The C. Boyden Gray Colloquium is designed to engage St. Mark’s students in an exploration of one complex global issue annually.
Students hear from outside speakers with varying viewpoints, participate in small group discussions, write about and debate the issue, and take part in all-community events. C. Boyden Gray ’60, former Board President and current Trustee, has committed $1.5 million to fund this annual yearlong learning exercise.
St. Markers, Gray believes “should think in big terms and be inquisitive about the outside world.” Gray, a former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, White House counsel to the first President Bush, and recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, hopes that tackling these topics in an intensive fashion will inspire students to serve their country and the world
Artificial Intelligence and Citizenship
- 2023-2024 Gray Colloquium Speakers
- 2022-2023 Gray Colloquium Speakers
- 2021-2022 Gray Colloquium Speakers
- Past Speakers and Annual Themes
October 19: Dino Ambrosi
Dino Ambrosi is a digital wellness speaker and the founder of Project Reboot, a guided digital detox program designed to help teens reset their tech habits. While studying at UC Berkeley, he created a semester-length course that helped over 100 of his peers reduce their screen time by an average of three and a half hours per day. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Data Science, he embarked on a mission to spread the contents of his course to a broader audience. Through speaking, consulting, and facilitating Project Reboot, he has helped over 4,000 teens build healthier relationships with technology.
Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and their Surprising Rise to Power
A riveting tour through the landscape and meaning of modern conspiracy theories, exploring the causes and tenacity of this American malady, from Birthers to Pizzagate and beyond. American society has always been fertile ground for conspiracy theories, but with the election of Donald Trump, previously outlandish ideas suddenly attained legitimacy. Trump himself is a conspiracy enthusiast: from his claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax to the accusations of "fake news," he has fanned the flames of suspicion. But it was not by the power of one man alone that these ideas gained new power. Republic of Lies looks beyond the caricatures of conspiracy theorists to explain their tenacity. Without lending the theories validity, Anna Merlan gives a nuanced, sympathetic account of the people behind them, across the political spectrum, and the circumstances that helped them take hold. The lack of a social safety net, inadequate education, bitter culture wars, and years of economic insecurity have created large groups of people who feel forgotten by their government and even besieged by it. Our contemporary conditions are a perfect petri dish for conspiracy movements: a durable, permanent, elastic climate of alienation and resentment. All the while, an army of politicians and conspiracy-peddlers has fanned the flames of suspicion to serve their own ends. Bringing together penetrating historical analysis and gripping on-the-ground reporting, Republic of Lies transforms our understanding of American paranoia.
Thursday, December 1, 2022 - Gish Jen
Bio: https://www.pshares.org/issues/fall-2000/about-gish-jen-profile Oxford
Bibliographies: https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199827251/obo-9780199827251-0129.xml https://www.gishjen.com/
Gish Jen has published short work in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and dozens of other periodicals, anthologies and textbooks. Her work has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories five times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel and is widely taught. Jen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Harvard.
Gish Jen was born Lillian Jen on 12 August 1955 in New York City to Chinese immigrant parents from Shanghai, Norman and Agnes. They met in the United States and initially planned to return to China, but they remained due to the communist takeover in 1949. Jen, the second of five children, grew up in Yonkers and Scarsdale. While in high school, Jen adopted the name Gish after an actress, Lillian Gish. She started out to be a pre-med and pre-law student, but she graduated from Harvard University majoring in English in 1977. After working for a year in New York City, she entered an MBA program at Stanford Business School but left Stanford to teach English in Shandong, China. She enrolled at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and received an MFA in 1983. She married David O’Connor and moved to Silicon Valley in California, where David worked. His work moved the family to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and after failing to find a secretarial job at Harvard, Jen was awarded a fellowship at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute. It was during this time that Jen worked on her first novel, Typical American (1991). The New York Times recognized the novel as a “Notable Book of the Year,” and it was one of the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Jen’s second novel, Mona in the Promised Land (1996), derived from her short story, “What Means Switch?” and is a sequel to Typical American. Jen’s next book, Who’s Irish? (1999), is a collection of eight short stories, and two stories from the collection were selected for the Best American Short Stories anthology. John Updike chose “Birthmates” for The Best American Short Stories of the Century (1999). Jen’s next book, The Love Wife (2004), departs from the Chang family and focuses on the new American family that consists of multiethnic members, including Asian, Asian American, and white American. Jen published World and Town in 2010, and her most recent work is Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Independent Self (2013). Jen is a recipient of various fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship (1988).
Thursday, January 12 - Susan Reverby
Historian of American health care, women, race, and public health with a focus is on equality and ethics.
As a historian of American health care, my major research has been on women's health, women as health workers/professionals, and the ethics of public health and research. My first books include the co-edited America’s Working Women (1976), Health Care in America: Essays in Social History (1979) and my monograph Ordered to Care: The Dilemma of American Nursing (1987). My next project was focused on what is often called the infamous "Tuskegee" syphilis study, the four decades long (1932-72) U.S. Public Health Service research study in which African American men were deceived into believing they were being treated, not monitored, for their disease. I edited a book on this study called Tuskegee's Truths: Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (2000) and my written book on the study, Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy , appeared in 2009, winning three major academic awards. I was also part of the Legacy Committee that led to President Clinton offering a federal apology for this study in 1997. To learn more about Susan Reverby, select the link above.
- 2019-2020 Civil Discourse
- 2018-19 Creating Change
- 2017-18 Building the Future
- 2016-17 Globalization
- 2015-16 Identity and Citizenship
- 2014-15 Sustainability
- 2013-14 Citizenship in a Technological World
- 2012-13 Global Challenges
- 2011-12 Citizenship
10/3/19: Michael Greenwald
Alumnus Michael Greenwald, a Belfer Center Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His expertise is in illicit finance, sanctions, and the Gulf/Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Greenwald previously worked in senior roles within the United States Treasury in positions.
To read Michael Greenwald's full bio, select this link.
10/17/19: Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates
Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates in conversation with the SM community.
11/7/19: Lomax 400
Dr. Mark Lomax II and The 400 Years Project: An Afrikan Epic (in collaboration with the Arts Department, C&E, Global, and the History & Social Sciences Department)
1/17/20: C&E/Gray Day
1/27/20: Christopher Phillips
Ethics Fellow at Harvard University, author of the Socrates Cafe which has inspired countless philosophical gatherings around the globe
2/20/20: Ross Gay
Indiana University Professor of English, writer, Founder of the Bloomington Community Orchard (a food justice program)
4/23/20: Shayla Lawson
Amherst College Writer-In-Residence, author of 3 books of poetry, Macdowell and Yaddo Artist Colony Fellow
October 4, 2018: Dr. Shivani Bhalla
Conservation biologist Shivani Bhalla, a fourth-generation Kenyan, is working to safeguard the future of Kenya’s rapidly declining lion populations. She is founder and executive director of Ewaso Lions, a conservation organization that uses scientific research and community outreach to promote coexistence between people and lions who share habitats. It is the only organization that focuses on lions that live both inside and outside protected areas in northern Kenya. There are now fewer than 2,000 lions in Kenya, and they could vanish within two decades if habitat loss and conflict with humans continues. Ewaso Lions’ innovative community outreach programs, which involve young tribal warriors as well as women and children, are helping foster local support for conservation. Bhalla’s team has dramatically changed local attitudes, and the lion population she monitors has grown to its highest numbers in a dozen years.
October 8 : LADAMA
LADAMA: They are a Latin alternative quartet comprised of musicians from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and NYC. Their mission is to eliminate boarders, engage youth, and empower women through music. They offered a concert and a workshop for students.
LADAMA is a Latin alternative band of four women musicians and activists—Lara Klaus, Daniela Serna, Mafer Bandola and Sara Lucas—originating from Brazil, Colombia, Venezue
In addition to public performances, LADAMA holds educational workshops in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, where they hope to provide a foundation for participants to "use music as a basic form of personal expression to address issues pertinent to them." LADAMA continues to perform and offer workshops at venues and festivals around the world . LADAMA seeks to empower primarily women and youth (but everyone is welcome) through these interactive musical experiences.
November 12, 2018: Bryan Linck from Outreach 360
Outreach360 has been working in Latin American communities since 1994. They match real needs in these communities with the unique resources Outreach360 volunteers have to share. Since 1994, over 24,000 volunteers have joined Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, including teams from St. Marks each year since 2007. The Outreach360 service program is primarily focused on teaching English. The Outreach360 vision is a transformed world in which all children grow up with the opportunities to live a life of choice.
Bryan Linck is a graduate of Central Michigan University, with an undergraduate degree in education and a masters degree in non-profit/business management. He volunteered with Outreach360 (formerly Orphanage Outreach) several times before joining the staff full time in January, 2006. Bryan lived in the Dominican Republic where he was the Orphanage Outreach Team Director, responsible for leading all volunteers. Bryan now serves as the organizations Vice President and lives in Traverse City, Michigan with his wife and twin daughters.
February 4, 2019: Dr. Mira Kirshnan
Mira is a Neuropsychologist and Director of the Center for Autism at Hope Network and consultant for The Network, the LGBT Community Center of Western Michigan. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the Trans100, an annual celebration of 100 influential transgender Americans. Recent speaking credits include the inaugural (2014) Michigan Lady Parts Justice V to Shining V (text), the 2015 National Organization for Women Grand Rapids Chapter annual event (text), and numerous lectures at regional, state, and national/international conferences. Mira holds an MSE in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Florida. Mira is a Proud Sponsor of Greater Grand Rapids Pride 2015. She has also been a featured speaker at the White Privilege Conference.
February 21, 2019: Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been appointed Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health... McCarthy has been a leading advocate for common sense strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. She served under President Barack Obama as the 13th Administrator of the EPA from 2013–2017. Her tenure as EPA Administrator heralded a paradigm shift in national environmental policy, expressly linking it with global public health. She led EPA initiatives that cut air pollution, protected water resources, reduced greenhouse gases and strengthened chemical safety to better protect more Americans, especially the most vulnerable, from negative health impacts. McCarthy signed the Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever national standards for reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants, underscoring the country’s commitment to domestic climate action and spurring international efforts that helped secure the Paris Climate Agreement. McCarthy worked with the United Nations and the World Health Organization on a variety of efforts and represented the U.S. on global initiatives to reduce high-risk sources of pollution.
April 11, 2019: Nigella Hilgarth
Nigella Hillgarth is a skilled environmental nonprofit leader, administrator and biologist seeking board director positions, and expert consulting roles leveraging past experiences. As former President & Chief Executive Officer of the New England Aquarium, she raised the profile of the Aquarium’s global conservation and research work by founding the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life in June 2016, as well as developing a vision for the future of the Aquarium and surrounding Boston waterfront. Previously Nigella Hillgarth was Executive Director of the Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego—The outreach arm of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. At Scripps, she was responsible for developing one of the first major exhibits on climate change in the US. Prior to her work at the Birch Aquarium, she served as Executive Director of the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, the largest bird park in the country, where she collaborated on research programs on penguins in South America as well as conservation efforts for marine birds in the Galapagos, Peru and Argentina. Hillgarth was born in Ireland and received her Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Oxford University in the UK as well as her PhD in Evolutionary Biology. She has conducted research on behavioral ecology and evolution on birds in many parts of the world including the United States, Britain, India, Thailand, the Arctic and South America.
The 2017-18 Gray Colloquium theme of Building the Future challenges St. Markers to not just think about making their mark on the world, but instead to actively build it themselves. Through thoughtful interaction with historians, politicians, scientists, activists and more, the St. Mark’s community will embark on a quest to help Build the Future by analyzing modern American culture, social issues, the nation’s standing in the world and the opioid epidemic gripping our country and the world at large. It is our deepest hope that you engage positively and enthusiastically with our speakers this year in a collective quest to help Build the Future.
The C. Boyden Gray Colloquium year-long theme for 2016-17 is Globalization. We will be given the chance to explore the challenges and thrills of living in an increasingly interconnected world. We hope to have speakers and workshops that will address valued skills accompanying globalization, such as flexibility, cooperation, creativity, and communication. Some specific topics might include education, politics, pandemics, poverty, sustainability, and personal narratives. Overall, the goal of the 16-17 Gray Colloquium on Globalization is that we, as a school community and individually, emerge more ethical and more active global citizens.
Victoria Anderson, History Professor at Columbia University, expert in dance, anthropology, finance, and history
Pashington Obeng, Minister at Wellesley Hills Congregational Church
Doron Kempel, CEO of SimpliVity Corporation, a leader in hyperconnectivity
Community and Equity Day, sponsored by the Gray Colloquium on Globalization
Eduardo C. Corral, poet and winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets
Liz Cunningham, ocean conservationist, author of Ocean Country
October 8, 2015
Chris Crass: Crass, who spoke at the White Privilege Convention, "builds powerful working class-based, feminist, multiracial movements for collective liberation.
October 22, 2015
Bishop Gates of the Episcopal Diocese Massachusetts: questions of faith and religion in the modern world
January 14, 2016
Edwidge Danticat: Haitian-American author of our summer reading,Breath, Eyes, Memory, with explorations of national identity and the politics of diaspora.
February 11, 2016
Hudson Taylor: Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally, an orgnization devoted to working against homophobia in athletics, helping to foster inclusive sports communities
April 28, 2016
Naomi Shihab Nye: Palestinian-American Poet, Writer, Anthologist, and Educator whose honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lavan Award from the Academy or American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and four Pushcart Prizes.
September 25, 2014
The Lyford Paterson Edwards and Helen Gray Edwards Professor of Historical Studies at Bard College, with specialties in American Studies, Environmental and Urban Studies, and Global and International Studies; Specialties: writer and ecologist Rachel Carson, global warming, US history; collaborated on our own US History textbook, After the Fact.
October 23, 2014
A Professor in the History & Literature program at Harvard University, Dr. Erin Battat’s teaching and research interests include the literature of migration, the culture of the 1930s, and social movements. Her recent book, entitled ‘Ain’t Got No Home’: American Migration Narratives and the Interracial Left in the Depression Era , examines how writers, artists, and activists used stories of migration and homelessness to fight for economic and racial justice amidst the economic collapse.
November 6, 2014
Wellesley College professor of Environmental Politics; singer/songwriter who will be back to perform for our Gray Colloquium Day on 4/9
December 4, 2014
Activist, best-selling author, and president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary . Farm Sanctuary is the first animal rescue organization dedicated to farmed animals; forefront of animal rights since he began the Sanctuary in 1986.
January 8, 2015
Executive Director, Community Works Institute
CWI’s motto: “Place as the Context, Service-Learning as the Strategy, Sustainable Communities as the Goal”
Making students’ experiences feel and be compelling (as opposed to more perfunctory charity and community service) is our message and strategy; a message of doing meaningful work in this life that benefits others with the goal of a sustainable and socially just future
February 5, 2015
Rivers graduate; Founder of Lovin’ Spoonfuls
Lovin’ Spoonfuls is “dedicated to facilitating the rescue and distribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded to community non-profits that feed Greater Boston’s hungry; committed to addressing the health, environmental, and economic impact that food waste has on our community
April 30, 2015
Professor of Clinical Law, New York University School of Law, MacArthur Fellow ; represents capital defendants and death row prisoners in the Deep South; founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law organization focusing on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the US; recently challenged extreme sentences imposed on young children in cases before the US Supreme Court; awarded the Olof Palme Prize for international human rights; elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014
May 14, 2015
Doctoral student in the W.E.B. Dubois department of UMASS-Amherst;
Community organizer, freelance journalist and Hip Hop activist; ran for Green Party Vice President in the 2008 U.S. election, when, along with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the pair became the first women of color ticket in American History
September 16, 2013
M. Tobin Anderson '86 Author
October 28, 2013
Sherry Turkle MIT Professor
November 12, 2013
Extreme by Design - Change the World One Product at a Time Produced and Directed by Ralph King Jr.
January 23, 2014
February 20, 2014
Chris Gilmore President of Whole Flavors
March 27, 2014 - Seminar Day
Morning Keynote: Don Bossi President of FIRST Robotics Afternoon Keynote: Francisco Castillo '02 and Josiah Zayner The Chromocord
April 7, 2014
Taylor Mali Author of What learning Leaves
September 21, 2012
Work of 1000
October 16, 2012
Congressman Jim McGovern
Co-Chair of Human Rights Commission & the House Hunger Caucus
November 16, 2012
Pulitzer Prize winning author of Mountains beyond Mountain
December 3, 2012
Sarah Cleto Rial
of My Sister's Keeper
Recipient of the 2012 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
January 22, 2013
At the Table with Dr. King - Gray Colloquium: A Full Day of Workshops, Music Honors Dr. King’s Legacy
February 25, 2013
Former Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI
March 28, 2013
Gray Colloquium Seminar Day
Lincoln Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island
Lynn Barendsen. Lynn works with Howard Gardner at the Harvard School of Education on the Good Work Project. The title of her talk will be “Good Work Amidst Global Challenges”.
April 11, 2013
John Heminway, ’62: Author and Filmmaker – on saving the African Elephant
April 22, 2013
The Gray Colloquium supports the English Department in Celebration of Poetry Month.
Donald Hall P'77, Poet Laureate of the United States ’06, Poet Laureate of NH ’84 – ’89, winner of numerous awards for his poetry, and recipient of the 2010 National Medal of Arts.
September 27, 2011
Emmy Award Nominated Actor Sam Goodyear'61 as John Adams
November 14, 2011
Author Heidi Hoskin
December 8, 2011
Author Julia Alvarez
January 9, 2012
Author Stephen Kiernan
February 2, 2012
William Eacho U.S. Ambassador to Austria
March 29, 2012
Thomas Kean '53 Former Govenor of New Jersey, Chairman of the 9/11 Commission
Jyotsna Mahendra '01 NYU Wagner School of Public Service
April 3, 2012
Harvard University, Chair, Department of History
Author, Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition
April 23, 2012
Award Winning Poet
Interested in speaking to our students on the current topic?
- February 15: Kevin Maher
- April 18: Nate Green