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.

 RSVP to the lecture

RSVP to coffee and conversation with Harry Boyte

Past IHR Distinguished Lecturers


Alan Lightman

Does science ever intersect with art, language, and literature? Physicist, novelist, essayist, and author of the bestseller Einstein’s Dreams, Alan Lightman, explored this question and investigated the relationship between the sciences and the humanities in the 2015 IHR Distinguished Lecture in February of 2015.


Stephen Greenblatt

To watch the video of the 2014 IHR Annual Distinguished Lecturer, Stephen Greenblatt

This video is password protected and limited to the larger ASU community. Please contact the IHR at or 480.965.3000 to obtain the password.

Reception: 4:30pm
Lecture: 5:30pm


Donna Haraway

As the IHR’s 2013 Distinguished Lecturer, Donna Haraway, Distinguished Professor Emerita of the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of "Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature," called upon her audience to work, play and think in terms of multispecies cosmopolitics, a new approach to recuperating the Terrapolis on which we live.