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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Aug 21, 2017


The Ted Talk era has meant changes in the role of the public intellectual. In his new book, The Ideas Industry, Tufts professor and writer Daniel Drezner analyzes this shift, noting that while private demand for ideas has never been greater, a new kind of thinker has supplanted the archetype of the traditional intellectual: the thought leader. In contrast to the older model (think university professors and area experts), thought leaders gain fame as niche single-idea merchants (Simon Sinek’s simple leadership formula or Brené Brown’s vulnerability research). According to Drezner, this sea change in the world of ideas is based on three factors: a waning trust in expertise, increasing social inequality, and the political heft of the wealthy. While there are clear drawbacks and limitations to this manufactured idea industry, Drezner argues that it is very good at reaching large audiences of people hungry for new thinking. Incorporating witty stories about contemporary intellectual American life, Drezner discusses the past, present, and future of ideas.

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Recorded live at Town Hall Seattle Saturday, April 15, 2017