Meet the 2020 Schwartz Visiting Fellow

He has been called "one of the fifty people who matter most on the internet" by Newsweek.

Pomfret School is excited to announce Steven Johnson as the 2020 Schwartz Visiting Fellow. He is the author of eleven books, including Farsighted, Wonderland, Where Good Ideas Come From, and The Ghost Map. He is also the host of the PBS series How We Got to Now and the podcast American Innovations.

“We are very excited to have someone of his stature and talent visit Pomfret,” said Library Director David Ring, who with Assistant Librarian Beth Jacquet, is the program coordinator. “It is a wonderful opportunity for students and faculty alike.”

Johnson is scheduled to visit the Pomfret campus on Thursday, January 23 and Friday, January 24. During his two-day stay, he is expected to share his unique perspective on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience with students, faculty, and the community. 

On Friday, January 24, Johnson will deliver a public lecture in Hard Auditorium on the Pomfret campus at 7:00 p.m. A reception and book signing will follow in the Main House. This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required

A popular science author and media theorist, Johnson’s writings have influenced everything from the way political campaigns use the internet, to cutting-edge ideas in urban planning, to the battle against 21st-century terrorism. On social media, he has an enormous audience — 2.1 million followers on Twitter alone. And his TED Talk, “Where Good Ideas Come From,” has been viewed nearly 5 million times.

In his newest book, Farsighted, he draws on lessons from cognitive science, military strategy, and literature to examine how people make some of life’s most important decisions, ultimately asking if there is a way to make them more effectively. Spoiler alert: The answer is yes.

Johnson has written for Wired, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Nation, and many other periodicals. He has also appeared on many high-profile television programs, including The Charlie Rose ShowThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In addition, he lectures widely on technological, scientific, and cultural issues across the country and the world.

For many years, Johnson was a distinguished writer in residence at New York University’s Journalism School. Newsweek has called him one of the “fifty people who matter most on the internet.” In 2009, he won a Newhouse School Mirror Award for his 2009 TIME magazine cover article, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live.” Another spoiler alert: He was right.

Johnson grew up in Washington, DC, where he attended St. Albans School. He holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University, where he studied modern culture and media, and a graduate degree from Columbia University, where he studied English literature.

Since 1989, world renowned experts have visited Pomfret School under the auspices of the Schwartz Visiting Fellow Program. This speaker series is the result of the vision and generosity of Michael Schwartz ’66 and Eric Schwartz ’69. Past fellows include the writer Joyce Carol Oates, marine archaeologist Robert Ballard, author Bill Bryson, human rights activist Madame Jehan Sadat, and historian David McCullough, to name a few.


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