Cardinal Conversations

A free speech initiative at Stanford

In 2018 Stanford University launched a new series of conversations on burning issues of our time, featuring some of today’s leading thinkers. The series is jointly hosted by the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and the Freeman Spogli Institute.

At a time when attempts are being made on both the far left and the far right to limit what can be discussed on university campuses, Stanford’s president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and provost, Persis Drell, have signaled their commitment to free speech. On November 7, they announced that preparations were underway for “a series of discussions with well-known individuals who hold contrasting views on consequential subjects.”

The idea for this series originated with a diverse group of undergraduates, with views ranging across the political spectrum, all of whom felt that more could be done to air contested issues on our campus. We have given the series the name “Cardinal Conversations” because it seemed better to have conversations than either lectures or debates.

Cardinal Conversations events are exclusively for current full-time Stanford University students, faculty, and staff.





Niall Ferguson
Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard. He is also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He has written fifteen books, including The House of RothschildEmpire,The War of the WorldThe Ascent of MoneyThe Great Degeneration, and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist.


Michael A. McFaul
Michael A. McFaul is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as a professor of political science, director and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He also currently works as a news analyst for NBC.  His areas of expertise include international relations, Russian politics, comparative democratization, and American foreign policy.  From January 2012 to February 2014, he served as the US ambassador to the Russian Federation.


student steering committee

Stephanie Chen
Stephanie Chen is a senior from Cupertino, CA studying computer science and literary translation. She is currently the managing editor of opinions at the Stanford Daily, as well as a member of its editorial board, and values the Daily’s role in facilitating conversation and discourse on campus. 



Kyle Kinnie
Kyle Kinnie is a student studying International Relations and History. His interests lie primarily in history, geopolitics, and foreign languages. He is particularly interested in the cultural interplay between China and the West. When Kyle is not lifting weights or scaling mountains, he enjoys a quality book with a cup of strong coffee.



Christos Makridis
Christos Makridis is finishing his PhD in management science & engineering and PhD minor in economics with a focus in labor economics and household finance. At Stanford, he serves in the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Vox Clara, a journal of Christian thought. Christos is passionate about research, higher education, and policy.



Anna Rose Mitchell
Anna is a junior from Michigan studying computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence. She is Editor-in-Chief of The Stanford Review, research assistant for Stanford's Global Digital Policy Initiative, and a member of the Stanford Political Union.



Justice Tention
Justice Tention is a senior studying Mathematical and Computational Science and is the current President of the ASSU.  He believes that Stanford's greatest strength is the diversity of its people and he's spent his career at Stanford surrounding himself with and supporting the diversity of Stanford's student body, faculty, and professional staff.



Ravi Harinder Veriah Jacques
Ravi Harinder Veriah Jacques is a sophomore from London majoring in history. In fall 2017, he founded The Stanford Sphere, a non-conformist left-wing newspaper, and is its current editor-in-chief. Ravi works as a research assistant for Niall Ferguson and is a keen violinist.



Antigone Xenopoulos
Antigone Xenopoulos is a Sophomore from New York City majoring in Symbolic Systems and Economics. She is an editor for the Stanford Review, a Research Assistant for Professor Amy Zegart, and a member of Stanford Consulting. She is intrigued by the intersection between policy and technology and hopes to pursue a career focused on this nexus.

Cardinal Conversations: Reid Hoffman And Peter Thiel On "Technology And Politics" Moderated By Niall Ferguson

Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Hauck Auditorium, David and Joan Traitel Building at the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution hosted "Cardinal Conversations: Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel on 'Technology and Politics' moderated by Niall Ferguson" on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm PST.

In the News

Cardinal Conversations: Francis Fukuyama And Charles Murray On "Inequality And Populism"

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Hauck Auditorium, David and Joan Traitel Building at the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution hosts "Cardinal Conversations: Francis Fukuyama and Charles Murray on 'Inequality and Populism'" on Thursday, February 22, 2018 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm PST.


Cardinal Conversations: Anne Applebaum, Ted Koppel, And Jessica Lessin On "Real And Fake News"

Monday, April 9, 2018
Hauck Auditorium, David and Joan Traitel Building at the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution hosts "Cardinal Conversations: Anne Applebaum, Ted Koppel, and Jessica Lessin on 'Real and Fake News''" on Monday, April 9, 2018 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm PST.


Cardinal Conversations: Christina Sommers And Andrew Sullivan On "Sexuality And Politics"

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Hauck Auditorium, David and Joan Traitel Building at the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution hosts "Cardinal Conversations: Christina Sommers and Andrew Sullivan on 'Sexuality and Politics' moderated by Deborah Rhode" on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm PST.

In the News

Cardinal Conversations: Danielle Brown, Claude M. Steele And John Etchemendy On "When Free Expression And Inclusion Collide: A Dilemma Of The Times"

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Hauck Auditorium, David and Joan Traitel Building at the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution hosts "Cardinal Conversations: Danielle Brown, Claude M. Steele and John Etchemendy on 'When Free Expression and Inclusion Collide:  A Dilemma of the Times'" on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm PST.


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At Stanford, First Cardinal 'Conversation' Spotlights Technology, Politics

via Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Monday, February 12, 2018

The new Stanford initiative Cardinal Conversations examined the intersections of politics and technology with entrepreneurs and Stanford alumni Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel. Historian Niall Ferguson of the Hoover Institution moderated a discussion that included questions from the largely student audience.

In the News

Announcing Cardinal Conversations

featuring Niall Ferguson, Hoover Institutionvia Stanford Review
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The campaign is sponsored by both the Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute, endorsed by President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell, and conceived by students. Each event in the series will be a discussion, rather than a debate or lecture, between two intellectuals holding distinct views.


Stanford Launches Cardinal Conversations Initiative To Expose Campus To Diverse Views

featuring Niall Ferguson, Michael McFaulvia Stanford News
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Stanford initiative that kicks off later this month will address some of society’s most complex issues and expose the campus to a wide range of perspectives and views.

Peter Thiel on markets, technology, and education
In the News

Peter Thiel, Charles Murray Invited To New ‘Conversation’ Series

featuring Hoover Institution, Niall Ferguson, Michael McFaulvia Stanford Daily
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, supported the original idea for the series when a group of undergraduates brought it to his attention last year. Ferguson will moderate the discussion between Thiel and Hoffman, which he hopes will both educate and excite students about an issue that cannot be reduced to binaries.

Sponsored by

Cardinal Conversations

Milbank Family Senior Fellow
Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow
Steering Committee