Spring 2022 Lecture

Emily Esfahani Smith

Originally scheduled for Fall 2020, Emily Esfahani Smith will deliver the Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values on the topic of “Building Cultures of Meaning” on February 3, 2022 at 11:30 am in the Gilbert Great Hall.

Emily Esfahani Smith is a writer in Washington DC. She draws on psychology, philosophy, and literature to write about the human experience—why we are the way we are and how we can find grace and meaning in a world that is full of suffering. Her internationally best-selling book, The Power of Meaning, was published by Crown and has been translated into 16 different
languages. The Wall Street Journal called the book “persuasive,” “elegant,” and “valuable” while the Prospect (UK) dubbed it “an intelligent page-turner.”

In 2017, Smith delivered a talk called “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” on the main stage of TED. It’s been viewed over 9 million times.

The former managing editor of The New Criterion, Smith’s articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and other publications. Her articles for The Atlantic “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” (about the Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl) and “Masters of Love” (about romance and marriage) have reached over 30 million readers. In 2017, the New York Times published her article about rethinking success called “You’ll Never Be Famous—And That’s OK.” And her profile for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine of Joe Rago, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who tragically died at the age of 34, was shortlisted for a Folio magazine award in 2018. In 2019, she was a Poynter Journalism Fellow at Yale University.

Smith is also a reporter for the Aspen Institute's Weave project, an initiative founded by the New York Times' David Brooks to address the problems of isolation, alienation, and division. At Weave, Smith finds and tells the stories of people who are working to rebuild the social fabric.

Smith studied philosophy at Dartmouth College. She received her master’s degree in positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she continues to serve as an assistant instructor in positive psychology.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Smith grew up in Montreal, Canada. She now lives in Washington
DC with her husband, Charlie.