Annual Distinguished Lecturer

IHR's Annual Distinguished Lecturer program brings to campus a prominent humanities scholar whose work highlights the importance of humanities research.

Distinguished Lecturer & Visiting Author

A major university and community event, the Annual Distinguished Lecturer program brings to campus a prominent humanities scholar whose work highlights the importance of humanities research. While on campus, speakers discuss humanities trends with the Institute’s advisory board and participate in informal sessions, allowing ASU colleagues to discuss related research interests.

2019 Distinguished Lecturer: Harry Boyte

Harry C. Boyte is the founder of the international youth civic education initiative Public Achievement and co-founder with Marie Ström of the Public Work Academy. He also founded the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota, now merged into the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University where he is Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy. He has coordinated a variety of educational, civic, business and philanthropic civic groups, including those that worked with both the Clinton White House Domestic Policy Council and the Obama 2008 campaign. Boyte’s forthcoming book, "Awakening Democracy through Public Work" (Vanderbilt University Press 2018), recounts lessons from 30 years of work aimed at empowering young people and others and revitalizing the civic purposes of K-12, higher education, professions, governments, development work and other settings.

Public universities, democracy, and the citizen professional

This lecture will recall the tradition of land grant and public universities as "democracy colleges." Boyte will argue that the revival and adaptation of this heritage is crucial in a time of globalization, authoritarian trends, a metastasizing consumer culture, and widespread feelings of powerlessness. Using examples such as the “Outlier Art and American Vanguard Art” exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Boyte will draw on recent humanities theory and practice to argue for the preparation of students as “citizen professionals." These citizen professionals become part of the civic life of communities—not simply "partners with" or expert service providers. They work in a catalyzing and empowering fashion as agents of democratizing change.


Past IHR Distinguished Lecturers


Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson is the President of the Social Science Research Council, an award-winning author, Professor of Sociology, and Dean of Social Science at Columbia University, where she has served as Director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Nelson is celebrated for her work exploring the intersections of science, technology, medicine, and inequality.


Lauren Berlant

The Institute for Humanities Research is honored to host Lauren Berlant as the 2017 IHR Distinguished Lecturer. On March 23rd, she will give a lecture titled "On Being in Life Without Wanting the World (Living with Ellipsis)." This talk is located in a shattered, yet intelligible zone defined by being in life without wanting the world—a state traversing misery and detachment that, the talk claims, is well-known to historically and structurally subordinated people (people of color, of non-normative sexuality, proletarianized laborers).


Zadie Smith

The IHR is proud to announce that it is partnering with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing to host award winning author Zadie Smith as the 2016 IHR Distinguished Lecturer/Piper Center Distinguished Visiting Writer. Smith, a tenured professor of creative writing at New York University, has been recognized for her vibrant insights into contemporary multicultural life from the start. She received numerous awards for her first novel, White Teeth (2000) including the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Guardian’s First Book Award.