Global Summit xii
The Jefferson Educational Society invites speakers from around the world to speak on a broad range of globally important issues each year as part of our
Global Summit Speaker Series.
To learn more about the free Global Summit XII, held digitally on May 10 - 27, please click here to download the Global Summit XII lineup.
Scroll down for the entire lineup and registration.
To register for Global Summit XII events, click on the events that interest you below to sign up online.
For instructions on registration and attendance of the digital summit, click here.
These events are pay as you wish. If you would like to donate to the Global Summit XII, click the button below.

Our Towns: From the Pages to the Screen

May 27th,2021 | 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

James and Deborah Fallows, authors of the national bestseller "Our Towns" and national correspondents for The Atlantic, have teamed up with filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan for a just-released HBO documentary based on the book.

The Fallows, frequent presenters and longtime supporters of the Jefferson, were named honorary Erie citizens by Mayor Joe Schember in 2018 as they were presented the Thomas B. Hagen Dignitas Award at Global Summit X. Their national coverage of news, culture, and trends included Erie as part of the "Our Towns" book that put a spotlight on America's smaller cities, their struggles, and proactive efforts to reinvent themselves.

In addition to a storied career as a journalist, essayist, book author, commentator, and analyst for NPR's "Weekend All Things Considered," James Fallows was the chief speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter for two years.

Deborah Fallows, James' wife and partner, is a Harvard graduate and later earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics. She researches and writes on many subjects, though primarily on education, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the former Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, and Newsweek.

Together their work on "Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America" has been transferred to documentary film by Academy Award-nominated directors and producers Ascher and Jordan, who join them for the summit presentation.

Find Deborah and James Fallows' book, "Our Towns: A 100,00 Mile Journey into the Heart of America," here!


 James and Deborah Fallows are National correspondents for The Atlantic. Their National Bestseller, “Our Towns," which features a chapter on Erie, is the basis for the new documentary on HBO Max. James Fallows worked in the Carter administration and is the author of several books, and Deborah Fallows holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas in Linguistics and is the author of two prior books.


 Steven Ascher is an Academy Award-nominated director and writer who directed "Our Towns" the documentary. He’s the author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook, and has taught filmmaking. The Boston Globe calls his work “filmmaking at its finest.”


 Jeanne Jordan is an independent director, producer and editor who directed "Our Towns" the documentary. She was nominated for an Academy Award and has received the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.