Upcoming Fridays with Faculty Events

2021-2022 Sessions


Fall 2021 Guests

Fri Sep 17 - Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
Fri Oct 1 - TBA
Fri Oct 15 - Mahzarin Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Fri Oct 22 - Richard Fallon, Story Professor of Law, Harvard Law School 
Fri Nov 12 - Marshall Ganz, Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society, Harvard Kennedy School
Fri Dec 3 - TBA

Past Sessions


Spring 2021 Guests

Fri Jan 29 - Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor, Harvard University; Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
Fri Feb 26 - Joe Blitzstein, Professor of the Practice in Statistics, Harvard University
Fri Mar 12 - Rhonda Bondie, Director of Professional Learning and Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Edcuation
Fri Mar 26 - Sandra Smith, Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice, Harvard Kennedy School; Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor, Radcliffe Institute

Pre-2021 Guests

Prof. Katia BertoldiFriday, November 13, 2020


Katia Bertoldi


William and Ami Kuan Danoff Professor of Applied Mechanics, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences | National Science Foundation Career Award Recipient | ASME Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award Winner
Areas of Expertise: Design inspired by principles in materials science, mechanics of materials and structures

Katia Bertoldi is the William and Ami Kuan Danoff Professor of Applied Mechanics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She earned master degrees from Trento University (Italy) in 2002 and from Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) in 2003, majoring in Structural Engineering Mechanics. Upon earning a Ph.D. degree in Mechanics of Materials and Structures from Trento University, in 2006, Katia joined as a PostDoc the group of Mary Boyce at MIT. In 2008 she moved to the University of Twente (the Netherlands) where she was an Assistant Professor in the faculty of Engineering Technology. In January 2010 Katia joined the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University and established a group studying the mechanics of materials and structures. She is the recipient of the NSF Career Award 2011 and of the ASME's 2014 Hughes Young Investigator Award. She serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters. She published over 120 peer-reviewed papers and several patents. For a complete list of publication and research information: https://bertoldi.seas.harvard.edu/.

Dr Bertoldi’s research contributes to the design of materials with a carefully designed meso-structure that leads to novel effective behavior at the macroscale. She investigates both mechanical and acoustic properties of such structured materials, with a particular focus on harnessing instabilities and strong geometric non-linearities to generate new modes of functionality. Since the properties of the designed architected materials are primarily governed by the geometry of the structure (as opposed to constitutive ingredients at the material level), the principles she discovers are universal and can be applied to systems over a wide range of length scales.



Prof. Randall KennedyFriday, October 30, 2020


Randall Kennedy


Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School | Member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States | Trustee Emeritus of Princeton University
Areas of Expertise: Contract law, intersection of race and law, civil rights and liberties, the U.S. Supreme Court
Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States. A member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, Professor Kennedy is also a Trustee emeritus of Princeton University. His areas of interest include contracts, race and the law, civil rights and civil liberties, constitutional law, and the U.S. Supreme Court.



Prof. Diana EckFriday, October 2, 2020


Diana Eck


Professor of Comparative Religion and South Asian Studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Divinity School | Founder and Director of The Pluralism Project
Areas of Expertise: Religious pluralism in a multi-religious society, popular religion in India
Diana Eck is a Professor of Comparative Religion in the Religion Department and the South Asian Studies Department. She teaches courses on South Asia as well as a General Education course in Civics and Ethics called “Pluralism: Case Studies in American Diversity.” Her research project, The Pluralism Project, studies the multi-religious landscape of the U.S., especially in the past 50 years of renewed immigration. For twenty years, she and her wife, Dorothy Austin, were faculty deans of Lowell House.



Prof. Latanya SweeneyFriday, September 18, 2020


Latanya Sweeney


Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences | Former Chief Technology Officer, Federal Trade Commission | Director and Founder of the Data Privacy Lab
Areas of Expertise: Data privacy, algorithmic fairness, leveraging technology to address societal, political, and governance problems
Latanya Sweeney is Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology at the Harvard Kennedy School and in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Editor-in-Chief of Technology Science, director and founder of the Data Privacy Lab, former Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science, Technology and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.
Professor Sweeney has 3 patents, more than 100 academic publications, pioneered the field known as data privacy, launched the emerging area known as algorithmic fairness, and her work is explicitly cited in two U.S. regulations, including the U.S. federal medical privacy regulation (known as HIPAA). She is a recipient of the prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Privacy Award, the American Psychiatric Association's Privacy Advocacy Award, an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, and has testified before government bodies worldwide.
She earned her PhD in computer science from MIT in 2001, being the first black woman to do so, and her undergraduate degree in computer science from Harvard University. Dr. Sweeney creates and uses technology to assess and solve societal, political and governance problems, and teaches others how to do the same.



Faculty Dean David DemingFriday, September 11, 2020


David Deming


Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy | Professor of Public Policy, HKS | Professor of Education and Economics, HGSE | Faculty Dean of Kirkland House
Areas of Expertise: Social policy, higher education, economic inequality, influence of technology on the labor market
David Deming is a Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Since July 1st 2020, he has also been the Faculty Dean of Kirkland House at Harvard College.
His research focuses on higher education, economic inequality, skills, technology and the future of the labor market. He currently serves as a coeditor at the AEJ: Applied, and he is a Principal Investigator (along with Raj Chetty and John Friedman) at the CLIMB Initiative, an organization that seeks to study and improve the role of higher education in social mobility. Professor Deming recently won the David N. Kershaw Prize, which is awarded biannually to scholars who have made distinguished contributions to the field of public policy and management under the age of 40. He writes a semi-regular column for the New York Times Economic View.



Prof. Justin RoseFriday December 6, 2019

Justin Rose

Administrative Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School | Scholar-in-Residence, Kirkland House | Associate Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Becoming a Drum Major for Justice

Justin Rose is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and is currently an Administrative Fellow within the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Harvard Kennedy School and a Scholar-in-Residence at Kirkland House.

His The Drum Major Instinct: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Theory of Political Service, published earlier this year, "explores how Martin Luther King Jr. transformed the Christian notion of service into a politically salient concept."

Professor Rose has published in Black Perspectives and Contemporary Political Thoughtand has taught courses including: Higher Education Under Fire (featured here); The Politics of Higher Education; Urban Politics and Education (co-taught); Urban Politics; Racial and Ethnic Politics; African American Political Thought; Black Radical Political Thought of the 1960s; Race and Social Justice; Contemporary American Cities: The Wire (co-taught); Introduction to Africana Studies; and Introduction to American Politics. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, M.A. from Baylor University, and B.A. from Rutgers University – New Brunswick; from 2012-2013, he was Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science and Africana Studies at Muhlenberg College​.

At Harvard, Professor Rose is continuing his work on higher education and its intersections with race, politics, and civic participation. Having spoken widely on higher education and served on and led university committees on curricula (Africana Studies Program); student life (Diversity Equity and Social Justice; Bias Incident Response; Counseling Center Advisory Board; Academic Affairs); admissions and retention; and faculty, executive, and presidential hiring; Professor Rose is spending his sabbatical year as a fellow within Harvard's university administration.


Prof. Scott KominersFriday November 15, 2019

Scott Kominers, MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration, Entrepreneurial Management Unit, Harvard Business School and Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Department of Economics

I graduated from Harvard (and KIRKLAND HOUSE) summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Mathematics (with a minor in Ethnomusicology) in Spring 2009. I then completed my PhD in Business Economics at Harvard University in Spring 2011, with the dissertation "Matching Models of Markets." From 2013-2017, I was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. In Spring 2016, I was also a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School. From 2011-2013, I was the inaugural Research Scholar at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.

I study the design of markets and marketplaces, and teach Economics 2099 ("Market Design") and HBS-EC-1764 ("Making Markets"). I also periodically write for Bloomberg Opinion.



Friday NovembeDr. Andrew Berryr 1, 2019

Andrew Berry, Assistant Head Tutor of Integrative Biology and Lecturer on Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

What if the Beagle had Sunk?

With an undergraduate degree in zoology from Oxford and a PhD in evolutionary genetics from Princeton, Andrew Berry originally came to Cambridge MA as a Harvard Junior Fellow. He is currently an Assistant Head Tutor of Integrative Biology and Lecturer on Organismic & Evolutionary Biology here at Harvard. Professor Berry researches and writes on topics in Evolutionary Biology and the History of Science, publishing and presenting for specialist and wider audiences alike.

Interested in genetic and statistical approaches to detecting adaptive evolution (instances of positive natural selection) in genomes, he is especially fascinated by islands because they are so often home to remarkable evolutionary innovations. In the History of Science, Professor Berry is interested in the role of natural history in the development of evolutionary thinking. Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer with Darwin of evolution by natural selection, is a special interest of his.

At Harvard, Professor Berry teaches six courses: What is Life? (GENED 1029, with Logan McCarty), Evolutionary Biology (OEB 53), Understanding Darwinism (GENED 1004, with Janet Browne), Genetics, Genomics & Evolution (LS 1b, with Hopi Hoekstra & Pardis Sabeti), as well as the Darwin in Oxford Harvard Summer Program (Bio 112, 113). At Sabanci University in Istabul, Professor Berry teaches Evolution & Ecology (NS 102) each year. Central to Professor Berry's teaching is exploring with students and readers sites of historical significance to the evolution story. 


Friday October 25, 2019Prof. Diane Rosenfeld

Diane L. Rosenfeld, Lecturer on Law and Director, Gender Violence Program, Harvard Law School

Creating Cultures of Sexual Respect on Campus

Diane L. Rosenfeld is a Lecturer on Law and the founding Director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School where she teaches courses on Title IX, Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice, and Theories of Sexual Coercion. Additionally, she works with her students to develop innovative prevention strategies through the Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop. Her primary areas of focus are the prevention of and response to campus sexual assault, prevention of intimate partner homicide, and eliminating the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls.

A leading national expert on Title IX, Ms. Rosenfeld has advised the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. She has worked with students across the country on Title IX issues, as well as advised schools on the development and implementation of best practices for eradicating sexual assault. Ms. Rosenfeld is featured in two recent documentaries on campus sexual assault: The Hunting Ground and It Happened Here.

In the area of preventing intimate partner homicide, Rosenfeld has worked to change the paradigm on addressing such violence. She has promoted the use of GPS monitoring for high-risk offenders in conjunction with the “High Risk Team Case Model” that is being used as a national model for effective response. She has worked with several state legislatures and advocacy groups to promote a vision that promotes victim safety and offender accountability.

Prior to her appointment at Harvard in 2004, Ms. Rosenfeld served as the Senior Counsel to the Office on Violence Against Women of the U.S. Department of Justice. She also served as an Executive Assistant Attorney General in Illinois where she developed legal policy on women’s advocacy, environmental protection, and the ethics of government attorneys.

A frequent public speaker, Ms. Rosenfeld has appeared in national and local media including ABC’s “Nightline,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and the “Diane Rehm Show;” the Katie Couric Show, and featured in the New York Times, the Boston Globe and other national news publications. Her works have been published in the Harvard Law Review Forum, Harvard University Press and Yale University Press, among others.

The recipient of awards for her teaching and bold leadership on gender equality, she received the “Ms. JD Woman of Inspiration” award, and was included as a visionary in How We’ll Win in Quartz magazine.


Prof. Stephen GreenblattThursday October 10, 2019

Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Dept. of English, Harvard University

Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of fourteen books, including Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics; The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve; The Swerve: How the World Became Modern; Shakespeare's Freedom; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Marvelous Possessions; and Renaissance Self-Fashioning. He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, has edited seven collections of criticism, and is a founding editor of the journal Representations. His honors include the 2016 Holberg Prize from the Norwegian Parliament, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the 2011 National Book Award for The Swerve, MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize (twice), Harvard University’s Cabot Fellowship, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation, Yale’s Wilbur Cross Medal, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Erasmus Institute Prize, two Guggenheim Fellowships and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California, Berkeley. Among his named lecture series are the Adorno Lectures in Frankfurt, the University Lectures at Princeton, and the Clarendon Lectures at Oxford, and he has held visiting professorships at universities in Beijing, Kyoto, London, Paris, Florence, Torino, Trieste, and Bologna, as well as the Renaissance residency at the American Academy in Rome. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and a long-term fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. He has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Philosophical Society, and the Italian literary academy Accademia degli Arcadi.


ecFriday April 12, 2019

Eleanor Craig, Lecturer, Administrator and Program Director, The Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights, Harvard University

Legal Violence, Race, and Rights

The Laws of Burgos of 1512-13 are often cited as an early, even the first, human rights document. The Laws are explicitly concerned with the spiritual salvation of indigenous persons on the island the Spanish named Hispaniola (present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti). Making use of overlapping Christian and humanist universalisms, they set supposed limits to permitted violence. Yet they also sanction a wide range of repressive and oppressive actions, integrating justifications for violence into religious philosophies of salvation and the soul. I argue that the Laws' shortcomings in granting human rights and humane treatment were not a gap between theory and practice, but built into their internal logic. I look forward to discussing with the group the questions this raises about discourses of rights and their relationship to struggles for justice.

bbbFriday March 29, 2019

Anya Bernstein Bassett, Senior Lecturer and Director of Studies, Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, Harvard University

Living Ethically in an Unequal World

Income and wealth inequality in the United States are at their highest levels in nearly a century. A lot of public discussion has focused on the excesses of the super-rich “1%” but recently, scholars have begun to focus on differences between the top 20% and the bottom 80%. Scholars like Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill from the Brookings Institution explain that members of the top 20% live increasingly separate lives from the bottom 80%: separate economically, as the two groups do different kinds of jobs and have different work experiences; separate physically, as the two groups live in different neighborhoods and go to different schools; and separate culturally, as the two groups often engage in different patterns of family formation, raise their children differently, and have different levels of civic engagement. 

As a soon-to-be-graduate of Harvard College, you are likely to end up in the top 20% of the income and wealth distribution. My current research involves studying the personal and ethical commitments that young people (college and after) are making as they determine how they will live in the world we are in. At this lunch, I will describe the relationship between inequality and social division in the United States and discuss some ideas about how members of the top 20% can help reduce inequality. I will also discuss research on how young people think about the commitments they are making, to a vocation, a cause, a community, and in individual relationships.

I want to make it clear that while I am posing challenges as I enter this conversation, I don’t have answers to these challenges. Instead, I am interested in hearing what you, as Harvard students, are thinking about as you imagine the commitments you will make after you graduate from college.


nhillFriday March 8, 2019

Charles Bigelow Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Sense of Purpose, Perceptions of the Economy, and Education: How and Why Familial and School-Based Relationships Matter

Whereas most youth can describe their career or educational goals, do they really know and understand their purpose?  Do they really understand what they were meant to do?  Do they understand how their talents and interests map onto real and meaningful life goals?  Can they imagine and plan for a meaningful future?  To what extent are youths’ goals tempered or sharpened by their perceptions of the economy?  That is, do they cling to “safe goals” when they feel daunted by the scarcity of jobs or the instability of the job market or do they “double-down” and work smarter?  What role do teachers and families have in helping youth cultivate their goals and ideas about the future and navigate educational opportunities?  As a developmental psychologist focused on adolescent development and parenting across race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, Professor Hill addresses these questions in the context of research-practice partnerships with local school districts.  She will discuss her recent research on these topics and how the findings lead to programs to support youth and families.

nbFriday March 1, 2019

Nikolas Bowie, Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Why the Constitution Was Written Down

A funny thing about the U.S. Constitution is that it’s written down. Words might seem like an obvious feature of any constitution, but they're notably missing from much of the constitution of Great Britain, the country from which the United States seceded. Historians have often assumed that the quirky American practice of putting constitutions into single documents has its origins in the corporate charters of the seventeenth-century trading companies that founded more than half of the thirteen original states. But, as historian Mary Bilder has written, it is surprisingly difficult to explain the change from corporate charter to modern constitution with precision and persuasive power.

I’ve recently written an Article that does just that, telling the story of an eighty-year lawsuit that forced the Massachusetts Bay Company to treat its charter’s terms as Gospel. Relying on original research of thousands of primary sources from the United States and United Kingdom spanning from 1607 through 1793, I presented an account of how a corporate charter evolved into a “Charter Constitution” in America while the British Constitution remained intangible.

The Article also demonstrates how important unwritten sources have long been in interpreting a constitution’s text. Unwritten sources continue to drive modern constitutional debates today; President Trump’s travel ban, his declaration of national emergency, and whether the president can be indicted all turn on questions that cannot be answered with the text of the U.S. Constitution alone. 

hammondsFriday April 19, 2019

Evelynn M. Hammonds: Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science, Professor of African and African American Studies; Chair, Department of the History of Science; Director of the Project on Race & Gender in Science & Medicine at the Hutchins Center for African And African American Research, Harvard University

Prof. Hammonds will join us to discuss her work on the the history of race in science and medicine. Her academic biography is below.

Professor Hammonds is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. She is currently chair of the Department of the History of Science and Director of the Project on Race & Gender in Science & Medicine at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard.  Prof. Hammonds was the first Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity at Harvard University (2005-2008).  From 2008-2103 she served as Dean of Harvard College. She holds honorary degrees from Spelman College and Bates College. Professor Hammonds’ areas of research include the histories of science, medicine and public health in the United States; race and gender in science studies; feminist theory and African American history. Her most recent book with Rebecca Herzig is, The Nature of Difference: Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics (2008.) Professor Hammonds’ current work focuses on the intersection of scientific, medical and socio-political concepts of race in the United States. She is a Fellow of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS). Professor Hammonds earned a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University, an S.M. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a B.E.E. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in physics from Spelman College. She served on President Barack Obama’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from 2010-2017 and on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Higher Education for African Americans from 2011-2017.  She was a member of the Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering (CEOSE), the congressionally mandated oversight committee of the National Science Foundation (2009-2014).  In 2017, Prof. Hammonds was appointed to the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine (CWSEM) of the National Academies. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Bates College and the board of the Arcus Foundation. Prof. Hammonds was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2018.


jleporeFriday February 8, 2019

Jill Lepore: David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History, Harvard University

The Rules of Evidence

What is the nature of evidence? How do people working in different fields think about evidence? How do rules of evidence differ in journalism, history, science, and the law? Have rules in these fields, lately, changed? I teach a course on the History of Evidence at the Law School and thought about some of these questions differently while writing my most recent book, These Truths: A History of the United States, and also while working on some recent essays for The New Yorker, including one on the future of journalism. I’m curious to hear how everyone at the lunch has been wading through evidentiary problems lately. I’ll lead a discussion on how we know what we know.


fliermpngFriday February 1, 2019

Michael Flier, Oleksandr Potebnja Professor of Ukrainian Philology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


Even in the humanities, it is perhaps hard to imagine being a professor of a subject as abstruse as Ukrainian philology.  The territory of Ukraine—so long a part of other, larger polities: the Russian Empire, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Ottoman Empire—has enjoyed a continuous period of independence just short of three decades. It is in the news now for its hybrid war with Russia and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.  But Ukraine was hardly a household word when I was growing up. What led me to it? And then there is philology, a field that envisions ancient scholars, poring over ancient texts, puzzling out missing pieces, struggling to find coherence, juxtaposing words from the archaic past with words demonstrating innovation.  Why and how do cultures and their languages change over time?

Serendipity took me away from a career in medicine to a career studying languages and linguistic change among the Slavs.  Despite my grandparents’ East European background—the shtetls of Austrian Galicia, Belarus, and Hungary—it was totally different circumstances that brought me into contact with the realia of my ancestral past: Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, and other Slavic languages and cultures.  A matter of chemistry, actually. More on that later.

Trained as a Slavic linguist at Berkeley, I came upon a specific question that presented itself after a decade of teaching and research at UCLA, an enigma whose solution truly expanded my horizons. Suddenly linguistics led to semiotics (the theory of signs), and still broader avenues of culture: art, architecture, ritual, literature, and history.  The specific question—Why was Russian the only Slavic language that replaced the inherited word for Sunday—nedelja—with the word for resurrection—voskresenie?  This was a rare and remarkable development!  When did it happen, and who was involved? The answers were anything but obvious.  Seeking them became one of the most fascinating experiences of my life, an academic and serendipitous journey I’ll share over lunch.

agrFriday November 30, 2018

Annette Gordon-Reed, Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, Harvard Law School; Professor of History, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Harvard University

Jefferson and The Hemings Family: Writing Lives of the Well-Known and Less Well-Unknown

Biography presents particular challenges, whether the subjects are well known or obscure. What is it like to write about one of the most written about people in history; a person who wrote thousands of letters, and about whom many other people wrote? What is it like to write about a family whose members were only sporadically literate, and whose stories can mainly be found in the records of the people who enslaved them? The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (HOLLIS, Porter Square Books; Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009) was my attempt to tell the story of the Hemings family and their relationship to Thomas Jefferson. In doing so, the story of slavery, the American Revolution, and the early American republic come into view. What does this family story tell us about the history of the United States?


ajuFriday November 2, 2018

Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education

A Discussion of U.S. Adolescents’ Ethnic-Racial Identity in the Current Sociohistorical Context

Young people in the U.S. are growing up in a society that is highly conflicted on issues of race and ethnicity. The voters of our nation elected and re-elected the country’s first biracial African American president, and immediately after elected a presidential candidate who non-apologetically referred to most Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. Ethnic-racial tensions in our current sociohistorical context make issues of race and ethnicity particularly salient to adolescents who happen to be highly engaged in the process of developing an understanding of who they are, who they think they can become, and how they fit into the social worlds that they inhabit. How do adolescents form an understanding of their identity as it relates to their race and ethnicity? Can adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity protect them against risk factors such as ethnic-racial discrimination? If adolescents feel strongly attached and positively about their ethnic-racial group, does that make them feel more negatively toward members of other groups?

Our conversation will center on what the latest research tells us about adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity development, particularly in relation to the questions above. I will also discuss findings from my latest school-based intervention work, which directly targeted adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity development, and look forward to discussing whether an intervention such as the one I developed for high school students would be relevant (and necessary) for university-level students. 

Friday October 26, 2018

cngCatherine H. Nguyen, Lecturer on History and Literature, Harvard University

Sequential Displacement: How Graphic Novels Re/present Immigration

For this Friday with Faculty conversation, I want to think about how the medium, form, and genre of the graphic novel allows for an intimate, varied experience of displacement and immigration with particular attention to Asian and Vietnamese diasporic graphic novels.  Will Eisner defined comics—and by extension graphic novels—as a sequential art, and Scott McCloud bases a more specific definition on Eisner’s sequential art, saying: “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” (Understanding Comics 9).  Graphic novels, in particular, is a form of sequential art that is often associated with its more serious content, its dealing with mature issues.  Given these two starting points of a sequential art and of producing a response, I would like to work through how the graphic novel as a medium, form, and genre provides a rich body on the experience of displacement and experience that involves not only the depiction of such narratives but moreover the pull the graphic novel has in producing an experience of displacement for the viewers/readers themselves.  We will be begin with a brief entry into Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, become immersed in Matt Huynh’s The Boat, and engage with the memory work of G.B. Tran’s Vietnamerica.  I look forward to sharing these graphic novels with you and to our conversations during the Friday with Faculty!

Friday October 19, 2018

sbwebAllston Burr Resident Dean of Kirkland House and Assistant Dean of Harvard College, and a lecturer in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University

Medicine and Conflict: Lessons from the Arab Uprisings

“War is the only proper school for surgeons,” the Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, is quoted to have said. This saying has been used to show how medicine and war have been thought to shape each other throughout human civilization. Indeed, medicine has played a major role in situations of political conflict, ever since human societies engaged in war and started thinking about “the right conduct in war" as a way to “civilize” war and mitigate its scourges.

In this conversation, I would like us to think about the role played by medicine in situations of political conflict, as well as the role played by war and humanitarian crises in the history of medical thought and practice. What are some of the ethical dilemmas faced by biomedicine in situations of political turmoil? How can we think about humanitarian medicine in that context?

Through a focus on the role played by medicine in the recent Arab uprisings, I look forward to examining these questions with you and chatting about my current book manuscript exploring the janus-faced role of doctors and healthcare professionals in situations of political turmoil, both as perpetrators of state violence and as agents of resistance to that violence. 

Friday October 12, 2018

angelaallanAngela S. Allan, Lecturer and Assistant Director of Studies, Committee on Degrees in History & Literature

The Culture of the Culture Wars

What can past and present works of popular culture tell us about shifting social attitudes? Our contemporary moment is filled with headlines that reflect a charged political climate, an eroding faith in public institutions, and a struggle between fundamental beliefs and values. These battles are waged in the courts, the newsroom, and the ballot box, but they are also ingrained in the everyday culture that citizens consume. Historically, these contemporary culture wars can be traced back to the conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s, as Americans struggled with who—or what—would dictate moral authority and social norms. In 2018, however, many of these arguments have turned more explicitly toward questions of cultural cache and representation. Furthermore, campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite and #TimesUp have stressed the close relationship between cultural, social, and political movements. Popular culture is an increasingly politicized sphere for both creation and consumption; I look forward to talking over lunch about the evolution of these historical debates, how they’ve played out on the page and screen, and where they might go from here.


Friday October 5, 2018

priPrineha Narang, Assistant Professor of Computational Materials Science, Harvard University

Building a better world, atom-by-atom, with quantum engineering

Today, we imagine a world where we can engineer materials and devices atom-by-atom. Exciting discoveries during the past few decades in quantum science and technology have brought us to this next step in the quantum revolution: the ability to fabricate, image and measure materials and their properties at the level of single atoms is almost within our grasp. Yet, at the most fundamental level a tractable quantum mechanical description and understanding of these materials does not exist. The physics of quantum materials is rich with spectacular excited-state and nonequilibrium effects, but many of these phenomena remain poorly understood and consequently technologically unexplored. Therefore, my research focuses on understanding  how quantum-engineered materials behave, particularly away from equilibrium, and how we can harness these effects for technologies of the future. I think about these problems from a theoretical and computational standpoint - using a combination of classical and quantum computers. I will discuss the opportunities in and challenges ahead for quantum technologies with Kirkland House during the Fridays with Faculty lunch. Disclaimer: No equations will be derived during this lunch.

Friday September 14, 2018

axelAxel M. Oaks Takacs, Doctoral Candidate in the Study of Religion, Harvard Divinity School

How Do We Embody Idea(l)s? The Dangers of Disembodying the Human

I will explore the more constructive and prescriptive aspects of my dissertation, which aspects endeavor to challenge contemporary ideologies and imaginaries whose successes in organizing behavior depend on the separation of the mind from the body, or the private from the public. This separation fails to account for the ways invisible forces—social structures, ideological systems, social imaginaries, etc.—constrain action and deleteriously impact human bodies. This modern-day dualism not only is an inheritance of the post-Enlightenment reception of Enlightenment thought, but also has its source in the Western tradition as far back as 1st-to-4th-century Christian gnostic movements, which rejected the material world of the flesh for the superior, immaterial world of the mind and spirit, despite the Christian Incarnation. From, inter alia, the perdurance of racist, segregated spaces and communities in America, to wealthy progressive liberals whose beliefs don’t materialize in practice, to the 21st-century transhumanist desire of the wealthy elite and their less wealthy disciples to flee the body in search of security in the virtual world, to Elon Musk’s inordinate energy spent on endeavoring to terraform Mars, to Jeff Bezos’ MARS conference—the engine sustaining all of this is, I argue, a disembodied anthropology of the human and the desire for securing material comfort by fleeing this embodied life of suffering. I will turn to some Christian and Islamic texts that inform my dissertation.







Archived Events from 2017-2018

Friday 13 April

Jonathan Locke Hart, poet, literary scholar and historian.

Between Literature and History

Poetry, philosophy and history are closely connected in the Western tradition. Socrates and Plato spend a good deal of time considering Homer and his epic poetry about the founding myths of ancient Greece and assessing whether philosophy is more universal than poetry and more in keeping with truth and justice and not so given to the abuses of beauty. In Poetics, Aristotle introduces history into this debate but sees it as less universal than philosophy, which he sees as more universal than poetry, although he analyzes genre in poetry, especially tragedy and epic, seriously. Herodotus and Thucydides were early Greek historians, the one being more interested in the ethnological and the mythical, and the other being concerned more with enquiry. The Greeks, then, had important poets, philosophers and historians. The relation between literature and history is thousands of years old and still remains with us and is a concern in many cultures. What is the story in history and the history in story? What is fictional and what is not? The talk will discuss these matters generally but will focus on four examples that come from my work as a historian, 1) literary scholar and poet: representing the New World and the encounter between Europeans and Native Americans; 2) Shakespeare’s history plays; 3) the history of Western expansion from 1415 to the present and the relations with other peoples globally, including the tensions that involve economics, culture, conflict, human rights and other matters; 4) writing poems about the past.

Friday 6 April

MCKavenyM. Cathleen Kaveny, Darald and Juliet Libby Professor, Boston College Law School, and Boston College Department of Theology

Prophecy without Contempt: Religious Discourse in the Public Square

The topic of the discussion will be the role of rhetorical style in public discourse. Does the rhetoric of practical deliberation and policy analysis inevitably lead to alienation and charges of elitism? When does the language of prophetic indictment produce repentance and change, and when does it produce anger and resentment? How do we account for the distinct rhetorical style of Donald Trump? And how do we respond effectively in the age of Twitter?

After studying at Princeton, Prof Kaveny obtained her M.A., M.Phil., J.D., and Ph.D at Yale University, and before her joint appointment at Boston College, she taught for nearly two decades at Notre Dame. She is the first faculty member at BC to hold such a joint appointment. A member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1993, Professor Kaveny clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate at the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray in its health law group. 

Professor Kaveny has published four books and over a hundred articles and essays, in journals and books specializing in law, ethics, and medical ethics. She serves on the masthead of Commonweal as a regular columnist. Her books include Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society(Georgetown University Press, 2012); A Culture of Engagement: Law, Religion, and Morality (Georgetown University Press, 2016); Prophecy without Contempt: Religious Discourse in the Public Square (Harvard University Press, 2016); and Ethics at the Edges of Law: Christian Moralists and American Legal Thought (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Professor Kaveny regularly teaches contract law to first-year law students. She also teaches a number of seminars which explore the relationship between theology, philosophy, and law, such as “Faith, Morality, and Law,” “Mercy and Justice,” and “Complicity.”

Friday 30 March

maryclairedaleMaryclaire Dale, Nieman Fellow, Harvard University: Legal Affairs Reporter for The Associated Press (AP)

Covering Sexual Violence During the #MeToo Era

Nieman Fellow Maryclaire Dale, a legal affairs reporter for The Associated Press, has covered labor strikes in the West Virginia coalfields, a Caribbean murder trial and the sexual assault trials of Catholic priests, a Penn State football coach, and the comedian Bill Cosby. Her work unsealing Cosby’s decade-old testimony in a confidential legal settlement led to his 2015 arrest; he goes back on trial next week (week of 2 April 2018) in Pennsylvania after a jury deadlock last year. Dale has also spent years covering the $1 billion settlement of NFL concussion claims, and has appeared on NPR, BBC News, “PBS NewsHour” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Dale is studying how journalists can improve coverage of sexual violence as more victims come forward and confront policymakers in government, law, religion and higher education.

Friday 23 March

cemal-kafadar.jpgCemal Kafadar, Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies, Department of History, Harvard University

Coffee and the Invention of Nighttime

Since the fifteenth century, individuals and societies in different parts of the world adopted a gradually but unmistakably quickening tempo in their everyday lives and started to make more uses of the nighttime –for socializing, for entertainment, and for work.  In this reconfiguration of the architecture of day and night, people turned to various psychotropic substances such as coffee to help them better manipulate times of activity and repose. They have also created new social institutions such as coffeehouses, which turned into public spaces for engagement with new forms of arts and politics. The presentation will offer an overview of these developments until our own time of “living 24/7” in terms of their social, economic and political consequences.  Biological aspects such as addiction and pressures on our circadian rhythms are also considered in the context of histories of sleep and nocturnal activity.

Prof. Kafadar is interested in the social and cultural history of the Middle East and southeastern Europe in the late medieval/early modern era. He teaches courses on Ottoman history, urban space, travel, popular culture, history and cinema.

Friday 2 March

scott_kominers_headshot.jpgScott Duke Kominers, MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, and Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Department of Economics and Harvard Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications.

The Design of Online Dating Sites (and other Marketplaces)

I graduated from Harvard (and KIRKLAND HOUSE) summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Mathematics (with a minor in Ethnomusicology) in Spring 2009. I then completed my PhD in Business Economics at Harvard University in Spring 2011, with the dissertation "Matching Models of Markets." From 2013-2017, I was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. In Spring 2016, I was also a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School. From 2011-2013, I was the inaugural Research Scholar at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.

I study the design of markets and marketplaces, and teach Economics 2099 ("Market Design") and HBS-EC-1764 ("Making Markets"). I also periodically write for Bloomberg View.

Friday 23 February

AnnBlairAnn Blair: Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of History, Harvard University

Methods of learning and scholarly production in the Renaissance and today

Humanist pedagogues in early modern Europe wrote many advice manuals on how to study, read, and take notes. They looked back to antiquity for models, inherited practices developed in the middle ages, and developed new practices facilitated by printing and the ubiquity of paper. I look forward to discussing together the long history of methods of learning to consider and how our own practices both resemble past ones and are changing with the rise of digital media and tools.

In addition, I will introduce some of my current research on the collaborative nature of humanist scholarship in the Renaissance. How did scholars rely on help from others including amanuenses, students, or family members? When did scholars choose to work alone? What was the role of printing in both encouraging and discouraging mention of scholarly helpers? Today we rely on a variety of technologies to do much of the work of early modern helpers.

Friday 16 February

JamiesonLeskoJamieson Lesko: Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, NBC Producer and Global Field Journalist

Harnessing the Power of Your Gut Instincts and Curiosity

Have you got your plan for life after graduation all mapped out - or are you still trying to figure out "what you want to be when you grow up"? Either way, this conversation will place emphasis on how learning to tap into your (perhaps dormant) curiosities and instinctive talents can better enable you to move forward in full alignment with your potentiality. As a former Executive Producer turned global field journalist for NBC News, Lesko has learned how leveraging one's instincts can lead to a life filled with wild adventures, meaningful service and surprising possibilities.

Since joining NBC News in 2010, Jamieson Lesko has reported from over 25 countries across network, cable and digital platforms. Her responsibilities have included serving as Bureau Chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, and coverage throughout Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, across Europe, the Baltics and Balkans.

Lesko joined NBC News from MSNBC, where she was an Executive Producer. In that role, she led her primetime programs through periods of record ratings growth. During her time at MSNBC, she guided coverage of breaking news stories on location in Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus during the war of 2006, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London terror bombings and across the U.S. during the historic 2008 presidential election.

Prior to her work at MSNBC, Lesko worked at CNN in Atlanta and New York, where she was recognized for her contributions to the network's Emmy awarded live coverage of the 9/11 attacks, and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She has earned an Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage the 2015 Paris massacres, and her Emmy nominations include "Outstanding Continuing Coverage Of A News Story" in "The Battle For Libya" on Nightly News With Brian Williams in the Arab Spring Uprisings of 2011, "Outstanding Live Coverage of A Current News Story” for the "Charlie Hebdo Attack Hostage Stand-off" on NBC News Special Reports in 2015, “Best Story In A Regularly Scheduled Newscast” as well as “Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story In a Regularly Scheduled Newscast” on the refugee crisis in "Trail of Tears” on Nightly News with Lester Holt in 2016, "Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Newscast" for "Brussels Under Attack" on Nightly News with Lester Holt as well as "Outstanding Live Interview" for "Face to Face: An Exclusive Interview with Syria's President Assad" on Nightly News with Lester Holt in 2017. 

Friday 26 January

aliasaniAli Asani: Harvard University Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures

Constructing Bridges of Understanding through Religious Literacy: The Case of Islam in the United States

We live in paradoxical times. One the one hand our world is characterized by greater contact between peoples of different cultures, ethnicities, religions than at any other point in history. While one would expect that increased exposure to diversity would result in better understanding between peoples of different backgrounds, instead diversity has become a major challenge as our world is marked by greater misunderstandings and escalating levels of tensions and conflicts within and between nations. A key factor contributing to this polarization is the failure of educational systems to provide students adequate tools to engage with and understand difference. This is particularly true with regard to religion. Studies show that there exists today a world-wide illiteracy about the nature of religion. Religious illiteracy has been responsible for the curtailment of historical and cultural understanding, the fueling of culture wars,  the marginalization of minorities and the promotion of religious and racial bigotry.  Without the tools to critically understand the nature of religion, people tend to represent those who are different from themselves through caricatures and stereotypes which can be exploited for political gain. This has been particularly the case with recent representations of Islam and Muslims in the United States. This discussion will explore the notion of religious illiteracy, its characteristics and consequences, and ways in which we can combat it.

Friday 10 November

Donna HicksDonna Hicks, Harvard University, Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

Dignity:  Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict

After 25 years facilitating international conflict dialogues around the world, Dr. Hicks has brought to light a missing link in our understanding of conflict.  She believes that unerlying conflict at all levels are unaddressed violations of dignity—from relationships at the international level to conflicts in our families, communities and in our workplaces.  In this presentation, participants will learn about the dignity model as a framework for understanding conflict and what resolving conflict with dignity looks like.  How might dignity work for you in strengthening all of your relationships?

Dr. Donna Hicks is an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.  She facilitated dialogues in numerous unofficial diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Libya and Syria. She was a consultant to the BBC in Northern Ireland where she co-facilitated a television series, Facing the Truth, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.   She has taught courses in conflict resolution at Harvard, Clark, and Columbia Universities and conducts trainings seminars in the US and abroad on the role dignity plays in conflict. She consults to corporations, schools, churches, and non-governmental organizations. Her book, Dignity:  Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict, was published by Yale University Press in 2011.  Her second book, Leading with Dignity will be published by Yale University Press in the fall of 2018.


Friday 3 November

Shaye JD CohenShaye J. D. Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

A traditionalist among skeptics, a skeptic among traditionalists

I teach two well-subscribed GenEd courses, one on the Hebrew Bible, and one on the Hebrew Bible, Judaism and Christianity.  As the courses progress students invariably ask me how I manage to combine Jewish traditional values and practices with a critical stance towards the biblical text and towards Jewish truth claims.  I do not have a fully convincing explanation but I hope that we will have a vigorous discussion. In particular I would like to hear from other students who have a similarly ambiguous relationship with their religious tradition.

Friday 20 October

HehirJ. Bryan Hehir, Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life, Harvard Kennedy School

Religion and World Politics

Of his topic, Hehir writes, "I will summarize an emerging trend in the study of world politics in which religion moves from a marginal or non-existent position to a topic of increasing interest among scholars of international relations and governments in their understanding of policy issues."

In addition to his appointment at HKS, J. Bryan Hehir is a Faculty Associate at the Carr Center for Human Rights and at the Safra Center for Ethics and the Professions. His teaching, research and writing focus on ethics and foreign policy and the role of religion in world politics and in American society. Hehir is a recipient of the MacArthur Award, the Laetare Award (University of Notre Dame), the American Academy of Religion’s Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion, and the Kennedy School’s Carballo Award for excellence in teaching. He is member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.  He serves on the Board of the Arms Control Association and the Roundtable for Church Management.

Friday 13 October

Tom ConleyTom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures, and Co-Faculty Dean of Kirkland House, Harvard University

What Does Tom Conley Do?

Sharing duties in the Film and Visual Studies Division of VES (Visual & Environmental Studies) and the French section of RLL (Romance Languages & Literatures), I work on the relations of language and space in print-culture, cartography, and cinema.  Research, teaching and writing are given to close analysis of vernacular literature in sixteenth-century France (with stress on Rabelais, the Pléiade poets and Montaigne), the impact of cartography on spatial reason (from Ptolemy and Mercator to GPS), and the heritage of classical and contemporary cinema (especially in France and Hollywood).  At the Kirkland House in the spring semester I take special pleasure in teaching a wine seminar titled Oenography, in which participants study topography, terroir, and viticulture.   

Friday 6 October

Peter WicksPeter WicksElm Institute, Director of the Program in Ethics, Finance, and Economics

The Philosophical Foundations of Effective Altruism

The effective altruism movement challenges us to give more and to give more effectively. The idea that we should strive to do the most good that we can may sound plausible, but a little reflection suggests that this principle is extremely demanding in its implications. Could it be that we are morally obligated to always do the most good that we can? If not, what justification could there be for making a choice that we expect to have worse consequences than an available alternative? I will seek to show how the effective altruism movement provides a striking illustration of some of the deepest tensions within consequentialist approaches to ethics.

Friday 29 Septeber

Donald FredrickDonald E. Frederick: Harvard University, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing

Work, Meaning, and Well-Being

My recent work has focused on the social science of work. In particular, I've been interested in how work may contribute to the wellbeing of persons as well as a source of meaning for them. I will present results from recent meta-analyses of the social scientific literature on how persons can improve work engagement, which is associated with increased meaning, during their jobs by using job crafting. I will also present results on a work in progress on the general state of what we know about the association between work, wellbeing, and meaning. Finally, I will turn to the role of work in an increasingly automated workplace.

Donald E Frederick received his PhD in Psychology from The University of Chicago. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing within the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. He is also tech entrepreneur with startups based in San Francisco.

Friday 15 September

Sarah ByersSarah Byers: Boston College, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Ancient and contemporary approaches to emotional health

A presentation of the Stoics' and Augustine's theories of the emotions and their elaboration of 'cognitive therapies' for cultivating an emotional life in conformity with virtue ethics.  Some comparisons can be made with contemporary Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the most effective type of therapy in use today for certain emotional disorders.


Friday 8 September

daniloDanilo Petranovich '00: Director of the Abigail Adams Institute

The Unorthodox Mr Lincoln

Dr. Petranovich '00 has taught political science at Duke and Yale Universities, where he offered courses on liberalism and conservatism in the United States, American political thought, the American presidency, ethical leadership, nationalism and patriotism, and the history of Western political philosophy. Dr. Petranovich is currently writing a book (under contract with Yale University Press) about the three-decade duel between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, which resulted, he argues, in a transformation of American nationhood.

The topic for the lunch will be the place of religion in Lincoln's political thought. We will explore this subject by critically scrutinizing Lincoln's last major speech - his Second Inaugural Address (1865).