American History Seminar to Focus on the 20th Century Presidency

American History seminar brochure coverWhy does John F. Kennedy, who had the seventh-briefest presidency in the country’s history, hold front rank among Americans in polls that evaluate recent presidents? How do scholars compare Lyndon Johnson’s domestic and foreign policy leadership in the 1960s with Richard Nixon’s in the 1970s? And how do scholars judge Franklin D. Roosevelt’s foreign policy leadership during the build-up to Pearl Harbor? These and other questions will be considered when faculty members in history, political science, and related fields come together for a seminar, “The 20th Century Presidency,” in 2017.

Cosponsored by CIC and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the seminar will take place at Stanford University’s Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center in Washington, DC, July 23–27, 2017. The seminar will explore characteristics of 20th century presidential leadership, focus on the administrations of three presidents, and consider what made some presidents more effective than others. Participants will evaluate presidents’ abilities to formulate a vision for the country and to communicate it effectively to the public; pragmatism or political flexibility to deal with changing economic, political, and social conditions; charisma or the power of personal persuasion; trust, credibility, or the conviction that the president is honest and reliable; and consensus or the ability to knit together broad coalitions that support a president’s policies.

Robert Dallek, emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, will lead the seminar. He has been a Montgomery Fellow and a visiting professor at Dartmouth College and now teaches courses on the presidency for the Stanford in Washington program. Dallek is the author of numerous books, including Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House; Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power; Lyndon B. Johnson, Portrait of a President; the number one New York Times best-seller, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963; and winner of a Bancroft Prize, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932–1945.

Up to 25 participants will be selected by competitive nomination. Thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation there will be no cost to participants for room, board, books, or the seminar itself. The deadline for nominations is January 23, 2017.

View full information, including guidelines and the nomination form itself. For questions about the seminar or the nomination process, contact Stephen Gibson, CIC director of programs, at (202) 466-7230 or