Victoria Coates Is Keynote Speaker at February NAS Conference

National Association of Scholars

We are delighted to announce that Victoria C. G. Coates, Ph.D. will be the dinner keynote speaker for NAS's February conference, "What Is Western Civilization?

Dr. Coates serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Negotiations at the National Security Council, focusing on issues related to the Middle East Peace Process. Dr. Coates previously served as the senior advisor for national security in the office of Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) and the senior advisor for national security for Senator Cruz’ 2016 presidential campaign.  She was also staff coordinator for Senator Cruz’ New York Times best-selling memoir A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America (2015), and has served as an advisor for foreign policy for (former) Governor of Texas Rick Perry.  From 2007-11, Dr. Coates was Director of Research for (former) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and provided editorial support and content analysis for Mr. Rumsfeld’s New York Times best-selling memoir Known and Unknown (2011).  In addition, Dr. Coates managed the release of primary documents from Mr. Rumsfeld’s private papers on the website, prompting the Wall Street Journal to praise the project as “the first political memoir of the Information Age.” 

Dr. Coates holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in art history.  Her academic research focuses on issues of self-fashioning and reception, interests that unite projects ranging from new interpretations of Cellini’s Autobiography and Raphael’s Transfiguration to a reassessment of the modern reception of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  She has contributed to conferences and symposia in the United States and Europe, and her work has appeared in The Sixteenth-Century Journal, Gazette des Beaux-Arts and Renaissance Studies.  Dr. Coates co-edited the 2007 volume Antiquity Recovered: The Legacy of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and she was co-curator and catalog author for the exhibition The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection, which opened in 2012 at the Getty Villa in Malibu before travelling to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

In January, 2016, Encounter Press published David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art. This ten-chapter study examines intersections between the fine arts and free systems of government in the Western tradition with the goal of learning from history as we try to foster democracy today.  Key objects include the Parthenon, Michelangelo’s David, Rembrandt’s Night Watch, the Elgin Marbles and Picasso’s Guernica.  The Wall Street Journal described David’s Sling as “engaging and accessible…clear and convincing.”  Dr. Coates is currently under contract with Encounter Press for the forthcoming Seeing the Light: A History of Christianity in Twelve Works of Art.

Dr. Coates lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two children, and two dogs.

We hope you'll join us in Phoenix to hear Dr. Coates and our other great speakers at "What Is Western Civilization?" on February 9-10. 

Register >

Sponsor and exhibit at the conference >


What Is Western Civilization?

February 9-10, 2018

Veritas Preparatory Academy
3102 N 56th St #100
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Conference: Friday, February 9, 4:00pm-7:30pm, Saturday, February 10, 8:00am-9:00pm (full schedule below)

Lodging: Scottsdale Marriott Suites Old Town, 7325 East 3rd Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. Reserve a room online with our group rate, or call (480) 874-6038 and mention the National Association of Scholars.


Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner included


NAS Member*


Early Registration (by January 15)



Student Early Registration (by January 15)



Late Registration (after January 15)



Student Late Registration (after January 15)



*Current NAS members have received a discount code by email. If you are a current NAS member and have not received this code, please email Ashley Thorne at [email protected]



Conference Schedule

FRIDAY, February 9, 2018

If you are interested in visiting a class at Veritas Preparatory Academy during the school day on Friday, February 9, please let Ashley Thorne know by emailing [email protected]

4:00pm Registration open

5:00pm Welcome and opening remarks

Robert Jackson, Chief Academic Officer, Great Hearts Academy
Ashley Thorne, Executive Director, National Association of Scholars

6:00pm Plenary Address: Training the Soul in Virtue: Lessons from the West

Rachel Fulton Brown, Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago

Dinner on your own (a list of recommended local restaurants will be provided)


SATURDAY, February 10, 2018

8:00am Registration and breakfast

9:00am Plenary Address: Why Civilization, Not Culture?

Peter Wood, President, National Association of Scholars

9:30am Panel 1: When Did Western Civilization Begin?

Paul Rahe, Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage, Hillsdale College
Carol McNamara, Associate Director for Public Programs for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University
Keith Whitaker, President, Wise Counsel Research

10:45am Break

11:00am Panel 2: How Does Western Civilization Contrast with Other Civilizations?

Bruce Gilley, Associate Professor of Political Science, Portland State University
Karen Taliaferro, Assistant Professor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University
Robert Edward Gordon, Research Fellow and Lecturer, American Culture and Ideas Initiative at the Fred Fox School of Music, University of Arizona

12:30pm Luncheon Keynote: The Lost History of Western Civilization

Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

2:00pm Break

2:15pm Panel 3: How Should Western Civilization Be Taught?

Stuart Diamond, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow
David Randall, Director of Communications, National Association of Scholars
Bryan Smith, Vice President, Great Hearts Academies

3:30pm Conversations

4:30pm Break

4:45pm Panel 4: Western Civilization’s Relation to Aesthetics and the Fine Arts

Daniel Asia, University of Arizona, Professor of Music, Fred Fox School of Music, University of Arizona
Aaron Mobley, Professor of Music, Berkeley City College
David Rothman, Director of Graduate Program in Creative Writing; Director of Poetry Concentration, Western State Colorado University

6:00pm Reception

7:00pm Dinner and Keynote Address: The Art of Western Civilization: Democracy, Christianity, Individuality

Victoria C. G. Coates, National Security Council, Senior Director for International Negotiations, author of David's Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art

Book signing of David's Sling to follow dinner

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