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Andrew Carnegie Lecture Series
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The scientist overseeing the U.S. exploration of Mars, John Grotzinger, was the latest speaker in the Andrew Carnegie Lecture Series, which was inaugurated this year at four of Scotland’s premier universities with funding from a special Carnegie Corporation grant. At each event, hundreds of students, faculty and staff members, and visitors gathered for an intriguing evening of lively discussions. In addition to Grotzinger, philosopher Michael Sandel spoke earlier in the year at the University of St. Andrews; art historian James Elkins visited Edinburgh; and Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson presented the inaugural lecture at Glasgow. The University of Aberdeen’s first lecture will be delivered this fall by the U. S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Matthew Barzun.
The Corporation’s funding, which will support the lecture series at the four universities for ten years, will bring some of the world’s most important thinkers to Scotland to engage with local audiences in a vibrant exchange of knowledge and ideas in the arts, sciences, education, and international affairs. It’s part of the Corporation’s Centennial Celebration in honor of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant who started the philanthropy in 1911. The four universities were early beneficiaries of Mr. Carnegie’s ardent support for higher education. In 1901, he established the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, which, among other things, provided tuition assistance for students.
University of St Andrews | September 29
Geologist John Grotzinger
The main lecture hall at St. Andrews was filled to capacity as John Grotzinger explained the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) efforts to explore Mars in an effort to determine whether there was ever life on the red planet, as well as to study its rich environmental history. His talk focused on the findings of the rover Curiosity and was entitled “Curiosity’s Mission of Exploration at Gale Crater, Mars” and was followed by a fascinating question and answer session with the audience. Grotzinger is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geological Sciences at Caltech and specializes in the evolution of surface environments on Earth and Mars.
Grotzinger’s lecture is the second in the Andrew Carnegie Lecture series at St. Andrews. Listen to his presentation and join the discussion on Twitter at #StAGrotzinger.
University of St Andrews | April 28
Philosopher Michael Sandel
The visit by Michael Sandel, a prominent political philosopher and professor of government at Harvard, filled St Andrews’s largest lecture hall and three theaters linked by video for an audience of more than 700 people. They listened as the Harvard University philosopher delivered a lecture based on his latest book, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. It examined one of the greatest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? Reviewers have called the work a “brilliant, indispensable book on the relationship between morality and economics” and “one of the most important exercises in public philosophy in many years.”
Sandel’s lecture prompted a spirited debate. It was followed by a book signing at which every copy was sold. Follow the discussion on Twitter at #StASandel and listen to an audio recording of the lecture here.
In 2015, St. Andrews will host Daniel Goldhagen, author of books on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.
University of Edinburgh | January 16
Art Historian James Elkins
Leading American art historian, writer, and critic James Elkins gave a lecture entitled, “What photography is,” based on his book by the same name. Elkins questioned the language critics and writers use when discussing modern and contemporary art and argued for an open, experimental, and relevant approach to art criticism and scholarship: “If we hope to take writing seriously, then we have to allow it to overspill its boundaries, and even to undermine or forget the arguments it is marshaled to serve.”
An audience of more than 200 students and academics attended the lecture and a reception held in honor of the author. In addition, Elkins gave a lecture and workshops for faculty members and doctoral candidates.
“These lectures and workshops will enable us to host international speakers whose work places them at the very forefront of creative and intellectual endeavor and to enhance the learning experience of all of our students and academics in stimulating ways,” said Chris Breward, Principal of Edinburgh College of Art, a division of the university.
Edinburgh's next lecture, scheduled for November, will feature Beatriz Colomina, professor of history and theory of architecture at the Princeton University School of Architecture.
Watch an interview with James Elkins.
University of Glasgow | March 17
Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
An enthusiastic audience of 400 faculty and staff members, students, and alumni attended the inaugural Andrew Carnegie Lecture at the University of Glasgow to hear Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, considered Britain’s greatest Paralympic athlete. Grey-Thompson won sixteen medals in five Paralympic Games, eleven of them gold. In addition, she has won the London Wheelchair Marathon six times and captured thirteen World Championship medals.
Although Grey-Thompson no longer competes, she still maintains a high profile. In 2010 she was elevated to the House of Lords, where she has become an advocate for issues pertaining to sports, disabilities, health, and youth development. In the Andrew Carnegie lecture, Grey-Thompson offered insights into her success as a Paralympian and politician. As one observer commented, “She was brilliant at motivating and inspiring the audience.”
Watch a video from the lecture with Baroness Grey-Thompson.
University of Aberdeen | Fall 2014
U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun
Matthew Barzun, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is an Internet pioneer best known for his role in helping to launch CNET Networks in 1993. As one of the first members of Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee in his bid for the Presidency in 2008, Ambassador Barzun came up with the idea for $25 per-person fundraisers and helped teach "Obama University" to campaign volunteers.
From 2009 to 2011, Barzun was the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. He served as finance chair for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's in July 2013. He will speak at the University of Aberdeen in the fall of 2014.