IRC Lecture Series
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About the IRC Lecture Series

From Eleanor Roosevelt, our first speaker in January 1955, to Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, and Condoleezza Rice – from revered journalist Jim Lehrer to Peace Corps Director Carol Bellamy – hundreds of journalists, professors, diplomats, and other experts have joined us in Kansas City through the years to provide keen international insight, valuable analysis, and a range of perspectives to the IRC's diverse audience.

Our robust global-affairs programming provides opportunities for IRC individual and organizational members and members of our community to dive in to international issues, engage experts, and understand more fully the connections between what's going on around the world and in our region.

IRC lectures and panel discussions are often free or low-cost and occur throughout the year. Visit our events calendar for current programming, and be in touch with ideas you might have for program topics or speakers.


Recent Offerings  

Where Does Venezuela Go From Here?  December 10, 2019
Venezuela remains a country in deep instability. With a recent history marked by jarring political, social, and economic events and trends, the country has seen an outflow of more than 4 million people (1 million+ in the last 12 months). Where does Venezuela go from here, and what are the prospects for a true turning point? David Smolansky, youngest mayor in the country's history, living in exile since September 2017, offered unique insights on the context, realities, and future of Venezuela.


An Evening with H.E. Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Amb. of Pakistan to the U.S. – October 30, 2019
The community came together for an evening with H.E. Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the United States of America.Dr. Asad Majeed Khan is a career Pakistan Foreign Service Officer. He presented his credentials as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States of America to President Donald J. Trump on January 11, 2019.


Populism and Nationalism on the Rise: A German Perspective – October 23, 2019

Recent elections around the world in a range of developing countries and established democracies have revealed growing traction for populist candidates and nationalist rhetoric. This accelerating trend has resulted in increased populist representation in governments and the sanctioning of ideological policies. In this lecture, career diplomat Stefan Schlüter reflected on this international surge in populism and nationalism from a German perspective.


Great Decisions: Refugees and Global Migration – June 13, 2019

In Europe alone, approximately 10 million people were displaced by World War I. In 2017, an unprecedented 68.5 million people worldwide had been forced to leave their homes, including more than 25 million by war and violence. Here, attendees heard from president and CEO of the Museum and Memorial, Matthew Naylor, for a timely panel conversation with Nazanin Ash of the International Rescue Committee and Abdul Bakar of Della Lamb as they addressed the roots, realities, and prospects of refugees and global migration.

Hunger, History, and the Heartland: A Global Perspective – May 21, 2019

Today, hunger impacts 821 million – one in every nine – people worldwide. The U.S. has a long, bipartisan history of leading the fight to end hunger, contributing both technical expertise and harvested food to countries around the world. The deepening challenges caused by hunger, which have moral, economic, and national security implications for the U.S., require sophisticated emergency responses and the development of long-term resiliency in communities in sometimes distant places. At this lecture, we welcomed World Food Program USA President and CEO Rick Leach, who discussed the causes, status, and prospects of global hunger and the special role America's Breadbasket continues to play in this effort.

U.S.-Taiwan Relations as the Taiwan Relations Act Turns 40 – April 10, 2019

Signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on April 10, 1979, and reaffirmed several times since, the Taiwan Relations Act is the primary guiding document for bilateral relations between the United States and Taiwan. 40 years later to the day, in light of continuing developments on Taiwan, we examined the state of relations with the United States' 11th largest trading partner (3rd largest import partner for Kansas, 6th largest for Missouri).


A U.S. Perspective on Iran and the Larger Middle East – March 27, 2019

Iran remains an enigma to many in the West over concerns about their nuclear weapons program, governance issues, and destabilizing behavior in neighboring countries. The U.S. has recently changed course in its Iran policy, withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal and implementing new sanctions. Amb. Thomas Pickering explored realities in Iran and the Middle East, as well as U.S. strategy in the region. He also discussed the role diplomacy can play at a time of change and escalating tensions.


Brexit and the Future of Europe – March 13, 2019

Since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom has entered uncharted territory as it prepares to leave the European Union on March 29. As the new year dawned, there were questions about whether Brexit would happen, in what form, and how it would affect politics and economics. Amanda Sloat from the Brookings Institution discussed the latest developments and what Brexit means for the UK, US, and Europe.


Megaregions & the Future of Transportation – January 31, 2019
As the population continues to grow, the rise of megaregions places new demands on infrastructure, food supplies, and public services, requiring innovative solutions. The transportation of a growing number of people and goods in and between dense megaregions stands out as a particularly complex issue with local implications. The proposed Missouri Hyperloop route is just one of a number of solutions that deserve attention to help us understand the realities of megaregions and what this will mean for the greater Kansas City area. This program explored the challenges and opportunities of megaregions and the future of transportation with Ron Achelpohl, MARC's director of Transportation and Environment; Drew Thompson from Black & Veatch; and Dr. Bradley Lane, associate professor of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas.


An Evening with Sarah Margon, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch – September 13, 2018

Sarah Margon, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch, discussed the state of human rights around the world in 2018 and took questions from the audience.

Decisions: U.S. Global Engagement and the Military – June 12, 2018 As the global power balance evolves, the United States faces complex questions concerning the roles of its military. Here we heard from an expert panel featuring Juan Ulloa, Command and General Staff College, and Daniel Mahanty, Center for Civilians in Conflict, as they addressed the differing views of the U.S. military in the 21st century global community. Presented in partnership with the National World War I Museum & Memorial.


The Opportunities and Challenges of Chinese Investment in the U.S.: A Public Forum – May 24, 2018

Moderated by Virginia Harper Ho, Associate Dean for International & Comparative Law, panelists discussed practical opportunities and challenges regarding foreign investment. Attendees were able to learn about different perspectives of Chinese investments over lunch. Panelists included, Professor Ji Li of Rutgers University School of Law, Representative of the China Chamber of Commerce, Edward (Trip) Frizell of Polsinelli, KC SmartPot CEO Chris Gutierrez, and Vice President Jeff Zhao of Human Resources and Legal Affairs-BWI Group.

Democracy and the Mexican and U.S. Electoral Systems – April 16, 2018

In a program presented by the IRC in conjunction with the Mexican Consulate in Kansas City and Lathrop Gage, panel members Head Consul Alfonso Navarro-Bernachi and Dr. Robynn Kuhlmann discussed the electoral systems in Mexico and the United States. Since 2018 is a critical year for both countries, the panel pointed out key differences and similarities between the electoral process for both nations.

Um Retrato Atual: Economic, Political, and Cultural Perspectives on Brazil in 2018 – March 21, 2018

Christopher W. Anderson, Dr. Mona Lyne, and Luciano Tosta made up an illustrious panel offering differing perspective on challenges and opportunities faced by Brazil in 2018. Moderated by Dr. Monica Mingucci, the panel discussed Brazil’s economy, politics, and culture in a Latin American and global context.

NATO: Truman to Trump – December 6, 2017

This IRC-sponsored American Public Square Event brought together experts to discuss the history of NATO and the challenges it faces in the 21st century. Panelists included Ivo Daalder, Nina Jankowicz, Barry R. Posen, and Stephen Walt.