From Legendary Pianist to ‘Serial’: Star-Studded 2015-16 University Lectures Season
The upcoming season of the University Lectures features a stellar lineup of speakers over seven events hosted by Syracuse University during fall 2015 and spring 2016. All lectures take place in Hendricks Chapel and are free and open to the public. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Real Time (CART) are available at each event.
Appearing in the series’ 15th season are: internationally renowned pianist Leon Fleisher; authors Cheryl Strayed (“Wild,” “Tiny Beautiful Things”) and Mary Roach (“Gulp,” “Packing for Mars”); New York Times columnists Charles Blow and Ross Douthat; author and social/climate activist Naomi Klein; social scientist Dacher Keltner; and the creators and executive producers of the hit podcast “Serial,” Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder.
The University Lectures has a long and distinguished history of showcasing individuals of exceptional accomplishment who share their talents, experiences and perspectives for the enjoyment of Syracuse University students, faculty and staff, and the Central New York community.
The 2015-16 speakers are:
“An Evening with Leon Fleisher”
Tuesday, Sept. 29
Fleisher is a legendary pianist who began playing at age 4, at which time his parents pulled him from school, opting for private tutoring to allow more practice time (“I’ve long thought of entitling my biography ‘I Was a Kindergarten Dropout,’” he jokes.). Fleisher’s most recent recording, 2014’s “All the Things You Are,” reached No. 1 on the classical charts and earned a 2015 Grammy nomination. The subject of the 2006 Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentary “Two Hands,” Fleisher is also an inspiring conductor, who is leading orchestras in China and Japan in fall 2015. For the University Lectures, he will perform a selection or two from his vast repertoire and then engage in a moderated conversation with Ralph Zito, chair of SU’s Department of Drama. Sponsored in cooperation with the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
“A Wild Life”
Wednesday, Oct. 7
SU alumna Strayed (M.F.A. in fiction writing in 2002) is best known for “Tiny Beautiful Things,” her 2012 collection of letters from her “Dear Sugar” advice column, and for the No. 1 New York Times best-selling memoir “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” recounting her remarkable 1,100-mile solo hike, at age 22, from Southern California to Washington State following the death of her mother from cancer and the end of her own young marriage. The book became the basis for the feature film “Wild,” which earned 2015 Academy Award nominations for Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress, as Strayed) and Laura Dern (Best Supporting Actress, as Strayed’s mother). In her campus appearance, Strayed will speak about her writings and the power of memoir. Sponsored in cooperation with The College of Arts and Sciences.
Charles Blow and Ross Douthat
“Social Inequality: the How, Why and What to Do?”
Tuesday, Oct. 13
Blow is the visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times—with a weekly column from a liberal perspective covering politics, public opinion and justice appearing every Saturday—as well as a regular contributor to CNN. Author and influential blogger Douthat is the youngest op-ed columnist in the history of the Times; representing a new generation of conservative commentator, he pens vigorous and penetrating analyses of domestic and international politics and government. For the University Lectures, the two newspaper colleagues and friends will take part in what promises to be a captivating discussion and sharing of perspectives on the topic of social inequality, moderated by SU alumnus and current SU Law student Jesse Feitel ’13. Sponsored in cooperation with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the LGBT Resource Center, University College, the Intergroup Dialogue Program, the School of Education and Syracuse Symposium.
“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”
Tuesday, Nov. 3
Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the 2007 New York Times and No. 1 international bestseller “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” In her most recent book, 2014’s “This Changes Everything,” Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. The climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy and remake our political systems. In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. Sponsored in cooperation with the LGBT Resource Center and Syracuse Symposium.
“Survival of the Kindest: Toward a Compassionate Society”
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
From examining how we negotiate moral concerns to exploring the determinants of power and status, Keltner looks at the social practices by which we navigate the world. Keltner is director of the Social Interaction Lab at the University of California at Berkeley and faculty director of the Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. The podcasts of his course “Emotion” have been hailed by WIRED magazine as one of the five best educational downloads. In his University Lecture, he will detail the evolution and neurophysiology of compassion and kindness, and focus on five practices that elevate compassion—and in so doing increase life expectancy and well-being. He will also discuss the brand new science of awe and beauty, tracing its evolutionary roots. Sponsored in cooperation with the Intergroup Dialogue Program and the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.
“Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal”
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
In her latest rollicking foray into taboo, icky and underappreciated aspects of the human body, 2013’s “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal,” Roach takes readers on a wild ride down the alimentary canal and zips off in whatever direction her ardor for research and irrepressible instinct for the wonderfully weird lead her. It’s the latest in a long line of New York Times bestsellers that includes “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” (2010), “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” (2008) and “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife” (2005). Her approach is grounded in science, but with a fascination with what we may find disgusting and the horrifying things we do to ourselves. For her University Lectures appearance, Roach will share the stage with SU biology professor Sandra Hewett for an informal conversational dialogue. Sponsored in cooperation with the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the College of Engineering & Computer Science.
Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder
“Binge-Worthy Journalism: Backstage with the Creators of ‘Serial’”
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
“Serial” is widely credited with re-energizing the concept of podcasting. Following its debut in October 2014, “Serial” became the fastest podcast in iTunes history to reach five million downloads (and now more than 75 million). At a time when being first and being fast dominates the media, and quick sound bites are offered at every turn, veteran radio journalists and producers Koenig—named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2015—and Snyder did exactly the opposite: presenting a 12-part series centering on one legal case, taking its time and proving that slow-motion journalism could captivate and sustain a vast listenership. In their lecture, the duo will offer personal behind-the-scenes stories, explain how they constructed certain episodes and allow the audience to follow the ups and downs of creating a new form of modern journalism. Sponsored in cooperation with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the LGBT Resource Center, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Criminal Law Society of the College of Law and the College of Engineering & Computer Science.
About the University Lectures
The University Lectures is a cross-disciplinary lecture series that brings to Syracuse University individuals of exceptional accomplishment. The series is supported by the generosity of Honorary Trustee Robert B. Menschel ’51.
Among the more than 100 distinguished speakers who have appeared previously in the series are: Nobel Peace Prize recipients Al Gore, Betty Williams and Jody Williams; authors Khaled Hosseini, David McCullough, P.J. O’Rourke and Salman Rushdie; Pulitzer Prize winners William Safire and Nicholas Kristof; scientists Robert Ballard, Richard Leakey and Neil deGrasse Tyson; former U.S. Senators George Mitchell and George McGovern; radio personalities Ira Glass, Garrison Keillor, Scott Simon and Juan Williams; opera superstar Denyce Graves; sculptor Maya Lin; violinist Joshua Bell; conductor James Conlon; playwright August Wilson; Nobel Laureate in Literature Seamus Heaney; corporate leaders Barry Diller and John Hendricks; activists Morris Dees, Marian Wright Edelman and Wilma Mankiller; U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher; photographers Annie Leibovitz and Annie Griffiths; and environmental advocates Majora Carter and Bill McKibben.
The Office of University Lectures welcomes suggestions for future speakers. To recommend a speaker, or to obtain additional information about the University Lectures series, contact Esther Gray in the Office of Academic Affairs at 315-443-2941 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found online at the series’ website (http://lectures.syr.edu/) and Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/universitylectures).