You really don’t know how much of an impact these symposia have had in catalyzing understanding for so many of us. Thank you for creating both the opportunity and the safe haven for authentic discourse.
     --Susan Moulton, Symposium participant, Art History Faculty, Sonoma State Univ.


Symposium reading image

The Island Institute's 25th Sitka Symposium, FrameWork: Shaping an Enduring Culture, was held in June 2009 and brought to an end to the first chapter of a remarkable program that ran for a quarter of a century before returning in 2014. From the earliest years of exploring new ground to later gatherings that dug in deeper, each Symposium has given us the honor of meeting and working with an extraordinary group of people. The themes we explore circled in various ways around the nexus between story, place, and community, around the work of nurturing sustainable human cultures. Examples include "Landscape and Community: Imagining Common Ground," "A Culture to Sustain Us: Creating a Center that Holds," "Matters of Faith, Matters of Fact," "Gifts of Grace: Restoration, Reconciliation and Forgiveness," "On the Edge: The Necessity of Beauty." If you missed out on our previous gatherings, or took part and would like to reminisce, scroll through the chronology. If you'd like to come to our 2014 Symposium, we have a dedicated page for it. The outline of themes and faculty demonstrates what a remarkable program it is

Conversation at Totem Park

The Sitka Symposium is a gathering that aims to put both written and oral traditions to the service of ideas. The week’s events invite participants to come together to explore the complex ideas and questions of our theme. Symposium faculty present talks, readings, and panel discussions, and participate in small group discussions. Full-time participants engage directly with faculty and other participants in all these activities. Writers can read their work at participant readings. We welcome a broad audience of readers, writers—anyone interested—who come from communities around Alaska, the U.S., and elsewhere.  Again and again we hear how the Sitka Symposium matters in peoples' lives, what a unique gathering it is—how important the conversations, how valuable the insights gained, how powerful the experience. Those who come take their places on the stage we set and bring the event to life. Our profound gratitude to all who have come and provided us the privilege of hosting the event again and again.


“Your Symposium is magical: you manage to give people something they are yearning for, but perhaps cannot articulate (or won’t articulate) when they arrive. They feel it deeply by the time they leave. It’s a form of healing.” 
     --Don Snow, Symposium faculty, Environmental Humanities Faculty, Whitman College

Visit our Symposium chronology to see past Symposium topics and guest faculty dating back to 1984.