Camden Conference News

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Kirschenmann returns to Camden

Date: Friday July 25, 2014

2014 Camden Conference Keynote, Fred Kirschenmann, returns to the Camden Opera House on Friday August 22, for a special appearance along with acclaimed filmmaker, Deborah Koons Garcia and Maine Farmland Trust’s John Piotti for a free screening of the award-winning documentary, Symphony of the Soil.

Click here for more information.

Piotti reflects on the CC

Date: Tuesday April 1, 2014

2014 Camden Conference Moderator, John Piotti, writes about us in Maine Farmland Trust‘s recent Newsletter.

Food & Water: Notes on the Camden Conference

Sometimes I’m amazed by what happens here in Maine. An event this past weekend made that point clearly—in two distinct ways.

The event was the 27th Annual Camden Conference. The topic this year was “the global politics of food and water.” For those of you who have never attended one of these conferences, they are professionally-run three-day affairs that boast world experts and top-notch speakers. It’s so impressive that an event of this sort occurs right here in our backyard. (The live show is held at the Camden Opera House, with broadcasts to the Hutchinson Center in Belfast and the Strand Theater in Rockland.)

The other reason this year’s Camden Conference reflected well on Maine was because of the topic. Any conversation about food and water soon leads to a discussion about sustainable agriculture—and that’s an area where Maine has been a real leader. Even though the conference focused on global issues, Maine played a key role—as well it should.

Click here for full article.

Capt. Bill Taylor Award

Date: Wednesday March 12, 2014

ANNOUNCING the Bill Taylor Research Proposal for student teams.

Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a retired Captain of the Navy, offered a $1,000 Award to the student team whose research proposal best addresses the challenges of global food and water. Click here for more about the contest and the Bill Taylor Award. Bill Taylor has challenged young people and workers all his life to think big and solve important challenges. Click here to read more about the amazing life of Bill Taylor.

2014 Conference CamCasts

Date: Tuesday March 4, 2014

2014 Conference CamCasts are now available for viewing!

Dear attendees,

Thank you all for a wonderfully successful and thought provoking conference.

We are pleased to announce that the 2014 Conference CamCasts are now available for viewing on our website:


Camden Conference Sells Out!

Date: Thursday February 13, 2014

2014 Image 300

ALL venues are now completely sold out for the 2014 Camden Conference: The Global Politics of Food and Water

Please call (207) 236-1034 to join the Wait-List.

Opera House and Hutch Sell Out!

Date: Friday February 7, 2014

2014 Image 300

The Camden Opera House and the U Maine Hutchinson Center venues for the 2014 Camden Conference are now SOLD OUT.

A few seats remain at the Strand Theatre in Rockland.

Please register soon at:

Tom & Mac Show Tonight!

Date: Wednesday January 15, 2014

THE SUCCESS OF EXCESS: 1870s to 1900
A History of the Gilded Age in 100 Minutes

During the Gilded Age, the so-called “one percent” dominated the economy to a degree never seen before. Or since . . . up until our own time. The rich of the period set a new standard for how much they could lavish on themselves, how splendid their many residences could be, even how much they could eat and drink.

The Gilded Age in the United States was The Age of Privilege in England and La Belle Epoque in France. Excess was the rule everywhere. The period was a heyday for rascals of all kinds: Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell, Maine’s own James G. Blaine, “Rutherfraud” B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, Mark Twain, Lord Salisbury, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Balfour, Napoleon III and Maximillian. Look out world!

Mac Deford and Tom DeMarco will return with their intriguing history road show in anticipation of the 2014 Camden Conference, ”The Global Politics of Food and Water”. This year’s Conference, will highlight the coming shortages of food, water and other resources due to an increasingly well-to-do modern world living lives of increasing excess. But, as we all know, there’s nothing new under the sun — it all began with the Gilded Age.

The show, THE SUCCESS OF EXCESS: 1870s to 1900 – A History of the Gilded Age in 100 Minutes, will take place will take place in three venues:

Tom DeMarco is the author of thirteen books (his sci-fi novel Andronescu’s Paradox is the most recent) and a Principal of The Atlantic Systems Guild, a technology think tank with offices in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. Mac Deford is a retired Foreign Service officer with service primarily in the Middle East. He had a subsequent career with Merrill Lynch International, mostly in South America and Asia, and is a regular columnist with The Free Press.

No advanced registration is necessary, but donations are appreciated.

This event is presented by the Camden Conference in anticipation of the 27th Annual Camden Conference: The Global Politics of Food and Water, February 21-23, 2014.
The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend conference. For more information, visit, email, or call 207-236-1034.

2014 Simmons Scholarship

Date: Tuesday January 7, 2014

Kelsey Ouellette, University of New England

The Camden Conference is pleased to announce the selection of this year’s recipient of the Mathew R. Simmons scholarship. Kelsey Ouellette, from Winthrop, Maine, is a Senior Environmental Studies Major/Education Minor at the University of New England. Kelsey has an excellent academic record, placing her on the Dean’s list throughout her college career. She has further demonstrated her involvement in the field with activism on a variety of environmental and social issues, including serving as vice-president of the student environmental group, Earth’s ECO, and participating as a member of UNE’s Habitat for Humanity Club.

Her professor, Rick Peterson describes her “commitment to high quality academic work, enthusiasm and passion for learning and strong critical thinking skills.” All students applying for the scholarship were asked to submit a short essay as to why they would like to attend the Conference. In Kelsey’s essay she said, “The Conference will help me understand more about political issues of food and water around the globe, which I can then relate back to my work. I am especially interested to learn about how politics differ globally in relation to this topic and how I might be able to make a difference in this sector.”

The Simmons Scholarship was created by the Camden Conference in memory of Mathew R. Simmons, a longtime supporter of the Conference and keynote speaker at the 2002 Conference. The scholarship provides the chance for a student to attend the Conference, lodging in Camden, and opportunities for the student to interact with speakers, Conference attendees, and other students.

The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend Conference. The next Conference, “The Global Politics of Food and Water,” will take place February 21-23, 2014. For more information, visit, email, or call 207-236-1034.

2014 Speakers and Topics

Date: Friday December 13, 2013

Jonathan Foley

Camden Conference 2014 Speakers and Topics

The 2014 Camden Conference, slated for the weekend of February 21 to 23, will feature a stellar lineup of high-profile experts addressing “The Global Politics of Food and Water.” The speakers, focusing on issues as well as solutions, are guaranteed to stimulate discussion—and perhaps generate controversy—as they present their perspectives on this critical topic.

As previously announced, the moderator for the conference will be Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. Friday evening’s keynote speaker will be Fred Kirschenmann, an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues as well as an organic farmer.

Saturday morning speakers will address the effects of climate change on food and water supplies. Ann Tutwiler, Director General of Bioversity International, will focus on the effects of climate change on agricultural biodiversity. Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, will follow with a case study of African efforts to improve food security in the face of climate-change impacts on farming. Wrapping up the morning, Andrew Guzman, Professor at Berkeley Law School, will cover the impacts of climate change on water resources and access to water as well as other effects of existing and potential water scarcity.

Saturday afternoon will feature Andreas Merkl, President of the Ocean Conservancy, who will outline international agreements for managing fisheries practices and examine the consequences for fishery resources as ocean temperatures rise and acidification increases. The afternoon will conclude with a panel of speakers comparing large- and small-scale agriculture as alternatives for future global food security. The pros and cons of the different solutions will be explored by a dynamic group: Kathleen Merrigan, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dave Gustafson, a Senior Science Fellow at Monsanto; and Jim Harkness, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

The Sunday-morning program will open with an overview of international food security policies provided by Robert Paarlberg, Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. He will focus on important challenges facing international trade and finance institutions and multinational organizations to achieve global food security. The closing speaker will be Gus Schumacher, Executive Vice President of Policy at the Wholesome Wave Foundation. He will address key issues on domestic agriculture in terms of both policy and technology and their implications for international and longer-term domestic issues and policy. As always, the Conference will conclude with a panel of all speakers taking questions from the audience and interacting with one another.

This 27th Camden Conference promises to provide an informative and thought-provoking look at this all-important topic that affects everyone on the planet. For more information, visit the website which has full speaker biographies and the latest Conference information. Tickets are now on sale and already on track to duplicate last year’s sellout at the Camden Opera House.

The Conference’s Global Sponsor is R. M. Davis, Inc., and the Education Sponsor is The Unity Foundation. Conference sponsors also include Hannaford Bros. Co., Educational Development Center, Down East magazine, and The Free Press. Additional foundation support is provided by The William and Joan Alfond Foundation; The Cascade Foundation; The Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation; the Maine Community Foundation; The Mattina R. Proctor Foundation; and the Elmina Sewall Foundation.

CEP Presented to Teachers

Date: Tuesday November 19, 2013

Teachers discovering the CEP

Teachers discovering the CEP at a recent conference in Augusta

CEP creator, Will Galloway

The new Curriculum Enrichment Program (CEP), which is based on the 2013 Camden Conference, was introduced to Maine social studies teachers at their annual conference in Augusta, on November 8th. Will Galloway, creator of the CEP, led the workshop for over 30 teachers, showing them how to use the video clips excerpted from the full presentations at the 2013 Camden conference. The video clips highlight four features of Global Affairs: Culture, Conflict, Policy, and Globalization, which can be used by teachers in a variety of courses on global issues. During the workshop teachers worked in groups on their own computers to explore all CEP video clips, from 2010 to 2013, using this Global Affairs model as their lens. Will also demonstrated how teachers can use the many Camden Conference website resources in their classrooms.

To create the 2013 CEP, teachers from around Maine attended a workshop in June, 2013, which was led by Will Galloway and Judith Masseur, of Watershed School in Camden, along with Charlie Graham, the CEP Program Manager for the Camden Conference Education Committee. The CEP project has been made possible by grants from the Pauline A. Lerner Foundation, Maine Humanities Council, and Camden National Bank, and also from in-kind donations from members of the Camden Conference organization.

Many teachers expressed interest in testing the new 2013 CEP in their classrooms with students, and also in becoming “CEP Fellows”, supporting the future improvement of the program with advice resulting from their classroom experience. Almost all of the participating teachers commented that they will use the CEP for instruction on global issues. In addition, many teachers seemed eager to attend the 2014 Camden Conference, several of them wanting to bring their students.

For more information, please visit the Curriculum Enrichment Program section of our website.

2014 Keynote Announced

Date: Friday November 15, 2013

The 27th annual Camden Conference, entitled “The Global Politics of Food and Water,” takes place February 21-23, 2014, live at the Camden Opera House and live-streamed to the Strand Theatre in Rockland and the Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

The 2014 Conference will provide a provocative look at the global dynamics of managing the world’s food and water resources at a time when the challenge to meet the ever-increasing demand has never been more critical. By 2050, our planet’s population may have grown by two billion, while other factors, including climate change, may have greatly reduced land and water resources essential for food production. The world will have to produce even more food without more land and with less water.

The Conference will address a wide range of issues related to food and water, including the contentious debate between industrial agriculture practices and small-scale farming operations; food security issues dependent on international cooperation; and innovations that encourage more productive farming and fishing.

Having outlined the most pressing issues, the Conference will examine options that can be considered by governments and citizens to promote secure access to food and water in sustainable ways. Throughout the weekend, enlightening presentations by leading international experts will cover promising policies and practices now being used in China, Africa, and North America.

The moderator for this Conference will be Jonathan Foley, a noted expert on these topics. He is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, where he holds the McKnight Presidential Chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. Foley’s work focuses on the sustainability of our civilization and the global environment. He has contributed to our understanding of global food security, global patterns of land use, the behavior of the planet’s climate, ecosystems and water cycle, and the sustainability of the biosphere. This work has led him to be a regular adviser to large corporations, NGOs, and governments around the world. His public presentations on global issues have been featured at hundreds of venues, including the Aspen Environmental Forum, the Chautauqua Institution, and TED.

The keynote speaker on Friday evening, February 21, will be Fred Kirschenmann, who has been involved in sustainable agriculture and food issues for most of his life. He brings a unique perspective to the topic, thanks to his academic and hands-on farming experience. He currently serves as both a Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and as President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. He also continues to manage his family’s 1,800-acre certified organic farm in south-central North Dakota. Kirschenmann also has been an adviser for several documentaries including American Meat and Symphony of the Soil. In April 2010, the University Press of Kentucky published a book of Kirschenmann’s essays, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, which traces the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.

Tickets for the 2014 Conference are on sale currently to members and will be available to the general public starting November 25. Visit the website,, for more information and ticket sales online after November 25.

Foundations that are supporting the 2014 Conference include The William and Joan Alfond Foundation; The Cascade Foundation; The Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation; the Maine Community Foundation; The Mattina R. Proctor Foundation; and the Elmina Sewall Foundation. The Conference’s Global sponsor is R. M. Davis, Inc., and the Education sponsor is The Unity Foundation. Additional sponsors include Hannaford Bros. Co., Educational Development Center, Down East magazine, as New England Magazine sponsor, and The Free Press.

The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend conference. For more information, visit, email, or call 207-236-1034.

Dell and Collins at The Strand

Date: Monday October 28, 2013


Farnsworth Director of Education Roger Dell and Dr. Keith Collins present a lecture series at the Strand Theatre on Wednesdays, November 6 and 13.

Lecture 1—Bon Appétit! Food Goes Global
The November 6 lecture will explore the many food products of the New World that the European discoverers brought back to the Old World. Although certain foods were not immediately used by a large portion of the European population, eventually they became the mainstays of countries like France, Italy, and Ireland, to name a few. How the nutritional content of tomatoes, potatoes, yams, and corn impacted the health of Europeans and how these vegetables were depicted in art will be illustrated in the lecture.

Lecture 2—Salud! A History of Drink
The November 13 lecture will examine wide array of beverages from the Neolithic Period to the present. An outline of the history of beer (Egypt), wine (Greece), coffee (Africa), and tea (India/China) will be traced, and their respective impact on their countries of origin will be detailed in color illustrations. The dietary and health aspects of these beverages will be considered, as well how these drinks were celebrated in the arts.

  • Presenters: Roger Dell and Keith Collins
  • Wednesdays, November 6 and 13, 2013
  • The Strand Theatre, Rockland
  • 5:30-7:00PM
  • Individual lectures: $12 for Camden Conference and Farnsworth members, $16 for nonmembers, $6 for college and university students. Free for middle and high school aged students.
  • Series reservations: $20 for Camden Conference and Farnsworth members, $26 for nonmembers, $10 for college and university students.
  • Advanced registration through the Farnsworth Art Museum website or call their Education Department at 207-596-0949. Tickets are also available at the door.

This two-part lecture series is a special community event being cosponsored by the Camden Conference and the Farnsworth Art Museum, in anticipation of the 27th Annual Camden Conference: The Global Politics of Food and Water, February 21-23, 2014.

The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend conference. For more information, visit, email, or call 207-236-1034.

2014 Community Events

Date: Friday September 13, 2013

The topic for the 2014 Camden Conference is truly as important as any one the Conference has ever tackled. “The Global Politics of Food and Water” will take place February 21-23 at The Camden Opera House, with live-streaming at two other locations and promises to be a provocative look into the global dynamics of managing the world’s food and water resources at a time when the challenge to meet the ever increasing demand for them has never been more critical.

Now in its 27th year, the mission of the Camden Conference is to promote informed and civil discourse on global issues and in addition to the three-day February event, the Conference will be offering wide-ranging and numerous other Community Events dealing with food and water. These will offer the Midcoast community an opportunity to learn first-hand about the issues, dilemmas and solutions facing both the world, America and Maine.

More extensive than ever, events this year range from traditional library lectures to special day-long symposia with partnering organizations, to a new short-read discussion series, plus the ever-popular Tom & Mac Show.

Community Events Special Events kick off this year at the Common Ground Fair with a seminar on farming and climate change (September 22). The Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington hosts a day-long symposium on community-based fisheries management with a boat tour of East Penobscot Bay (October 5); and a discussion about European agricultural practices and policies in partnership with the Maine Farmland Trust will take place in Camden (October 12).

A tour and talk at the Medomak Valley High School Heirloom Seed Project (October 19) will be followed by a two-part lecture series at The Strand in Rockland with Farnsworth Director of Education Roger Dell and Dr. Keith Collins. “Bon Appetit! Food Goes Global” (November 6) and “Salud! A History of Drink” (November 13) will entertainingly connect art to this year’s topic.

With so many well-known experts in the Midcoast, the library lecture series this fall has a stellar line-up of speakers. To start, Rockland Public Library will host “Feeding the World in the Face of Climate Change” with Jonathan Woolley, an expert on agricultural development, who will speak on farming and climate change in developing countries (October 28). Then, James Merkel, a sustainability expert and author will talk about “Sustainability and Resilience” (November 14).

At Camden Public Library, Graham Shimmield of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay will speak on “The Future of the Oceans” (November 12); Kerry Emanuel, a noted climate scientist at MIT, will discuss “Climate Change Effects on Weather (December 19); Harvard lecturer Mark Van Baalen will present “A Short History of Water” (January 14); and internationally recognized desalination expert James Birkett will speak on “The History and Future of Desalination” (February 14).

The lineup at the Belfast Free Library will include Keith Blizzard, creator of the website Green Blizzard, who will offer some simple steps each of us can take to reduce our carbon footprint and conserve energy and resources.

In addition a new Community Events Discussion Series will host a set of facilitated discussions at the Rockport, Camden, Rockland and Belfast libraries, focusing on a number of key themes. The series kicks off on September 17 at Camden Public Library at 7:00 pm with “The Coming Food Crisis: How Do We Feed the World in 2050?” and on September 21 at 10:00 am at Rockport Public Library the discussion is titled “Fresh Water Scarcity.” Short articles and videos (available for download on the Camden Conference website) make the tools to participate in these discussions accessible to all. So come “Join the Conversation!”

New Discussion Series

Date: Monday September 9, 2013

Camden Conference Launches New, Free Discussion Series

Community Facilitators are left to right: Charles Gale, technical support, Jim Nelson, Betsy Mayberry, Jim Bowditch, Neale Sweet, Don Abbott, Meg Malmberg, and Karolyn Snyder.

The Camden Conference is joining with several libraries on the mid-coast to introduce a new, free discussion series beginning Sep. 17 and running through next February. The discussion series is organized a bit — but not exactly — like a book group and is aimed at promoting meaningful discourse in the community, a central mission of the Camden Conference

It comes on top of the regular “community events” involving talks, films and other activities that are also offered free of charge by the Camden Conference each year.

The discussion series will cover five broad topics, all related to the February 2014 Camden Conference topic, “The Global Politics of Food and Water.” The first discussion session, to be held at the Camden Public Library, is on “The Coming Food Crisis: How to Feed the World in 2050.”

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that worldwide demand for food will increase by 70% by 2050. However, farmers will need to produce the increased amount with very little to no increase in land and perhaps even less water, all the while dealing with the effects of climate change, which are already having a negative impact on food production.

The second topic is “Fresh Water Scarcity – The Global Crisis of Our Time.” Over the past 60 years, the amount of fresh water available per person has decreased fourfold. Many rivers no longer flow all the way to the sea. Half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared. And major ground aquifers are being mined unsustainably.

Some 70% of fresh water use is for agriculture and is vital to food production. Year-to-year changes affecting food and water availability can be gradual, yet the cumulative effect over a period of years can be devastating. These gradual changes often fail to grab headlines — making it all the more important to raise awareness through discussion.

The three other topics are: “Oceans at Risk,” “Genetically Modified Foods,” and “The Impact of Climate Change on War and Conflict.” All are critical issues of our time — and for future generations.

People who regularly attend the Camden Conference in February will find these groups a great way to prepare and make their experience of the conference even richer. The discussions, which are free, are also designed to appeal to the young, who will feel the greatest impact from the important issues being explored.

The discussion sessions will be much like a book group, but with less preparation required. For each event, participants will be asked to read articles and/or watch videos. The required preparation time will be roughly one hour per session.

The reading lists will appear on both the Camden Conference website and the websites of the libraries at which the events are held. All articles that you are asked to read are available online without charge or subscription. In addition, paper copies are available at the library desk. The YouTube and TED videos can be watched at home or on the libraries’ computers.

A facilitator from the local community will be present at all the discussion sessions to help guide the conversation. This person will not be an expert on the topic, but rather someone whose role it is to keep the discussion on track.

This year the mid-coast libraries of Camden, Rockport, Belfast and Rockland are involved. Libraries in Portland, Auburn, Brunswick and Falmouth will also participate. This Camden Conference website and the websites and circulation desks of the participating libraries will be the best source of further information about the discussions.

CC at the Common Ground Fair!

Date: Wednesday August 14, 2013

Common Ground Fair

In anticipation of the 2014 Camden Conference, The Global Politics of Food and Water, we will have a booth at the Common Ground Fair, September 20-22, in Unity Maine on the grounds of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). For more information, please visit MOFGA’s website at:

In addition to our informational booth, please be sure to join our Camden Conference Panel Discussion: Climate Change and Farming: How can Maine and the world respond?, featuring Sharon Tisher, Doreen Stabinsky, and Molly Anderson. This event will take place on Sunday, September 22, at 12:00 p.m. in the Rail Car Speaker’s Tent immediately following Sharon Tisher’s slide presentation, Climate Reality which begins at 11:00 a.m.

2014 Camden Conference
See you at the Fair!

CEP Workshop held in Camden

Date: Wednesday July 3, 2013

In recent years Maine parents and educators have become very concerned about how the ongoing funding crisis in Maine’s public schools has undermined high school social studies classes, especially those educating students on global issues and their importance to our country. Two Camden educational institutions, the Camden Conference and the Watershed School, have been working together to offer one solution to this worrisome problem.

On June 24 representatives of the two organizations convened a workshop of social studies teachers from around Maine at the Watershed Independent High School’s 32 Washington Street facility in Camden to construct this year’s version of the Conference’s Curriculum Enrichment Program (CEP). Led by School Director, Will Galloway, and teacher, Judith Masseur, a recent graduate of Brown University’s Master’s Program in Education, the workshop group was made up of six other experienced educators from Lincoln Academy, Hampden Academy, Foxcroft Academy, and the Maine School for Science & Mathematics, all of whom had attended last February’s Camden Conference The Middle East; What’s Next? The workshop group took the wealth of information and material from that conference and put it into the CEP format, consisting of Conference-related study themes and questions illustrated by video clips from actual Conference presentations. The goal was to make this content more user-friendly for high school teachers and their students.

Now that the recent workshop has done its work, the CEP material will be set up on the Education Programs page of the Camden Conference website where it will be available for use by teachers and students at no cost.

Charles Graham, CEP Program Manager, praised Galloway and Masseur, not only for their leadership in this year’s CEP process but also for their roles in creating the program four years ago. “This was Will’s original idea. The Conference’s mission has always been to ‘foster informed discourse on world affairs’, and the CEP is a way to do that for younger people who might otherwise be overwhelmed by the raw Conference material. What the CEP does, essentially, is take a Niagara Falls of information and bottle it for easier consumption.”

In its four years of existence the CEP has been supported financially by the Camden National Bank, the Maine Humanities Council, and the Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation and used by high school teachers throughout New England. Still available at the Conference Website is CEP material from other recent Conferences concerning: Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Challenges of Asia, and US Leadership in the 21st Century.

For more information about the CEP and other Camden Conference Education Programs, please click here.

The next annual Camden Conference, The Global Politics of Food and Water, will take place February 21-23, 2014, at the Camden Opera House and will be streamed to two satellite venues: the Hutchinson Center in Belfast and The Strand Theatre in Rockland.

The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend conference. For more information visit, or email or call 207-236-1034.

Photo: Will Galloway, Watershed School Director, (left) and Charlie Graham, Camden Conference CEP Program Manager (right)

Summer Reading

Date: Tuesday July 2, 2013

2014 Camden Conference Summer Reading List now available. Click here to view and/or download.

2013 Highlights

Date: Thursday June 6, 2013

Highlights from the 2013 Camden Conference, The Middle East – What Next?, are now available on our website. Click here to view and/or download.

May 4 Symposium

Date: Wednesday March 13, 2013

May 4 Symposium Tackles Subject of Food Security and Climate Change

How climate change may affect global food supplies and security, around the world and here in Maine, will be the subject of a one-day symposium on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at the First Congregational Church in Camden.

“Food and Climate Change: Global Challenges and Maine Responses” is being organized by the Quaker Peace Center of the Midcoast Meeting of Friends and the First Congregational Church of Camden, in collaboration with the Camden Conference.

“Global warming poses enormous risks to global food production and security,” said Brewster Grace, an event organizer for the Peace Center of the Midcoast Meeting of Friends. “Major effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions—droughts, floods, rising temperatures, and unpredictable growing seasons—are now devastating many regions of the world. Maine is already affected by ocean acidification and plant infestations as temperatures rise.”

“We can see the trends in temperature, weather patterns, and extreme weather, but there are questions concerning where these trends will take us and what we can do to assure that critical production of our farms and fisheries continues to meet the needs of growth populations,” said Bruce Cole, event organizer for the First Congregational Church of Camden.

The symposium will address how global farming and fishing efforts can be modified to adapt to climate change and how we can use farming to mitigate the impacts of climate change. It will then consider the relevance of these global activities to farming and fishing in Maine.

Grace noted that agriculture now accounts for about 30 percent of total worldwide greenhouse gas emissions through the production of fertilizer, the use of energy to produce and transport food, and deforestation for crops and grazing.

“But agriculture also contributes to mitigating climate change by sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere, especially through organic farming and forest and land conservation, in both of which Maine sets an exceptional example.”

Speakers for the May 4 symposium include:

  • Molly Anderson, Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, College of the Atlantic
  • Seth Shames, EcoAgriculture Partners, Washington, D.C.
  • Doreen Stabinsky, Professor of Global Environment Politics, College of the Atlantic
  • Chellie Pingree, (invited) U.S. House of Representative
  • Julia Olmstead, Senior Associate, Rural Communities Program, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Timothy Griffin, Associate Professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program, Tufts University
  • John Jemison, Cooperative Extension, University of Maine
  • Robin Alden, Penobscot East Resource Center, Stonington

The May 4 symposium, “Food and Climate Change: Global Challenges and Maine Responses,” is also a community event of the Camden Conference, which will present its major regional conference in February 2014 on the topic of “The Global Politics of Food and Water.”

Site of the May 4 symposium will be the First Congregational Church, located near the center of Camden at 59 Elm Street. Registration forms are available at: The registration fee is $25 for the one-day program.

For additional information call Bruce Cole, First Congregational Church, at 691-4893.

Students at the 2013 Conference

Date: Tuesday March 12, 2013

There were many students from a number of schools in attendance at the 2013 Camden Conference. Here are a few explorations about their remarkable involvement and participation during the conference weekend.

College of the Atlantic     Portland High School     University of Maine

Students at the 2013 Camden Conference

Opera House – Sold Out!

Date: Friday January 25, 2013

Opera House Sold Out for Camden Conference

The Camden Conference reports this week that all seats at the Camden Opera House have been filled for the 26th Annual Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” the weekend of February 22-24. Seats are still available, however, at the three live-streaming satellite venues: The Strand in Rockland, the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, and The Grand in Ellsworth. Please click here to register.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who was slated to be one of the conference speakers, has been called away on urgent overseas business. Taking his place will be Ambassador Laurence Pope, a career diplomat, addressing U.S. policies and their role in the Middle East.

Pope, a Bowdoin College graduate, is a former U.S. ambassador to Chad and former chargé d’affaires in Libya. Fluent in Arabic and French, he has also held a number of senior posts in the Department of State. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2000 after 31 years of service but emerged from retirement in the fall of 2012 to assume the temporary post of chargé d’affaires in Libya following the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Benghazi. He has now returned to his home in Portland, from where he continues to consult with various institutions.

“The Middle East: What Next?” kicks off at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 22, with noted journalist Robin Wright as keynoter, and continues until 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 24, with a full slate of speakers moderated by Ambassador Nicholas Burns of Harvard’s Kennedy School. For anyone still hoping to attend the conference at the Opera House, the Camden Conference office is maintaining a waiting list in case of cancellations.

For more information, visit or call 207-236-1034.

R.M. Davis is 2013 Global Sponsor

Date: Tuesday January 15, 2013

Maine’s premiere foreign policy conference returns to Camden for 26th year
R. M. Davis commits to conference in big way, as “global sponsor” for three years

This year’s Camden Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” cannot provide all the answers to this pressing question. But what it will do, with its roster of acknowledged experts—focusing on the key countries of the Middle East—is provide historical analysis with current insights, giving participants a deeper understanding of the elements that will influence the future.

“Attendees will emerge from the weekend Conference with a keener sense of the fundamental issues underlying today’s complex Middle East so that, as events unfold, they can view and understand them in a proper historical framework,” says Camden Conference Board President Bland Banwell.

Helping to make this year’s event possible is R. M. Davis, Inc., a Maine-based, nationally recognized, investment management firm. “As the Global Sponsor, R. M. Davis has again come to the table to make The Camden Conference a premiere event in Maine and a premiere event in the foreign policy community, allowing Camden, Maine to play host to a prestigious slate of informative speakers and to hundreds of Conference attendees for the three day, annual event,” notes Banwell.

“This acclaimed event fosters discourse on the world’s most pressing issues, many of which are economic in nature, and all of which will impact America’s future. Our partnership with The Camden Conference is part of our ongoing commitment to foster education among our community, our clients, and their families,” notes R. M. Davis Vice President, Scott Konecny. To that end, Konecny announced that R. M. Davis will serve as Global Sponsor of the event not only this year, but for an additional two years, through 2015.

This year the Conference will be held February 22-24, 2013 at the Camden Opera House in Camden, Maine and live streamed to venues in Rockland, Belfast, and Ellsworth.

The Conference’s keynote speaker will be journalist, author, and foreign policy analyst Robin Wright, who has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Sunday Times of London, CBS News, and the Christian Science Monitor, having most recently covered U.S. foreign policy for the Washington Post. Besides a long career in journalism, Wright is the author of three books and has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Yale, Duke, Stanford, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Southern California.

Other Conference participants include: former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the State Department, R. Nicholas Burns; Professor Shai Feldman, the Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and Professor of Politics at Brandeis University; F. Gregory Gause III, a professor and chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Vermont; Dr. Barbara Ibrahim, Founding Director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo; Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Professor Joshua Landis; Marc Lynch, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs and Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University; former Iranian Ambassador to Germany and current Research Scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security, Seyed Hossein Mousavian; and Marwan Muasher, a Jordanian diplomat who currently serves as Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

Tickets for the 26th annual Camden Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” are currently on sale to both Conference members and the public via or by dialing 1-877-214-8579.

About The Camden Conference
The Camden Conference was founded in 1987 as a nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization whose mission is to foster informed discourse on world issues. In the years since, it has convened its annual February Conference in the historic Camden Opera House, drawing some of the best minds on foreign policy to share their insights and expertise on a range of global issues with the community. Conference topics have included The Making of American Foreign Policy, The Influence of the News Media on Foreign Policy, US-Japan Relations, Globalization, The Politics of Energy and Water, Religion, Global Leadership, and a number of conferences focusing on regions of the world. Visit for additional details.

About R. M. Davis, Inc.
R. M. Davis, Inc. is a nationally recognized wealth management firm located in Portland, Maine. For generations, clients located throughout Northern New England have turned to R. M. Davis for objective, independent financial advice and a wide range of problem-solving services. R. M. Davis’ trusted advisors simplify clients’ lives through a responsive, integrated approach to the accumulation, protection, and transition of their wealth. Visit for details.

Sam L. Cohen Foundation

Date: Friday January 11, 2013

The Sam L. Cohen Foundation, established 29 years ago in Portland to benefit individuals living in southern Maine, has awarded the Camden Conference a grant for 15 Portland High School students and 2 teachers to attend the February 22-24, 2013 Conference in Camden. This year’s Camden Conference theme “The Middle East: What Next?” will focus on the current status and future prospects of the Arab Awakening across the Middle East and its likely impacts upon U.S. policies and U.S. roles in the region. The students to attend will be selected from Portland High School’s Global Studies Certificate Program, and will recognize other recommendations from the Portland Mentoring Alliance, the Make It Happen Program and various ELL programs. The Global Studies program is open to native-born and immigrant students and combines cultural competence skills training, monthly seminars ranging from music to international humanitarian aid efforts, and a senior service learning project to challenge and reward students who are dedicated to becoming global citizens.

The Sam L. Cohen Foundation supports a wide variety of organizations that provide access to educational opportunities, promote culture and the arts and contribute to civic improvement and community well being.

Robin Wright, journalist, author and foreign policy analyst, is the Camden Conference’s keynote speaker, followed over the course of the weekend by eight other recognized experts representing various countries in the Middle East. Serving as Conference moderator is Ambassador Nicholas Burns, currently Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

This is the Camden Conference’s 26th year of offering informed discourse on world affairs through community events that start seven months prior to the Conference and culminate with the February Conference weekend. The Conference is held at the Camden Opera House, Camden and streamed live to venues in Rockland, Belfast and Ellsworth. For more information on speakers, topics and registration, please check the website

100 Days in 100 Minutes

Date: Friday November 16, 2012

The Camden Conference proudly presents Mac Deford and Tom DeMarco’s 7th annual 100 minute history roadshow: 100 DAYS IN 100 MINUTES – ADAMS V. JEFFERSON: THE FURIOUS ELECTION OF 1800. If you think US elections have gone downhill since the founders’ time, think again. The 1800 election had it all: slander, libel, name-calling, tinkering, bribes, and apocalyptic predictions for what would happen if “the other guy” should win.

By popular demand, this lively 100 minute event is available for viewing on-line. Click here to enjoy the show!

Conference Registration Opens

Date: Thursday November 15, 2012

Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, November 26, for the next Camden Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” scheduled for February 22-24, 2013. An outstanding slate of speakers has been assembled for the weekend-long conference, including many noted Middle East experts who have appeared frequently in the media. Advance ticket sales to Camden Conference members have already been brisk—the topic and the first-rate speaker roster have proven to be a big draw. Everyone with an interest in the topic should make reservations as soon as possible.

As previously announced, the keynote speaker on Friday evening, February 22, will be Robin Wright, who has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Time, The Atlantic, The Sunday Times of London, CBS News, Foreign Affairs, and many others. Her overseas assignments have included the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and several years as a roving foreign correspondent worldwide.

On Sunday morning, the closing speaker will be Ryan Crocker, a Career Ambassador—highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service—and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In midsummer 2012, he stepped down as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, a position for which he was recalled from retirement in 2011 after having been U.S. Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009. Crocker previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon (1990-1993), Kuwait (1994-1997), Syria (1998-2001), and Pakistan (2004-2007). Over the course of his career, he studied Farsi prior to a posting to Iran in 1972 and he undertook long-term study of Arabic in 1976, followed by postings in Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt as well as the State Department in Washington. Crocker, who has been called America’s diplomatic superstar, is sure to provide significant insights on the Middle East and the U.S. role there.

Returning to the conference as moderator will be Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School. In April 2008, he retired from the State Department after a distinguished diplomatic career spanning 27 years. From 2005 until his retirement, Burns was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs—the third-ranking position in the State Department—where he led U.S. negotiations with such countries as Iran, India, and Kosovo and supervised U.S. diplomacy throughout the world. Burns was also U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001-2005) and to Greece (1997-2001). He was the State Department Spokesman for two years and spent five years on the National Security Council staff, including a stint as Special Assistant to President Clinton, focusing on the former Soviet Union. Under President George H.W. Bush, he was the NSC Director for Soviet Affairs. Earlier in his career, Burns was posted to Egypt and Mauritania and served as Political Officer at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem. He is the Director of the Aspen Strategy Group, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, and serves on many boards, including the Atlantic Council, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the American Ditchley Foundation, Veracity Worldwide, and the Center for a New American Security.

The 26th Annual Camden Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” takes place live from the Camden Opera House and is simulcast to three satellite venues: the Strand Theatre in Rockland, the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, and the Grand in Ellsworth. For more information, visit or call 207-236-1034.

Member Registration

Date: Wednesday November 7, 2012

Registration for the 2013 Camden Conference is now open for Members! If you are a Camden Conference Member, please call the office at (207) 236-1034 or 1-877-214-8579 or email for registration details. Click here to become a Member now!

On-line registration will be available beginning on Monday, November 26.

Registration for the live venue at the Camden Opera House is $250. Satellite venue registration (The Strand, Rockland or The Hutchinson Center, Belfast) is $140. For information about registering for The Grand, please contact their box office directly.

2013 Booklist Updated!

Date: Thursday November 1, 2012

On this first day of November, the Camden Conference Program Committee is pleased to present its Late Fall Booklist Edition of recommended reading for the 26th Annual Camden Conference: The Middle East: What Next?

This updated Booklist includes the latest work of 2013 Camden Conference speakers, Gregory Gause, Marc Lynch and Robin Wright, as well as past Conference speakers, Deborah Amos and Olivier Roy.

You may view the Booklist here.

To learn more about the upcoming Conference, please visit our Program and Speakers pages.

2013 Conference Announced

Date: Tuesday October 30, 2012

The Camden Conference announces that the topic for 2013 will be “The Middle East: What Next.” The Conference cannot provide all the answers to that question. But what it will do, with its roster of acknowledged experts—focusing on the key countries of the Middle East—is provide historical analysis with current insights, giving participants a firmer understanding of the elements that will influence the future. The 2013 conference will feature a line-up of outstanding speakers, many of whom are appearing regularly on today’s news shows and commentary.

The Syrian civil war escalates daily; riots spread from Cairo to encompass most of the Muslim world; terrorists assassinate the U.S. ambassador in Libya; political instability and sectarian violence increase in Iraq: where is the Arab Spring—that early, optimistic designation—heading?

All revolutions are unique. In Egypt, three decades of Mubarak’s corrupt rule ended almost overnight; in Syria, the Assad family dynasty could collapse tomorrow or hang on for the foreseeable future. Will peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors fall victim to the enveloping unrest? And where will Iran, with its nuclear ambitions, fit in the ever-evolving picture? Predicting what the Middle East will look like in five years, or even one, is clearly impossible. But Conference attendees will emerge from the weekend with a keener sense of the fundamental issues that underlie today’s complex Middle East, so that, as events unfold, they can view and understand them in a proper historical framework.

The keynote speaker on Friday evening will be Robin Wright, who has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Time, The Atlantic, The Sunday Times (London), CBS News, Foreign Affairs, and many others. Her foreign tours have included the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, as well as several years as a roving foreign correspondent. She has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions. Besides a long career in journalism, Wright has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Yale, Duke, Stanford, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Southern California. Wright holds a joint appointment as a United States Institute of Peace Senior Fellow and Wilson Center Distinguished Scholar, during which she has produced three books: The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy (2010), Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World (2011), and The Islamists Are Coming: Who They Really Are (2012).

The 26th Annual Camden Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” takes place February 22-24, 2013, live at the Camden Opera House and simulcast to satellite venues, the Strand Theatre in Rockland, the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, and the Grand in Ellsworth. Tickets for the February weekend will go on sale to Camden Conference members November 5 and to the general public November 26. For more information, visit or call 207-236-1034.

Membership Campaign Underway!

Date: Friday September 28, 2012

Annual Membership Campaign is Now Underway! Very shortly, you and all other friends of the Camden Conference will be receiving a letter asking you to consider becoming (if you aren’t already) a contributing member of the Conference. Why become a member, you ask? The letter will explain in brief the various benefits that you, the Conference, and our community receive from you contribution, but it can best be summed up by saying: “Without you, the Camden Conference would be a very small program of much lower quality reaching far fewer people.”

Learn about the benefits of membership here.

Member contributions do the following:

  • Help us to bring the best available speakers to the February event;
  • Help support the scores of Conference-sponsored community events in Maine that attract thousands of attendees over the year;
  • Contribute to the upkeep of the electronic equipment that supports our popular Website and our video streaming to venues in Rockland, Belfast, and Ellsworth;
  • Make it possible to undertake new projects in furtherance of our mission to foster informed discourse on world affairs.

Camden Conference members have a lot to be proud of, and we urge you to join their number and help create an even better Conference!

Thank you! From the Conference Development Committee

Conference Season Kick-Off

Date: Thursday September 13, 2012

It was less than two years ago that a Tunisian named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself and the Arab World on fire. He was a 26 year old college graduate trying to make a living selling vegetables on the street and, after police confiscated his cart and roughed him up, he took his own life to protest.

Reverberations from this single man’s death and the subsequent revolts that overturned entrenched dictatorial regimes in the Middle East have come to be known as the The Arab Spring. Events in its aftermath continue to dominate the news from Iran’s nuclear ambitions to Syria’s horrific bloodshed, from the ascendancy of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to the deaths of American diplomats in Libya.

The 26th Camden Conference, “The Middle East: What Next?” will offer explanations, insights and opinions from people who have been directly involved with recent events and their impacts on the countries and people in the region and on American foreign policy.

The annual event takes place February 22-24, 2013 live from the historic Camden Opera House with streaming to satellite venues in Belfast at the Hutchinson Center, Ellsworth at The Grand, and Rockland’s Strand Theatre.

The Camden Conference is not limited to those three days in February. It also includes a robust season of free community events leading up to the February Conference that promise to prepare you for “The Middle East: What Next?” For example:

THE LIST, a modern-day Schindler’s List story focusing on Kirk Johnson, an American fighting to save thousands of Iraqis whose lives are in danger because they helped the U.S. rebuild Iraq. Co-sponsored with the Camden International Film Festival, Saturday, September 29, 4PM at the Bayview Street Cinema, Camden. Post film discussion moderated by Mac Deford.

INTERNET AND REVOLUTION: From text messaging to Twitter… How is technology along with social media driving The Arab Spring”? –With U. of Maine Professor Paul Holman on Thursday, October 4, 6:30-8:00PM at the Rockland Public Library.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF RELIGION IN THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT: Why has religion become more central to reaching a peace agreement? –with Colby Professor David Freidenreich on Monday, October 15, 6:30-8:00PM at the Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland.

SEEDS OF PEACE with Tim Wilson, former director of both the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine and the Seeds of Peace Center for Coexistence in Jerusalem. Tuesday, October 23, 6:30-8:00PM at the Belfast Free Library.

THE KING AND I: I TAUGHT HIM HOW TO SERVE: With Maureen O’Keefe, the first national tennis coach for the Jordanian Tennis Federation and personal coach to King Hussein on Thursday, November 1, 6:30-8:00PM at the Rockland Public Library.

ADAMS V. JEFFERSON: THE FURIOUS ELECTION OF 1800 – 100 DAYS IN 100 MINUTES with Mac Deford and Tom DeMarco returning with their popular history road show just in time for the Election. Friday, November 2, 7PM at the Rockport Opera House and Sunday, November 4, 2PM at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

REVOLUTIONS WITHOUT REASON: HOW RELIGION UNDERMINES FREEDOM IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA with Dr. Anouar Majid of the UNE Center for Global Humanities, Thursday, December 13, 6:30-8:00PM at the Camden Public Library.

For a full listing, please visit our Community Events Calendar at

The Camden Conference is a nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization whose mission is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend Conference featuring distinguished speakers focusing on a central theme related to U.S. foreign affairs. For more information, please visit or call 877-214-8579.

2013 Summer Booklist

Date: Wednesday June 20, 2012

Just in time for summer, the Camden Conference Program Committee has issued an expanded list of recommended reading for the 2013 Camden Conference, The Middle East: What Next?

The Committee’s first choice is David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace. 20th Anniversary Edition: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and Creation of the Modern Middle East.

His original book was published in 1989, and now is in a 463-page paper edition with an Afterword by Fromkin. Both will provide a better understanding of how the Ottoman Empire was carved up after WW1 and how it has fared since then. Interestingly, young Winston Churchill was in charge of that huge break-up project.

For more summer reading ideas, please see the 2013 Conference Booklist here.

Sen. George Mitchell’s Address

Date: Wednesday November 16, 2011

George Mitchell

Former U. S. Senator George Mitchell spoke in Belfast last November as part of the distinguished lecture series presented by Senior College and the Camden Conference. If you missed it, you may watch it here.

For a written account of one of Senator Mitchell’s earlier appearances at the Camden Conference, click here.


Date: Thursday February 24, 2011

The Camden Conference is fortunate to have many volunteers who make the annual Conference possible. In addition to the Board of Directors and Advisory Council, the following individuals have generously given of their time as community event speakers, senior college presenters, community partners, committee members, office helpers and volunteers during this weekend Conference. Thank you very much for your assistance – we could not do this without you!

Carol Bachofner, Jon Bahrt, Beth Berry*, Hope Berry*, Genna Black*, Dwight Blue, Margaret Boyajian, Rich Boulet, Fiona Boyd*, Joanne Boynton, Mabel Cabot, Alexandra Calamari*, Anna Carr*, Zeb Casperson*, Charlene Churchill, Charlene Clemons, Cassidy Crawford*, Lucy Creevey, Dominic Cucinella*, Joshua Curry, Sophie Davis*, Roger Dell, John Doncaster, Steve Donoso, Candy Emlen, Reid Evans*, David Firestein, Benjamin Fox, Judy Gannon, Peter Gelman, Carol Gillette, Peter Gimlewicz*, Ellen Goldsmith, Pam Gormley, Dorothea Graham, Pat Griffith, Ken Gross, Judy Groth, Brenda Harrington, Anne Holmes, Jeff Howland, Nancy Howland, John Hufnagel, Jane Hultberg, Stephen Huyler, Pat Jones, Tierra Knight*, Colin Kolmar, Molly Larson, Caroline Locke, Connie Manter, Charles Marecic, Megan Marsanskis, Kevin Martin, Emma Mason*, Rick McDowell, Phil McKean, Lys McLaughlin, Heidi Mills, Peter Muth, Bill Newman, Enid Bok Okun, Geoffrey Parker, Neil Petersen, Manuel Pizarro, Gene Reil, Diana Rigg, Anne Romans, Jim Ruddy, Maggie Samuels*, Bob Sargent, Lee Schneller, Melody Schubert, Devin Sewell*, Mark Shapiro, Chris Slininger, Andrew Stancioff, Susan Taylor, Capt. William Taylor, Joan Thibault, Mitch and Cindy Thomashow, Mary Trotochaud, Pia Walther*

And a special thanks to AVX, Camden Police Department, Chromunique, Audio Visual, Communication Graphics, The Hawthorn Inn, HAV II, Harbor Digital, James Ruddy Productions, Kerry Hadley, Dave Morrison and the Opera House Staff, Owl and Turtle Book Shop, Road Scholar, The Grand, Strand Theatre, Towne Motel, Univ. of Maine Hutchinson Center, Warner Graphics, and to all of our generous sponsors!

*Students of CHRHS, RDHS, Watershed School and the Game Loft, Belfast

2011 Conference dedication

Date: Monday January 31, 2011

The Board of Directors of the Camden Conference has announced that it will dedicate the upcoming Conference, The Challenges of Asia, to honor the memory of Matthew R. Simmons. Matt was the keynote speaker of the 15th Camden Conference in 2002: The Politics of Energy and Water. His talk was titled Nightmares and Dreams About World Energy Crises. He was a long-standing member of the Camden Conference Advisory Council and had always been a generous benefactor in support of the mission of the organization.

Matt founded Simmons & Company International, a Houston-based energy investment bank, in 1974. It eventually expanded to London, Aberdeen, and Dubai. More recently, Matt founded the Maine-based Ocean Energy Institute, a non-profit research organization to promote clean, sustainable energy production from off-shore wind and ocean forces.

Matt Simmons left an enduring mark on Maine, especially in the MidCoast. His vision and backing enabled the restoration of the Strand Theater in Rockland. The Strand has had a tremendously positive impact on the lives of many people who are fortunate to live or visit in the MidCoast.

Matt was a creative, humor-filled extrovert with great integrity. He had a deep value for education, and, in that vein, the Camden Conference has established an annual scholarship for a student to attend the Conference in Matt’s honor. The recipient of the 2011 Matthew R. Simmons Scholarship is Mary P. Lynch, a public policy major at the University College at Rockland.

The Camden Conference is a nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization whose mission is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend Conference featuring distinguished speakers focusing on a central theme related to U.S. foreign affairs. For more information, please visit or call (207) 236-1034.

Rashid is Top Global Thinker

Date: Friday December 3, 2010

Ahmed Rashid, who keynoted this years Camden Conference “Crossroads of Conflict” was recognized in the December 2010 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine as being among the 100 most influential global thinkers. Rashid, who was listed in 51st position, was cited “for being the world’s eyes and ears in one of its most volatile regions”. Among other Asian thinkers identified by Foreign Policy, with their position on the list in parenthesis are: Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank, China (4); Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, China (16); Shivshankar Menon, National Security Advisor, India (18); Nandan Nilekani, Entrepeneur, India (43); Zheng Bijian, Geostrategist, China (44); Aung San Suu Kyi, Dissident, Burma (75); Hu Shuli, Editor, China (82) and Kishore Mahbubani, Academic Dean, Singapore (92).

Camden Conference a UMO Favorite

Date: Monday July 26, 2010

UMaine Valedictorian, Amy Smith, declares Camden Conference classes among her favorites in a recent article spotlighting her accomplishments. Read about Amy in the recent edition of UMaine Today.

We Have Moved!

Date: Tuesday June 29, 2010

The Camden Conference Office has moved to a new location at 25 Bayview St., 2nd floor. Our postal address and phone numbers are unchanged.

2010 Conference Highlights

Date: Tuesday June 29, 2010

The 2010 Conference Highlights have arrived! Highlights from the 23rd Annual Camden Conference: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India — Crossroads of Conflict are now available. To receive your copy, please send $10 (incl. S&H) to the Camden Conference, P.O. Box 882, Camden, ME 04843. To order by credit card, please call us at 236-1034 or toll free at 1-877-214-8579.  Highlights is also available to view and download on our website.

Support a Student in 2011!

Date: Tuesday June 1, 2010

Help bring more students to the 2011 Camden Conference! Because the Camden Conference is, above all, an educational event, it is fitting that students have an important and growing place in it! Many attendees feel that the best and most meaningful questions to Conference speakers come from the student participants.” The 103 students at our most recent Conference were an increase from 69 the year before. Of these, 78 were from colleges, 25 from regional secondary schools, and three were from the South Asian region being discussed. Almost all of them benefited from scholarships or discounted student rates and had their Conference experience enriched through a special program organized by the Conference. The total cost of this student program was $11,577, offset by $2,150 in donations for scholarships. The remaining costs, $9,427, came out of the Conference organization’s own resources, reducing our ability to expand and improve this valuable and exciting program.

We are working to increase the student participation at each venue to up to 20% of the total attendance and to expand our current program in ways that will make it a richer experience for the student participants and us all. At current costs, a gift of $150 would help us to bring one student to the Camden Opera House or two students to one of our two remote venues. Of course, every contribution will be welcome and help support our program.

With record student attendance, the 2010 Camden Conference had a new and younger dynamic – many of the most thoughtful questions were asked by students. We hope to expand student attendance in the years to come. Please visit our website’s “Support a Student” link and give generously to this year’s Student Scholarship Fund.

2011 Conference Topic Announced

Date: Friday March 26, 2010

The 24th Annual Camden Conference: The Challenges of Asia will take place February 18- 20, 2011.  The Camden Conference Board of Directors wishes share with its friends and members this brief overview of next year’s conference.  While the general theme has been chosen, this working title and program details are in early stages of development by the Program Committee and will surely evolve before reaching its final form.  Please visit our website often to monitor our progress.

Topics likely to be covered include:

  • Single Country Assessments of China, India, and Japan
  • Economic Overview of Asia and Economic/Trade Relations with the U.S.
  • Energy and Resource Competition Across Asia
  • Military and Geo-Strategic Overview of Asia in relation to U.S. Role, Responses, and Military Presence in the Region
  • New Technologies, “Green” Jobs and Production, Environmental Issues
  • How should the U.S. Respond to the Many Challenges of a Rising Asia?
  • What changes may be required of us and our systems?
  • Attention will be given to Social, Cultural, Artistic, and Religious Aspects, and the Traditional Values of the many Peoples of Asia

Please address queries or suggestions to Jim Matlack, Chairman of the Program Committee at

2010 CamCasts are Available!

Date: Thursday March 4, 2010

The recent 23rd Annual Camden Conference, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India – Crossroads of Conflict, is receiving much praise and positive press coverage!

In case you missed it or want to experience it again…. CamCasts of each 2010 Camden Conference Presentation are now available for viewing anytime on our website.

And you may browse images from the 2010 Camden Conference at our new Photo Gallery.

Camden Conference Thanks You!

Date: Thursday March 4, 2010

The Camden Conference wishes to thank everyone who helped make the recent conference season such a success!

The Camden Conference is fortunate to have many volunteers who make this annual Conference possible. In addition to the dedicated volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Council, the following individuals and businesses have generously given of their time as community event speakers, senior college presenters, community partners, committee members, office helpers and volunteers during this weekend Conference:

Acadia Senior College ~ Bangor Public Library ~ Meredith Barnett ~ Belfast Free Library ~ Belfast Senior College ~ Ann Bex ~ Genna Black ~ Dwight Blue ~ Blue Hill Public Library ~ Margaret Boyajian ~ Joanne Boynton ~ Steven Butterfield ~ Camden Police Department ~ Camden Public Library ~ Ben Cameron ~ Sean Carnell ~ Anna Carr ~ Zeb Casperson ~ Marlene Charron ~ Jon Cheston ~ Chromunique´Audio Visual ~ Coastal Discoveries ~ Coastal Senior College ~ Colloquy Downeast ~ Communication Graphics ~ Stephanie Cooke ~ The Country Inn ~ Lucy Creevey ~ Roger Dell ~ Tom DeMarco ~ John Doncaster ~ Steve Donoso ~ Candy Emlen ~ Wendy Ross Eichler ~ Reid Evans ~ Tyler Evans ~ Exploritas ~ Farmers Fare ~ Alex Fitzgerald ~ The Game Loft~ Judy Gannon ~ Pam Gormley ~ Dorothea Graham ~ Ken Gross ~ John Grossbaum ~ Kerry Hadley~ HAV II ~ Harbor Digital ~ Brenda Harrington ~ Anne Holmes ~ Jeff Howland ~ Nancy Howland ~ Jane Hultberg ~ Pamela Hunte ~ Stephen Huyler ~ Jackson Memorial Library ~ James Ruddy Productions ~ Jesup Memorial Library ~ Paul Johnson ~ Mike Kennedy ~ Tierra Knight ~ Kevin LaPointe ~ Molly Larsen ~ Lily Lupine & Fern ~ Emily Lusher ~ Mary Lynch ~ Anouar Majid ~ Charles Marecic ~ Megan Marsanskis ~ Rick McDowell ~ Phil McKean ~ Midcoast Senior College ~ Heidi Mills ~ Dave Morrison ~ Peter Muth ~ Bill Newman ~ Northeast Harbor Library ~ Enid Bok Okun ~ Opera House Staff ~ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute ~ Lauren Ouellette ~ Owl & Turtle Bookshop ~ Cameron Paddock-McRae ~ Peter Pfister ~ Alistair Phaup ~ Joan Phaup ~ Elaine Pew ~ Neil Petersen ~ Lys McLaughlin-Pike ~ Eugene Reil ~ David Renne ~ Rockport Public Library~ Rockland Public Library ~ Lori Roming ~ Jim Ruddy ~ Maggie Samuels ~ Bob Sargent ~ Melody Schubert ~ Sangaree Sengupta ~ Mark Shapiro ~ Skidompha Public Library ~ Southwest Harbor Public Library ~ Lincoln Spear ~ Jan Summers ~ Susan Taylor ~ Capt. William Taylor ~ The Strand Theatre ~ Hans Stege ~ Joan Thibault ~ Thorndike Library ~ The Towne Motel ~ Mary Trotochaud ~ University of Maine ~ Univ. of Maine Hutchinson Center ~ Ilmarinen Vogel ~ Warner Graphics ~ Watershed School ~ Peggy Watson ~ Hannah Woodman

Thank you very much for your assistance – we could not do this without you!

Save the Date!

Date: Thursday March 4, 2010

The 24th Annual Camden Conference will take place February 18-20, 2011. Check the Camden Conference website often for updates on next year’s topic, speakers, programs, and community events.

Continuing Education Credits

Date: Tuesday February 2, 2010

We are pleased to announce that the 23rd Annual Camden Conference: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India – Crossroads of Conflict has recently been approved by the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar for five (5) Continuing Legal Education Credits for Attorneys. In addition, Teachers who attend the Conference are eligible for 1.5 Continuing Education Units through the University of Maine. Register for the conference or contact the Camden Conference for more information.

Speaker Books on Booklist

Date: Wednesday January 6, 2010

Highly recommended by several Conference Program Committee members, Whitney Azoy’s Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan has been added to the 2010 Camden Conference Book List.

Azoy joins other 2010 Conference Speakers Ahmed Rashid, Paul Pillar, and Teresita Schaffer on the recommended reading list for the 23rd Annual Camden Conference: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India – Crossroads of Conflict, live at the Camden Opera House, February 19-21, 2010.

In this second edition paperback (Waveland Press 2002), Azoy, a confirmed speaker at the upcoming February Camden Conference, describes a fascinating relationship between Afghanistan’s ‘national sport’ and its political evolution. Amazon reader Hanif Yazid calls it “witty and genuine, his firsthand accounts of traditional Afghan notions of power, status and honor give the book a unique flavour. Buzkashi is short, but informative. Easy to read and enjoy, it made me want to ride like the wind, dead goat in hand, to victory and glory!”

See the full list of recommended reading in preparation for the 2010 Camden Conference Here

Gain Insight

Date: Tuesday December 15, 2009

Gain insight into one of today’s most complicated foreign policy issues: What to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now that President Obama has shared his plans, the US is embarking on actions for the near future. International pundits as well as members of Congress and the press have weighed in with their thoughts. At the 2010 Camden Conference, you will have the chance to hear what many of these experts have to say and decide for yourself. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to gain insight to a very current issue.

Tickets for the Conference at the Camden Opera House are selling briskly, so get yours while they are still available.

Give insight…Tickets to the Conference make great Holiday gifts for friends and family!

Help sign up new, first-time attendees at any venue and receive a free Camden Conference tote bag. And if you bring a new attendee to the Camden Opera House, you will also receive 25% off on an Owl and Turtle book purchase.

Keynote speaker, Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban and Descent into Chaos – The U.S. and the Disaster in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia will travel from Pakistan to open the Conference and set the stage for what follows. Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State and NATO Ambassador, who captivated the audience at last year’s Camden Conference, will serve as moderator.

Additional speakers include:

* Whitney Azoy, cultural anthropologist and former director of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies in Kabul; * Brig. Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson, Senior counterinsurgency expert and director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell at the Pentagon; * Paul Pillar former National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia, now at Georgetown University; * Samina Quraeshi, award-winning Pakistani author, artist, and designer; and * Teresita Schaffer, former ambassador to Sri Lanka and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Sarasota.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the office at 207-236-1034. Get yours soon!

New Addition to Book List

Date: Tuesday December 15, 2009

Greg Mortenson’s latest book has been added to the 2010 Conference Book List.  In Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Viking, December 2009), Mortenson shares for the first time his broader vision to promote peace through education and literacy, as well as touching on military matters, Islam, and women-all woven together with the many rich personal stories of the people who have been involved in this remarkable two-decade humanitarian effort.

See the full list of recommended reading in preparation for the 2010 Camden Conference Here.


Date: Friday October 30, 2009

The airways are filled with calls to “rethink Afghanistan” and to develop a fuller understanding of Pakistan and its complex and often strife-torn relations with India. This is precisely what the upcoming Camden Conference: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India – Crossroads of Conflict proposes to do, starting with a keynote address by Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author who is perhaps the pre-eminent regional commentator on Afghanistan and its relations with his home country and with India.

Also helping the February 2010 event to shape up as one of the best Camden Conferences ever will be the presence as conference moderator of Nicholas Burns, who as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the George W. Bush administration led negotiations with Iran and India — and who was a featured speaker at the 2009 Camden Conference. At that conference, Burns outlined “A New Era of Diplomacy for the Obama Administration,” a topic on which he has since become a prominent commentator.

His active exchanges with other speakers should be an entertaining and informative new aspect of the 2010 Camden Conference. Burns will also wrap up the conference — for which tickets will soon go on sale — with a concluding assessment of US policy options in the region.

A New York Times profile last year described how keynote speaker Rashid, “Fresh out of Cambridge University in the late 1960s, and steeped in the era’s favorites — Marx, Mao and Che” took out for the hills of Baluchistan in his native Pakistan, where he spent ten years as a guerrilla fighter and political organizer of peasants seeking autonomy from the Pakistani government. He describes himself as having emerged “not exactly disillusioned, but defeated.”

That defeat quickly turned into a “launching pad” for Rashid’s career as a journalist, scholar, and best-selling author of several books on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the entire Central Asian region. In 2000, the year before 9/11, he wrote Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, a book that was used extensively by US analysts in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, selling over 1.5 million copies.

In his most recent book, Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, Rashid examined the record of the Bush administration and various European governments in Central Asia. His conclusions are devastating: An unstable and nuclear-armed Pakistan, a renewed al’ Qaeda profiting from a booming opium trade, and a Taliban resurgence and reconquest.

In an interview just this summer with the Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rashid traces Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s turn back toward reliance on the “old war lords” — rather than a new generation of politicians he had been fostering — to “the failure of the international community to come up with the goods.” In words that seem particularly prescient in light of subsequent charges of widespread fraud by Karzai supporters in the subsequent presidential election, Rashid explained, “The real cause for the lack of good governance in Afghanistan is the lack of attention from the Bush administration: the lack of resources, money, civilian aid, etc.”

That interview can be read in full on the Camden Conference website,

Rashid is now supporting calls for the US to commit more troops, more civilian advisors and more time to creating stability in Afghanistan. Talking to Terry Gross, host of National Public Radio program Fresh Air, in early October, Rashid noted: “If the [US] commitment slows down in any way, I think the Taliban will take Kabul within six months to a year, and the situation will deteriorate enormously.”

Besides Rashid’s own talk, conference participants can look forward to the give and take of a discussion between him and former Bush Administration official Burns on developments since Obama took over responsibility for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan and routing out al-Qaeda. Burns, now Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, has also been on the radio, TV and in print frequently of late, commenting most often on the Obama administration’s opening of the negotiations with Iran that he was not able to pursue in the Bush Administration — and which he now strongly supports.

The 23rd Annual Camden Conference: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India: Crossroads of Conflict takes place February 19-21, 2010 live at the historic Camden Opera House, with satellite venues at The Strand Theatre in Rockland and Univ. Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. Conference registration begins on Monday, November 30th. (Early Member registration begins November 9th). For more information, please call 236-1034 or visit

2010 Booklist Updated

Date: Wednesday October 21, 2009

Additions Highlight Challenges, Changes in Region.

The 2010 Camden Conference: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India: Crossroads of Conflict couldn’t be on a timelier or more relevant topic. As our informed members know, the situation in the region is changing rapidly. It will therefore be no surprise that we have new additions to the booklist for the 2010 Conference. These works cover topics ranging from the heroin money financing the Taliban and al Qaeda, to several works examining aspects of the fascinating culture and history of the Middle East, to the so-called “Twilight of Oil” and the “resource curse,” and the role that counterterrorism operations can and should play in American foreign policy.

We have two new titles for our “Top Picks” list:

  • Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda by Gretchen Peters
  • Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy by Paul Pillar

We are adding a brand-new section to our list called “The Troubling Middle East Setting” with three fascinating titles:

  • Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance by David Gardiner
  • Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil by Peter Maas
  • Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World by Vali Nasr

Finally, we have one new book for our “Human Interest” section:

  • To Live or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan by Nicholas Schmidle

See the full 2010 Camden Conference Booklist here.

Community Events Underway

Date: Thursday September 17, 2009

Next February’s Camden Conference on “Afghanistan, Pakistan, India — Crossroads of Conflict,” has already begun to inspire a lively series of community events in the Midcoast area, beginning with presentations by Prof. Paul Holman on “The New Great Game for Control of Central Asia.”

Dr. Holman’s dynamic exploration of the strategic rivalries that have shaped today’s tragic and troubling conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan drew record crowds to the Camden and Rockland Libraries earlier this month and he will repeat the talk on Tuesday, September 22nd at the Belfast Free Library.  The event takes place from 6:30-8 pm and is open to the public, free of charge.

Holman, a Camden resident who is currently a visiting professor of international relations at the University of Maine in Orono, will first consider the 19th century power struggle between the British and Russian Empires, which was the original “Great Game.” He will then examine the Cold War game in which the US supported the Afghan “freedom fighters” against the Soviet Armed Forces, as recently dramatized in the film “Charlie Wilson’s War,” starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

Also an adjunct professor at the Naval War College, Holman will conclude by sketching out the radically different rules and higher stakes that characterize the “new” Great Game. He will take a close look at US policy toward Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, and will argue that Washington has consistently misread regional politics, misunderstood the strategic situation in the region, and failed to protect its own best interests in this increasingly unstable part of the world.

Holman is a well known author and lecturer. From 1996 to 2003, he directed a 15-week executive course at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in which mid-career military officers, diplomats, and parliamentarians from all of the formerly Communist countries of Europe and Asia participated. His many articles on national security have appeared in the Naval War College Review, Strategic Review, US Naval Institute Proceedings, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Argentinian Naval War College Review, Air Force Magazine, and US Marine Corps Gazette. He also serves on the Camden Conference Board of Directors.

This kick-off event is just the beginning of a Camden Conference Community Events season that will feature programs as diverse as a discussion on the Mughal Gardens of Afghanistan and the subcontinent led by local gardening guru Peggy Watson; a screening of Stephen Huyler’s new film, Sonabai: A new Way of Seeing; a talk on Islam by Anouar Majid, University of New England professor, novelist and author of We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades Against Muslims and Other Minorities; and, a collaborative venture with the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland on Art in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  Visit our Community Events Section for the most up to date information.

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