Best-selling author David Brooks to headline ETSU’s ‘Festival of Ideas’

Published 2:12 pm Monday, February 6, 2023

Other festival guests include stars of the acclaimed podcast ‘Pantsuit Politics’

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University’s Festival of Ideas, an annual event that draws nationally known speakers to campus, will be held the week of Feb. 27.
Headlining this year’s festival, with a theme of curiosity, connection and community, is the bestselling author and well-known commentator David Brooks, as well as Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers, the co-hosts of the popular “Pantsuit Politics” podcast. Holland and Silvers will speak on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in the D.P. Culp Student Center Ballroom. Brooks is set to speak on Wednesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in the Martin Center for the Arts, Grand Performance Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.
A biweekly op-ed columnist for The New York Times, Brooks is also a regular analyst on “PBS NewsHour” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
His bestselling book, “The Road to Character,” aims to explain why selflessness leads to greater success. His other books, including “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life,” “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement,” “Bobos in Paradise” and “On Paradise Drive,” have earned rave reviews.
Brooks teaches a course at Yale University and holds honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University and Occidental College, among others. In 2010, he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has worked for a range of prestigious publications, including Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal.
The political podcast hosted by Holland and Silvers has been featured in The New York Times and The Atlantic and was named by Apple Podcasts as one of the best shows of 2021. They are the authors of two well-received books, “Now What? How to Move Forward When We’re Divided (About Basically Everything)” and “I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversation.”
Holland and Silvers, both lawyers, are in-demand speakers at universities, businesses and civic organizations throughout the United States. Holland began her career as a congressional staffer and campaign aide before working in blogging and social media. She lives in Paducah, Ky., where she served a term as a city commissioner and volunteers as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate for children. Silvers has practiced law and served as a human resources executive and business coach. She lives in Union, Kentucky, and serves on several local boards of directors.
The ETSU Festival of Ideas began in 2019 as an initiative to bring thought leaders from the region and beyond to campus. The event allows for the exchange of ideas, information and experiences for the university community.
This year’s festival also will include a campus-community conversation titled “The Art of Civil Discourse,” featuring a panel of faculty experts. The discussion will be Thursday, March 2, at 11:30 a.m. in the Martin Center for the Arts, Powell Recital Hall.
A full schedule will be announced in the coming days and updated at

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