Berkeley Talks

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A podcast that features lectures, conversations, discussions and presentations from UC Berkeley. It's managed by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.


  • Film historian Harry Chotiner on the state of American cinema

    Film historian Harry Chotiner on the state of American cinema

    31/01/2020 Duration: 01h02min

    Harry Chotiner, a film historian and an adjunct assistant professor at New York University, gave a lecture on Jan. 22, 2019, about film in the past year, from Hollywood blockbusters and indie favorites to the impact of the #MeToo movement, changes in the film academy and the Oscars. The lecture was part of a series of talks sponsored by UC Berkeley's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)."The two things that I think are most importantly new are streaming and the #MeToo movement, and that's what I want to focus on," says Chotiner. "In terms of streaming, I would say we're sort of in the middle of the beginning of the streaming revolution. ... Streaming is the biggest threat to movie theaters since television came in in the 1950s. Last year, Netflix spent more money making movies than all the studios combined. That's stunning. That's shocking."As for the #MeToo movement, he says it has created more gender and racial equality and inclusion, as well as safer working environments, in the film industry. But, he

  • Chilean novelist Isabel Allende on war, loss and healing

    Chilean novelist Isabel Allende on war, loss and healing

    25/01/2020 Duration: 01h03min

    "People say, 'Oh no, the institutions in the United States can support anything. We are safe.' No, beware. Nothing is safe. Nothing is forever. Everything can change. We have to be aware of that and be therefore very alert. I wouldn't say vigilant because the word vigilant has a double meaning, but alert."That's Chilean author Isabel Allende in conversation with playwright Caridad Svich, who won a 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Primus Prize for her adaptation of Allende's 1982 novel, The House of the Spirits. The play, presented by UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies in spring 2019, tells the story of a family that spans three generations and a century of violent change in an unnamed Latin American country.The conversation, part of Berkeley Arts and Design's public lecture series, was held on April 25, 2019, at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). It was moderated by Michael Moran, who directed the Berkeley production.During the talk, A

  • Paul Butler on how prison abolition would make us all safer

    Paul Butler on how prison abolition would make us all safer

    17/01/2020 Duration: 02h34min

    The United States now locks up more people than almost any country in the history of the world, and by virtually any measure, prisons have not worked, said Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University, during a UC Berkeley lecture in October. Instead, Butler advocates abolishing prisons and finding alternative ways to deal with those who cause harm — something that he says would create a safer, more just society."Prison has been a miserable failure," said Butler, also a legal analyst on MSNBC. "It doesn't work. Most young people who come home from prison wind up right back there within two years. Prisons themselves are horrible places. They're violent, they stink, they're dangerous, they're noisy. It's really hard to leave a space like that better than when you came in."Butler, author of the 2017 book Chokehold: Policing Black Men, gave a talk called "Prison Abolition, and a Mule" on Oct. 16, 2019, as part of UC Berkeley's Jefferson Memorial Lectures, sponsored by the Graduate Division. It was a

  • Consciousness guide on using psychedelics as medicine

    Consciousness guide on using psychedelics as medicine

    10/01/2020 Duration: 42min

    "The purpose of medicine is to create a bigger, deeper, more thorough experience of our inner functioning, our physical functioning, our emotional functioning, our energetic functioning, our spiritual functioning, our relational functioning, how we are with the land," said author and consciousness guide Françoise Bourzat. "... Mushrooms bring it to your face, like, 'This is your illness.' By knowing your illness, you resolve your illness, you deal with it, you treat it from within yourself. The mushroom helps you see the truth." Bourzat, author of Consciousness Medicine, gave a talk on Nov. 14 at UC Berkeley's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, alongside an exhibit, Pleasure, Poison, Prescription and Prayer: The Worlds of Mind-Altering Substances, which ran from March 15 to Dec. 15. Bourzat, a counselor who is trained in somatic psychology, has been mentored in the Mexican Mazatec tradition of the sacred mushrooms, and has been sharing her approach internationally for 30 years.Read t

  • Artist Paul Chan on the Bathers Dilemma

    Artist Paul Chan on the 'Bather's Dilemma'

    03/01/2020 Duration: 01h09min

    On Oct. 29, artist Paul Chan delivered the 2019-20 Una's Lecture, a series sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities since 1987. In his talk, called the "Bather's Dilemma," Chan explores the figure of the bather — a visual trope with a rich history, and a prominent theme in his own work — as an embodiment of pleasure that is linked to the act of renewal."The bather in art history has a long and storied pedigree," says Chan. "What I was interested in was how this motif inspired a few artists to experiment with new ways to depict a human form that took into account movement in different ways."Thinking about bathers touched a nerve that was sensitive to a need I didn't realize was in me," he continues. "I needed some way to think about whether pleasure has a place in these punishing times and whether our capacity for pleasing and being pleased has any bearing on how we renew ourselves to better meet what genuine appeals of progress asks of us."Chan is the winner of the 2014 Hugo Boss Prize, awarded&nbs

  • Professor Emerita Beverly Crawford on lies about migrants

    Professor Emerita Beverly Crawford on lies about migrants

    27/12/2019 Duration: 01h01min

    "If rights aren't enforced, do they really exist?" asks Beverly Crawford, a professor emerita of political science and international and area studies at UC Berkeley. "We can say, 'Yes, they exist,' but if they're not enforced, people can be treated as if their rights don't exist ... Once a person steps outside their own borders, let's say they're fleeing persecution, or they're fleeing poverty, or they're fleeing environmental crisis or disaster, they are rightless, as if their rights don't exist."Crawford, former director of Berkeley's Center for European and German Studies, gave a lecture, "Lies about migrants: immigration policy in a time of post-truth politics," on Oct. 16, 2019, as part of a series of talks sponsored by UC Berkeley's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). During the lecture, she discussed two problems in formulating immigration policy that leads to dehumanization — the absence of migrant rights and rival national identities. For example, in the U.S., there are rival definitions of wha

  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on overcoming the odds

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on overcoming the odds

    14/12/2019 Duration: 02h36min

    At 13, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote an article in her school paper about the importance of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. But she didn't think about pursuing a career in law because she didn't see any women in the field.When she began college at Cornell, however, she learned about how attorneys were defending people called in for questioning during the wave of Communist accusations led by Senator Joe McCarthy. In reading about their advocacy, "I got the idea that being a lawyer was a pretty nifty thing," said Ginsburg at an Oct. 21 event at UC Berkeley.Ginsburg, who, at 86, is the oldest U.S. Supreme Court Justice, gave Berkeley Law’s inaugural Herma Hill Kay Memorial Lecture to a packed house of Berkeley Law students, faculty and staff in Zellberbach Hall.Ginsburg and Kay, who both graduated from law school in 1959, were trailblazers for women in the law and gender equality. They met at a conference on women in the law in 1971, and went on to co-author the first caseboo

  • Berkeley scholars on the politics and law of impeachment

    Berkeley scholars on the politics and law of impeachment

    07/12/2019 Duration: 01h20min

    With the 2020 general elections looming, the nominee for the Democratic Party undetermined and a defiant and volatile president at the helm, the impeachment inquiry is heating up. At stake in this topsy-turvy political theater are our democratic institutions, which may be forever altered.In this Nov. 5 talk for UC Berkeley's Social Science Matrix event, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, and Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, discuss what the mechanisms are for removing or sanctioning a president of the United States, what are impeachable offenses and how it's no longer about left vs. right, but democracy vs. oligarchy. ( photo)Listen and read a transcript on Berkeley News.

  • Comedian Maz Jobrani on noticing the good in his life

    Comedian Maz Jobrani on noticing the good in his life

    27/11/2019 Duration: 19min

    Growing up in an immigrant family, comedian Maz Jobrani knew his parents wanted him to be a lawyer or doctor, maybe an engineer. When he became a comedian, he says, the whole community was sad for the family. "They were like, 'Did you hear about Jobrani's son? Yeah, it's a shame. He's almost a drug dealer."Jobrani was recently a guest on the Science of Happiness, a podcast from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. In his episode, called "Notice the Good in Your Life," Jobrani talks with host Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor and co-director of the Greater Good Science Center, about his 2017 stand-up special on Netflix, Immigrant."The reason I called my recent special Immigrant was because “immigrant” under Trump had turned into a bad word. It was a derogatory term. And really, people that that grasped onto that xenophobia, it broke my heart because I look around — first of all, I’m an immigrant. And then I look around and I know a lot of really good people that are immigrants, and then I’

  • Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on defending DACA

    Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on defending DACA

    22/11/2019 Duration: 50min

    An important case of the current U.S. Supreme Court term is about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — a program that some 700,000 undocumented people depend on for the right to work and protection from deportation — and whether or not it was properly ended by the Trump administration in 2017. The program has been kept in place since then by federal court injunctions. The Supreme Court heard argument in these cases on Nov. 12. Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and attorney Ethan Dettmer of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher's in San Francisco are key members of the litigation team that won one of the court injunctions, and are currently defending the program in the Supreme Court. In this Nov. 18 talk, they discuss what it's like litigating a case like this and the Supreme Court arguments that happened last week.Related Berkeley News content:How one DACA student found his community — and voice — at BerkeleyFor DACA academic counselor, it’s about helping all undocumented studentsListen and read a transcri

  • California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris on the health impacts of childhood stress

    California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris on the health impacts of childhood stress

    15/11/2019 Duration: 01h05min

    Nadine Burke Harris, named the first surgeon general of California in January, has seen how childhood stress and trauma leads to declining health in adulthood. She began studying the correlation as a pediatrician years ago, and continued her research as medical director of the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness."I believe, fundamentally, that social determinants of health are to the 21st century what infectious disease was to the 20th century," Harris told Berkeley Public Health Dean Michael Lu during the school's Dean's Speaker Series event on Sept. 26.As surgeon general, Harris is leading the state's efforts to implement routine screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences, known as ACEs, among California's Medicaid population.ACEs, explained Harris, are experiences — abuse, homelessness, losing a caregiver — that lead to health issues later in life, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The more ACEs a person has, she said, the more at risk they

  • Berkeley Laws Ian Haney López on defeating racial fearmongering

    Berkeley Law's Ian Haney López on defeating racial fearmongering

    08/11/2019 Duration: 01h12min

    People across the country, from presidential hopefuls and engaged voters to journalists and activists, are grappling with how to think and talk about racism in American politics.In this Oct. 11 talk, Berkeley Law professor Ian Haney López, one of the nation's leading thinkers on how racism has evolved in the U.S. since the civil rights era, discusses his new book, Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections and Saving America, offering insight and hopeful new strategy for defeating the right's racial fearmongering and achieving bold progressive goals."... Republicans have been saying for 50 years, 'Democrats only care about people of color.' And now, whenever folks hear a conversation about race, about racial justice, they immediately default to a frame, 'This is racial justice? That's for people of color.' We need to say expressly, 'Racial justice? That's for white folks, too.'"Whites need to hear that they will benefit from being part of a multiracial coalition ... When we tested this message

  • Author Andrew Marantz on the hijacking of the American conversation

    Author Andrew Marantz on the hijacking of the American conversation

    01/11/2019 Duration: 01h10min

    To write his new book, ANTISOCIAL: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, New Yorker reporter Andrew Marantz spent three years embedded with alt-right trolls to better understand how they had become powerful enough to influence our politics, our media — our society as a whole.“I suppose I could have sat around and simply had an opinion, but I really wanted to know where these toxic ideas were coming from, what motivates people to do this and how they were promoting these ideas,” Marantz told Berkeley News earlier this month.Marantz joined Chancellor Carol Christ, Ed Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, and moderator Dan Mogulof, at UC Berkeley’s Alumni House on Oct. 16 to discuss the trends and discoveries described in his book.“The thing that surprised me about the book is how nihilistic and punk and really without convictions … a lot of these people were,” said Chancellor Christ said to Marantz during the discussion. “They were

  • Biologist E.O. Wilson on how to save the natural world

    Biologist E.O. Wilson on how to save the natural world

    25/10/2019 Duration: 02h54min

    In this talk, renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson joins former U.S. secretary of the interior and interim CEO of the Nature Conservancy Sally Jewell for a discussion about the core science and common humanity that is driving the success of Wilson's Half-Earth Project — "a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to reverse the species extinction crisis and ensure the longterm health of our planet." It's made up of a team of thought leaders from a wide range of fields who are gathering expertise from around the world to achieve this goal."We need to build a science," says Wilson. "We know that our ecosystems, which are really what we try to protect — not just single species, but ensembles of species that have come together and have reached stability, sometimes over thousands, or in some places, millions of years ... We need an ecosystems science. And there is going to be one created. It should be, has to be, in the immediate future. So since I'm in a preacher's mood

  • Journalist Maggie Haberman on reporting on the Trump White House

    Journalist Maggie Haberman on reporting on the Trump White House

    18/10/2019 Duration: 59min

    The unrivaled political insight of reporter Maggie Haberman makes her one of today’s most influential voices in national affairs journalism. In this talk, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist offers a riveting look into the Trump White House, the current political waters and the changing perceptions of journalism across the country."What Trump does with that language, which comes with a real degree of danger, in part for the obvious, but in part because his fans don’t realize that some of this is a game for him, and how much he truly has fed off of and enjoys the mainstream media attention," says Haberman. "He still brags to his friends that he’s on the front page of the Times more now than he ever was before he was elected. They have told me they detect a note of pride in his voice. Not everything that Trump is doing is new or something unseen before in U.S. presidential politics, including his attempts to influence how the press does its job. Reporters cannot lose sight of that. He is extrem

  • Barbara Simons on election hacking and how to avoid it in 2020

    Barbara Simons on election hacking and how to avoid it in 2020

    11/10/2019 Duration: 43min

    "There are a number of myths about elections that we've been hearing, saying that they are secure. And I want to shoot down two of those key myths," says Barbara Simons, board chair of Verified Voting, in a talk called "Can we recover from an attack on our election?" that she gave for the annual Minner Distinguished Lecture in Engineering Ethics on Sept. 18.The first myth, says Simons, is that because voting machines are never connected to the internet, they can't be hacked. The second is that there are so many types of voting systems that it's impossible to rig an election. She explains why both are untrue.She goes on to discuss how, in 2002, computers were introduced in U.S. elections without an analysis of the risks, how it led to states adopting paperless voting and what we need to do to avoid hacking in our 2020 presidential election."We have a solution, so that's the good news," says Simons. "We have a solution. You need voter-marked paper ballots. You need a strong chain of custody. And you need to phy

  • Nobel laureate Randy Schekman on new Parkisons research

    Nobel laureate Randy Schekman on new Parkison's research

    04/10/2019 Duration: 21min

    On Sept. 17, UC Berkeley hosted the second annual Aging, Research, and Technology Innovation Summit, a daylong event that brought together researchers, entrepreneurs, policymakers and health care workers to tackle some of the biggest questions in aging research. This year’s summit focused on the challenge of understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases.Randy Schekman, a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. He spoke at the summit about Parkinson's disease — what we already know about the disease and new research efforts that are underway."We have experienced a pandemic in Parkinson's disease," he told the audience. "The incidence ... is increasing dramatically in spite of the fact that the disease was first recognized and reported by clinical symptoms 200 years ago. As the population inexorably ages, we are experiencing a wave of this disease which inexorably takes the lives of those who are afflicted."Schekman, whose wife died fro

  • Justice Elena Kagan on taking risks, finding common ground

    Justice Elena Kagan on taking risks, finding common ground

    27/09/2019 Duration: 01h08min

    "Law students are too risk-averse. There's too much planning and too little jumping in. You should experiment." That's U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in conversation with Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on Monday, Sept. 23 in Zellerbach Hall."I think sometimes people look at my resume like mine, and they think, 'Oh, it's just like this golden life.' What you're seeing are the jobs I got. What you're not seeing are all the jobs I didn't get ... when a door closes, a window opens. Sometimes the things that you think you wanted, it turns out that you're better off not getting them."Kagan began her career as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, leaving to serve as Associate White House Counsel and later as policy adviser under President Bill Clinton. She then became a professor at Harvard Law School, and in 2003 was named its dean, its first woman dean. In 2009, she became Solicitor General of the United States, the officer responsible for representing the federal government before the

  • Admissions director Femi Ogundele on what makes a Berkeley student

    Admissions director Femi Ogundele on what makes a Berkeley student

    20/09/2019 Duration: 52min

    “If you’re looking for an opportunity to make a real change in this society, you need to go and work at a public school,” said Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of Admissions, Femi Ogundele, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at this fall semester's first Campus Conversations, a series where top Berkeley leaders discuss campus issues and take questions from staff, faculty and students.In an hour-long conversation, Ogundele, who started his post in January, talked about why he came to Berkeley, the power of strong messaging and targeted outreach and how the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative is an opportunity to "reimagine and reengage" students who haven't necessarily been engaged in in the past.Read the transcript on Berkeley News.

  • john powell on rejecting white supremacy, embracing belonging

    john powell on rejecting white supremacy, embracing belonging

    05/09/2019 Duration: 31min

    On Friday, Aug. 30, UC Berkeley held a symposium that marked the start of a yearlong initiative, "400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Oppression," commemorating the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies with a daylong symposium. It drew hundreds of attendees who heard from more than a dozen historians and social scientists about the impact and legacy of slavery in society today.In his keynote speech to close the symposium, john powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and professor of law, African American studies and ethnic studies, discussed the link between slavery and white supremacy. Slavery, he said, created anti-black racism, which was necessary for the extraction of capital.“It was never about, ‘I don’t like you because you’re different, because you have more melanin than me.’ It was about capital. It was about the U.S. industrializing … It was about the elites trying to figure out how to extract as much capital as possib

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