Are you tired of spending your evenings browsing the same few selections on Netflix? If you’re struggling to find something to do while cooped up in your dorm—look no further! Syracuse University offers a multitude of FREE lecture series that cover everything from art, to inclusivity, to health and wellness and beyond. All you need to do is register for a Zoom link, and you’ve got a plan for your evening. No matter your interests, there is a lecture for you! We’ve broken down your options into 5 categories: Arts, Health and Wellness, Politics, Diversity and Inclusion and General Interest.


The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) hosts their Visiting Artist Lecture Series (VALS) every Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The lectures cover a variety of different art forms, featuring painters, sculptors, filmmakers, etc. Past featured artists include award-winning, New York-based artist Saya Woolfalk and ground-breaking Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Previous Visiting Artist Lectures are available to view on the Syracuse University Art Museum YouTube channel. Find more information and upcoming artists on the Syracuse University Community Calendar.

If COVID restrictions have you missing live music, log on for the live-streamed Setnor Student Recital series. Support the Setnor School of Music students as they perform voice, guitar, piano and more! Find the schedule of events on the Syracuse University Community Calendar.

Information about all VPA lectures can be found on the VPA events calendar.

Health and Wellness

The Wellness Leadership Institute hosts workshops that cover a breadth of topics under the Health and Wellness umbrella. This year’s topics include: “Time Management,” “Nutritional Impact on Mental Health,” “Let’s Talk About Relationships and ‘Situationships’” and more!

A special offering from the Wellness Leadership Institute is the SoulTalk series, a weekly deep-dive and conversation into life’s major questions and obstacles. Topics for those include perfectionism, gratitude, vulnerability and more. SoulTalk is hosted on Zoom every Thursday from 7-8 p.m. Find more information on the Syracuse University Community Calendar.

Bonus: if you attend enough Wellness Leadership Institute workshops, you receive a graduation medallion and certificate! Find more information on the Barnes Center at The Arch website.


The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs hosts a “Conversations in Conflict Studies” lecture series that is sponsored by their Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC). Every lecture falls under the umbrella of “Conflict Studies,” with subjects like proactive peace; the role of beauty in society and politics; the politics of sports; the death of civility and so on. The lectures are given by faculty, activists, scholars and Ph.D. students. All lectures are recorded and available on the Maxwell School YouTube channel. For more information on upcoming and past lectures, check out the PARCC lecture series homepage.

Diversity and Inclusivity

Every year, the Syracuse Humanities Center hosts Syracuse Symposium, a series of lectures, workshops and performances centered under a theme. This year’s theme is “Futures,” examining what the future could look like from a diverse set of genres and perspectives. Upcoming events include a lecture and workshop with University of Buffalo Lakota scholar Hilary Weaver, and a public reading and Q&A with poet Philip Metres. Find the list of events and more information on the Syracuse University Humanities Center website.

New this year is the Let’s Talk Series. Let’s Talk is a great opportunity to discuss the things that matter to you and to learn more about the experiences of others in the Syracuse community on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. If you’re passionate about social justice and looking to meet like-minded people, this series is a great option for you. Find more info on the Enrollment and Student Experience website.

General Interest

The University Lectures series gives you the chance to listen to and ask questions of industry leaders and celebrity speakers. A lecture by alumni and interior designer Thom Filicia ‘04 of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” fame is still upcoming. This lecture is highly recommended for any fans of HGTV or shows like Netflix’s “Selling Sunset.” This presentation is also in collaboration with LGBTQ+ History Month! Find more info on the Syracuse University Lectures website.

Whether you engage in a Let’s Talk discussion, or attend a Setnor Student Recital, taking advantage of these free series will make you the most interesting person at your next party (post-COVID, of course). Have fun exploring all that Syracuse has to offer!

Cecelia Kersten ’23, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications