Steven Pinker asks the big questions about human progress—and sets out, in public, to answer them. In 2018’s Enlightenment Now, Pinker argues that, despite the headlines, the world is getting better, not worse. (Bill Gates calls it “my new favorite book of all time.”) In optimistic keynotes, full of sharp wit, common sense, and dazzling argumentation, Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism. These Enlightenment ideals, in the face of tribalism, authoritarianism, and other modern dangers to democracy, are worth celebrating—and protecting.
A provocative speaker, much in demand, Pinker is a cognitive scientist who has been named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. His keynotes have helped millions demystify the science behind human language, thought, and action. Pinker is a Harvard professor, a TED speaker, and a bestselling author, twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Highly respected in the scientific community, his work and opinions are extensively covered in the mainstream media, and have won a wide general audience.
Kevin Young has published ten books of poetry and two books of essays. His passionate, rhythmic lyrics are rich with scenes from American history. Among many other honors, he was the 2014 winner of the Leonore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. Two volumes, "Blue Laws" (2016) and "Jelly Roll" (2003) were nominated for the National Book Award; his collection "Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels" (2011) won an American Book Award. "Jelly Roll" won the Paterson Poetry Prize. "Most Way Home" won the Zacharis First Book Award. His latest book, "Brown: A Book of Poems" (2018) is a New York Times Editors Choice selection and has been featured on NPR and many other national venues. The volume includes an oratorio, based on the life of Booker Wright, that was performed at Carnegie Hall. In addition to his many books of poems, Young is the author of "Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News," which won the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction and was long-listed for the National Book Award. "Bunk" was also named a "Best Book of 2017" by the LA Times, NPR, the Smithsonian, and other platforms.
As the Director of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, Kevin Young helps shape the archival research agenda in black studies. As poetry editor for The New Yorker, he curates the poetry reading list for millions of readers around the world. At UCI, Young will read from his current book of poems, "Brown," and will address the role of fact and fiction in his own work and in the contemporary public sphere, from scholarship to the news.
Date: Feb. 26, 2019
Location:Crystal Cove Auditorium, UCI Student Center
About The Chancellor's Distinguished Speakers Series
Launched in 1999 by then-Chancellor Ralph Cicerone, the Chancellor's Distinguished Speakers Series brings to campus eminent scholars and public figures who are active change-makers and leaders in today’s world. These luminaries share their insights, expertise and ideas at on-campus lectures and seminars open to the public and UCI faculty, staff and students.