Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy debuts with conversation series featuring Gore, Rice, Meacham

Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy: Al Gore, Jon Meacham, Condoleezza Rice

The virtual event will begin Thursday, Jan. 14, at 4:30 p.m. CT, is open to the Vanderbilt community and the public, and requires registration. Register now. A recording will be available for viewing following the event.

Former Vice President Al Gore and the 66th Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice each will provide timely conversations with Vanderbilt’s Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian and biographer, on Thursday, Jan. 14, to support the debut of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier will host the event as part of the Chancellor’s Lecture Series, which strives to connect the university and community with leaders and visionaries who are shaping our world.

Gore, the 45th vice president of the United States, and Meacham will set the tone for the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy by focusing on the importance of evidence and reason in political discourse, a theme from Gore’s 2007 book The Assault on Reason (2nd edition, revised, 2017). The conversation with former Vice President Gore will provide the framework for the project’s core approach to advancing unity through evidence-based analysis and relevant historical studies.

Gore is the founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis, and co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management. Gore was elected to represent Tennessee to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982 and to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and 1990. His many ties to Vanderbilt include studying in the Graduate School’s Department of Religious Studies and at the law school before leaving to run for Congress. Gore was most recently featured in the Chancellor’s Lecture Series in November 2019 to kick off his “24 Hours of Reality” event on the global climate crisis and solutions.

Meacham will then examine the project’s first case study of evidence-based policymaking in a conversation with Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State. They will discuss her experience marshaling the facts that secured bipartisan support for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has received over $85 billion to date in unified U.S. government support, the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history.

Rice is the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where she has been a faculty member since 1981. She became the 66th U.S. Secretary of State in 2005 after serving as President George W. Bush’s national security advisor. Rice was Vanderbilt University’s inaugural Graduates Day speaker in 2004.

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy is co-chaired by Meacham, former Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Samar Ali, BS’03, JD’06, attorney, former White House Fellow and research professor of political science and law.

The project aims to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions through the reintroduction of evidence-based research into the national discourse on unity. Drawing on original research, conversations and curriculums by Vanderbilt faculty and visionary thought leaders from across the political spectrum, the project will regularly broadcast research and evidence-based content aimed at supplying policymakers and communities with the tools needed to restore a unified commitment to the foundations of American democracy.

To learn more about the project, visit