Al Gore, Ron Chernow, Reza Aslan and More Slated for Chicago Humanities Festival's FALLFEST/17: BELIEF

Al Gore, Ron Chernow, Reza Aslan and More Slated for Chicago Humanities Festival's FALLFEST/17: BELIEF

This fall, the Chicago Humanities Festival is asking Chicagoans, what do you believe? Belief will be the theme of CHF's 2017 Fallfest. CHF's flagship festival will feature nearly 100 events between October 29 and November 12.

Headliners of Fallfest/17: Belief include former Vice President Al Gore, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, historian and Alexander Hamilton author Ron Chernow, and the host of Believer on CNN, Reza Aslan. Power will headline CHF's annual benefit evening on Monday, October 9.

"The meaning of belief has become both urgent and complex. Sometimes it looks like there are too many beliefs, people doubling down on belief in defiance of facts. Other times, we need MORE belief - more trust in our institutions, more conviction about what counts as true, and as valuable," says Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer. "We think our theme leads us directly into the ambiguity of our modern world."

Former Vice President Gore will come to CHF to discuss his upcoming documentary and book, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which looks at all that has transpired in the decade since the release of An Inconvenient Truth. The sequel will explore the steps taken, both forward and backward, in response to the existential threat of our time - global climate change.

Power, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide, will present a public program followed by CHF's annual benefit.

Chernow, the author of the Alexander Hamilton biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical, will discuss his upcoming biography of Ulysses S. Grant. Aslan, author of the forthcoming book god and works including No god but God and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,will speak to the wide variety of religious experience and how human conceptions of god have evolved over time.

"Considering the political and social realities of our country and the world, issues of belief seem ever more vital," said Executive Director Phillip Bahar. "Who we are as individuals and societies is being fundamentally questioned--our Fallfest will explore a full breadth of beliefs and what they reveal about us."

Presenters who have already been announced include Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize winners Colson Whitehead and Matthew Desmond. Whitehead, author of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Underground Railroad, will speak to his novel's success as well as the compelling story of a literal Underground Railroad running beneath the South. Desmond, the author of Evicted, will speak about his research and his incisive finding that eviction is a root cause, rather than a symptom, of poverty.

New this year will be an entire day of programming in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood at the South Shore Cultural Center on November 5. "Belief is a theme that speaks to every community in Chicago," noted Associate Artistic Director Alison Cuddy. "As such CHF will continue its efforts to program across our city's wards. The historic South Shore Cultural Center will be part of Fallfest for the first time ever, and we'll be returning to Bronzeville for another evening of neighborhood-specific programming with a number of community partners."

A complete line-up will be announced in early September. Additional names, including information about CHF Fallfest kick-off events, will be announced later this summer.

Tickets to the 2017 Chicago Humanities Festival's Fallfest/17: Belief will go on sale September 19 to CHF members and to the general public on September 26. To become a member, visit

For additional information, visit

At Chicago Humanities Festival, we believe that humanity thrives when people gather, connect and open themselves to ideas that go beyond their individual experience. That's why for more than 28 years, CHF has been curating live events that allow audiences to connect with thinkers--both established and emerging--and see the world differently. Under the leadership of Executive Director Phillip Bahar, Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer, and Associate Artistic Director Alison Cuddy, CHF is one of Chicago's most vibrant civic institutions. Join us and celebrate the social life of ideas. Visit for more.

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