Friday, November 14, 2008


As a college student, I've been to my fair share of lectures—well over 2000 of them since I started, I reckon. Most have been regular class lectures, of course, but every once in a while I go to others, which often end up being the best ones. One of the things that I really like about attending a large university is that there are lots of opportunities to learn about things outside of my usual field of study.

This semester I've been to some interesting lectures:
  • Sustainable education in Cambodia, presented by an American woman who adopted a child from Cambodia, and ended up establishing a school there. She discussed how just giving money isn't enough, and can sometimes even be harmful; to make lasting progress, local people must support themselves.
  • Privacy implications of new technologies, and methods for making ethical decisions in areas where no rules have been established yet.
  • Peru at the Global Stage, presented by the Peruvian ambassador to the U.S. He talked about the challenges and opportunities that Peru faces as they become more prominent in the world.
  • History of Uganda over the past 150 years, presented by the Ugandan ambassador to the U.S. He detailed Uganda's transition from tribes to a British protectorate to an independent country.
  • Why You Should Go to Graduate School, given by my friend Chris Monson. Chris got his Ph.D in computer science a couple of years ago and now works for Google.
  • Social Robots and Human Social Development. This one was a really interesting look at how robots can be used in diagnosing and treating autism.
I also watched the Utah Supreme court hear a real case at the law school last week. That was fascinating.

If you're at BYU, I'd definitely encourage going to lectures, talks, and discussions on things that you're interested in. Part of the point of a university education is to gain a broad knowledge of the world, and BYU provides some amazing opportunities to do that. The university forums are almost universally excellent (with speakers including the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Senate Majority Leader in the past year), and the devotionals are also usually great (although the quality there is more heterogeneous).

So where do you find about about interesting lectures? Since I'm interested politics and technology, I like the Kennedy Center Lecture Series and the Computer Science Colloquia. However, there are tons of other lectures all the time—just watch the walls of the buildings you walk through for posters. And if you hear about a lecture I might like, let me know. If I go to a few more extra ones, maybe I'll break 3000 before I graduate. :)


Channing said...

Reid is the Senate Majority Leader :)

MVH said...

I attended some superb lectures during my years at the U of U. In 2002, I was studying ancient Greece and attended a lecture about the ancient Olympics, given by a visiting professor.

Bruce said...

Oops. How embarrassing. :) Corrected.

Unknown said...

I like to go to random club meetings once in a while, too, when I get the chance. Last month I went to the sociology student association's meeting, where they had representatives from College Democrats and College Republicans debate about immigration reform.