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Distinguished Lecture Series

Canceled: 2020 Speaker: Author and Environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams is an environmentalist, free-speech advocate and bestselling author of numerous books including environmental literature classic “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.” Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. Williams is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction, and is currently writer-in-residence at Harvard Divinity School.

2019 Speaker: "Fresh Air" Host Terry Gross

Terry Gross is host of the Peabody Award-winning radio show “Fresh Air.” One of public radio’s most popular weekday programs, it is broadcast on more than 624 NPR stations across the country with nearly 5 million listeners. Gross is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.

2018 Speaker: "Radiolab" Creator Jad Abumrad

Jad Abumrad is a MacArthur Fellow and co-host of the Peabody Award-winning "Radiolab" podcast. The program is broadcast on 524 stations across the nation and downloaded more than 9 million times a month as a podcast, making it often the second most popular podcast behind "This American Life."

2017 Speaker: Biologist, Neuroscientist & Stress Expert Robert Sapolsky

Robert Sapolsky, PhD, is a biologist and neuroscientist, stress expert, and science and nature writer. He is the author of "The Trouble with Testosterone", "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers," "Monkeyluv: And Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals" and "A Primate's Memoir," which won the 2001 Bay Area Book Reviewers Award in nonfiction. Sapolsky is also a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya, and professor of biology, neurology and neurosurgery at Stanford University.

2016 Speaker: Award-Winning Novelist Zadie Smith

Novelist, essayist and short-story writer Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She studied English at Kings College, Cambridge, where she began working on her acclaimed first novel, "White Teeth" — one of TIME magazine's "100 Best English-Language Novels Since 1923" (the year TIME was first published).

2015 Speaker: Artist, Designer and Urban Planner Candy Chang

Candy Chang is known for her interactive public installations that provoke civic engagement and emotional introspection. She is the author of “Before I Die” and a former art director at the New York Times. Chang’s public installation projects have been featured in cities such as Johannesburg, New York City, Nairobi, New Orleans, Almaty, Hong Kong, Turku and Medan, among others. Her art has also been exhibited in the Venice Biennale, the New Museum, Tate Modern, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

2014 Speaker: Religious Scholar and Author Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” as well as the internationally acclaimed “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam,” which was named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade by Blackwell Publishers. He is also the author of “How to Win a Cosmic War,” and is a regular contributing editor to The Daily Beast. In addition, Aslan frequently appears on numerous television shows including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.”

2013 Speaker: Huffington Post Founder Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and a nationally syndicated columnist. In May 2005, Huffington launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that is now one of the most widely read, linked to, and frequently cited media brands on the Internet. In 2006 and 2011, Huffington was named to the TIME 100, TIME Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

2012 Speaker: Neuroscientist David Eagleman

What's on your mind?" is a pretty loaded question if you ask David Eagleman, renowned neuroscientist and international bestselling author. His most recent bestseller, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, explores the mystifying subconscious, delving into questions like:
  • Why is it so difficult to keep a secret?
  • Why does the conscious mind know so little about itself?
  • Why are people whose name begins with J more likely to marry other people whose name begins with J?

Inaugural Speaker: Author Sir Salman Rushdie

Sir Salman Rushdie, one of the most celebrated and controversial figures in modern day literature, will serve as the first speaker in the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lecture Series on May 4, 2011 at 6 p.m. in the Main Auditorium. Rushdie is best known for his novels Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses, the latter of which earned him worldwide recognition as a champion of free speech.