Our program is subject to change. Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.


Thomas B. Edsall

Vanda Felbab-Brown, Ph.D.

Stephen Ressler, Ph.D.

Mark Stoler, Ph.D.

Thomas B. Edsall has been writing a weekly op-ed column for the New York Times opinion pages since 2011 covering strategic and demographic trends in American politics. He held the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Chair at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism from 2006 to 2014. He currently holds an appointment at Columbia as a Senior Research Scholar. From 1981 to 2006 he reported on American politics for The Washington Post. Prior to that he was a political reporter at the Baltimore Sun and the Providence Journal. He has published widely in national magazines including the New York Review of Books, the New Republic and the Atlantic. He is the author of five books: The Age of Austerity, Building Red America, Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics — a Pulitzer finalist in General NonFiction; Power and Money: Writing About Politics and The New Politics of Inequality. Edsall is the recipient of the Carey McWilliams award of the American Political Science Association; the Front Page Award and the Bill Pryor Award of the Newspaper Guild; and the Noel Markwell Media Award of the International Society of Political Psychology. He has been a Fellow at the the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; a Shapiro Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University; and a media scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Mary.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, Ph.D. is a senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. She is also the director of the Brookings project, “Improving Global Drug Policy: Comparative Perspectives Beyond UNGASS 2016,” and co-director of another Brookings project, “Reconstituting Local Orders.” Dr. Felbab-Brown is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies. Her fieldwork and research have covered, among others, Afghanistan, South Asia, Burma, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia, and eastern Africa.
      Dr. Felbab-Brown is the author of The Extinction Market: Wildlife Trafficking and How to Counter It (Hurst, 2018); Narco Noir: Mexico’s Cartels, Cops, and Corruption (The Brookings Institution Press, 2019, forthcoming); Militants, Criminals, and Outsiders: The Challenge of Local Governance in an Age of Disorder (The Brookings Institution Press, Fall 2017; co-authored with Shadi Hamid and Harold Trinkunas); Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan (Brookings Institution Press, 2013); and Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). She is also the author of numerous policy reports, academic articles, and opinion pieces. A frequent commentator in U.S. and international media, Dr. Felbab-Brown regularly provides congressional testimony on these issues. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of her scholarly and policy contributions. She is a co-recipient of the Department of Defense’s Minerva grant, to conduct work on non-state actor governance. Dr. Felbab-Brown received her Ph.D. in political science from MIT and her B.A. in government from Harvard University.

Stephen Ressler, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). A registered Professional Engineer in Virginia, he earned a B.S. from West Point, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. He served for 34 years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and retired at the rank of Brigadier General in 2013. While on active duty, he served in a variety of military engineering assignments around the world. In 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan to create a civil engineering program for the newly created National Military Academy of Afghanistan in Kabul.
      Dr. Ressler is passionate about communicating the joys of engineering to inquiring minds of all ages. His three video lecture series — Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures, Understanding Greek and Roman Technology, and Everyday Engineering — are among the most highly-rated offerings in The Great Courses’ 600-course catalog. He served as an on-screen expert for the Discovery Channel documentary Superweapons of the Ancient World: The Ram and Blink Films’ The Real Trojan Horse, which aired on PBS in 2015. His award-winning Bridge Designer software has been used by over two million middle-school and high-school students worldwide. He is also a developer and principal instructor for the ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Teaching Workshop, which has provided teacher training to more than 500 civil engineering faculty members from over 200 colleges and universities.
      Dr. Ressler has received numerous national-level awards from the ASCE and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), including the 2011 ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders Award — the society’s highest honor.

Mark A. Stoler is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Vermont, where he taught from 1970–2007. He received his B.A. from the City College of New York, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He has been a visiting professor at the U.S. Naval War College, Fulbright Professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, visiting Professor at the U.S. Military Academy-West Point, the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army Military History Institute, the Stanley Kaplan Distinguished Visiting Professor of American Foreign Policy at Williams College, and Griffith ’52 visiting professor at Washington and Lee University. His numerous awards include the Distinguished Book Award of the Society for Military History, the University of Vermont’s Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award, University Scholar Award, Dean’s Lecture Award, and the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award.

Stoler has served on the Army’s Historical Advisory Committee, the Board of Trustees of the Society for Military History, the Board of Directors of the World War II Studies Association, the National World War II Museum’s Board of Presidential Advisers, the Council of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and as president of that organization.

In addition to two DVD course for the Great Courses Company (The Skeptics Guide to American History, 2012 and America in the World: A Diplomatic History of the United States, 2009), Stoler is the author of George C. Marshall: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century (Boston: Twayne, 1989); Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Major Problems in the History of World War II ed. with Melanie Gustafson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003); Debating Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Foreign Policies, 1933–1945, with Justus Doenecke (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005); Allies in War: Britain and America Against the Axis Powers, 1940–1945 (London: Hodder-Arnold, 2005); The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, volumes 6 and 7 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013); and numerous articles and book chapters in U.S. diplomatic and military history.