Previous Voices of Culture Lectures

Equipment for Living – The Omni-American Tradition, from Jean Toomer to Wynton Marsalis

Aryeh Tepper – November 10, 2022

Aryeh Tepper is the Director of Publications at the American Sephardi Federation and a Research Fellow at Ben Gurion University. He delineated a spirited American tradition of letters and music created by Black Americans that dates back to the 1920s, rejects the pathology of race, and provides “equipment for living” for anyone wishing to aim high in a liberal-democratic society. Along the way, he offered a new perspective on the historical ‘Black-Jewish alliance’ against bigotry. Read more.

REVOLUTIONARY. REFORMER. PATRIOT. UNITER. Frederick Douglass’ Lessons for Today’s Polarized Society

Nicholas Buccola – October 11, 2022

Frederick Douglass was a renowned abolitionist who escaped slavery in 1838 and devoted the next six decades to agitating on behalf of liberty and justice for all. Buccola describes Douglass as equal parts revolutionary, reformer, patriot, and uniter while noting that reflecting on Douglass’ life presents a unique opportunity to look back as a means of moving forward in today’s polarized society. Read more.

Why Indigenous Africa was Free Maket

Margatte Wade – April 7, 2022

Magatte Wade is a serial entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and visionary business leader with a passion for creating positive change in Africa. She is the founder and CEO of and is dedicated to reducing racial discrimination while creating jobs and prosperity in her home country of Senegal. She is an entrepreneur who believes that free markets and economic freedom is the pathway for Africa to leapfrog ahead, with Africans taking the uncontested leading role in the co-creation of 21st century prosperity for all, innovation, culture and technology. Read more.

A Culture, If You Can Keep It.

Jay Nordlinger – February 22, 2022

Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor of National Review, the biweekly magazine of politics and culture. He is also the music critic of The New Criterion, the monthly arts-and-letters journal. He hosts two podcasts: an interview show, “Q&A,” and a music podcast, “Music for a While.” Among his books is a history of the Nobel Peace Prize. He grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and for many years has lived in New York. Read more.

Before They Were Sciences: MapsWhy Indigenous Africa was Free Maket

Asa Simon Mittman – January 13, 2022

In medieval Europe, when cartography was more a religious practice than a scientific one, mapmakers filled their worlds with fabulous monsters and marvels to educate and entertain viewers – and they still amuse audiences today. Among the delightful dragons, manticores and unicorns, though, these mapmakers tucked in images of human monsters that were presented as accurate representations of real groups of people. In so doing, they were among the thinkers that created the underpinnings for the Enlightenment’s pseudo-science of race – and of its concomitant racism – that still haunt our modern world. This talk will explore the intersections between medieval maps, concepts of race and of the process of writing the histories of these subjects. Read more.

A World in Time: A Universe Made Up of Views of its Past

Lee Smolin – November 30, 2021

Dr. Smolin is an award winning theoretical physicist who has done most of his work on quantum gravity. He has co-founded a number of approaches including loop quantum gravity and relative locality. Named one of the top “100 world thinkers” by Prospect Magazine in 2015, his books include Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum (2019) and Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe (2013). Read more.

Conversation with Commercial Astronaut

Sian Proctor – October 28, 2021

Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut. She was the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a J.E.D.I. space: a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight. Read more.

The Novel, Who Needs It?

Joseph Epstein – April 8, 2021

Joseph Epstein is an American writer and the author of thirty-one books. His essays have been included in the annual editions of The Best American Essays. Mr. Epstein taught writing and literature for thirty years at Northwestern University, was the editor of The American Scholar between 1974 and 1997, and was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2003 by President George W. Bush and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Epstein also has been a regular contributor to CommentaryThe New YorkerHarper’sThe New RepublicNew York Review of Books and The National Standard. His most recent publication is called Gallimaufry: A Collection of Essays, Reviews, Bits (2020). Read more.

Reimagining Vietnam

Pamela Nguyen Corey – March 16, 2021

Contemporary Vietnamese artists have engaged with difficult topics both nationally and internationally, including competing nationalisms, diasporic migration, wartime trauma, and the US-Vietnam War. This talk explores several artworks that demonstrate how such realities have found voice and form through contemporary art.  Read more.

Lift Every Voice: Truth-Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Discussion

Robert George & Cornel West – February 15, 2021

Cornel West is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual, focused on the role of race, gender, and class in American society; he is a radical democrat and socialist. Robert George, an American legal scholar, political philosopher, and public intellectual, who serves as the sixth McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, is considered one of the country’s leading conservative intellectuals. They are friends and colleagues across their respective ideologies and beliefs. Their dialogues together are meant to send a joint message: arguing for free expression, civil discourse, and mutual respect. And, that our love for one another should not be reduced to or defined by our politics.  Read more & Watch talk.

What Made Me Not Ticklish

Li Zhao Schoolland – January 19, 2021

Schoolland, Director of External Relations Asia-Pacific at the Acton Institute, talks about her experience growing up in Communist China. She survived 26 years through the horrors of Mao’s regime in China. This motivated her to a lifetime of promoting freedom and liberty globally through the organization of Austrian economics and entrepreneurship conferences and summer camps over two decades in Eastern Europe, Asia/Pacific, and North Africa. Read more.

Is Commerce Still Good for Culture? A View from 2020

Tyler Cowen – November 20, 2020

Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George mason University and serves as chairman and faculty director of the the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He presented “Is Commerce Still Good for Culture? A View from 2020”. Professor Cowen is a highly respected scholar, and was named “One of the most influential economists of the last decade” by The Economist. We hope to see you there.   Read more.

The Morality of Entrepreneurship

Magatte Wade – October 5, 2020

Magatte Wade is a serial entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and visionary business leader with a passion for creating positive change in Africa. She is dedicated to reducing racial discrimination while creating jobs and prosperity in her home country of Senegal. Read more.

The Founders at Home: A Constitution Day Talk

Myron Magnet – September 17, 2020

Myron Magnet, award-winning author and Editor-at-Large at City Journal, offers fresh insight into why the American experiment resulted in over two centuries of unprecedented freedom and prosperity.   Read more.

Black Lives Matter: Creating a Better Future

Ronald A Wilson, Rachel Ferguson, and Anthony B. Bradley – August 14, 2020

The Voices of Culture Lecture Series hosted the Black Lives Matter: Creating a Better Future panel. The Panelists are the Honorable Ronald A Wilson, Dr. Rachel Ferguson, and Dr. Anthony B. Bradley. Read more.

Classical Economics: Lost and Found; Experiments Signaled Neoclassical Economics Failures

Vernon Smith – March 12, 2020

Vernon Smith, Professor, George L. Argyros Endowed Chair in Finance and Economics, Professor of Economics and Law, Chapman University, and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics,will discuss “Classical Economics: Lost and Found; Experiments Signaled Neoclassical Economics Failures”. Read more.

Are We a Democracy or a Republic? And Why Does it Matter?

Randy Barnett – March 4, 2020

Randy Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center. Read more.

Behavioral Contagion and the Climate Crisis

Robert Frank – February 7, 2020

As psychologists have long understood, social environments profoundly shape our behavior, sometimes for the better, but often for the worse. Less widely noted is that social influence is a two-way street: our environments are in large part themselves a product of our own choices. But although that second pathway has important implication for public policy, it has received virtually no serious attention. Read more.

Are We a Democracy or a Republic? And Why Does it Matter?

Clint Bolick – September 17, 2019

Clint Bolick was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court in 2016. Justice Bolick will be giving a talk on “American Exceptionalism and the Rule of Law”. Read more.

The Future of Public Goods

Michael Munger – August 28, 2019

Michael Munger is Professor of Political Science and Director of the PPE Certificate Program at Duke University. Read more.

Toward a Connected Society: How Can We Support Democracy and Achieve Justice in Conditions of Diversity

Danielle Allen – April 3, 2019

Danielle Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. Read more.

The Value of Free Speech

Harvey Mansfield – February 21, 2019

Professor Mansfield discusses the value of free speech, understood as foundational to the right of free speech. Beyond the question of how far the right of free speech extends, we need to consider why free speech is valuable. Is some free speech more valuable than others? Drawing on his seminal works on Machiavelli and Tocqueville, political philosophy, and contemporary politics, Dr. Mansfield makes the case for encouraging a culture of free inquiry both in higher education and in terms of our political discourse in general. Read more.

The Art of Happiness

Arthur Brooks – January 23, 2019

How does human happiness change over a lifetime? How can you build a life that results in deep and lasting happiness? Arthur Brooks weaves together prominent works of art, music, poetry, Eastern and Western philosophy, and the latest in the science of human happiness. Read more.

“Writing about the Arts in the Mass Media” & “Have We Forgotten How to Look?”

Eric Gibson – October 29 & 30, 2018

Among its many revolutions, the digital age has altered our relationship to visual information– how we take it in and process it, as well as our expectations of it. What are the consequences of this for the experience and understanding of art? Read more.

Academic Narcissism and the Attack on Humanistic Learning

Heather Mac Donald – February 25, 2018

Mac Donald discusses how, in the face of a radical push for diversity on college campuses, the West’s cultural inheritance remains indispensable to a strong academic curriculum and necessary for a robust cultural education. Read more.