Power of the Presidency

Two Mondays, November 12, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.; November 5, 6:00–7:30 p.m. | The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross

November 12: George C. Edwards III, “The Nature of Presidential Leadership: Transformer or Facilitator?”
The internationally acclaimed, oft-quoted presidential scholar George C. Edwards III will give a sweeping view of the nature of presidential leadership. He will argue that despite conventional wisdom about the power of the presidency and the transformational potential of leadership, presidents persuade few people to support them and must rely on exploiting opportunities rather than creating them in order to bring about changes in public policy.

George C. Edwards III is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and holds the George and Julia Blucher Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies at the Bush School, Texas A&M University. He has taught at Oxford University and the University of London and has held senior visiting appointments at Peking University; Hebrew University, Jerusalem; and the United States Military Academy. He is an associate member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and the editor of Presidential Studies Quarterly. His recent books include On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit and Why the Electoral College is Bad for America. His book Governing by Campaigning focuses on the politics of the George W. Bush presidency.

November 5 (new date): Francis J. Gavin, “Elections, the Presidency, and the Making of U. S. Global Policy”
Why do we have such ineffectual debate about U. S. foreign policy during election cycles? After all, it is one issue that is under the control of the chief executive, unlike cultural matters or macroeconomic performance. Understanding how the American president engages the rest of the world—and how U. S. foreign policy is developed and executed—is of paramount importance. Francis J. Gavin will investigate these and other questions by examining the role of the president and how this role has influenced international relations and fundamentally altered American institutions, traditions, and political character. He will conclude with an assessment of emerging international policy decisions.

Francis J. Gavin is the first Tom Slick Professor of International Affairs at the LBJ School at the University of Texas in Austin and the founding director of studies for the Robert S. Strauss Center there. He is the author of Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958–1971 (2004). He has won several prestigious awards and honors, and his current research project is entitled “Strategy and Arms Control Reconsidered: Reassessing the History of Missile Defense, Nuclear Proliferation, and U. S. National Security Policy.” He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Links to sites outside of The Houston Seminar are not under their control and The Houston Seminar is not responsible for the information or links you may find there.  The presence of the link is not intended to imply The Houston Seminar endorsement.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


Register today!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.