” Doris Sommer
While science and technology must help to preserve cultures, cultural work needs to enable science and citizenship. Without an educated and creative public that can think critically and judge evidence, technical advances are blocked by interested maneuvering. During this session we will consider the power of art to refresh perception and to level relationships to promote dynamic democracies.

2:00-2:45pm: Afternoon Workshops (choose one):

Lessons for the Future: Russell Hancock “The Devolution of Problem Solving: Silicon Valley’s New Model for Regional Collaboration”
Some of the most pressing problems of our time, including climate change, aren’t being addressed in gridlocked state capitols – nor in Washington. In the future, metropolitan regions will come forward as pragmatic problem solvers, taking collective action across jurisdictional (and sectoral) boundaries to make genuine progress.

Lessons for the Future: Julie Wormser “Oceanview: Keeping the There There in Boston in the Face of Sea Level Rise”
Even if the world pulls together to battle climate change, some degree of sea level rise is inevitable. How do we save what makes our coastal cities unique – and how do we adapt to the loss of what we cannot save?

Lessons for the Future: Michael Frankel “The Day the Lights Went Out for Good”
While military planners are well aware of the dangers from Electro Magnetic Pulses (EMPs) from nuclear weapons, the general public is almost entirely ignorant of one of the greatest of all dangers to modern civilization: EMPs caused by the sun. Solar storms have historically produced bursts that would completely destroy today’s electronic devices and collapse the entire US power grid, yet almost no preparations are being made for an event that has an almost 100% certainty of occurring within the next 100 years.

3:00-4:00pm: “The Collapse of Western Civilization & How to Avoid It” Erik Conway
It is exceedingly likely that climate change will alter the world such that our political economy will have to profoundly adjust in order to survive. Whether or not that adjustment occurs is up to us and our successors. The conference ends with a view from the future, based on Erik Conway’s and Naomi Oreskes’ critically acclaimed book.

Alumni and Guests: $20. Students free, though sign up required. Limited to 125.

4:30-6:30pm: Closing performance and reception, Adams LCR, by invitation.


ALEXANDER BERNSTEIN President, the Leonard Bernstein Family Foundation

DAVID BROOKS – Author and New York Times columnist

JULIE WORMSER Executive Director, Boston Harbor Association

ERIK M. CONWAY NASA historian and Author: “The Collapse of Western Civilization”

SANDEEP DAS, Grammy nominated tabla player and composer.

CARLA DIRLIKOV Mezzo-soprano and Founder, El Camino Project

CEO, Joint Venture Silicon Valley

NANCY ISRAEL Climate change consultant, private practice attorney

MICHAEL McCORMICK Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History, Harvard University

LINA SELA PERLEMAN Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT

MARK PLOTKIN Ethnobotanist and explorer

LAURIE RUSH Anthropologist and Archaeologist, US Army Cultural Resource Center

DORIS SOMMER Ira Jewell Williams, Jr. Professor of Romance Languages and Literature, Harvard University

BRUCE ORECK Former US Ambassador to Finland

ALEXANDER TOKOVININEAnthropologist and Mayan Specialist

Steering Committee

MARCELA AVILES DAVISON, ’80, Executive Director, El Camino Project
CARLA DIRLIKOV – Mezzo-soprano and Founder, El Camino Project
NANCY ISRAEL ’76, Climate change and sustainability consultant and business lawyer
JED WILLARD ’96, Director, FDR Center for Global Engagement
MICHAEL WEISHAN ’86 Executive Director FDR Foundation, PBS Host, author, historian

Beyond Tomorrow is co-presented by:


The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation

Major support for Beyond Tomorrow has been provided by The TomKat Charitable Trust, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Adams House, Harvard College.

Interested in becoming a corporate sponsor? Click HERE

2035: A Guide to Living on a Changed Planet

Super-typhoons and cities threatened with rising seas… Ocean acidification and dying coral reefs… Melting polar ice and species extinction on a global scale… It’s time for us all to realize that climate change isn’t an abstract threat in some distant future. Rather, climate change has happened, is happening now and will continue to happen — in your future. The window for focusing solely on mitigation has unfortunately past; we now must also direct research, planning, and resources to prepare for living on an inevitably changed planet.

In order to tackle this complex global subject, we’ll be focusing on three critical subtopics that will broadly shape your future: water, energy, and infrastructure. The mornings will be spent in general topic lectures; after lunch the group will split into three small seminars to participate in real-world problem-solving exercises organized around the principles of the conference. The final day, Saturday the 24th, will be dedicated to single topic: The Myth of Sustainability.


WEDNESDAY, January 21

Hors-d’oeuvres Reception and Opening Address(4:30-6:00)
NPR Host of Living on Earth Steve Curwood ’69: Disbelievers: The Crisis of Faith on Climate Change

Thursday, January 22


Morning General Session
Professor Elsie Sunderland (10:15-10:45) Muddying the Waters
Professor Jim McCarthy (11:00-12:00) This is What Climate Change Looks Like

Group Lunch

Breakout workshops (choose one) (1:15-2:30):
Julie Wormser Preparing Cities for Rising Tides
Heather Henriksen Doing More With Less (Energy).
Dave Favazza and Travis Watters Designing Solutions in an Imperfect World: Drinking Water in Liberia

Afternoon Address: Rear Admiral Linda Fagan 2:45-3:30 Defending Against the Storm: Response and Resilience

3:45- 5:30 Design Thinking Workshop – Design the World in 2035, Part 1
Design Thinking is a structured process for innovation that was pioneered by IDEO, Stanford Design School and is currently employed by the Harvard Business School. Design Thinking allows the development of basic skills in creative problem solving, innovation, and "human-centered design thinking (HCD)." In this workshop, you will learn the basics of HCD, and develop ideas for clean water, air filter, natural energy and infrastructure. Lead by Maryam Eskandari, Founder of MIIM Designs and Adviser at Harvard Innovation Lab.

Friday, January 23

Infrastructure & Energy

Morning General Session
Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jed Willard (10:15-10:45) Why the Pushback on Climate Change?
Michael Weishan, 86 (11:00-12:00) How Corn May Come to Kill You: The American Addiction to Industrialized Farming

Group Lunch

Breakout workshops (choose one) (1:15-2:30):
Albert Cho Let’s Solve Water: Debating alternative approaches to addressing the world’s water challenges Marianne Bonnard and Philip Duguay The Day After Tomorrow: New England’s Water Crisis
Nancy Israel If it’s Melted It’s Ruined: Financing Green Infrastructure

Saturday, January 24

The Sustainability Myth

10:00-11:30 Design Thinking Workshop – Design the World in 2035, Part 2
Design Thinking is a structured process for innovation that was pioneered by IDEO, Stanford Design School and is currently emplyed by the Harvard Business School. Design Thinking allows the development of basic skills in creative problem solving, innovation, and "human-centered design thinking (HCD)." In the conclusion to this workshop you’ll discover how to make sure that these ideas, products and services you envisioned in the first seminar engage real world problems. Lead by Maryam Eskandari, Founder of MIIM Designs and Adviser at Harvard Innovation Lab.

Morning General Session:
Ambassador Bruce Oreck (11:45-12:45) Riding the Unicorn: The Fairytale of Sustainability

Group Lunch

Afternoon General Session
Robin Chase (2:00-3:00) How People and Platforms are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism

Speaker Bios

James J. McCarthy is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography and from 1982 until 2002 he was the Director of Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). He holds faculty appointments in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS). He was one of the architects of Harvard’s undergraduate degree program in Environmental Science and Public Policy (ESPP), and he served as Head Tutor in this field of study for a dozen years. He is also past Master of Harvard’s Pforzheimer House. McCarthy received his undergraduate degree in biology from Gonzaga University, and his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research interests relate to the regulation of plankton productivity in the sea, and in recent years have focused on regions that are strongly affected by seasonal and inter-annual variation in climate. He is an author of many scientific papers, and he currently teaches courses on biological oceanography and biogeochemical cycles, marine ecosystems, and global change and human health. McCarthy has served and serves on national and international planning committees, advisory panels, and commissions relating to oceanography, polar science, and the study of climate and global change for federal agencies, intergovernmental bodies and international organizations. From 1986 to 1993, McCarthy served as the first chair of the international committee that establishes research priorities and oversees implementation of the International Geosphere – Biosphere Program (IGBP). From 1986 to 1989 he served as the founding editor for the American Geophysical Union’s Global Biogeochemical Cycles. For the past two decades McCarthy has worked as an author, reviewer, and as a co-chair with the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For the Third IPCC Assessment, he headed Working Group II, which had responsibilities for assessing impacts of and vulnerabilities to global climate change. He was also one of the lead authors on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and a Vice-Chair of the 2007 Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment. McCarthy has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the New England Aquarium’s David B. Stone award for distinguished service to the environment and the community. He is past president and chair of the Board of Directors of the AAAS, our nation’s largest scientific association. Currently, he is chair of the Board of Directors for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Elsie M. Sunderland is Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and in the Department of Environmental Health in the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a Faculty Associate in the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Research in the Sunderland Lab focuses on how biogeochemical processes affect the fate, transport and food web bioaccumulation of trace metals and organic chemicals. Her group develops and applies models at a variety of scales ranging from ecosystems and ocean basins (e.g., the Gulf of Maine, the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans) to global applications to characterize how changes in climate and emissions affect human and ecological health, and the potential impacts of regulatory activities. Her group also makes key measurements of chemical concentrations and reaction rates in environmental samples (natural waters, sediments, and aquatic biota) and humans (hair, blood) to parameterize and evaluate environmental models. Ongoing research is elucidating the biogeochemical cycling of compounds with contrasting physical and chemical properties that can be used to obtain insights into the varying exposure pathways and environmental lifetimes for industrial chemicals. The innovation in this work is to quantitatively analyze the entire exposure pathway for these compounds to identify their properties in air and water (e.g., stability in the atmosphere, photodegradation in water, environmental partitioning behavior) that enhance chemical persistence and ultimate accumulation in biota.

Julie Wormser is the Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association, a non-profit organization focused on economic development, public access and sea level rise adaptation along Boston’s waterfront. Prior to joining TBHA, she spent fifteen years as a senior regional strategist with Environmental Defense Fund, Appalachian Mountain and The Wilderness Society. She helped secure millions of dollars in federal funding for forestlands and marine fisheries in New England. She was the lead author of Preparing for the Rising Tide, a well-received primer on climate change adaptation released by TBHA in February 2013. She received her BA in biology from Swarthmore College and her MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Albert Cho ’02 is Xylem’s Vice President for Strategy and Business Development. He leads corporate and business strategy, market intelligence, and business development activities across the global ~$4 billion enterprise. Before Xylem, Cho worked as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary at the State Department, where he was a White House Fellow and served on Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff. Previously, he was an executive at Cisco Systems and worked at McKinsey & Company, where he helped found the Sustainability and Resources Practice and advised clients in the industrial, high tech and financial sectors. He served at the United Nations with Undersecretary General Jeffrey Sachs on a global plan for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Albert is a Rhodes Scholar, a Truman Scholar, and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He received an M.Sc in development economics and an M.B.A. with distinction from Oxford, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College.

Bruce Oreck was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Finland on August 12, 2009. Ambassador Oreck has a diverse and encompassing background. Born and raised in New York City, Mr. Oreck also lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for many years and prior to moving to Helsinki, was a long time resident of Boulder, Colorado. Ambassador Oreck has had a lifelong passion for nature and the wilderness. An avid hiker from his youth, Mr. Oreck has camped all over America, throughout Europe and much of East Africa. Ambassador Oreck obtained his Bachelor of Arts from The Johns Hopkins University, his Juris Doctorate from Louisiana State University and his Masters of Law (Taxation) from New York University. Mr. Oreck practiced law for over 25 years representing many of the largest companies in the United States. He is the author of several books on taxation and has had a successful career as a speaker and lecturer on topics ranging from taxation to the process of creative thinking. In addition to his private legal practice, Ambassador Oreck served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President for his privately held family business, the Oreck Corporation, until the sale of that business in 2003. In his capacity as a real estate developer, Ambassador Oreck worked for many years restoring and redeveloping historic properties. This work caused him and his wife to become more and more engaged in “green” building and ultimately focused on climate change and renewable/alternative energy. In 2003, Ambassador and Mrs. Oreck founded the Zero Carbon Initiative which is committed to implementing both experimental and off-the-shelf technologies in the built environment, not just to reduce but to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a science journalist who specializes in understanding how science and society interact. She has been the science editor at, a science columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about the history and future of the American electric grid. Her work will appear in the upcoming Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014 anthology and previously appeared in the 2012 edition of The Best Science Writing Online. Maggie is interested in the sociotechnical systems that underlie everyday life and is currently investigating how human experimentation shaped what medicine is and what it will be in the future.

Dave Favazza is an engineering and international development professional with expertise in the planning, design, implementation, management, and sustainability of municipal and decentralized drinking water and sanitation systems. Originally hailing from Gloucester, Massachusetts, David is an Associate with Tetra Tech in their Framingham office. He currently serves as Project Manager for the Liberia Municipal Water Project (LWMP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He is a U.S.-registered Professional Engineer (PE) and has served as lead engineer or technical consultant on dozens of projects for domestic and international clients, including water and wastewater feasibility studies, institutional and policy analyses, master plans, and detailed facilities design and implementation. His technical experience includes water utility management, water and wastewater tariff pricing, water sector policy and institutional arrangements, resource protection, and geographic information system (GIS)-based planning and analysis. David’s program design and implementation work has included field travel to more than ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University and master’s degrees in Water Resources Engineering and Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.

Travis Watters is a civil engineer working for the international development group of Tetra Tech, Inc., with a focus on water resources and systems. As an employee of Tetra Tech, Inc., he has worked primarily on projects funded by the Department of State, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or USAID, such as: the Sardar Girls’ High School and Ghazi Boys’ High School in Afghanistan; the Secondary National Roads Development Program (SNRDP) in the Philippines; and Sanitation Master Planning for the city of Lusaka, Zambia. He is a U.S.-registered Professional Engineer (PE) and a member of the Boston Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Since 2011, he has been engaged in USAID’s Liberia Municipal Water Project, the goal of which is to provide more than 90% of the populations in Robertsport, Sanniquellie, and Voinjama with access to an improved water source in a manner that is financially and technically sustainable. He received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2009 and a Master of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT in 2010, where his thesis work involved the design and construction of a ceramic water filter manufacturing facility in Tamale, Ghana, as part of the non-profit organization Pure Home Water.

Marianne Bonnard is Director of Public Affairs at the Québec Government Office in Boston. She represents the Province of Québec in New England in a variety of sectors such as energy, environment and climate change, transportation, cultural, academic and francophone affairs, and on innovation and trade matters. Marianne was posted to Boston in January 2013, after serving 3 years as an adviser on Nordic and Arctic Affairs and the international action of non-sovereign entities at the International Relations Department of the Québec Government, in Québec City. She previously served as an expert adviser on Canadian and comparative federalism for the Québec Government from 2004 to 2010. She holds a B.A. Degree from the Strasbourg Institute of Political Sciences (France) and a Master in European Studies jointly delivered by the FU, TU and HU Berlin (Germany).

Philip Martin Duguay is a Public and Cultural Affairs Attaché with the Québec Government Office in Boston. His work focuses on energy, environmental, transportation and public security matters. He also works to create cultural exchange opportunities between Québec and New England. Raised in Connecticut, Philip was based in Canada for the last 13 years, where he studied and worked on energy policy and international development issues. He has a B.A. from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a joint law degree (B.C.L.-LL.B.) from the McGill University, Faculty of Law in Montreal, Québec.

Steve Curwood was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and brought up as a Quaker in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his mother, Sarah Thomas Curwood, was a sociology professor at Antioch College. He went to high school at Westtown School in Westtown and was an undergraduate at Harvard University, graduating in 1969. In 1970, as a writer for the Boston Phoenix, Steve broke the story that Polaroid’s instant photo system was key to apartheid pass system in South Africa. Steve moved on to the Boston Globe as an investigative reporter and columnist and shared the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service as part of the Boston Globe’s education team. His production credits in public broadcasting include reporter and host for NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, host of NPR’s "World of Opera", producer for the PBS series The Advocates with Mike Dukakis, and creator, host and executive producer of Living on Earth, the prize-winning weekly environmental radio program heard for more than 23 years on public radio stations and distributed by Public Radio International (PRI) since 2006.

Rear Admiral Linda Fagan assumed the duties of First District Commander in May 2014. She oversees all Coast Guard missions across eight states in the Northeast including over 2,000 miles of Coastline from the U.S./Canadian border to northern New Jersey and 1300 miles offshore.In fulfilling these responsibilities, Rear Admiral Fagan commands more than 11,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel, and employs 30 cutters, 200 boats and 8 aircraft. Her previous assignment was as the Deputy Director of Operations for Headquarters United States Northern Command.

Heather Henriksen is the Director of the Harvard Office for Sustainability. In this role, she leads the effort to bring together students, faculty and staff across the University’s 12 Schools and dozens of central administrative departments to build a healthier, more efficient and sustainable campus. She oversees a robust stakeholder engagement and governance structure responsible for making progress on Harvard’s sustainability goals, including the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2016, inclusive of growth. This entails connecting student and faculty research with on-campus action, and contributing to the health and well-being of the broader campus community.

Robin Chase is founder and CEO of Buzzcar, a service that brings together car owners and drivers in a carsharing marketplace. empowers individuals to take control of their mobility, without looking to governments or big businesses for solutions. Robin is also co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the largest carsharing company in the world, and GoLoco, an online ridesharing community. She is on the Board of the World Resources Institute, the US Secretary of Commerce’s National Advisory Committee for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and the US Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Advisory Committee. She served on the World Economic Forum Future of Transportation Council, the Massachusetts Governor’s Transportation transition team, and the Boston Mayor’s Wireless Task Force. In 2009, she was included in the Time 100 Most Influential People. Robin lectures widely, has been frequently featured in the major media, and has received many awards in the areas of innovation, design, and environment. Robin graduated from Wellesley College and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and was a Harvard University Loeb Fellow.

Nancy Israel is a climate change and sustainability consultant and business lawyer, who brings a business-oriented approach to managing climate change risks and opportunities. Nancy’s work on climate change and sustainability includes briefing the US Congress Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change on the public; policy recommendations in her report, “Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers;” the President of R Street Institute, the Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense and the President of the Reinsurance Association of America lent bipartisan and insurance industry support to the policy recommendations Collaborating with multilateral development banks, underwriters, investors, and US and Canadian officials to catalyze investments in green infrastructure, renewable energy and other environmentally beneficial projects by developing the “green bonds” market; Guidance to investors, insurance companies and regulators on meaningful disclosure of climate change risks and opportunities and transparent reporting of sustainable business practices. Her background includes Managing Partner of a business law firm, International Counsel and partner at EY (Ernst & Young) and currently, sole practitioner. She is a Senior Advisor to Ceres and previously was Senior Manager in the Insurance Program at Ceres, a nonprofit whose mission is mobilizing investors and businesses for a sustainable global economy. She authored “Insurance Products that Enable the Transition to a Sustainable Future,” in addition to “Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers,” both distributed by Ceres. Recent speaking engagements include the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Casualty Actuaries of New England (CANE), the Cape Cod and Islands Climate Change & Energy Conference sponsored by The Woods Hole Research Center, and the American Bar Association. Nancy is developing financial sector guidance on assessing and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions as a Technical Working Group member of the Financed Emissions Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol). She is a graduate of Harvard College, where she lived in Adams House, and Harvard Law School.

Michael Weishan is widely known as the host of the American public television series, The Victory Garden, a position he held from 2001 through 2007. He was the fourth host of the series, and retired after five seasons to resume active direction of his landscape design firm, Michael Weishan and Associates, which specializes in creating traditionally inspired landscapes for homes across the US and Canada. In addition to his work on PBS, Weishan has appeared on numerous national TV programs in the United States, including the Today Show on NBC, as well as the CBS Early Show. On radio, he hosted his own weekly NPR program, The Cultivated Gardener from 1999–2001. Weishan is also the author of three books on horticulture: The New Traditional Garden (1999); From a Victorian Garden (2004); and The Victory Garden Companion (2006). The gardening editor at Country Living for five years, Weishan is a frequent contributor to various national periodicals, including New Old House Magazine where he writes a quarterly gardening column. Weishan also maintains an active lecture schedule across the United States and Europe, with special emphasis on residential garden design, landscape history and environmental gardening. Weishan’s research in landscape design overlaps with a lifelong love of architecture, architectural design and archaeology, and his first published work (1991) was as editor and co-contributor (along with noted Harvard archaeologist George M.A. Hanfmann) of The Byzantine Shops at Sardis, volume 9 of the Sardis Archaeological Series published by the Harvard University Press. He currently serves as the Director of the the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation at Adams House.

Place: Adams House LCR, 26 Plympton Street, Cambridge

Dates & Times: Adams House LCR, 26 Plympton Street, Cambridge
Wednesday January 21 4:30-6 PM
Thursday-Saturday January 22-24 10:30 to 3:30 with lunch included – as well as plenty of time for networking.