Camden Conference in the World-October 2018

Keynoter for the 2019 conference Martin Jacques this summer provided the perfect segue to the China theme from 2018’s New World Disorder, arguing in this interview that as the first leading US politician to recognize America’s decline, President Donald Trump would also be wise to come to terms with — rather than fight via trade wars or otherwise — the “deep historical forces” leading to China’s ongoing rise. Basically answering “yes” to the Camden Conference’s 2019 title “Is This China’s Century,” global best-selling author Jacques says that at the heart of the question is: “How is the West going to handle its own relative decline?” Hear the latest on China’s tumultuous economic situation in this late September podcast by Kaiser Kuo, another speaker on the 2019 conference roster and founder of the Sinica weekly online discussion of events in China. Kuo was previously director of international communications in Beijing for…

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Camden Conference 2019 Membership Drive is on now

The Camden Conference announces the beginning of its annual membership drive for the 2019 season. What began in 1987 with a handful of Midcoast residents with insight, enthusiasm, and connections and the idea of “bringing the world to Camden,” is now entering its 32nd year. The Conference now boasts an audience of over 1100 people each February, frequently selling out the 4 venues, but ticket sales cover only 45% of the operating budget. In addition to the February Conference, programs include related high school and college courses during the year, plus nearly 100 community events in schools and libraries around the state.  The Camden Conference is still a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization, committed to keeping registration fees low and accessibility high, and membership is vital to ensure the continuation of the mission to “foster informed discourse on world issues.” This year the Conference has new and improved benefits to offer Members, including:…

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Introduction to “Is This China’s Century?”, February 22-24, 2019

As China emerges as a major global power, it faces complex challenges in its domestic economic, social, environmental and political affairs and its relations with Asian neighbors, the United States and the broader international community. Chinese investment on all continents is both welcomed and regarded with some anxiety, while Chinese diplomatic intervention has been essential to stability on the Korean peninsula. Taking an active role in shaping global dialogues, China is now attracting European as well as Asian nations to new multilateral institutions.     In Beijing, the absolute authority of the Chinese Communist Party has been reconfirmed, and President Xi now has the option to remain his country’s leader for as long as he wishes. “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind” can help solve global problems, says President Xi.  But is China ready for global leadership? And as its global role expands, by intention or by…

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Camden Conference In the World-September 2018

It’s been an active summer for Camden Conference alumni speakers, including on topics directly related to our 2019 theme “Is This China’s Century?” Hannah Beech explored the state of China’s relationship with Malaysia under Malaysia’s recently returned leader of an earlier era, Mahathir Mohamad. A 2011 Camden Conference speaker on “How Asian Journalists Operate with State-Controlled Media,” Beech is now southeast Asia Bureau Chief for the New York Times, having served for a decade as East Asia bureau chief for Time magazine. Thea Lee defended a thesis that is at the core of the percolating trade war between China and the US — Globalization Has Undermined America’s Working Class – in this Intelligence Squared debate aired on public radio. For the full debate, listen here. Thea is president of the Economic Policy Institute, past deputy chief of staff and chief international economist for the AFL-CIO, and a speaker at the…

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Two Camden Conference in the Classroom teachers, Hennessey and Goodall, are finalists for the 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, August 29, 2018: Three Maine teachers have been announced as state finalists for the 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year. Among the three is 2018 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year Joseph Hennessey who teaches American, World, AP Literature and Composition and Camden Conference Seminar for grades 11-12 at Piscataquis Community High School. He has been teaching for six years. Joining Hennessey is 2018 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year Shana Goodall of Orono High School and 2018 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year Connie Russell who is a grade 2 teacher at the Mabel I. Wilson School in Cumberland. The finalists were chosen from the 2018 Maine County Teachers of the Year honored earlier this year. Among the 16 county honorees was former SeDoMoCha Elementary School art teacher Anthony Lufkin, who taught for four years at the school in Dover-Foxcroft a decade ago, as…

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Kimberly A. Scott of Northport has been named executive director of the Camden Conference

The Camden Conference, now in its 31st year, is a citizens’ forum in Midcoast Maine, committed to fostering informed discourse on key global issues.  Kimberly will be the first executive director of the organization. The Conference is a dynamic volunteer organization offering an array of educational programs on a year-round basis, including its flagship event – the annual Camden Conference – that brings together world leaders on a given topic to share knowledge and insight with over 1000 participants.  “We are delighted to name Kimberly Scott as our Executive Director,” said Bruce Cole, president of the Camden Conference.  “Over the past decade our education and community events programs have more than doubled as has our audience for the big February Conference.  Kim brings the skills and strengths to work with dozens of volunteers to insure that our year-round programs are of the highest quality.”  Kimberly joined the Camden Conference in the…

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Camden Conference in the World-July 2018

How serious are perceived threats to democracy around the world and at home in the US? A prognosis for democracy that “although hardly inspiring — is less dire than much commentary suggests” was outlined by UCLA political science professor and 2015 Camden Conference speaker Daniel Treisman in the Washington Post last month. Not only do four commonly cited ratings system reviewed by Treisman show the global proportion of countries that are democracies “at or near an all-time high,” but his own historically based research indicates a likelihood of less than one in 3,000 of a democratic breakdown in a country as wealthy and with as long of history of democracy as the US.   Cas Mudde, a University of Georgia professor and widely cited commentator who spoke on the rise of the far right at our 2017 conference on Refugees and Global Migration, argues in The Guardian that liberals, fearful…

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The Camden Conference is pleased to announce that Eileen Griffin from the University of Maine, Orono, is the winner of its college and university student essay contest which focused on the 2018 Conference theme: New World Disorder and America's Future.  Her essay was titled The Great Powers and the New Great Game: Central Asia, Kazakhstan and the Balance of Power Between China and the United States. The Conference congratulates her. This award was established by Captain Bill Taylor who was a longtime supporter of the Camden Conference and of education programming. Captain Taylor had a distinguished career as a Naval Officer, an Academic in Warfare Science, and Director of Long Range Strategic Planning for Anti-Submarine Warfare at the Pentagon. His career took him all over the world during various wars, and his creative influence on Naval Warfare lingers. College and University Essay-Eileen Griffin Read More


The Camden Conference is pleased to announce the winners of its third high school student essay contest which focused on the 2018 Conference theme: New World Disorder and America's Future. First prize was a tie and went to Levi McAtee from Lincoln Academy for his essay A Virtual Threat to Democracy: The Threat of Fake News to Modern Democracy and How It Can Be Mitigated. The second winner was Jonathan Meserve from Edward Little High School for his essay The Minsk Peace: A Critical Analysis. Lareina Zhang from Gould Academy won the second prize for her essay Britain, the United States, and Isolationism. Third prize went to Hannah Sylvia Bagley from Piscataquis Community High School for her essay Preservation of a Nation. The Conference congratulates our winners. The essay contest is part of a special program for eleven Maine high schools in 2017-18 called “Camden Conference in the Classroom” (CCC). Essay contest winners were enrolled in a... Read More

Volunteer Spotlight-Bruce Cole

The Camden Conference is almost entirely an all-volunteer organization. The Camden Conference truly relies on volunteers to make it happen! As a new newsletter feature, we would like to shine a light on the special people that have created and continue to sustain our year-round programs and our Conference weekend. Bruce Cole is the President of the Camden Conference Board of Directors and the focus of our first spotlight. Tell us how you first got involved in with the Camden Conference . . . In 2010, I was working on a Climate Change Symposium for the First Congregational Church of Camden and learned from Camden Conference’s President Bob Hirsch, and Brewster Grace, that the Camden Conference was also interested in a program on climate change.  We combined our efforts and held the program in October of 2010 at the Camden Opera House.  I was invited to join the Camden Conference program…

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