PBK Lecture 2018: Matthew W. Barzun
Our Separate Worlds: Where Do We Go From Here? (Hint: More Humanities)
While Ambassador to the United Kingdom,Matthew Barzun listened to and learned from 20,000 British high school seniors as they shared their experience of the political and sociocultural age in which they found themselves. Upon returning to the States in January of 2017, Barzun began listening to U.S. teenagers in a similar fashion as a way to take the country's pulse. What he heard was notably, if not uniquely, American. U.S. students express that their number one frustration lies in the divisive rhetoric so prevalent in today's discourse. On the flip side, their number one hope is the country's ever-increasing diversity. The Latin root for both words is div-, meaning separate. In other words, what they fear most and love best about their country are both rooted in separateness. In his talk, Ambassador Barzun asks both how we arrived at this particular juncture in history and the best way forward. Perhaps the answer to both questions can and must be found in the exploration and experience of the humanities.
About Matthew Barzun
The Honorable Matthew W. Barzun served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom from August 2013 to January 2017. He served as national finance chair for former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2011 and 2012. From August 2009 to May 2011, he served as U.S. ambassador to Sweden. In 2008, he volunteered for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign, leading the effort to conduct supporter-driven small-dollar fundraisers. He joined CNET Networks as its fourth employee in 1993 and worked there for 11 years including as Chief Strategy officer. Barzun currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Brooke Brown Barzun and 3 wonderful children.