The Summer Institute Speaker Series at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center returns Thursday, July 7, kicking off a diverse lineup of public intellectuals talking about subjects ranging from the war in Ukraine to cyber security and food culture and policy.

The Summer Institute has been bringing speakers to the Island since 2001. Summer Institute administrator Donna Foster said that program founder Stanley Snider, who died earlier this year, “wanted to bring another aspect of intellectual life to the Vineyard, and [he] wanted the Hebrew Center to offer this to the Vineyard community.”

The program expects strong turnout this year, especially as pandemic anxieties relax, Ms. Foster said.

“Our capacity is about 300 — and some of our speakers will be sold out,” she said.

The talks will be held under a tent outdoors, continuing a practice put in place last year due to the pandemic.

The series opens on July 7 with U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross, the William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Ambassador Ross served as the director of policy planning under George H. W. Bush’s State Department and held positions as an expert on the Middle East in the Clinton and Obama administrations. His talk will focus on geopolitics in the Middle East after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dr. Ronald C. Peterson, an aging expert and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic, discusses the state of Alzheimer’s research on July 14.

The series continues through the summer with Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, on July 21; Ross Douthat of the New York Times on July 28; food writer Mark Bittman on August 5; and Linda Greenhouse, a senior research scholar at Yale Law School and former New York Times reporter, closes out the series on August 12.

Talks begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evenings at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center and are followed by a dessert reception open to all attendees.

For tickets and more information, visit