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Frank Church Conferences

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Boise State University and the Frank Church Institute will host the 34th annual Frank Church Conference on public affairs Oct. 23-24. The conference will focus on refugees and is themed “America’s Future: Refugees, Migration and National Security.”

Click here for more information about the 2017 Frank Church Conference


The Frank Church Institute, established in 1982 at the Frank Church Chair of Public Affairs at Boise State University, combines both an endowed professorship and an annual conference on the issues of the day. It brings together academic interests and practical politics by involving students, faculty, and the community with renowned leaders.

As stated at its founding, “Through the Chair, Boise State University will emphasize to its students those ideals which the Senator holds dear—a strong belief in the rule of law, eloquence firmly based on reason, and an unwavering faith in the American political system. The endowment will be used to fund lectures, symposia, and the Chair of Public Affairs.”

2016 Conference

Image of Clash of Cultures logoAmbassador Thomas Pickering, a distinguished U.S. diplomat who served as U.S. Ambassador to six countries, including Israel and Russia, as well as the United Nations, was the keynote for the session. The conference included a number of Middle East experts including Dr. Graeme Bannerman, the Middle East Institute; Dr. Nader Hashemi, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies; Stephen Schlesinger, the Century Foundation; and and Ambassador Gerald Feierstein, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs.

Visit: Clash of Cultures: The MIDDLE EAST in TURMOIL

2014 Conference

Image of mountains with text: Wilderness: America's HeritageIn 1964, Senator Frank Church sponsored and managed the passage of the Wilderness Act in the U.S. Senate. How did the Wilderness Act of 1964 become public law? What kind of framework did the Wilderness Act establish? How has the Wilderness Act functioned during the past fifty years? What challenges to the Wilderness Act should be considered for the future?

Visit: Wilderness: America’s Heritage

2013 Conference

2013 conference watching the watchers- logoIn 1975-76, Senator Frank Church chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate the national intelligence agencies and make recommendations to the Senate. What were some of the lessons of the Church Committee investigation, and how are they relevant to current intelligence revelations? In the post 9/11 world, how does an open society reconcile the clash of freedom with a government’s desire for secrecy? Or, as Church stated, how does America avoid crossing the “abyss from which there is no return?”

Visit: Watching the Watchers: Security vs Liberty

2012 Conference

logo afganistan after americaBritish Prime Minister Harold McMillan once said, “Rule number one in politics is: never invade Afghanistan.” How is it then that his admonition has been so ignored? Why has the United States never understood Afghanistan—and probably never will? What are the lessons of the past and options for the future in Afghanistan?

Visit: Afghanistan After America

2011 Conference

The Arab Spring conference logoBy force of this year’s Arab revolts and revolutions, the prospect of achieving power across the region has unleashed a debate over the character of the emerging political orders. The moment has been described as dramatic as any in the Arab world, as autocracies crumble and vibrant parties begin building a new order. What will be the outcome of this struggle for the future?

Download the Arab Spring Conference Flyer [.pdf]

 Previous Conference Flyers

About the Institute Conferences
A long roster of distinguished participants include: former President Gerald Ford; former Vice Presidents Al Gore and Walter Mondale; former Senators Mark Hatfield, Slade Gorton, Edmund Muskie, and Gaylord Nelson; former White House Counsels Ted Sorensen, Leon Panetta, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.; and former Ambassadors Joseph Sisco, Andrew Young, and Paul Warnke.

The widely ranging conference subjects include:

  • War or Peace? The American Role
  • International Issues in the Middle East
  • Political Repression and Social Control
  • Americanism: Activism or Apathy?
  • Responding to Revolution: At Home and Abroad
  • Who Decides? The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy
  • Prospects for Peace
  • Our Public Lands
  • The New World: Changing U.S. – U.S.S.R. Relations
  • Earth in the Balance
  • The World After the Soviet Union
  • The Impact of Global Arms Sales
  • Troubled Waters: Preserving Life’s Most Precious Resource
  • What is National Security?
  • The Dragon Stirs: A New Dawn for China and the United States
  • Juggling Pragmatism and Principle: Interventionism and the Balkan Experience
  • The Presidency: Leadership and the Paradox of Power
  • Lights Out in the American West!
  • America’s Image Abroad
  • Freedom & Secrecy: Trading Liberty for Security?

The Frank Church Institute seeks to complete the funding of the first endowed professor, the continued Church Conferences, and the proposed Church Scholarships at Boise State.