Fall fare ranges from politics to video games, technology to tomorrow’s jobs

This fall, UC Berkeley is serving up a host of opportunities to learn from its experts and visitors about everything from India’s caste system and cleanliness campaign, the rise and fall of good jobs in America, information ethics and tech threats, and the Dalai Lama to virtually all things Trump, as well as race, inequality and the role of resistance in America.

To keep up on activities during Free Speech Year, bookmark this page. For additional event details, consult our campus calendar listings. Meanwhile, check below for events that may stand out to you.


California State Treasurer John Chiang will deliver the Michael Nacht Distinguished Lecture in Politics and Public Policy tonight at 6 p.m. in the Alumni House Toll Room. He will explore “The Power of Public Investment: Improving Our Economy, Our Climate and Our Future” and how seemingly mundane financial decisions can impact large-scale change and the quality of life in California.

wind farm in San Gorgonio Pass

California Treasurer talks about the importance of dealing with climate change.

Ever wonder why video gamers get so worked up? Katherine Isbister, a human computer interaction and games researcher at UC Santa Cruz, will speak about “How Games Move Us: Emotional Technology by Design” at noon on Wednesday (Sept. 20) at Sutardja Dai Hall’s Banatao Auditorium. The free program is part of the CITRIS Research Exchange series.

Empire of Cotton: The Global Origins of Capitalism is the title of an award-winning book by Harvard University history professor Sven Becker and also the topic of his talk on Thursday at 2 p.m. in Room 370 of Dwinelle Hall. The New York Times called Becker’s book one of the most important books of 2015.

“The Existential Threat of Big Tech” and tools to combat it will be addressed by Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a fellow at the New America Foundation, during a 6:30 p.m. conversation with Wired editor Nicholas Thompson at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive on Monday, Sept. 25. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The talk is part of Berkeley’s Art, Technology and Culture Colloquium.

The Institute for South Asia Studies hosts a Sept. 27 talk at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues about caste, dignity and Dalit lives in Central Kerala, India, by Stanford anthropologist Sharika Thiranagama. Dalits were once known as the “untouchables” or lower castes in India.

Taking to the podium in Room 112 of Wurster Hall on Thursday, Sept. 28, will be Richard Rothstein, a senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute. He will talk about his new book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America. Rothstein will then join Terner Center for Housing Innovation faculty director Carol Galante to discuss his research on how governments violated the U.S. Constitution by explicitly segregating urban areas.

Disengagement, the third installment in a film trilogy by Amos Gitai will screen at Wurster Hall’s Room 112 on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The 2007 film’s title refers to Israeli policies of withdrawing from Gaza and the destruction of illegal settlements in the region’s disputed areas. Gitai, an architect, will discuss his work with Francesco Spagnolo, curator of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley.

Burma will be the topic of a lecture on Sept. 27 in Room 180 of Doe Library by Maitrii Aung-Thwin, an associate professor of Myanmar/Southeast Asian history at the National University of Singapore.

“Liberalism, War and the Invention of National Security” is the title of a talk at Moses Hall on Sept. 28 by Andrew Preston, a professor of American history at Cambridge University.


Resistance today is the topic of the annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture, set for 8 p.m. on Oct. 8. The talk in the Pauley Ballroom of the ASUC Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union by Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, will be free and open to the public.

Award-winning author and documentary film maker Laleh Khadvi will be the guest of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies on Oct. 4, when she will discuss her novel, A Good Country, about the progression of a young son of Iranian immigrants from a California surfer dude to a terrorist.

Stephen Engblom, senior vice president and global director of AECOM Cities, which boasts a “whole-systems approach to better prioritize projects, plan ahead, protect vulnerable assets and provide sustainable growth,” will address the timely topic of making cities resilient on Oct. 6 for a Department of Architecture lecture at Wurster Hall.

Constitution Day will be observed on campus in various ways, including a discussion by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, about the book he coauthored, “Free Speech on Campus,” at 6 p.m. on Oct. 10, in the Morrison Library, near the north entrance to Doe Library

The 2018 California Gubernatorial Race: An Overview will be addressed by experts assembled by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies at 4 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the IGS Library in Moses Hall. They will consider major policy distinctions between the leading candidates, key campaign issues and how much the national Republican brand may hurt Republican candidates in California.

Arlie Hochschild, a professor of the Graduate School, sociologist and author, will deliver the Bernard Moses Memorial Lecture on Oct. 11 at International House, discussing the preparation and research for her latest book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, and questions about “climbing an empathy wall” to understand others.

Isha Ray and C. Sharada Prasad will talk about a major undertaking in India to boost sanitation.

The Swachh Barat Mission, a massive drive by India’s government to improve sanitation on the country’s streets, roads and infrastructure, is the nation’s biggest cleanliness campaign – with 3 million government employees participating in the effort to construct individual, cluster and community toilets and achieve an “open defecation-free India” by October 2019. UC Berkeley water specialists Isha Ray and C. Sharada Prasad assess the mission’s success in a 5 p.m. talk at Stephens Hall on Oct. 12.

Is NATO obsolete? Ambassador Douglas Lute, former U.S. permanent representative to the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s standing political body, will discuss this question in a talk at Moses Hall, also on Oct. 12.

Synthetic biology and new material systems will be explored by Martyn Dade-Robertson on Oct. 18, when he is the featured lecturer for an architecture lecture series at Wurster Hall. Dade-Robertson heads the United Kingdom-based Synbio.Construction initiative, which aims “to create new living building technologies which are responsive, intelligent and self-constructing.”

Making America Small Again? Josef Joffe, editor and publisher of the German newspaper Die Zeit, will explore that question, as well as Donald Trump’s threat to liberal order and the future prospects for American power in a 4 p.m. Oct. 18 talk at the IGS Library in Moses Hall.

Scholar Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman, a renowned authority on Buddhism, will discuss the Dalai Lama when he delivers the inaugural lecture on religion in the modern world, sponsored by the Institute for South Asia Studies and the Vedanta Society Berkeley, on Oct. 18 in Sibley Auditorium. Thurman is a Columbia University professor of Buddhist studies, author of numerous books on Buddhism and a leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism. The program is free and open to the public.

The subject of resistance reappears in an Oct. 19 talk by Darrick Hamilton of The New School, when he discusses “A Bold Plan for Work with Dignity via a Federal Job Guarantee” in the Maude Fife Room at Wheeler Hall. Hamilton, an associate professor of economic and urban policy, contends that movements such as Fight for $15 don’t go far enough, especially for those stigmatized by race, disability or having been incarcerated. His talk is cosponsored by the economics department and UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Register here to reserve a spot.

The aesthetics of information ethics and socially engaged internet art will be the topic of a talk by artist, “hactivist” and cultural critic Paolo Cirio on Oct. 23. Cirio is said to often be subjected to investigations, legal and personal threats by governmental and military authorities, multinationals, global banks, law firms and even crowds of ordinary people due to his artworks, which have unsettled institutions such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, NATO and others. He will be a guest of the Berkeley Center for New Media and the Arts, Technology and Culture Colloquia.

What will work look like in the future? Annette Bernhardt, director of the Low-wage Work Program at the Labor Center (part of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment) will share her thoughts on the question in a noon talk on Oct. 25 at IRLE, 2521 Channing Way. Bernhardt’s research on the gig economy has raised interesting questions.

UC Berkeley political scientist Aila Matanock will discuss her new book, Electing Peace, in an Oct. 25 talk at Moses Hall. The book presents Matanock’s theory explaining the causes and consequences of civil conflict settlement provisions that let the combatants participate as political parties in post-conflict elections. She will be the guest of the Center for Latin American Studies.

“Conversations on the Small Screen: Talking over Social Media” will be the subject of an Oct. 25 talk at International House by linguist Deborah Tannen of Georgetown University. The Charles M. and Martha Hitchcock Lecture will examine how social media is changing relationships and amplifying risks as well as benefits of voice-to-voice conversations. The event will be free and open to the public.


Author Rosa Brooks.

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything is the subject of a Nov. 2 talk at Moses Hall by Rosa Brooks and is the title of a book by Brooks, a journalist, Georgetown University law professor, daughter of left-wing anti-war activists and the wife of a U.S. Army Special Forces officer. She will be the guest of the Institute of International Studies.

Jobs is always a hot topic and a talk by Rick Wartzman, director of the K.H. Moon Center for a Functioning Society at the Drucker Institute, should draw a crowd with his address on “The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America” at 4 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Advance registration is recommended.

A day-long conference at UC Berkeley’s School of Law on Nov. 3 will explore the meaning of federalism today and what rules and principles might guide federal policy moving forward. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Catil-Sakauye will deliver the keynote address.

Michael Rock’s talk at BAMPFA on Nov. 6 about architecture and design should provoke conversation. “Design solidifies, and naturalizes, things that start off as opinions, stories and traditions and so supplies the form to the fictions by which we live,” says Rock. “But while we tend to think that design exists to serve us, the reverse is true: Once established, it’s almost impossible to think outside the systems and structures we create to frame our lives.”  Rock is a founding partner and creative director 2×4 Inc., a multi-disciplinary design studio in New York City, and directs the Graphic Architecture Project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

The California Policy Lab is hosting a Nov. 7 conference on “Breaking the Cycle” to share lessons learned by the state’s cities and counties in identifying and dealing with the Californians who are frequent users of government services in hospitals, jails, shelters and elsewhere. Some current efforts focus on holistic health care, while others are testing new diversion options or trying out housing-first models.

California’s governor’s race and its new electorate will be the subject of a conversation hosted by IGS at the IGS Library in Moses Hall at 4 p.m. on Nov. 8.

The prize-winning journalist, novelist, playwright and New Yorker writer George Packer will come to International House on Nov. 15 to deliver the Jefferson Memorial Lecture on the American identity in the age of Trump. A Bay Area native, Packer suggests that no current narratives of national identity point to a way out and he considers other ways to think of being American.

“The New Nationalism and Universities: Global Perspectives on Politics and Policy and the Future of Higher Education” will be examined in a Nov. 16-17 conference organized by the Center for Studies in Higher Education based at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Specific topics will include understanding Brexit; American universities in the Trump age; populism and student movements; Russian universities in the age of Putin; China’s universities; the future of European higher education; and rising forms of nationalism.

Josh Kun reports that The California Pioneers music cover depicts two rifle-holding explorers, , mountains, wilderness and pine trees on the cover. Published in 1852, it claimed to be the first piece of music published in California. (Image coutesy of the Public Knowledge project.)

San Francisco’s gentrification as revealed through music will be the subject of a Nov. 20 presentation titled Hit Parade: Music as Public Knowledge. Josh Kun, a University of Southern California professor of communication, American Studies and ethnicity, looks at how popular music can help tell the stories of displacement in the Western Addition, Bayview Hunters Point and Mission District.

His research is part of a collaboration between the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and San Francisco Public Library.

Francis Fukuyama, a prolific writer about international politics and development, will talk about state-building and political development in U.S. foreign policy in an address on Nov. 30 at Alumni House. Fukuyama’s most recent book was Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy (2014).