Lectures & Learning Opportunities

Check back often as events will be added to the website frequently — right up until Homecoming weekend!

The Politics of Public Pensions

10/12/18 10 a.m.11 a.m.  

By one estimate, public employee pensions across the U.S. are underfunded by $1.1 trillion. Others say the underfunding levels are much larger. What, exactly, are the problems associated with public employee pensions? How and why did those problems come about? And what are the likely consequences for state and local governments, for government employees, and for the citizens of the United States? This talk will focus on the politics behind the nation’s pension problems: how and why public pension benefits have been expanded over the years, the political considerations of those who are charged with fully funding those benefits, and the political factors that shape how local governments across the country respond to their rising pension costs. 

Speaker(s): 
Sarah Anzia
Michelle J. Schwartz Associate Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy

Sarah Anzia studies American politics with a focus on state and local government, interest groups, political parties, and public policy. Her book Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups examines how the timing of elections can be manipulated to affect both voter turnout and the composition of the electorate, which, in turn, affects election outcomes and public policy. She also studies the role of government employees and public-sector unions in elections and policymaking in the U.S. She has also written about the politics of public pensions, women in politics, the historical development of electoral institutions, and the power of political party leaders in state legislatures. She has a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and an M.P.P. from the Harris School at the University of Chicago.

Sponsored by: 
Prytanean Women’s Honor Society
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What Is Implicit Bias?​

10/12/18 10 a.m.11 a.m.  

The national conversation has been turning to implicit bias with increasing focus. But what does that mean? Mendoza-Denton will make the picture clearer by reviewing the concept of implicit bias, contrasting it with explicit bias and prejudice, and sharing several decades of research supporting the concept. He will discuss the implications of bias for everyday interactions, for society, and for our educational system.

Speaker(s): 
Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton
Goldman Professor in the Social Sciences, Psychology

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton is professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is currently Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Division of Social Sciences. He also serves as associate executive dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Letters and Science. Childhood experiences living in Mexico, the U.S., Ivory Coast, and Thailand cemented an early interest in cultural differences and intergroup relations. He received his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Mendoza-Denton’s professional work covers stereotyping and prejudice from the perspective of both target and perceiver, intergroup relations, and how these processes influence educational outcomes. He received the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in 2015 and the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018.

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Arleigh Williams Forum

10/12/18 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

Join us for this annual public gathering presented by one of the campus’s most historic organizations, the Order of the Golden Bear. The Arleigh Williams Forum honors the memory of a highly respected former dean of students, U.S. Navy veteran, and standout Cal athlete who regularly opened his doors to the campus community for engagement in open dialogue. Each year the forum features speakers and topics that allow for the same sort of dialogue about various aspects of our complex campus.

Speaker(s): 
Peter S. Van Houten '56, M.A. '62, Ed. D. '73

Peter Van Houten served under Arleigh Williams as associate dean of students, dean of orientation, and head of the pre-medical advising program. During his time at Cal, Van Houten lettered in volleyball and baseball, coached the JV baseball team in 1957, and was active in the ASUC and honor societies. Since his retirement in 2000, Van Houten has done admissions outreach for Berkeley as a volunteer and will be leading a costumed campus history tour at 3 p.m. on Friday, October 12!

Daryl Ansel '83
Associate Dean of Students and Executive Director, ASUC Student Union

Daryl Ansel oversees a wide array of services, programs, and activities that promote community, individual growth, responsible citizenship, and a global leadership to enhance the co-curricular experience for UC Berkeley students. Ansel holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Berkeley and a master’s in hospitality management from Cornell University’s prestigious School of Hotel Administration.

Alexander Wilfert '19
President, ASUC

Alexander Wilfert is a fourth-year student in political economy and history. He was born in New Jersey but grew up in the United Kingdom. Since his freshman year, Wilfert has been heavily involved in the ASUC, Chi Psi Fraternity, and Berkeley Model United Nations. His priorities as ASUC president are to be an advocate for every student, address the issue of basic needs, reform the ASUC, and ensure a safer campus and community. He envisions the ASUC as an organization that makes decisions in the best interests of the entire student bod and hopes to make student government more receptive to tangible change for everyone.

Derek Schatz '15, M.S. '16
Internal Vice President, Graduate Assembly

Derek Schatz is a Ph.D. student in management of organizations at the Haas School of Business. He also completed his undergraduate studies in psychology at Cal and, during that time, served as a campus ambassador and chairman of the University of California Rally Committee.

Ryan Dana '19
Chairman, UC Rally Committee

Ryan Dana is a senior from Orange County, California, majoring in physics, astrophysics, and data science. As chairman of the UC Rally Committee, it is his duty to protect and promote the various symbols of the University. Dana also currently serves as the chronicler of the Order of the Golden Bear and is an undergraduate researcher at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He brings a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Cal Spirit in the undergraduate student experience.

Sponsored by: 
Order of the Golden Bear
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Crossing the Line: Refugees, Migrants, and Immigrants in Global Politics

10/12/18 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

Much of the world is focused on challenges and crises that involve borders and boundaries. Who can cross which international boundaries and for what reasons have become two of the most important political and legal questions of the era. Should enforcement of the law take precedence over the humanitarian impulse, or should it be the other way around? This lecture will cover the essential information needed to engage constructively with these issues and suggest some possible solutions.

Speaker(s): 
Darren Zook
Lecturer, Global Studies and Political Science

Darren Zook has taught at UC Berkeley since 2001 and has been recognized many times for his creative talents in the classroom. He was recently named as one of the “Ten Most Inspiring Professors at UC Berkeley” by College Magazine. His research focuses on human rights, identity politics, and security studies. In 2012 he was a Fulbright Research Scholar based in Singapore working on a project focusing on cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sponsored by: 
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI @Berkeley)
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Escaping Childhood Poverty: Why Neighborhood Matters

10/12/18 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

Approximately one out of five children in the United States lives in poverty. About a third of these children will rise out of poverty as adults, but different regions of the country have very different rates of social mobility. How do neighborhood resources impact poor children’s opportunities to improve their life chances? This talk will begin with interactive methods to identify underlying assumptions about social mobility, then introduce findings from recent research to better understand how local communities may foster or impede better futures for our poorest children.

Speaker(s): 
Mary E. Kelsey M.A. '86, Ph.D. '94
Continuing Lecturer, Sociology

Mary Kelsey received the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018, the university’s highest acknowledgement of teaching excellence. Her research focuses on issues of poverty and public poverty. She has spent the last 12 years following the lives of five low-income children in Oakland, California. Kelsey has a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin. Her M.A. in Asian studies and Ph.D. in sociology are both from Berkeley.

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Global Energy Transition: Outlooks and Perspectives

10/12/18 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

History has shown that the world’s energy systems have repeatedly gone through drastic transformations over time, and the 21st century is no exception. With the challenge of climate change imminent, global energy transitions and structural changes in energy systems are even more compelling — if not critical. Recent developments like the Paris climate agreement, major advancements in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies, breakthroughs in carbon capture and technologies to reduce carbon footprints, and the prospect of successful development and deployment of safe nuclear power technologies all provide new outlooks for dramatically different energy futures. This talk will provide an overview of the changing landscape of the energy sector and various perspectives on addressing climate change, energy security, and access to energy for all as we transition to energy sustainability.

Speaker(s): 
Adnan Shihab-Eldin '65, M.S. '67, Ph.D. '70
Director General, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences

Adnan Shihab-Eldin is the recipient of the 2017 Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award. He studied electrical and nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley where he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate. He is a global leader in the field of energy, specializing in energy technologies, economics, and the environment. Shihab-Eldin helped facilitate access to advanced technology from around the world in Kuwait and the wider Arab region, fostering the creation of solid foundations upon which scientific and economic research can be carried out and inspiring a culture of development and innovation.

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Using Programming Languages to Understand Human Languages

10/12/18 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

Recent advances in artificial intelligence have dramatically improved the ability of computers to interpret and generate human language. Google Translate, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and other language understanding systems are becoming more useful every month. In this lecture, explore the relationship between programming languages and human languages and how machine learning has connected these two forms of expression in new ways.

Speaker(s): 
John DeNero
Assistant Teaching Professor, Computer Science

John DeNero regularly teaches the largest course on campus: introductory computer science for majors (CS 61A) which, this fall semester, has more than 1,700 students enrolled. Prior to joining the UC Berkeley faculty, he was a senior research scientist at Google working on Google Translate and related technologies. Recently, he has been deeply involved in the development of Berkeley’s new data science major and associated courses. In 2017, he was named the inaugural Giancarlo Teaching Fellow and received the Distinguished Teaching Award, the campus’s most prestigious honor for teaching.

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Why the Common Good Disappeared — And How We Get It Back

10/12/18 1 p.m.2 p.m.  

Professor Robert B. Reich ignites a discussion of the good we have had in common, what happened to it, and what we might do to restore it. His goal is not that we all agree on the common good. It is that we get into the habit of thinking and talking about it, listening to each other’s views, and providing a means for people with opposing views to debate these questions civilly.

Special seating will be reserved for members of the Class of 1968 in honor of their 50th reunion.

Speaker(s): 
Robert B. Reich
Professor, Public Policy

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor’s Professor and Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy. He is also a senior fellow at both the Goldman School’s Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement — founded by the Class of ’68 — and Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies.

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1968 and the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement
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Antibranding and Other Forms of Semiotic Disobedience

10/12/18 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

In contemporary society, it could be argued that the production of popular culture rests on the pervasive presence of corporate sponsorship throughout many aspects of public and private life; less familiar, and even more important, are the ways in which our legal system has allowed advertising to become a large part of our everyday language. Today, aided by the power of digital media, thousands of artists, activists, and ordinary citizens across the world — and on the internet — routinely reverse the power of advertising, transforming ads and logos into a global conversation between corporation and consumer. This talk investigates how artists transform — and successfully subvert — the power of advertising and how the law has both enabled and silenced their work.

Speaker(s): 
Sonia Katyal
Chancellor's Professor of Law; Co-Director, Berkeley Center for Law and Technology

Sonia Katyal’s scholarly work focuses on the intersection of technology, intellectual property, and civil rights (including anti-discrimination issues, privacy, and freedom of speech). Her past projects have studied the relationship between informational privacy and copyright enforcement, the impact of branding on activism, and the intersection between technology and gender. Katyal is the co-author of the book Property Outlaws, examining the intersection between property, innovation, and civil disobedience.

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1978
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California Greenin': How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader

10/12/18 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

Throughout its history, California has been the nation’s environmental leader, protecting nature and the wilderness, regulating coastal development, adopting the nation’s first automotive emissions and energy efficiency standards, and most recently in enacting the country’s most ambitious efforts to address the risks of global climate change. It has now become the leader of state opposition to the regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Vogel’s presentation will illustrate the geographical, political, and economic reasons for California’s long green leadership and explain why its extensive environmental regulations have often been supported by business and benefited the state’s economy — now the fifth largest in the world.

Speaker(s): 
David Vogel
Professor Emeritus, Haas School of Business and Political Science

David Vogel is professor emeritus in the Haas School of Business and the department of political science and Solomon P. Lee Professor Emeritus of Business Ethics. His several books include The Politics of Precaution, The Market for Virtue, and Trading Up: Consumer and Environmental Regulation in a Global Economy. He has received a career achievement award from the American Political Science Association for his research on environmental regulation and a Faculty Pioneer Award for lifetime achievement in business and society from the Aspen Institute. Vogel taught at the Haas School for more than four decades and, since 1982, has served as the editor of the Haas School’s management journal, The California Management Review.

Sponsored by: 
Haas School of Business
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Logging in with Your Thoughts?

10/12/18 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

We can log in today with a password, fingerprint, or our face. Is it possible for us to log in by simply thinking a thought? Researchers at the BioSENSE Lab in the School of Information have been building and testing brainwave-based authentication systems that leverage emerging consumer brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies. Learn how these systems can support one-step multi-factor authentication and reflect on potential shifts in our attitudes toward identity and authentication in this era of ubiquitous biosensors.

Speaker(s): 
John Chuang
Professor, School of Information

John Chuang is director of the BioSENSE Lab, with research interests in bio-sensory computing applications, security, and privacy. His recent and ongoing projects include: passthoughts authentication, brain-computer interfaces using in-ear electroencephalography, privacy and research ethics of remote biosensing platforms, and interrogating user beliefs and attitudes on ubiquitous sensing technologies.

Sponsored by: 
Class of 2013
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Science of Happiness: Insights and Practices During a Complex Time

10/12/18 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

This talk will detail the latest evolution and neuroscience of human happiness. We will focus on scientific findings and practices related to compassion, gratitude, awe, empathy, and mindfulness. We will also consider how this knowledge can be applied to better our world during this era of inequality, mass incarceration, and disturbing political trends.

Speaker(s): 
Dacher Keltner
Thomas and Ruth Ann Hornaday Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director, Greater Good Science Center

Dacher Keltner’s research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, and beauty, and power, social class, and inequality. He is the author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, The Compassionate Instinct, and The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence. Keltner has published over 200 scientific articles, written for many media outlets, and consulted for the Center for Constitutional Rights (to help end solitary confinement), Google, Facebook, the Sierra Club, and Pixar’s Inside Out. He is also the proud parent of a Cal freshman.

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1998
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Miss Marple to Monarchs: Plant Toxins and Evolution

10/12/18 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

A co-evolutionary arms race has been unfolding for 200 million years that has served as crucible for the diversification of life on Earth. A new case study from Noah Whiteman’s laboratory will be discussed, focusing on toxins made by foxglove and milkweed plants that are no longer effective against the monarch butterflies that feed on them; instead, the butterflies sequester the toxin in their bodies as caterpillars, re-purposing them as weapons against predators. These are the same toxins used as arrow poisons by human hunters and in small doses by physicians to treat congestive heart failure. He will discuss how his team has used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, invented here at UC Berkeley, to help us understand how the drug works in humans with failing hearts and as fuel for evolution in action.

Speaker(s): 
Noah Whiteman
Associate Professor, Integrative Biology

Noah Whiteman is a first-generation college graduate who grew up on a bog in rural, northeastern Minnesota. He completed his dissertation research on endangered Galápagos birds and their parasites, living in the Galápagos Islands for months at a time. He spent three-and-a-half years at Harvard University studying host-parasite interactions as an NIH postdoctoral fellow and then six years as an assistant and associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. In 2016 Whiteman joined the faculty at UC Berkeley, where he teaches evolutionary biology and genomics to undergraduate and graduate students and runs an NIH-funded research laboratory on host-parasite interactions. He recently appeared in the “What Are We?” episode of the series Genius by Stephen Hawking on PBS.

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The Looming Myopia Epidemic and its Clinical Implications

10/12/18 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

Myopia (nearsightedness) describes the condition in which the eye has outgrown its optical power, the consequence being blurred distance vision. This increased elongation of the eye comes at a price — an increased risk of a range of potentially sight-threatening pathologies. The prevalence of myopia is increasing worldwide, with approximately 50 percent of the world’s population projected to be myopic by 2050 and some industrialized East Asian countries already at epidemic levels.

Speaker(s): 
Christine Wildsoet
Professor, Optometry and Vision Science

Christine Wildsoet is a clinician scientist at UC Berkeley where she teaches pharmacology to optometry students and heads a large myopia research group. Their ongoing research is directed at the visual environmental causes of myopia (nearsightedness) and the development of novel treatments to control it. The Australian-born Wildsoet, one of a family of five girls, is very committed to mentoring young scientists, especially women.

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Why Canadians Love Immigration and Americans Aren't So Sure

10/12/18 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

Americans are deeply divided about migration policy and have limited appetite for increasing immigration. In contrast, Canada’s government has increased its immigration targets; the ruling party won in part due to a campaign promise to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees; and citizens largely support these policies. Why do Canadians seem to love immigration while Americans aren’t so sure?

Speaker(s): 
Irene Bloemraad
Professor, Sociology; Thomas Garden Barnes Chair of Canadian Studies; Faculty Director, Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative

Irene Bloemraad’s research examines how immigrants become incorporated into the political and civic life of their adopted countries and the consequences of immigration for politics and understandings of citizenship. Her publications include the book Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada. Her expertise led her to serve, in 2014–15, as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences committee reporting on the integration of immigrants into U.S. society. She believes that excellence in research and teaching should go hand-in-hand and is the proud recipient of multiple Cal teaching and mentorship awards.

Sponsored by: 
Canadian Studies and BIMI
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