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Speakers' Series

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Speakers' Series


The Speakers' Series is a new initiative for the Institute, designed to bring in high-profile speakers and allow them to deliver public lectures on topics related to the theme "Faith and Civic Virtue in Public Life."

All Speakers' Series events will be held OU's campus or in the Oklahoma City area, and all speakers we host will participate in several meals with members of the community, both OU-affiliated and otherwise.  *Out of abundance of caution, all Spring 2021 lectures will be held via Zoom Conference Meeting.  Details will be provided for the meeting once they have been finalized.  

Speakers' Series Events

Abstracts (where available) and other event information can be viewed by clicking the titles below. 

Title: “Racism, Anti-truth, and Other Challenges of Citizenship in Communities of Learning”

Time: 2:00 PM CST

Meacham Auditorium, University of Oklahoma
900 Asp Ave., Norman, OK 73019

Abstract: This talk will explore the virtues of education and schooling and what an institution such as the Πανεπιστημίου (“Pan-knowledge,” unfortunately mistranslated often in English as “university”) requires, especially as a community of learners. This will involve examining the vices of racism and other kinds of human degradation and anti-truths or pleasing falsehoods that challenge communication and the integrity of such institutions. It also involves thinking anew questions of what it means to be human, free, and reasonable in an age in which proverbially all is at stake. The talk will conclude with an outline of ethical, moral, and political responsibility and the commitments required for each in difficult times—or, made plain, what it means to take on what is to be done to build better places of learning and, by extension, better societies.


About Lewis GordonA philosopher, public intellectual, and musician. He is Professor of Philosophy with affiliation in Jewish Studies, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, and International Studies at UCONN-Storrs; Honorary President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies; Honorary Professor at the Unit of the Humanities at the university currently known as Rhodes, South Africa; and the 2018–2019 Boaventura de Sousa Santos Chair in the Faculty for Economics at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He also is the drummer for the band ThreeGenerations (3Gs) and a variety of jazz and blues bands in the New England area. His many books include Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism (Humanities Press, 1995), Her Majesty’s Other Children (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), Existentia Africana (Routledge, 2000), Disciplinary Decadence (Routledge, 2006), An Introduction to Africana Philosophy (Cambridge UP, 2008), Of Divine Warning (with Jane Anna Gordon, Routledge, 2009), and, more recently, What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought (NY: Fordham UP; London: Hurst; Johannesburg: Wits UP, 2015; in Swedish, Vad Fanon Sa, Stockholm: TankeKraft förlag, 2016), La sud prin nord-vest: Reflecţii existenţiale afrodiasporice, trans. Ovidiu Tichindeleanu (Cluj, Romania: IDEA Design & Print, 2016), and, with Fernanda Frizzo Bragato, Geopolitics and Decolonization: Perspectives from the Global South (London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018). His forthcoming books are Fear of Black Consciousness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the USA and Penguin Book in the UK), 论哲学、去殖民化与种族 (“On Philosophy, Decolonization, and Race”), trans. Li Beilei (Wuhan, China: Wuhan University Press), and On Freedom, Justice, and the Decolonization of Knowledge (Routledge). He is chairperson of International Collaborations and the Awards Committee for the Caribbean Philosophical Association, of which he was its first president. He edits the American Philosophical Association blog series Black Issues in Philosophy and co-edits the book series Global Critical Caribbean Thought. His public Facebook page is: and he is on twitter:

Co-sponsors of this event include: College of Arts and Sciences, David L. Boren College of International Studies, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Department of Native American Studies, Department of Philosophy, Department of Psychology, Department of Sociology, Division of Student Affairs, Gallogly College of Engineering, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies, University College and the Women’s and Gender Studies Center for Social Justice.



About Rick Lowe:  A Houston-based artist and professor of art at the University of Houston. He has exhibited and worked with communities nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in: the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; Phoenix Art Museum; Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Korea; the Kumamoto State Museum, Kumamoto, Japan; the Venice Architecture Biennale; and Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece. He is best known for his Project Row Houses community-based art project that he started in Houston in 1993. Additional community projects include the Watts House Project in Los Angeles, the Borough Project in Charleston, SC (with Suzanne Lacy and Mary Jane Jacobs), Anyang Public Art Program 2010 in Anyang, Korea, Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow in Dallas, TX, and Victoria Square Project in Athens, Greece. Among Rick’s honors are the Rudy Bruner Awards in Urban Excellence, the AIA Keystone Award, the Heinz Award in the arts and humanities, the Skowhegan Governor’s Award, the Skandalaris Award for Art/Architecture, and a U.S. Artists Booth Fellowship. He has served as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, a Mel King Fellow at MIT, an Auburn University Breedan Scholar, and as the Stanford University Haas Center Distinguished Visitor. President Barack Obama appointed Rick to the National Council on the Arts in 2013; in 2014 he was named a MacArthur Fellow.

Rev. Dr. Jones Lecture Recording:

Title:  "Unmoored: How Interreligious Engagements and Ethical Traditions Anchor Democracy"

Time:  6:00 - 7:30 pm CST

Location: ZOOM Conference Meeting

Meeting ID: 381 474 6927

Abstract:  As we begin the academic year, 2021-2022, we all do so with a sense of the magnitude of the challenges before us collectively - indeed, life and death challenges that are shaking the very foundations of democratic existence in American. Speaking from the standpoint of a progressive, interreligious, and activist seminary in New York City, I will address what I consider to be these challenges – the loss of civic decency, the crumbling of a sense of common good, unbridled celebration of greed, avarice, narcissistic individualism, deep and willful denial of climate catastrophe, and still unexamined legacies of white supremacy and Christian exceptionalism. As a theologian, I believe undergirding all this are challenges of a deeply spiritual nature – challenges anchored to the most profound stories we tell – or don’t tell – about ourselves, stories about fundamental human equality, true freedom, fulsome justice, loving care, and the power of compassion and vulnerability.

About Dr. Serene JonesA highly respected scholar and public intellectual, the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones is the 16th President of the historic Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. The first woman to head the 182-year-old institution, Jones occupies the Johnston Family Chair for Religion and Democracy. She is a Past President of the American Academy of Religion, which annually hosts the world’s largest gathering of scholars of religion. Jones came to Union after seventeen years at Yale University, where she was the Titus Street Professor of Theology at the Divinity School, and Chair of the University’s Program in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is the author of several books including Trauma and Grace and, most recently, her memoir Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World. Jones, a popular public speaker, is sought by media to comment on major issues impacting society because of her deep grounding in theology, politics, women’s studies, economics, race studies, history, and ethics.  

Title: “The Adventure of Civility”

Time:  6:00 - 7:30 pm CST            

Location: ZOOM Conference Meeting   

Meeting ID: 382 223 6992

Abstract: Our young century is awash with urgent questions of survival, of meaning, of how we structure our common life and who we are to each other. And yet it seems we are more divided than ever before - unable to listen and speak across the differences we must engage to create the world we want for ourselves and our children. Krista Tippett's public radio show and podcast, On Being, brings a vast range of voices to the animating questions at the center of life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? Her Civil Conversations Project has focused these questions on public life, in practical terms, for communities from the deep south to Harvard Law School. She will speak with us about how we can all shape our presence to this moment we inhabit and begin to create the conversations we want to be hearing, where we live.

About Krista TippettA Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. As the creator and host of public radio’s On Being (, which airs on over 400 public radio stations nationwide and globally via podcast, Tippett takes up the great animating questions of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? Krista and her guests reach beyond the headlines to explore meaning amidst the political, economic, cultural, and technological shifts of twenty-first century life. Her guests have ranged from poets and artists to activists and spiritual leaders. The On Being podcast has been downloaded and played more than 200 million times and was named one of The Atlantic’s 50 best podcasts of 2017. Tippett’s Civil Conversations Project (, launched in 2011, is a series of conversations, public events, and resources that offer ideas and tools for healing our fractured civic spaces. Tippett is also the author of three highly regarded books exploring spirituality and meaning, including the New York Times bestseller Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Einstein’s God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit, and Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters and How to Talk About It. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.” Tippett’s next book, Letters to a Young Citizen, is described as a field guide for discovering creative possibilities and reclaiming conversation and civility.

About James SidaniusJim Sidanius was the John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in memory of William James and of African and African American Studies in the departments of Psychology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  His primary research interests included the political psychology of gender, institutional discrimination and the evolutionary psychology of intergroup conflict.  Among other awards, Professor Sidanius is the recipient of: a) the 2006 Harold Lasswell Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution in the Field of Political Psychology” conferred by the ISPP, b) the 2013 SPSP Career Contribution Award, and c) the 2019 Scientific Impact Award conferred by SESP.