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Night of Ideas 2021

Join us on January 28, 2021 for Night of Ideas, the 24-hour virtual marathon of philosophical debate and artistic performances coordinated by the Institut Français, Paris and co-produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States. 

Tune in at 6PM ET for the U.S. segment at nightofideas.org or at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy Facebook page. 

Travel virtually to cultural centers across the United States, beginning with a performance by iconic author and musician Patti Smith, broadcast from New York City. In Washington D.C., Ambassador of France to the U.S. Philippe Étienne, in conversation with Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian, reflects on the power of memorials to foster national unity. Barbara Cassin will discuss with Bachir Diagne and in our first segment geared toward young audiences, French philosopher Marie Robert explores philosophical topics around friendship with children from French-English dual language programs at Gaithersburg Middle School (Maryland) and Lafayette Academy (New York). Architect Jeanne Gang shows off some of her favorite urban design projects in Chicago, sound healer Jared Bistrong leads a beach-side meditation in Miami, and New Orleans artist and activist Brandan "Bmike" Odums opens the doors to his project Studio BE. Watch from the warmth of your own home as Harvard professors Sylvaine Guyot and Nicolas Prevelakis discuss democracy as they stroll Boston's Freedom Trail, and then head to Atlanta for a series of events touching upon the beauty of birdsong, ritual, proximity, and dance. In Houston, astronaut Thomas Pesquet invites you to ponder the cosmos while on the West Coast, Mayor London Breed discusses recovery and the path forward for her city of San Francisco. In Los Angeles, journalist Patt Morrison meets with directors of vibrant cultural venues to analyze the challenges of the past year. These are just a few highlights from the expansive Americas segment. See the full program and Tune in at nightofideas.org.

This year’s theme, “Closing the distance” (“Proches,” in French), speaks to our shared sense of isolation and seeks to explore new means of fostering community and togetherness. Evoking the new forms of solidarity that our economic and social crises call for; as well as our changing relationship to space and mobility; this theme prompts audiences and participants to consider our relationship to today’s challenging world and those around us in thoughtful, creative, and engaging ways.

Craving more #NightofIdeas content? Tune in for two more nocturnal marathon events at Night of Ideas - San Francisco and via Brooklyn Public Library!

Stay tuned for program details. 

WHAT: Night of Ideas 2021  
WHEN: Americas segment kicks off on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 6 p.m. EST 
WHERE: Watch live at the Cultural Services' Facebook Page or at nightofideas.org


We are grateful for the support of our lead U.S. sponsor, The Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation, and of our national partner, the National Endowment for the Humanities. We also want to thank our programming partners around the country: KQED, California Humanities, SFMoMa, the Hirshhorn Museum, and Columbia University. A special thanks to our historical partners, Brooklyn Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which have supported the Night of Philosophy & Ideas since its inception.

The global Institut Français live stream is produced by YouBLive and sponsored by AOC Media, Brut, France Médias Monde, TV5Monde, France Bleu, and France Culture.

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