Midori is an accomplished classical violinist who has performed recital appearances with many of the world’s major orchestras. Midori’s University Lectures presentation will include a performance and a conversation with Syracuse Symphony Orchestra director Daniel Hege. In addition, while in Syracuse, she will conduct a master class for local violin students and perform with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Beyond her music, Midori is well known for her dedication to what she believes is an issue of crucial and every-growing importance—access to music for all—and to this end, has personally founded five outreach organizations to address the problem. Her first organization, Midori & Friends, was started in 1992 in response to serious cutbacks in music education in New York City schools and to date over 120,000 school students have benefited from this program.
Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research as well as an election analyst for CBS News. Currently, Ornstein writes a weekly column called “Congress Inside Out” for the publication Roll Call, but has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and other major journals. Ornstein frequently appears on news and public affairs programs, including The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, and Charlie Rose. However, Ornstein also enjoys dabbling in comedy and has worked with Al Franken since 1992, when he served as Comedy Central’s pollster and commentator covering that year’s conventions and election. Ornstein’s latest book, The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track, co-authored by Thomas E. Mann, will be published shortly by Oxford University Press.
Khaled Abou El Fadl
Considered by some to be the most important and influential Islamic thinker in the modern age, Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is an accomplished Islamic jurist and scholar. A professor at the UCLA School of Law, Abou El Fadl is an expert on Islamic law, immigration, human rights, and international and national security law. As both a world-renowned expert in Islamic law and an American attorney, Dr. Abou El Fadl brings a unique perspective on the current state of issues facing Islam in the West. Abou El Fadl is a staunch advocate for, and defender of, women’s rights, the subject of many of his writings. As a critical and powerful voice against puritan and Wahhabi Islam today, he appears regularly in national and international media, including CNN, NBC, PBS, NPR, and Voice of America.
Dr. Wangari Maathai
In 2004, Dr. Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which acknowledged her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. This recognition stemmed from her work on community empowerment and environmental conservation. As a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK), she introduced the idea of engaging ordinary Kenyans to plant trees. She then developed this idea into a broad-based, grassroots organization called the Green Belt Movement (GBM), which mobilizes women’s groups to plant trees to conserve the environment, while at the same time empowering them to improve the quality of their own lives. Through GBM, Maathai has helped women plant more than 30 million trees on their farms and in school and church compounds throughout Kenya. Author of The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience (2003), Maathai’s latest book, Unbowed, a memoir, will be available October 3 from Knopf.
Artists use their creativity to reveal the world in new and sometimes unexpected ways. Artist Ned Kahn’s work focuses on the physical world. From the harmonies of randomness to the dynamics of the Earth’s crust, Kahn uses scientific principles to create mesmerizing works of art. For the past 16 years, Kahn has been creating interactive sculptures inspired by everything from wind and waves to comets, black holes, and galaxies. Created using simple materials such as water, sand and air, Kahn’s artworks are not just celebrations of nature—they are inspired by fluid dynamics and other aspects of science. Considered one of the most successful artists and exhibit builders in the country, Kahn has had major commissions all over the world and in 2004 was the recipient of a MacArthur “genius award.”
Al Gore began his political career in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976 and as Vice President, he was a key player in the Clinton White House on a wide range of issues. However, with the national release of his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore has emerged as a forceful and compelling voice on the dangers of global warming and other ecological hazards. While his career as an environmentalist includes pioneering efforts to protect the earth’s ozone layer and to eliminate toxic waste from the environment, his 30-year passion and commitment to protecting the environment is most evident in his best-selling book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (1992). Gore’s role as a leading emissary on the dangers of global warming is reinforced by his documentary in which Gore—a powerful and effective speaker—makes an urgent and compelling case for responsible environmental policy based on solid scientific evidence.