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Education at Chautauqua

"The atmosphere at Chautauqua gives people a sense that they are smarter, more energized, better informed than daily life leads them to believe. That's part of the lure that draws people here, and they carry this feeling with them when they leave."

~ Sherwin Nuland, Professor of Surgery and the History of Medicine, Yale University, and Chautauqua Platform Speaker

For more information, please contact:

Tina Downey

Director of the Chautauqua Fund

(716) 357-6406 |


From its earliest days, Chautauqua has affirmed the lifelong pursuit of wisdom by individuals in a community with shared values. Learning here is carried out freely and authentically through the exploration of challenging and diverse viewpoints.

We honor learning of every kind at every age. We celebrate the craft of teaching. We insist on challenging the known. Those who come to Chautauqua discover in this community a spiritual, intellectual and emotional home, and return annually to “drink from the well.”

Every season has its highlights and thrilling moments. Like a painter, each of us brings our blank canvas to Chautauqua, and from the colors that are our Chautauqua experiences, we paint our seasonal picture. This picture reflects the images, ideas and emotions that stem from the quest for lifelong learning.

Lecture Platform

edu lecturesThe lecture platform, our national signature, introduces Chautauquans to the ideas that have shaped civilization and to emerging insights that will shape our future. Chautauquans receive the perspective they need to improve their own communities and to function in a global society.

Nowhere else are public lectures so likely to probe the human condition deeply and personally, nor is the relationship between speaker and audience closer or more rewarding. A well-read and keep audience – listening and asking frank questions as part of the week-long treatment of a single theme – stimulates prominent thinkers to contemplate and speak of their most strongly held convictions.

The breadth and depth of our lecture platform is an impetus for lively and stimulating discussions. Each week’s theme, from the Ethical Frontiers of Science to Faith in Public Life, provides opportunities to explore ideas which are relevant to the moment, but are unparalleled in their intrinsic value.

Amphitheater lectures are not only the most visible opportunity for Chautauquans who want to be informed and challenged, but also for corporations and foundations seeking sponsorship opportunities. For more information on sponsoring a single lecture or an entire theme week during the season, please contact Tina Downey (, Director of the Chautauqua Fund, at (716) 357-6406.

The Literary Arts

Education is the hallmark of Chautauqua…and the Special Studies platform creates unique opportunities for all forms of educational pursuits. The Special Studies program offers 450 courses that are available to young and old alike, and can be one-day to multi-week classes. Course enrollments exceed 8,000 in a season.

In addition, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) enriches the lives of those Chautauquans who partake of its open discussions with authors and reads its nine book selections every summer.

Writers' Center

The Chautauqua Writers' Center is a lively community of writers at all levels of development who cultivate the courage, craft and vision necessary to grow as artists under the tutelage of nationally recognized authors. This group offers weekly poetry and prose workshops, maintains open mic readings and engages its members in writing festivals.

Smith Memorial Library

altChautauqua’s own library is open year-round. The library serves as a wonderful resource for all of Chautauqua, providing books and resource materials, computers for public use and adult programming.



Oliver Archives Center

edu archivesChautauqua’s Archives preserve and exhibit the history of the Chautauqua movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, plus a myriad of enlightening speakers and discussions here in the intervening years. They are, quite simply, an irreplaceable part of American history. Proving that memory exists in the present and not in the past, scholars, members of the Chautauqua community, and many others use these resources constantly.

Youth Activities


A child’s daily life at Chautauqua, social interactions and enjoyment of the arts are all vital components of the Chautauqua experience. The Children’s School, Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Youth Activities Center and College Club have made a lasting impression on generations of Chautauquans. Click here to learn more about youth programming or to give a gift in support of youth activities click here.

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P.O. Box 28
One Ames Ave.
Chautauqua, N.Y. 14722
Institution website

Chautauqua Institution is a non-profit organization, dependent upon your gifts to fulfill its mission. Gate tickets and other revenue cover only a portion of the cost of your Chautauqua experience. A community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state, Chautauqua Institution comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Visit our website for more information.