UW Graduate School

Lectures Library

Welcome to the Office of Public Lectures’ Lectures Library, where a selection of our past programming is available for revisiting, either in video or audio format. New lectures will be added monthly, so check back often!

Video Lectures

George Coyne: When the Sacred Cows of Science and Religion Meet

In this talk, George Coyne reviews our scientific knowledge of the universe, our origins in the evolving universe and the religious implications one might draw from that science. His attempt is to show how a dialogue, science-religion, might occur if we avoid the idolatries. The talk emphasizes the idolatry oreligious belief (God is Explanation and I have him/her under my control) and of science (scientism, science is the only way to true and certain knowledge). This lecture was originally presented on October 29, 2003.

Richard Dawkins: Science and Sensibility

Richard Dawkins is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. This lecture was originally presented on March 4, 1998.

Morris Dees: Responding to Hate: Voices of Hope and Tolerance

After witnessing firsthand the painful consequences of prejudice and racial injustice, Morris Dees co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 1971 — a nonprofit organization specializing in lawsuits involving civil rights violations and racially motivated crimes. In this talk, Dees discusses his book, “Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat,” and offers strategies to combat domestic terrorism. This lecture was originally presented on January 23, 2001.

Vanessa Northington Gamble: It’s Not Just About Tuskegee: The History of African Americans and Medicine

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is one of the most well-known events in the history of African Americans and medicine. Vanessa Northington Gamble provides an overview of how issues of race and racism continue to influence the development of American medicine and public health. Gamble outlines a historical framework for understanding the contributions and experiences of African-American healthcare providers and the experiences of African-American patients. This lecture was originally presented on January 24, 2002.

Henry Louis Gates Jr: Race and Class in America

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual who serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. This lecture was originally presented on April 11, 1997.

James Head: Planetary Explorations: Perspectives on Earth

James Head’s research centers on the study of the processes that form and modify the surfaces, crusts, and lithospheres of planets, how these processes vary with time, and how such processes interact to produce the historical record preserved on the planets. Comparative planetology, the themes of planetary evolution, and application of these to the study of early Earth history are also of interest. He is particularly interested in volcanism and tectonism, having done fieldwork on active volcanoes in Hawaii and at Mount St. Helens. This lecture was originally presented on February 22, 2000.

Ralina Joseph: What’s the Difference with “Difference”?

In this talk, Ralina Joseph, Director of UW’s Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, discusses why words matter and how identity descriptions change over time. This lecture was originally presented on January 14, 2016.

Louis Menand: Do Movies Have Rights?

In this talk, Louis Menard discusses movie censorship, starting with “The Birth of a Nation” and ending with “The Miracle,” dealing with both the history of the movies and the constitutional issues. Presenting is Harvard professor Louis Menand, whose 2001 book “Metaphysical Club” won the Francis Parkman Prize from the Association of American Historians and the Pulitzer Prize for History. This lecture was originally presented on November 6, 2003.

James Peebles – The Large Scale Nature of Our Physical Universe: Who’s Out There? (Part 1 of 2)

James Peebles is a Canadian-American astrophysicist, astronomer, and theoretical cosmologist who is currently the Albert Einstein Professor Emeritus of Science at Princeton University. He works in physical cosmology, with a preference for underappreciated issues. This lecture was originally presented on May 20, 1997.

James Peebles – The Large Scale Nature of Our Physical Universe: Where Did It All Come From and How Will It All End? (Part 2 of 2)

James Peebles is a Canadian-American astrophysicist, astronomer, and theoretical cosmologist who is currently the Albert Einstein Professor Emeritus of Science at Princeton University. He works in physical cosmology, with a preference for underappreciated issues. This lecture was originally presented on May 22, 1997.

Oliver Sacks: Anthropologist From Mars

Oliver Sacks was a British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author.Born in Britain, and mostly educated there, he spent his career in the United States. He believed that the brain is the “most incredible thing in the universe.” This lecture was originally presented on March 8, 1996.

bell hooks: Conversation with bell hooks

Celebrated as one of our nation’s leading public intellectuals by the Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader’s 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, bell hooks (nee Gloria Watkins) is a charismatic speaker who is considered as one of the leading public intellectuals of her generation. hooks is known as a feminist thinker whose writings cover a broad range of topics on gender, race, teaching and the significance of media for contemporary culture. This lecture was originally presented on March 3, 2005.

Vandana Shiva: Ahimsa: Beyond Violent Traditions of Science and Technology

Vandana Shiva advocates an approach that is based on the principle of ahimsa – meaning non-violence or harmlessness, drawing on the ethics of ecological and feminist thought that promotes diversity and pluralism in knowledge, action, nature and culture. Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect diversity and integrity of living resources. Navdanya sets up community seed banks, supports conversion to organic agriculture, and is establishing direct producer-consumer links for food security and safety. This lecture was originally presented on April 17, 2001.

Anna Deavere Smith: Snapshots: Glimpses of America in Change

In this lecture, Anna Deavere Smith, the MacArthur Foundation honored playwright and performance artist, enacts a one-woman show about “race, community and character in America.” This lecture was originally presented on April 16, 2004.

Ron Takaki : Why Multiculturalism Matters in America

Ron Takaki, professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, brings his distinctive viewpoint to this discussion on multiculturalism. In this talk, Takaki demonstrates that multiculturalism is not only a social reality, but also an intellectually stimulating approach to an array of academic disciplines. This lecture was originally presented on April 25, 2002.

Sherry Turkle: Relational Artifacts: From Virtual Pets to Digital Dolls

Sherry Turkle explores identity effects of the computer presence associated with new technology: Computational toys and digital “pets” affect how children understand what is and is not alive, and what is special about being a person. How do we conceptualize the nature of our attachments to interactive robots, and how does this interaction affect people’s thoughts about themselves and their sense of identity? This lecture was originally presented on October 4, 1999.

Cornel West: Race Matters

Cornel West—a self-described intellectual freedom fighter influenced by the Baptist church, American transcendentalism, the Black Panthers and European philosophy—seeks to revive the best of liberalism, populism and democratic socialism. In this talk, West teaches that racial division fosters the poverty, paranoia, fear and distrust that undermine our nation’s democratic process. This lecture was originally presented on April 27, 2001.

Robert Williams: The Universe as Seen Through the Hubble Space Telescope

Robert Williams is an astronomer who served as the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute from 1993 to 1998, and the President of the International Astronomical Union from 2009 to 2012. This lecture was originally presented on January 22, 1998.

Audio Lectures

 


Misty Copeland: An Evening with Misty Copeland

In 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African American female principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. In this talk, hear from this artist, author, entrepreneur and humanitarian about how she broke barriers and her work to inspire young people everywhere. This lecture was originally presented on March 24, 2017.

Robin DiAngelo: White Fragility

In this talk, Robin DiAngelo will give an overview of the socialization that leads to white fragility and provide the perspectives needed for more constructive cross-racial interactions. This lecture was originally presented on October 26, 2016.

 


Maria Hinojosa: Testing the Limits of Due Process Denial: Latinos and Immigrants as the Canaries in the Mine

News correspondent and journalist Maria Hinojosa has spent decades reporting on immigration and the treatment of immigrants – both documented and undocumented – by law enforcement organizations. In this lecture, she will give powerful witness to the routine denial of due process to immigrants and its effect on our broader society. This lecture was originally presented on November 1, 2017.

 


Bill T. Jones: Analogy/Form: Finding Meaning in Confusing Times

The Artistic Director, Choreographer, and Co-Founder of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, in this lecture, Bill T. Jones will discuss the four-year creation process of the Analogy Trilogy; examine the hidden unities, poetry and the universal connectivity in creating art during this era of fractious political conversations; and consider the potential heroism found in hope and belief in the future. This lecture was originally presented on January 30, 2018.

 


Julie Lythcott-Haims: How to Raise an Adult

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success (2015) and Real American: A Memoir (2017). She is deeply interested in what prevents people from living meaningful, fulfilling lives. This lecture was originally presented on October 1, 2019.

 


Sam Sinyangwe: Using Data to Advance Racial Justice

Data can be a powerful tool for fighting systemic racism and police violence. In this lecture, Sam Sinyangwe will present strategies for using data to support organizing campaigns focused on equity and justice in the United States. This lecture was originally presented on October 15, 2019.


Amy Tan: Creative Minds Do Not Think Alike

Amy Tan is the author of several bestselling novels, including “The Joy Luck Club,” which was adapted into a feature film. She is also the author of two children’s books, “The Moon Lady” and “Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat.” She’s currently working on a new book titled “The Valley Of Amazement.”

Amy Tan’s mother wanted her to become a doctor and a concert pianist. Instead, Tan chose to write fiction, a career that was out of line with her Chinese immigrant parents’ expectations. Tan’s novels include “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and “Saving Fish From Drowning,” all of which are New York Times bestsellers.

In this talk, recorded at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall on January 12, 2012, Tan talks about the genesis of creativity, different forms of creative expression and how her own creative process has evolved.


Jill Cornell Tarter: SETI: Past, Present and Future — Finding Aliens and Finding Ourselves

In this lecture, Jill Cornell Tarter, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, speaks to the importance of investing in long-term endeavors in a world of short-sighted thinking and how looking beyond our atmosphere can help better sustain life here on earth. This lecture was originally presented on March 3, 2015.

 


Joy Williamson-Lott: New Hurdles, Same Territory: How History Can Guide the Future of Education

Many look to “the school” as the great equalizer, a meritocracy where equal opportunity is realized. For communities of color, this is often far from the truth. Throughout history, each time communities of color have made progress toward equal educational opportunity, a major societal pushback has caused the loss of gains that appeared won. In this talk, Joy Williamson-Lott looks to history to show how we can work toward real progress. This lecture was originally presented on February 15, 2017.



Tim Wise: White Privilege

Racism not only burdens people of color, but also benefits white Americans in every realm. In this lecture, Tim Wise, who is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States, shares how racial privilege impedes progressive social change for all — and ways to challenge this paradigm. This lecture was originally presented on January 27, 2017.