John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture

Each year Sidwell Friends School hosts the John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture, which brings to campus an extraordinarily distinguished group of experts on various dimensions of Chinese history, culture, and society. The Zeidman Lecture is an important event within the larger China-interest community in Washington, DC.

35th Annual John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture

Eric Liu
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Eric Liu is an author, educator, and civic entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Citizen University, which promotes and teaches the art of powerful citizenship through a portfolio of national programs (, and the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program. His books include national bestsellers The Gardens of Democracy; The True Patriot, co-authored with Nick Hanauer; and A Chinaman’s Chance. His first book, The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, was a New York Times Notable Book and was featured in the PBS documentary Matters of Race.

Eric served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the president’s deputy domestic policy advisor. He was an executive at the digital media company RealNetworks and, in 2002, was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow. In 2010, Eric was awarded the Bill Grace Leadership Legacy Award by the Center for Ethical Leadership.

Eric lives in Seattle, where he teaches civic leadership at the University of Washington and hosts Citizen University TV, a television program about civic power. He is the co-founder of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility and a board member of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Eric is a regular columnist for and a correspondent for He is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

Latest Zeidman News

The Art of Powerful Citizenship

Eric Liu, the 2017 John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecturer, teaches young people how to be a force for good in their communities.

Past Zeidman Lectures

2016 Mei Fong, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author and Journalist

2015 Evan Osnos, Author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

2014 Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, 64th Secretary of State of the United States, “The Most Important Relationship of the 21st Century”

2013 Cheng Li, Director of Research and Senior Fellow, John L. Thornton China Center, The Brookings Institution, “China’s New Leadership and Political Trajectory”

2012 Prasenjit Duara, Professor of Humanities at the National University of Singapore, Director of Asian Research Institute and Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, “Chinese Civilization and the Problem of Sustainability”

2011 Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine, editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, “China’s Changing Place in the American Imagination: 1900–2010”

2010 James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic, and Author of Postcards from Tomorrow Square, “Reports from China”

2009 Losang Rabgey, Director and Co-founder of the NGO Machik; Tashi Rabgey, Co-founder of Machik and Co-Director of the Tibet Center at the University of Virginia; and David Germano, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia; “Tibet: Hope through Engagement”

2008 Rob Gifford, former Beijing Correspondent for National Public Radio and Author of China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power, “China at the Crossroads: Future Directions of a Rising Power”

2007 John Pomfret, Washington Post Los Angeles Bureau Chief and Author of Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China, “A Gambling Nation: Four Bets China Is Making on Its Future”

2006 Carma Hinton, Filmmaker; Da Chen, Writer; moderated by Anne F. Thurston, Independent Scholar, “Forty Years Later: The Legacy of China's Cultural Revolution”

2005 Huston Smith, Emeritus Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Syracuse University, and Author of The World’s Religions, “China’s Place in World History”

2004 Orville Schell, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, “The China Miracle: Long Boom or Bubble?”

2003 Yang Jiechi, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, “China-United States Relations in the New Century”

2002 Maxine Hong Kingston, Chinese American Author, “Readings from The Fifth Book of Peace

2001 James Lilley, Former Ambassador of the United States to Korea and the People’s Republic of China; Steven Mufson, Beijing Correspondent for the Washington Post; “The Tiananmen Papers: Contending Forces Then and Now”

2000 Jonathan Spence, Professor of History, Yale University, Author of Mao Zedong, “Judging Mao: Is the Verdict In?”

1999 Li Zhaoxing, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, “An Exploration of U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century”

1998 Andrew Nathan, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University, “Taiwan, China, and the U.S.: A Tail Wagging Two Dogs?”

1997 Mary Gardner Gates, Director of the Seattle Art Museum, “Artistic Treasures of Ancient China”

1996 Nicholas Hope, Director of the World Bank's Operations in China and Mongolia, “China’s Economic Development in the Next Century”

1995 Warren Cohen, Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, “A New Epoch in Sino-American Relations”

1994 Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalists for the New York Times, “China’s Revolution Today”

1993 Oleg Troyanovsky ’37, Soviet Union Ambassador to Japan, the United States, and China, “Sino-Russian Relations: Past, Present, and Future”

1992 Nien Cheng, Author of Life and Death in Shanghai, “China under Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping”

1991 Perry Link, Professor of East Asian Studies, Princeton University, “Politics and the Chinese Language”

1990 Michel Oksenberg, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, “Reflections on the Sino-American Relationship”

1989 Harry Harding, Dean of the Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University, “The Challenge of a New Relationship: The United States and China in the 1990s”

1988 Han Xu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, "Forging Bonds of Friendship between the Chinese and American Peoples”

1987 Arthur Miller, Playwright and Author of Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman, “Salesman in Beijing: Directing an American Play on the Chinese Stage”

1986 Harrison Salisbury, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist for the New York Times, “China’s New Long March to Modernization”

1985 Jonathan Spence, Professor of History, Yale University, “The Dream of Love in Ming China and Shakespeare’s Mind”

1984 John Hersey, Professor of English, Yale University, Author of Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bell for Adano and Hiroshima, "Readings from Treadup of the China Field

1983 John King Fairbank, Professor of Chinese History, Harvard University, “Chinese-American Relations: Problems and Prospects”