Former U.S. ambassador to the UK to discuss bridging ‘our separate worlds’ Internet pioneer, Obama presidential re-election finance chair examines rifts at home

    Matthew Barzun

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville civic leader and media entrepreneur Matthew Barzun, former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom and to Sweden, will speak at the University of Louisville Feb. 6 about the world’s divisiveness and the future.

    Barzun’s free, public talk – “Our Separate Worlds: Where Do We Go from Here? (Hint: More Humanities)” – will begin at 6 p.m. in Middleton Auditorium, Strickler Hall, with a reception afterward.

    His talk – the 13th annual UofL Phi Beta Kappa lecture – is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences with support from the Phi Beta Kappa Association of Kentuckiana. The lecture series was created in 2005 to demonstrate the university’s commitment to the ideals of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most well-known academic honor society, which celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.

    While ambassador to the U.K. in 2013-early 2017, Barzun listened to 20,000 British school seniors as they discussed their experiences in their political and sociocultural age. When he returned to the U.S. last January, he similarly tried to take the country’s pulse in talks with American teenagers. The U.S. teens expressed that their top frustration was the divisive rhetoric in public discourse while their top hope was the country’s ever-increasing diversity, according to his discussions. Barzun will talk about how the youths’ top fear and top hope about the U.S. are both rooted in separateness, and also about how the country can best move forward in part by exploring and experiencing the humanities.

    In addition to his ambassador appointments, Barzun has served as national finance chair for former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and earlier as a volunteer in Obama’s first election run, leading the effort to conduct supporter-driven small-dollar fundraisers. He joined CNET Networks in 1993 and worked there 11 years including as its chief strategy officer.

    For more information, contact Lindsey Brown Ronay at 502-852-3252 or

    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.