The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
Skip navigation links

University Lecture Series

This series puts first-year students in front of nationally renowned scholars, scientists, and civic leaders.

Spring 2015 Lectures

The School of Undergraduate Studies does not coordinate a Lecture Series in the Spring semesters, but we are currently assembling a list of events that you may count for the Spring 2015 Signature Course University Lecture Series requirement. We will update the list continuously, and we welcome suggestions and additions. We also welcome your students to watch lectures from previous years.

Thursday, January 29
8:00 pm
MEZ 1.306

Italian filmmaker Marina Spada will visit UT for a screening and discussion of her 2011 film Il mio domani / My Tomorrow. For more information about this event, please visit this link.

Thursday, February 5
5:30-7:30pm
College of Liberal Arts Building (CLA) Room 0.130

Freedom of Commercial Speech, a panel discussion, featuring:

Clark Neily is a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, a public policy law firm based in Washington, DC. He litigates constitutional cases involving economic liberty, property rights, school choice, and the First Amendment in both federal and state courts. He has worked on commercial cases involving state licensing of such occupations as limousine service and interior design. Mr. Neily also represented the plaintiffs in the historic Heller gun rights case. Neily clerked for Judge Royce Lamberth on the U.S. District Court and then worked as a litigator with the Dallas-based firm Thompson & Knight. Mr. Neily is the author of the recent book, Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government .

Tamara Piety is a Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa. A nationally recognized scholar on the legal treatment of commercial and corporate speech, Piety is widely published in legal journals and author of the book, Brandishing the First Amendment, arguing that First Amendment protection for advertising and corporate speech does not materially advance any of the interests the First Amendment was meant to protect. Professor Piety earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida International University; her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, where she was the Executive Editor of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.

David Brown is a familiar voice to many Austin residents as a radio journalist. He is the host and managing editor of the Texas Standard , a statewide daily news hour covering business and money, politics, life, culture, as well as breaking news. The program is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among public radio stations across the state, as well as the Texas Tribune, Texas Monthly, NPR, and many other partners. Mr. Brown holds a law degree from Washington and Lee University. Mr. Brown has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and various points across the United States and Europe.

Panelists will consider such questions as:

  • Truth in advertising – should the law police it? And should paid ads have to say that they are paid ads?
  • Mandatory disclosure of product information (calorie counts, labor practices) – Do consumers have the right to compel certain speech?
  • Confidentiality agreements – May businesses demand silence from employees?
  • Would “net neutrality” restrictions liberate speech, or limit speech?
  • Occupational Speech – Doctors, designers & many others give advice; tour guides & teachers talk for a living. When a person is paid for his speech, should he need a license?
  • Does the exchange of money alter individuals’ speech rights?
  • To what extent can you separate free enterprise & free speech? Can either exist without the other?
  • Does a business hold the same First Amendment rights as a person?

The format is audience-friendly: brief presentations by the three guests, followed by about 40 minutes of interview-style dialogue, then a half hour of questions from the floor.
Note: There is a related Essay Contest with cash prizes, open to all undergraduate UT students. More information about the Free Speech Dialogues series can be found online.

Thursday, February 5
4:30 pm
SEA 4.244

Dr. Maki, the leading scholar regarding hormone therapies at menopause and cognitive functioning, will be giving a talk.

Thursday, February 19
6:30 p.m.
Blanton Auditorium

Film Screening – Eyes on the Prize: The Promised Land (60 minutes) Covers the last year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the turn of the Civil Rights Movement toward addressing economic inequality. Conversation with film director Paul Stekler follows.

Friday, February 20
1:00 pm
SEA 4.244

Dr. Charles is at the cutting edge of research emotion and social ties in late life. Her SAVI model has become the dominant paradigm guiding research on this topic.

Sunday, February 22
2:00 p.m.
Blanton

Blanton Perspectives – Artist Jack Whitten and Witness co-curator Kellie Jones discuss the works and themes of the exhibition, with a focus on Whitten’s work and the development of his practice since the 1960s.

Thursday, March 5
7:00 pm
Joynes Reading Room (CRD 007)

The Mary Lu Joynes Endowment in the Plan II Honors Program and L.L. and Ethel E. Dean Endowment in the School of Undergraduate Studies will host a reading by Terrance Hayes. For more information, please visit this site

Friday, March 27
1:00 pm
SEA 4.244

Dr. Zarit is one of the most cited scholars in the fields of gerontology and developmental psychology. He will be speaking about interventions to help caregivers of dementia patients.

Wednesday, April 8
6:00 p.m.
LBJ Auditorium

Civil Rights Panel – The Blanton will co-host a panel discussion on the Civil Rights Movement with the University of Texas’ LBJ Library and Museum and Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Friday, April 10
12:00 pm
CLA 1.302E

Dr. Hess who has brought new ideas to the study of cognitive aging that are likely to shape the field for decades to come.

Tuesday, April 14
12:00 – 1:30pm
School of Social Work, Utopia Theater, 2.106

Kirsta Leeburg Melton is the assistant attorney general responsible for the prosecution of human trafficking for the Texas Attorney General’s Office. For the past fourteen years she has prosecuted in the Family Justice Unit of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office combating human trafficking, the physical and sexual abuse of children, sex crimes against adults, and family violence from felony assault to capital murder.

Melton graduated cum laude from Cornell University in 1993. She then went on to obtain her law degree and her Master’s in Public Affairs from the University of Texas. In addition to prosecuting, Kirsta Melton is the former chairperson of the Alamo Area Coalition against Trafficking and one of the founding members of Chapter 61 Ministries which has become “Truckers against Trafficking” a nation wide campaign dedicated to educating and raising awareness of human trafficking in the trucking industry.

Fall 2014 Lectures

Monday, September 29
7:00-8:00pm
Bass Concert Hall

In The Creative Mind featuring:

Prof. Ann C. Johns: Obama, Art History, And Me (or why you should study the arts)
Why should UT students take classes in the arts? This issue came into unexpected focus this past February, when President Obama, in a speech touting the value of manufacturing jobs, suggested that a major in art history might be less than practical. After weeks of debate, UT-Austin was briefly in the national spotlight when President Obama responded in a hand-written letter to UT art historian Dr. Ann Johns’ defense of a career in the arts. So just what are the benefits of studying the arts?

Prof. Guy P. Raffa: Dantemania: Looking Back Today for a Better Tomorrow
Dante Alighieri is known today for his poetic journey through the afterlife, even by those who haven’t read a single word that he wrote seven hundred years ago in Italy. Forget about the proliferation of translations, studies, and college courses touting Dante and his work: when a video game inspired by your Inferno is launched during half time of the Super Bowl, when Don Draper reads your lines on a Hawaiian beach to open a season of Mad Men, and when Dan Brown bases his latest blockbuster on your poem and its enduring influence, you know you’ve become a word-wide celebrity. What do these and other reinventions of Dante’s own creation tell us about the medieval poet and his world? What do they tell us about our world and ourselves? Dantemania will show how studying the past can shape a better future through a clearer understanding of the present.

Prof. Michael P. Starbird: Elements of Effective Thinking
A wondrously romantic belief is that brilliant thinkers magically produce brilliant ideas: Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out. We can enjoy these fanciful visions of leaps of genius, but we should not be fooled into believing that they’re reality. Brilliant innovators are brilliant because they practice habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step by step to works of genius. No magic and no leaps are involved. Habits of effective thinking and creativity can be learned. Anyone who practices them will inevitably create new insights, new ideas, and new solutions.

Watch the In the Creative Mind lecture.

Tuesday, September 30
7:00-8:00pm
Bass Concert Hall

Innovations and Ethics in Healthcare featuring:

Prof. James W. McGinity: Pharmaceutical Inventions Developed by Students and Faculty in the College of Pharmacy
Hear about two issued patents and a patent application on innovations developed by students and faculty in the College of Pharmacy. One of these, the ‘963 patent, protects the abuse-deterrent sustained release opioid tablet, “OxyContin®.” This patent has generated more revenue for UT than any other patent in the history of the University. In addition, this abuse-deterrent technology saves the lives of many who are unable to extract the opioid from these tablets.

Prof. Lauren Ancel Meyers: Tracking and Curbing the Next Deadly Pandemic
A discussion of global pandemics, the current threats of ebola and influenza, and how big data and modern computing are helping to fight contagion.

Prof. William J. Winslade: Creative Interventions and Ethical Implications
Innovations in medical treatment can result from new technologies or new uses of old technologies. But innovative treatment always raises ethical questions about appropriate and inappropriate uses. New treatments for nerve damage, eye diseases and mental illness will be used to illustrate.

Watch the Innovations and Ethics in Healthcare lecture.

The University Lecture Series is generously funded by the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Excellence Fund for Undergraduate Studies. View archived ULS events.