The Chicago Humanities Festival began in 1989 by a group of Chicago’s cultural leaders eager to extend the riches of the humanities in the Mid West and around the world.

Under the aegis of the Illinois Humanities Council the notion of a humanities day was proposed and then expanded into a festival. The first Chicago Humanities Festival, a one-day affair, was held on November 11, 1990 at the Art Institute of Chicago and Orchestra Hall before an audience of 3,500 people and included a memorable keynote address by playwright Arthur Miller, and inaugurated one of Chicago’s most culturally rich annual events. Founding co-sponsor institutions included the Art Institute, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera Chicago, and the University of Chicago.

Since that first year, some of the world’s most interesting thinkers, artists and performers have come to Chicago each fall for a festival that celebrates ideas in the context of civic life. Each festival brings together novelists, scholars, musicians, archaeologists, historians, artists, performers, playwrights, theologians, poets, architects, policy makers, and others - both established and emerging talents - to offer performances, screenings, exhibits and discussions on a theme of universal interest.

Michale with his student in Fiche in 1966

Michale with his student in Fiche in 1966

This year, next month, the Festival have two RPCVs addressing the crowd: Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66), and Michael McCaskey (Ethiopia 1965-67). They will present the Doris Conant Lecture on Women and Culture. The title of their presentation is: What Can You Do for Your Country?

Michael McCaskey was the president of the Chicago Bears from 1983 to 1999 and as that organization’s chairman until 2011. He is an alumnus of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and taught at the business schools at UCLA and Harvard University prior to becoming president of the Bears.

Maureen Orth is a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, and author of Vulgar Favors and The Importance of Being Famous. She is the founder of the Marina Orth Foundation which helps support 1,200 school children in Colombia, where she served. She is the producer of maureeen_ccf4dfa3f8_s-1www.PeaceCorpsPostcards.com, an interactive website created for the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps that highlights the influence of the Peace Corps on the lives of past and present volunteers.

Maureen OrthThe Festival is presenting Maureen and Mike “in conversation.” They will tell stories about their time in Colombia and Ethiopia, give their perspective on what the Peace Corps has meant to the world and to themselves, take questions, and give their take on how far the Bears will get in the playoffs, whether Obama will get a second term, and what is happening in their host countries, as both Maureen and Mike have been back to their sites several times within the last few years.

The lecture/conversation takes place on Saturday, November 3, 2012 from 4  p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Diane and David B Heller Auditorium in the Francis W. Parker School at 2233 N Clark Street. General Admission is $10.00 and for teachers and students, $5.00.