Lifelong learning

Back in the classroom

It happens when you gather as a community to learn something new: Listening, responding and questioning together leads to thoughtful conversations and meaningful connections. That is the power of the UW’s public lectures, which bring to campus speakers on a variety of topics reflecting our changing world. UWAA is proud to partner with schools and colleges across all three UW campuses to help present and promote timely topics, innovative research and engaging storytelling from the best of the UW and experts around the world.

During autumn, winter and spring quarters, UWAA produces a comprehensive public lectures brochure and direct e-mail campaign that reaches more than 100,000 area alumni. In addition, UWAA members receive advance registration notice and have proven to be a loyal and engaged audience. Shared below are some highlights from recent lecture offerings.


History, Conflict and Promise: Civil Rights at the UW marked the 50 year anniversary of an historic campus protest.

Making a difference. Every year, the Graduate School’s Public Lecture Series brings over a dozen high profile speakers from within and outside the UW, creating a rich resource for the UW’s community of lifelong learners. The lectures touch on a range of contemporary issues, from climate change to racial equity to education and more — while featuring notable figures in our culture like Nate Silver, Misty Copeland and Harry Belafonte.

The latest lecture coming from the Graduate School’s Public Lecture Series, presented in partnership with the UWAA, continued in this tradition — it addressed a challenge our society faces right now: the role of protests in the fight for social justice. History, Conflict and Promise: Civil Rights at the UW looked back on a pivotal event in UW’s history 50 years later. In 1968, more than 100 UW students, organized by the Black Student Union, staged a surprise occupation of the offices of UW President Charles Odegaard. Their nonviolent actions led to changes in admission policies and curricula that echo to this day.

Notable UW alumni Larry Gossett, ’71, Verlaine Keith-Miller, ’74, J.D. ’80, Sharon Maeda, ’68, Emile Pitre, M.S. ’69, and Rogelio Riojas, ’73, ’75, M.H.A. ’77, shared their reflections on this event, exploring the legacy of the occupation and the state of the UW’s ongoing commitment to equity and justice for all. This sold-out May 3 lecture was part of the Equity & Difference lecture series.


In honor of the centennial of the Russian Revolution, the 2017 History Lecture series focused on revolution.

2017 History Lecture Series. UWAA has a long history of partnering with the history department for its established lecture series. This year’s five-part series, Worlds Turned Upside Down: Five Revolutions that Shaped Our Times, examined five revolutions around the world to explore how these events still shape our world today. More than 3000 participants took part in the series, reflecting on lessons learned from the American Revolution to the uprising in Cuba and beyond. Somehow missed the series? Don’t worry. All five lectures were filmed and are available for viewing here.


FOOD: Four Short Talks examined the connections created through food.

UWAA original programming. Inspired by the TED Talks format, Ellen Whitlock Baker, UWAA’s Sr. Director of Alumni and Constituent Engagement, worked with Story Consultant Anita Verna Crofts, ’02, senior lecturer at the Department of Communication, to collaboratively create FOOD: Four Short Talks. This February event put the focus on how food nourishes more than our bodies. Associate Professor Branden Born; restaurateurs Laurie and Leslie Coaston, ’85; Crofts; and tastemaker My Tam Nguyen, ’06, with host and social entrepreneur Veena Prasad, ’09, gave short talks on the connections created through food, raising wide-ranging questions about cultural and civic identity, social justice and government. The first in a proposed series of short talks, FOOD received an enthusiastic welcome from the audience attending. Discover some of the great local resources discussed for yourself. 

Be connected. Looking for a partner to help promote your public lecture? Contact Betsy Brown, Assistant Director, Alumni and Constituent Engagement at to learn more.