Invite Paul Loeb to Speak

[Paul Loeb engaging his audience during a lecture]

Paul Loeb engaging his audience during a lecture.`

Paul Loeb has lectured to enthusiastic responses at over 400 colleges and universities nationwide-including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Columbia, Michigan, MIT, Wisconsin, and Brown. His visits generally involve a day of 3-4 talks, classroom visits and conversations. He’s done everything from talks at first-year orientations and commencements to trainings for faculty and staff on how to get students more engaged.

Loeb has also keynoted numerous national conferences including the American Society on Aging, National Education Association, American College Personnel Association, the Education Commission of the States, Campus Compact’s Presidential Summit, the Unitarian General Assembly, the International Association of Volunteer Administrators, Engineers Without Borders, the International Association for Public Participation, Washington State Nurses Association, Patagonia Corporation’s annual meeting, the American Association of Colleges & Universities, a national anti-hunger conference, the National Association of 4-H Advisors, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and major environmental gatherings. He’s also keynoted major local and regional gatherings of health educators, civic and governmental leaders, community organizers, volunteer service providers, union shop stewards, and engaged religious groups. To contact him to speak, click here.

Loeb’s campus visits combine the themes of his bestselling citizen engagement books, The Impossible Will Take a Little While and Soul of a Citizen. They’re an antidote to political cynicism and the despair that students and others are  experiencing. Drawing on his books and forty-five years of exploring citizen involvement, Loeb focuses on how ordinary citizens and students in particular can make their voices heard and actions count in a time when we’re told neither matter. He talks of how people get involved in larger community issues and what stops them from getting involved; how they burn out in exhaustion or maintain their commitment for the long haul; how involvement can give them a sense of connection and purpose rare in purely personal life.

Loeb will also draw on lessons from the national nonpartisan Campus Election Engagement Project that he founded in 2008 and ran through the 2020 cycle. The project got colleges and universities to use their resources to help students register to vote, navigate the new voting laws, educate themselves on issues and candidates, and turn out at the polls. The project worked with 600 colleges and universities in  2020, and Paul would love to work with students, faculty, and administrators to explore ways that your campus can get your students involved in national, state, and local elections. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds and world views really seem to appreciate Loeb’s talks, saying that his words give them a new sense of possibility, hope, and faith in their own power to act.

Loeb also offers targeted workshops as part of his campus visits: Teaching for Engagement helps faculty, administrators, and staff explore how they can teach social commitment to America’s future citizens. Leadership and Responsibility helps students–and campus leaders in particular–explore the barriers to engagement and ways to help involve their peers. Some schools have put together wonderful dialogues with local community nonprofits. Loeb enjoys leading classroom discussions on why students hesitate to act on America’s most critical public issues, and how they can get past their hesitations to effectively take a stand. See Loeb Workshops for further details.

Comments on Loeb’s lectures follow. Here’s his lecture schedule. Click here to contact him.

To hear some of Paul Loeb’s live talks, click here.

Comments on Loeb’s Talks

“With television, 174 radio stations, and such speakers this year as President Clinton, President Aristide, George Stephanopolous, Ken Burns and Gerry Adams, the City Club is accustomed to having the most provocative programs. Your presentation certainly fit that description…you did a magnificent job.”
— Steven Smith, Board Chair City Club Forum, City Club of Cleveland

“Paul Loeb got a standing ovation from 1200 people in closing our national conference. His presentation was inspiring! Paul gives great examples that speak to the concerns and needs of educators, and does a great job promoting the democracy of public schools.”
— Kathie Zurfluh, National Education Association, national board member

“Thank you so much for your visit to our campus. Our students were so inspired they visited my office at 8:00am on a Friday morning following your visit! They not only wanted to investigate ways to be more involved, they came prepared with their own list of ideas that they had been discussing all night with each other.”
–Barbara Fuller, Educational Foundations and Leadership, Northeastern Oklahoma University, Tallequah, OK

“You are a true story-teller, spreading stories of social change. The stories of world-renowned change makers you shared reminded us of our power to change the realities we face and inspired us to keep having hope. Thank you for coming to Greece at such a difficult time.”
-—Alexandra Stratou, TEDxAthens, Human Grid Executive Producer

“You spoke to 2,500 students at our Fall convocation, then continued to interact with students and faculty throughout the day. Your message that one person can make a difference helped us all think about ways we can be part of solving our country’s problems rather than taking a seat on the sidelines. You helped us think about civic engagement in new ways.”
-—Kristin Douglas, Associate Dean of Curriculum, Augustana College, Rock Island Illinois

“Thank you for a great presentation. Your remarks were substantive and provocative, in a word, terrific. The audience represented almost a million students in higher education. It was wonderful that so many had read your book and thus were able to put your remarks in a broader context.”
— George Mehaffy, Vice President for Academic Leadership, [American Association of State Colleges and Universities, after keynote talk to their annual Provost’s conference.]

Thank you for your inspiring speech at our opening convocation. You got a standing ovation from 600 students, faculty and administrators. Your words will have a lasting and positive impact on the entire Merrimack College community for years to come.”
— Josephine Modica-Napolitano, interim Provost, Merrimack College, Andover MA


“Without doubt, your talks were one of the most outstanding series of events that I have experienced during my 15 years at this university.”
— John Clark, Philosophy Professor, Loyola of New Orleans

“Thank you for keynoting our Bonner Summer Leadership Institute. Your presentation and stories were inspiring. We look forward to continuing to work with you on student voter involvement and social justice.”
— Ariane Hoy, Senior Program Office, Bonner Foundation

“Paul Loeb was a wonderful addition to our International Honors Institute. He truly engaged our students with his presentation about the importance of getting involved with something greater than themselves to make a difference in their communities and in the world. It was exactly the message we hoped he would convey as our students develop and implement Honors in Action activities on campus and in their communities as part of the Phi Theta Kappa experience.”
-—Susan Edwards, Dean of Academic Affairs, Phi Theta Kappa community college honors society, following a standing ovation. PTK brought me back again for their national conference.

“Paul Loeb spoke to a series of packed and rich events. Paul has a way of crafting and presenting concepts that illustrate the process behind social change, and the role that ordinary individuals play. Loeb’s presentation of this process helped our students better explore their own souls and how they could act on their own convictions.”
–Lane Perry, Ph.D, director Center for Service Learning, Western Carolina University.

“You spoke to 6,000 people in our morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies, getting a standing ovation each time. You certainly make a difference in the lives of people. Fort Lewis is a different and better place after your address. You left our faculty and students inspired and with renewed dedication to civic engagement.”
-President Brad Bartel, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO

“Your reassurance that today’s young people are not a lost generation of forlorn Gen Xers but are peppered with comprehensible doubts, fears, energy and even activism was heartening..Your speech was deeply stirring and richly motivating.”
— Paul Kleyman, editor Aging Today, following keynote panel at 3,000-person conference, American Society on Aging.

“Your week-long presence here has nurtured actions and attitudes that will have wide-ranging ripple effects. It is evident that you have touched many lives. Your faculty workshop on fostering student engagement was a wonderful conversation and you were the perfect person to lead it.”
— Jackie Schmidt-Posner, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

” Almost a thousand people had a chance to see you. Their enthusiasm is best represented by the standing ovation and excellent Q & A session which followed your address.”
— Bill Chaloupka, Professor of Political Science, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

“Your keynote received a standing ovation. So many people were inspired by it. Thank you for reminding us to keep on and to step up and advocate.”
-—Holly Denniston, program chair, Association for Volunteer Administration, 1,000-person international conference.

“Your passion and voice added so much to our conference.”
— Jim Kielsmeier, President, National Youth Leadership Council.

“Your presentation was wonderful. You provided excellent insight into the students with whom we work. Others commented on your thorough interviews and engaging style. Thank you for giving us information which can only improve our work.”
— Maureen Keefe, Featured Speakers Committee, American College Personnel Association/NASPA joint conference.

“Thank you for inspiring us. You are an amazing role model for our students.”
— Anna Maria Cobo, Assistant Dean/ Director of the Intercultural Center, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

“It is difficult to find a speaker to address a new aspect of environmental issues. We were extremely pleased with your talk. Filled with anecdotal material and insight into the generation next in line for leadership roles in all aspects of society, your presentation was of great interest to our audience.”
— Michael Dunn, assistant to the President, Patagonia Corporation, following keynote talk to their all-company meeting.

“Paul Loeb is the only lecturer we’ve had in my five years who received a standing ovation from an audience of over 600 students, faculty and community members. This was a result of his ability to connect passionately with people, and particularly students, in a way that engages them in a conversation about civic commitment and activism that is meaningful to them.”
–Dr. Olivia Collins, Coordinator, Lou Douglas Public Issues Lecture Series, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

“Your keynote presentation was great. Your vision for what America can become and sense of how to cure current social ills offered each of us an opportunity to examine our own commitments and connect education with community efforts.”
— Terry Pickeral, Center for Learning & Citizenship, Education Commission of the States
[Audience included college presidents, service-learning coordinators, and a dozen state superintendents of education]

“We could not have picked a better, more appropriate speaker for this difficult time than you.”
— Margaret Hogan, service-learning coordinator, Maricopa Community Colleges, Phoenix, AZ
[I spoke there the first week after Sept 11]

“Your talk informed, energized, and motivated. Participants said your presentation was fantastic, a breath of fresh air in Kansas.”
–Tawny Stottlemire, Executive Director, Kansas Association of Community Action Programs

“In this politically conservative state…I was amazed that the small group question and answer session following your lecture lasted for three hours… Clearly the students were very stirred by your message.”
— Marjorie Wheeler, Honors College Coordinator, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

“Your thoughtful, articulate and lively commencement speech brought distinction and significance to our graduation ceremonies. All our students and their families thoroughly enjoyed your presentation, as did I.”
— Faith Gabelnick, President, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR

“Your eloquent and passionate words inspired us with greater dedication to our work, and greater belief in our power as individuals to make a difference. Many of our volunteers commented that it was the impact of your words and actions that first led them to advocacy work. Thank you for lending your time and expertise to our conference, and to our mutual goal of ending hunger and poverty.”
— Lynn McMullen, Results hunger action group. [Other speakers included Jonathan Kozol, Marian Wright Edelman, and Frances Moore Lappe]

“Your work is a wonderful resource [to] challenge the negative stereotype of young adults as slackers, self-indulgent, lacking in conviction and unconcerned about the important social issues of the day. Your talk, addressed to over 2,000 participants from 509 congregations, was interrupted by thunderous applause more than a dozen times, and encouraged us all.”
— Donna DiSciullo, Young Adult Ministries, following keynote to Unitarian General Assembly

“Thanks for a great talk at our Clean Water conference! I’ve heard nothing but kudos. One typical response said it was the best, most unique conference the participant had ever been to in his 30 years of working for government! Your keynote address had a lot to do with that.”
— Karen Sands, Watershed Planning Manager Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District

“Thank you for being part of the Critical Patriotism forum at our national meeting. In this time of heightened national anxiety and attempts to limit dissent, you helped open up important areas for inquiry and critique. You gave people hope that their individual and collective acts not only can make a difference-but are essential to a robust democracy.”
— Caryn McTighe Musil, Vice President, Diversity, Democracy, and Global Initiatives, Association of American Colleges and Universities

“Paul Loeb is a dynamic speaker whose stories engage students in thinking about social activism and civic involvement. He is passionate and provocative and relishes opportunities to listen to students. His day-long visit was all the more successful because so many in his various sessions had actually read Soul of a Citizen.”
— Tom Flynn, President, Millikin University, Decatur, IL. after talk to 1200-person convocation and to capstone courses, where every senior was reading Soul of a Citizen.

“Paul was an inspiring addition to our school’s Professional Development Day: Teaching for Engagement. I enjoyed working with him to design a day of activities that got faculty and administrators considering the ways we educate, empower and engage this generation as social activists. The outcomes from that day continue to reverberate across our school community, as students and faculty make powerful connections to civic engagement.”
–Leitzel Schoen, Director of Service Learning and Public Purpose, Friends Seminary school, New York, NY

“Paul’s positive and challenging keynote address reminded us of how feelings of social frustration and hopelessness can be redirected into experiences of success. In this difficult time, his message set a very encouraging tone for our annual conference.”
— Ron Snyder, Washington State Public Health Association.

“Paul Loeb’s presentation to the UCO faculty and staff on Teaching for Engagement was informative, engaging and inspiring. His interaction with students effectively underscored the university’s commitment to civic education. Since he came, I have had innumerable requests for his Soul of a Citizen book. Paul provided our campus with a focused and spirited beginning to our academic year and our heightened involvement in the AASCU’s national American Democracy Project.”
— Don Betz, Provost, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK

“The response from both faculty and students has been extremely positive. We reached over 700 individuals at our various events and were particularly pleased with the overnight retreat, whose success we attribute to your skillful direction.”
— James Breeden, Dean of the Tucker Foundation, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

“Your keynote presentation focused our attention on important reasons for student apathy and what can be done to overcome it….about 450 people attended…There is no doubt that the success of the conference was in large part due to your presence.”

— Barry Steiner, Professor of Political Science, Cal State Long Beach, Long Beach, CA

“Thank you for your outstanding keynote presentation at our Neighborhood Improvement retreat. You were one of the highlights. Everyone was especially appreciative of your warm and gracious manner, the breadth and depth of your knowledge and experience, and the opportunity to read your wonderful book, Soul of a Citizen.”

— Alvertha Penny, Program Officer, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

“A superb job…Your sincere, down to earth presentation of the thoughts, desires, and fears of the X generation (their customers) was absolutely on target…You did some real educating for an audience that was yearning to learn.”

— Elizabeth Goulding, National Association of College Stores, after keynote talk to 2,200 college bookstore managers

“Outstanding…Loeb’s enthusiasm and knowledge of his topic excited our students and provoked a great deal of thoughtful comment.

— Stephen Biles, Associate Director, Memorial Union Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

“Thank you for offering our students such rich exposure to the topic of citizen involvement in bringing about social change. I’ve talked with as many students as possible from all over the political spectrum about their reactions to your lecture and workshops. Every one seemed energized. It was as if you reaffirmed their hope that they were not powerless, that they could make a difference. You gave students a greater sense of both their power to make change happen and their moral obligation to do so. You told them to believe in themselves and in principles of justice. Your message has never been more needed than it is today.”

— Tim Russell, Chair, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Sullivan County Community College, Loch Sheldrake, NY

“You raised important questions. Students who heard you left with a far greater sense of how to act on their beliefs.”

— Aris Fokas, Assistant Chaplain, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

“Thank you for your visit. Your message of community involvement touched the minds and hearts of so many people on campus-students, faculty, administrators, and staff. You spoke in two large undergraduate classes and one graduate seminar, met with faculty and student leaders and representatives of local nonprofits, led a discussion with the Year of Community Service Committee and gave a major lecture in conjunction with our awards ceremony. We’re now working to help our students leave knowing they can make a difference in the world.”

— Manny London, Associate Provost for enrollment and retention, SUNY Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY

“A dynamic presence. We reached 500 students in four different sessions. Encountering Mr Loeb in these various forums was a particularly rich learning experience. Even at this late date, [six months later], faculty and students are still talking about Mr Loeb’s time with us. The director of faculty development wants to bring him back for a week-long visit.”

— Michael Shea, Professor of English, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT

“Your lecture drew 400 students from a population of 1000. Not even General Westmoreland, following the end of the Vietnam war, drew such a large crowd…Few speakers have the gift for lifting us from the pessimism and cynicism which surround serious global issues. We owe a debt of gratitude to you for waking us up.”

— Rick Hinterthuer, Biology Professor, North Arkansas Community College, Harrison, AR

“Your style of presentation involves the audience, draws them into the discussion….you were outstanding in your attempts to help them see the bigger picture of community action…[They] left the auditorium that evening with a purpose…”

— Elaine Spaull, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Rochester Institute Of Technology, Rochester, NY

“Your keynote at our state-wide student leadership conference drew an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response, critical to the success of our program. Students said you were informative and passionate, motivating them to be better leaders and listeners. They left with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm.”

— Barbara Brown Herman, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

“Thank you for your inspiring keynote. Your work is very important to all of us and we look forward to having you speak again at future conferences.”

— Laura Rossi, coordinator for national conference of environmental and social justice canvassers and canvass directors.

“Thank you so much for coming to Lakeside School. It was clear from the packed auditorium how eager the Lakeside community was to hear your candid and informative remarks about citizen responsibility and empowerment. You reminded us of the powerful impact that one person’s actions can have and of the value of civic involvement—an important message for our students. It was a great talk and very inspirational to our students, who would have willingly questioned you into the evening.”

— Bernie Noe, Head of School, Lakeside School, Seattle, WA [I got a standing ovation at this alma mater of Bill Gates and Paul Allen]

“You spoke to 1500 people at our opening convocation, and the responses have been terrific. You set the tone for the entire year. We’re now considering your book as a common reading.”

— Gwendolyn Scheffel, lecture coordinator, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH

“With compassion and respect, Paul Loeb illustrates that these dilemmas are profoundly personal ones, which reach into each of our daily lives.”

— Lucinda Merriam, Waging Peace group, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

“Thank you so much for your fine keynote speech at our national conference. Our attendees were universally satisfied and inspired.”

-—Anne Anderson, coordinator Psychologists for Social Responsibility

“Your involvement in the workshop was simply tremendous. You challenged us to think in new ways. You inspired us to act for the issues we believe in. You showed us how to recognize and remove the barriers to our own involvement. You made it seem doable for us to go out and begin working to improve the state of the earth.”

— Abram Kaplan, director, Environmental Studies, Denison University, Granville, OH, after week-long intensive workshop.

“Thank you for keynoting our Urban Initiatives conference, “Making Our Lives Count.” You were an inspiration, encouraging the audience to share ideas and work on making civic engagement a part of their lives. We are all the wiser for your contributions.”

— Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI


Paul Loeb’s college visits usually encompass a one-day residency including several classroom visits or workshops and a campus-wide presentation. Two-day or extended residencies are also available. Paul is also delighted to visit individual classes, talking about the barriers to involvement and how to get past them, as well as public issues in the news.

TEACHING FOR ENGAGEMENT: A discussion aimed at faculty and staff, exploring how to teach social commitment to America’s future citizens. A great opportunity to work with your faculty development and service learning networks, and for participants to reflect on their mission as educators. Paul can also draw on his work founding and leading the Campus Election Engagement Project and help you prepare to engage your students.

LEADERSHIP AND RESPONSIBILITY: Ways student government members and leaders of campus organizations can support greater student involvement and awareness. Loeb also does special workshops for campus newspaper staffers.

COMMUNITY SERVICE AND CHANGE: Ways participants in service projects can balance their desires to help in concrete, one-on-one ways, while addressing root social structures that cause problems like hunger, illiteracy, and homelessness.

WRITING AND SOCIAL CHANGE: For journalism or writing classes, a discussion of Paul Loeb’s evolution as a writer, the kinds of issues that arise when trying to write about social change movements, and the moral responsibility of writers when dealing with larger public issues.

THE IMPOSSIBLE WILL TAKE A LITTLE WHILE: How to keep on in the difficult work of change, forging an effective public voice and drawing in new participants. How to avoid burnout and sustain engaged commitment.

INTERACTIVE POSTER SESSIONS: One highly effective approach is to have students do service learning projects and then present them to fellow students in public poster sessions while Paul goes from display to display and gives feedback. We did this recently with 2009 first-year classes reading Soul of a Citizen at University of Alabama and with junior and senior capstone courses reading Soul and The Impossible Will Take a Little While at Florida Gulf Coast University. We got a great response.

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