Academic Lecture Series

The DCA Academic Lecture Series has a long history of bringing topical, global issues in focus, offering attendees first-hand knowledge of the issues. Past topics include:

  • “Russian Roulette”
  • “Islam, From Muhammad to the Millennium”
  • “Border Heat, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan”
  • “Rising China”
  • “After the Arab Spring… What Next?”
  • “Making the World Go Round… Global Economics”

The next series will be held this January – see details below. To receive email notification of lectures as they become available, please subscribe to our Academic Lecture Series emails through the link below.

Subscribe for email notices of upcoming Academic Lecture Series events through this link

Upcoming lectures (2016)


Over the past 40 years Cuba has engendered a wide variety of sensibilities, including curiosity, nostalgia, guilt, empathy and retribution. Even before Fidel Castro gained control, the U.S. government had a contentious relationship with this island off the coast of Florida. Since our embargo of retaliation against the communist regime, we have held Cuba in limbo, maintaining commercial and travel restrictions that complicate normal communication. Now, with the prospect of reestablishing a working association, it is time to examine the past, present and future of the U.S.- Cuban relationship.

Our series will begin with an historic overview, followed by an explanation of the pros and cons of the proposed change in U.S. policy. Later speakers will discuss Cuban entrepreneurship, as well as Cuba’s relationships with its Latin American neighbors. Our final speaker is a former British Ambassador to Cuba who will describe the significant ramifications of a changed U.S.-Cuban policy for the global community, including reactions from Europe, China and Russia.

Please join us to gain a better understanding of these important issues from the outstanding experts on Cuba today.

Thursday mornings at 10:00am

January 7th        U.S. – Cuba Policy: How Did We Get Here?
                           Presenter: Christopher Sabatini, Columbia University

January 14th      Obama’s Big Bet on Cuba: Pros and Cons
                           Presenter: Theodore Piccone, Brookings Institution

January 21st      Entrepreneurship in Cuba
                           Presenter: John McIntire, Cuba Emprende Foundation

January 28th      Where will Cuba Stand with Latin America?
                           Presenter: Francisco Mora, Florida International University

Friday Evening: Lecture 8:00pm, Reception 7:30pm

January 29th      What Now for Cuba’s Role in the World?
                           Presenter: Ambassador Paul Hare, Boston University
                           (Former British Ambassador to Cuba)

Thursday Morning Series Subscriptions:
Prepayment is required by Monday, January 4th.
DCA members $75, public $100
Some single tickets ($30) for the Thursday morning lectures will be available at the door.

Friday Evening Lecture & Reception:
DCA members $30, public $30
Some single tickets ($30) for the Friday evening lecture & reception will be available at the door.

Click for full details and online registration

If you would prefer to register by mail, please send check (made out to DCA Lectures) to Amy Squyres, One Mansfield Place, Darien, CT 06820 with a self-addressed, stamped envelope or pick up prepaid tickets at the door.


Recent lectures (2015)

Russian Roulette

The breakup of the USSR in 1991, which resulted in the reestablishment of Russia as a central power, initiated a new world order. Over the ensuing years the initial positive reactions throughout the international community changed to dismay and confusion as Russia dramatically shifted foreign policy positions. Vladimir Putin’s rise to power and continued dominance over Russian international relations has been a further complication for world leaders. Our series will examine President Putin, his dramatic changes in policy and style and will highlight Russia’s current initiatives in Ukraine, as well as partnerships within Europe and Asia. We will conclude with a discussion of the fragile relationship between Russia and the United States and look to the future.

Thursday mornings at 10:00am

January 8th
Jill Dougherty begins the 2015 Academic Lecture Series - "Russian Roulette" - at the DCA on Thursday, January 8th at 10:00am.
Resurgent Russia
Presenter: Jill Dougherty, Woodrow Wilson International Center for ScholarsJill Dougherty is a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. She is researching and writing a book about Russian President Vladimir Putin.Dougherty served as CNN correspondent for three decades, reporting from more than 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, China, North Korea and Russia. Her chief area of interest and expertise is Russia – where she served as Moscow Bureau Chief for almost a decade – and the post-Soviet region. In January 2014 she left the network when she was selected as a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. There, she continued her research and writing on the Russia media and the Russian government’s international and domestic communications strategy.
January 15th
Fiona Hill presents "Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin" at the 2015 Academic Lecture Series - "Russian Roulette" - at the DCA on Thursday, January 15th at 10:00am.
Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin
Presenter: Fiona Hill, The Brookings InstitutionFiona Hill is director of the Center on the United States and Europe, and senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at The Brookings Institution. A frequent commentator on Russian and Eurasian affairs, Hill has researched and published extensively on issues related to Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, regional conflicts, energy, and strategic issues. She is also the co-author of the recently published book, Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (Brookings Press, 2013).
January 22ndNadia Diuk presents "Front Protest to Politics: The Struggle for Democracy in Ukraine" on Thursday, January 22nd at the DCA Academic Lecture Series From Protest to Politics: The Struggle for Democracy in Ukraine
Presenter: Nadia Diuk, National Endowment for DemocracyNadia Diuk serves as Vice President, Programs for Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. Congress to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts.For over twenty years prior to her appointment as Vice President, she supervised NED programs in Europe and Eurasia where she worked on programs and strategies for underground democratic movements before 1989, prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Before joining NED, Dr. Diuk taught Soviet Politics and Russian History at Oxford University, conducted research at the Society for Central Asian Studies, United Kingdom, and served as editor-in-chief of the London-based publication Soviet Nationality Survey. Dr. Diuk is the author of The Next Generation in Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan: Youth, Politics, Identity and Change (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), and co-author of New Nations Rising: The Fall of the Soviets and the Challenge of Independence (John Wiley & Sons, 1993) and The Hidden Nations : The People Challenge the Soviet Union (William Morrow and Company, 1990). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds a Doctorate (D. Phil.) in Modern History from St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford.
January 29th
Andrew C. Kuchins presents “Has Russia Lost a Balance Between Europe and Asia?” at the 2015 Academic Lecture Series - "Russian Roulette" - at the DCA on Thursday, January 29th at 10:00am.
Has Russia Lost a Balance Between Europe and Asia?
Presenter: Andrew C. Kuchins, Center for Strategic and International StudiesAndrew C. Kuchins is a senior fellow and director of the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program. He is an internationally known expert on Russian foreign and domestic policies who publishes widely and is frequently called on by business, government, media, and academic leaders for comment and consulting on Russian and Eurasian affairs. Kuchins most recent scholarship has been devoted to issues including U.S.-Russia relations and the “reset,” Russia’s Asia strategy, and the role of energy in the Russian Far East. His recent publications include “Perspective: What’s to Follow the Demise of the US-Russian ‘Reset’” (Current History, October 2012); “The End of the ‘Reset’” (Foreign Affairs, March 2012); “Russian Foreign Policy: Continuity in Change,” coauthored with Igor Zevelev (Washington Quarterly, Winter 2012); and “A Durable Reset” (International Herald Tribune, September 2011). Prior to CSIS, Kuchins was director of the Russian and Eurasian Program in Washington, D.C., then a senior associate, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; director of the Carnegie Moscow Center in Russia; and has held senior management and research positions at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Kuchins currently teaches at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and has also taught at Georgetown and Stanford Universities. He holds a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins SAIS.


Tuesday Evening: Lecture 8:00pm, Reception 7:30pm

February 3rd
Former Ambassador John Beyrle presents “Putin’s Russia: Cold War II?” at the 2015 Academic Lecture Series - "Russian Roulette" – evening lecture at the DCA on Tuesday, February 3rd at 10:00am.
Putin’s Russia: Cold War II?
Presenter: John Beyrle, former US Ambassador to RussiaJohn Beyrle served as an American diplomat for more than three decades, in foreign postings and domestic assignments focused on Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Russia. Ambassador Beyrle was twice appointed ambassador: to Bulgaria (2005-08), and to Russia (2008-12). His diplomatic service career included two earlier tours at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, including as Deputy Chief of Mission. He also served as Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic, and was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the CFE Arms Control Negotiations in Vienna. His Washington assignments included Special Adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell for the New Independent States, and Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council in the Clinton Administration. Ambassador Beyrle has received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Barack Obama, and the Presidential Meritorious Service Award from President George W. Bush. In April 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented him with the State Department’s highest honor, the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award. Retired from the Foreign Service in 2012, Ambassador Beyrle serves on the board of directors of several non-profit organizations and investment firms. He speaks Bulgarian, Czech, French, German and Russian.

For further information, contact the DCA at or call 203-655-9050.


Email subscription

Should you wish to be notified of further details of the next Academic Lectures Series events, please subscribe to our DCA email through the below link and select “Academic Lectures” as one of your areas of interest, or contact the DCA directly.

Subscribe for email notices of upcoming Academic Lecture Series events through this link


Academic Lectures Committee

Series Coordinator Susan Bhirud
Speakers Committee Ann Mandel, Janet Sargent, Alison von Klemperer,
Kate Larson, Mary Genco and Susan Bhirud
Registrar Amy Squyres
Treasurer/ Mailing List Martha Banks
Hospitality Sally Schlachtenhaufen, Margie Anderson and
Robin Woods
Publicity Sallie Raleigh, Margie Anderson, Adria Bates,
Noel Bradley, Ann Lang and Christy Munro
Book List Ann Lang, Amy Squyres and Robin Harvey

The 2015 Academic Lectures Committee. Lectures are held at the DCA in Darien, CTAcademic Lecture Committee members left to right: Adria Bates, Susan Bhirud, Sallie Raleigh, Amy Squyres, Janet Sargent, Margie Anderson, Christy Munro, Robin Harvey, Ginny Mordy, Robin Woods, Kate Larson, Martha Banks, and Mary Genco. Not pictured: Noel Bradley, Ann Lang, Ann Mandel, Sally Schlachtenhaufen and Alison von Klemperer