Berkeley Talks

Berkeley Talks

news.berkeley.edu/podcasts/berkeley-talks
A UC Berkeley podcast


Journalist Jemele Hill on the intersection of sports and race
Feb 14 • 91 min
On Jan. 23, 2020, Jemele Hill, a staff writer for the Atlantic and host of the podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered, spoke at UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances about her career at the intersection of sports, race and culture in the U.S. In conversation with…
Denise Herd and Waldo Martin on Berkeley’s ‘400 Years’ initiative
Feb 7 • 42 min
In this episode of Who Belongs?, a podcast by UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, Berkeley professors Denise Herd and Waldo Martin discuss 400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Injustice, a yearlong initiative that marks the 400th anniversary…
Film historian Harry Chotiner on the state of American cinema
Jan 31 • 62 min
Harry Chotiner, a film historian and an adjunct assistant professor at New York University, gave a lecture on Jan. 22, 2019, about film in the past year, from Hollywood blockbusters and indie favorites to the impact of the #MeToo movement, changes in the…
Chilean novelist Isabel Allende on war, loss and healing
Jan 24 • 63 min
“People say, ‘Oh no, the institutions in the United States can support anything. We are safe.’ No, beware. Nothing is safe. Nothing is forever. Everything can change. We have to be aware of that and be therefore very alert. I wouldn’t say vigilant because…
Paul Butler on how prison abolition would make us all safer
Jan 17 • 94 min
The United States now locks up more people than almost any country in the history of the world, and by virtually any measure, prisons have not worked, said Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University, during a UC Berkeley lecture in October.…
Consciousness guide on using psychedelics as medicine
Jan 10 • 42 min
“The purpose of medicine is to create a bigger, deeper, more thorough experience of our inner functioning, our physical functioning, our emotional functioning, our energetic functioning, our spiritual functioning, our relational functioning, how we are…
Artist Paul Chan on the ‘Bather’s Dilemma’
Jan 3 • 69 min
On Oct. 29, artist Paul Chan delivered the 2019-20 Una’s Lecture, a series sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities since 1987. In his talk, called the “Bather’s Dilemma,” Chan explores the figure of the bather — a visual trope with a rich…
Professor Emerita Beverly Crawford on lies about migrants
Dec 27, 2019 • 61 min
“If rights aren’t enforced, do they really exist?” asks Beverly Crawford, a professor emerita of political science and international and area studies at UC Berkeley. “We can say, ‘Yes, they exist,’ but if they’re not enforced, people can be treated as if…
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on overcoming the odds
Dec 14, 2019 • 96 min
At 13, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote an article in her school paper about the importance of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. But she didn’t think about pursuing a career in law because she didn’t see any women in the…
Berkeley scholars on the politics and law of impeachment
Dec 6, 2019 • 80 min
With the 2020 general elections looming, the nominee for the Democratic Party undetermined and a defiant and volatile president at the helm, the impeachment inquiry is heating up. At stake in this topsy-turvy political theater are our democratic…
Comedian Maz Jobrani on noticing the good in his life
Nov 27, 2019 • 19 min
Growing up in an immigrant family, comedian Maz Jobrani knew his parents wanted him to be a lawyer or doctor, maybe an engineer. When he became a comedian, he says, the whole community was sad for the family. “They were like, ‘Did you hear about Jobrani’s…
Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on defending DACA
Nov 22, 2019 • 50 min
An important case of the current U.S. Supreme Court term is about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — a program that some 700,000 undocumented people depend on for the right to work and protection from deportation — and whether or not it was…
California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris on the health impacts of childhood stress
Nov 15, 2019 • 65 min
Nadine Burke Harris, named the first surgeon general of California in January, has seen how childhood stress and trauma leads to declining health in adulthood. She began studying the correlation as a pediatrician years ago, and continued her research as…
Berkeley Law’s Ian Haney López on defeating racial fearmongering
Nov 8, 2019 • 72 min
People across the country, from presidential hopefuls and engaged voters to journalists and activists, are grappling with how to think and talk about racism in American politics.In this Oct. 11 talk, Berkeley Law professor Ian Haney López, one of the…
Author Andrew Marantz on the hijacking of the American conversation
Nov 1, 2019 • 70 min
To write his new book, ANTISOCIAL: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, New Yorker reporter Andrew Marantz spent three years embedded with alt-right trolls to better understand how they had become powerful…
Biologist E.O. Wilson on how to save the natural world
Oct 25, 2019 • 114 min
In this talk, renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson joins former U.S. secretary of the interior and interim CEO of the Nature Conservancy Sally Jewell for a discussion about the core science and common humanity that is driving the success of…
Journalist Maggie Haberman on reporting on the Trump White House
Oct 18, 2019 • 59 min
The unrivaled political insight of reporter Maggie Haberman makes her one of today’s most influential voices in national affairs journalism. In this talk, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist offers a riveting look into the Trump White…
Barbara Simons on election hacking and how to avoid it in 2020
Oct 11, 2019 • 43 min
“There are a number of myths about elections that we’ve been hearing, saying that they are secure. And I want to shoot down two of those key myths,” says Barbara Simons, board chair of Verified Voting, in a talk called “Can we recover from an attack on…
Nobel laureate Randy Schekman on new Parkison’s research
Oct 4, 2019 • 21 min
On Sept. 17, UC Berkeley hosted the second annual Aging, Research, and Technology Innovation Summit, a daylong event that brought together researchers, entrepreneurs, policymakers and health care workers to tackle some of the biggest questions in aging…
Justice Elena Kagan on taking risks, finding common ground
Sep 27, 2019 • 68 min
“Law students are too risk-averse. There’s too much planning and too little jumping in. You should experiment.” That’s U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in conversation with Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on Monday, Sept. 23 in Zellerbach…
Admissions director Femi Ogundele on what makes a Berkeley student
Sep 20, 2019 • 52 min
“If you’re looking for an opportunity to make a real change in this society, you need to go and work at a public school,” said Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of Admissions, Femi Ogundele, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at this fall semester’s first Campus…
john powell on rejecting white supremacy, embracing belonging
Sep 5, 2019 • 31 min
On Friday, Aug. 30, UC Berkeley held a symposium that marked the start of a yearlong initiative, “400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Oppression,” commemorating the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies…
We need a digital infrastructure that serves humanity, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci
Aug 26, 2019 • 50 min
Since the launch of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, reports of hate speech targeting various minority groups have risen dramatically. Although this surge is well-reported, it remains difficult to quantify the magnitude of the problem or even…
Take an intoxicating plants tour at UC Botanical Garden
Aug 16, 2019 • 35 min
Sal Levinson, who works on native propagation at the UC Botanical Garden, led a tour on July 9, 2019, about the plants people have used to heal pain, cause pain, bring pleasure, celebrate the sacred and symbolize faith. From the Cycad, a poisonous plant…
How an ‘awe walk’ helped one musician reconnect with her home
Aug 9, 2019 • 22 min
In the “Science of Happiness” podcast episode, “Finding awe in every step,” musician and activist Diana Gameros talks about how she moved to the U.S. from Mexico at 13, and the heartbreak that came with it. She spent years writing about longing to go home…
Economist Samuel Bowles on why good incentives are no substitute for good citizens
Aug 5, 2019 • 97 min
It is widely held today on grounds of prudence — if not realism — that in designing public policy and legal systems, we should assume that people are entirely self-interested and amoral. But it is anything but prudent to let Homo economicus be the…
Music historian David James on cinema’s dance with popular music
Jul 26, 2019 • 95 min
In his book Rock ’n’ Film: Cinema’s Dance with Popular Music, music historian David James explores how rock’s capacity for cultural empowerment and its usefulness as a driver of commerce and profit have been reproduced in various kinds of cinema:…
Joel Moskowitz on the health risks of cell phone radiation
Jul 19, 2019 • 42 min
As of 2017, there were more than 273 million smartphones in use in the country and 5 billion subscriber connections worldwide.“This is a big, big business,” says Joel Moskowitz, the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health at the…
What can be done to protect pollinators
Jul 11, 2019 • 14 min
California’s agriculture has been impacted by dwindling bee populations. In this episode of Just Food, a podcast from the Berkeley Food Institute at UC Berkeley, experts discuss what farms can do in response — not only to protect honeybees, but also to…
#SandraBlandMystery: Aaminah Norris on the transmedia story of police brutality
Jul 5, 2019 • 50 min
Aaminah Norris is an assistant professor at Sacramento State in the College of Education. She has more than 20 years of experience supporting schools and nonprofit organizations in addressing issues of educational equity for low-income students from…
Virgie Tovar on ending fat phobia
Jun 28, 2019 • 45 min
Writer, speaker and activist Virgie Tovar speaks with Savala Trepczynski, director of Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, about the process of divesting from diet and body image culture and investing in rehumanization, community…
Berkeley artist Mildred Howard on the impact of gentrification in the Bay Area
Jun 24, 2019 • 27 min
On Wednesday, June 19, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) celebrated Juneteenth — a national commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States — with a visit by Mildred Howard, a widely acclaimed artist and longtime…
‘New York Times’ editor on the future of fact-based journalism
Jun 13, 2019 • 32 min
Dean Baquet is the executive editor of the New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. In February 2019, he sat down with Edward Wasserman, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, to discuss the 2016 elections and the future of…
Feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon on the butterfly politics of #MeToo
Jun 7, 2019 • 35 min
“We are here in the middle of the first mass movement against sexual abuse in the history of the world,” said Catharine MacKinnon, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, about the progress of the #MeToo movement. “This one sprung from the law…
Tanner Lectures, day 3: Commentators respond to Ripstein, discuss morality of war
May 31, 2019 • 113 min
For the 2019 Tanner Lectures at UC Berkeley, Arthur Ripstein, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Toronto, argues that the very thing that makes war wrongful — the fact which side prevails does not depend on who is in the right — also…
john powell on targeted universalism
May 29, 2019 • 34 min
In this episode of Who Belongs, a podcast produced by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, we hear from john powell, director of the Haas Institute and a professor of law and African American studies at UC Berkeley.In this interview,…
Tanner Lectures, day 2: Arthur Ripstein on why it’s wrong to target civilians during war
May 22, 2019 • 122 min
For the 2019 Tanner Lectures at UC Berkeley, Arthur Ripstein, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Toronto, argues that the very thing that makes war wrongful — the fact which side prevails does not depend on who is in the right — also…
Tanner Lectures, day 1: Arthur Ripstein on rules for wrongdoers
May 16, 2019 • 114 min
For the 2019 Tanner Lectures at UC Berkeley, Arthur Ripstein, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Toronto, argues that the very thing that makes war wrongful — the fact which side prevails does not depend on who is in the right — also…
Kira Stoll and David Wooley on how California and UC are reducing carbon emissions
May 10, 2019 • 55 min
Climate change is a pressing and urgent global issue and a challenge that needs planet- and human-focused solutions. The state has signed into law numerous policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emission from buildings, industrial processes, vehicles,…
Dr. Joe Tafur on the role of spiritual and emotional healing in modern healthcare
May 2, 2019 • 54 min
Drawing from his first-hand experience at Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual, a traditional healing center near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, Dr. Joe Tafur reviews the role of spiritual and emotional healing in modern healthcare.Tafur gave a talk on April 18,…
Professor David Raulet on the revolution of cancer immunology
Apr 24, 2019 • 60 min
The last eight years have seen a revolution in approved cancer treatments, based on the development of medicines that arouse our immune systems to attack and eliminate our own cancer cells. These breakthroughs in immunotherapy of cancer were based on a…
Cal Performances announces its 2019-20 season
Apr 24, 2019 • 29 min
On Thursday, April 18, 2019, Cal Performances’ board of trustees co-chairs Helen Meyer and Susan Graham, and executive and artistic director Jeremy Geffen, announced the organization’s 2019-20 season, programmed by associate director Rob Bailis. Hear…
Professor Rucker Johnson on why school integration works
Apr 17, 2019 • 28 min
Brown v. Board of Education was hailed as a landmark decision for civil rights. But decades later, many consider school integration a failure. UC Berkeley professor Rucker C. Johnson’s new book Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works shows the…
Rev. William J. Barber II: ‘Forward together, not one step back’
Apr 14, 2019 • 62 min
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is a pastor and social justice advocate building a broad-based grassroots movement, grounded in the moral tenets of faith-based communities and the constitution, to confront systemic racism, poverty, environmental…
Jennifer Doudna on the future of gene editing
Apr 11, 2019 • 85 min
Jennifer Doudna spoke at UC Berkeley’s International House on Feb. 21, 2019, about the revolutionary gene-editing tool she co-invented, CRISPR-Cas9.Our technological capacity to make changes to genomic data has expanded exponentially since the 2012…
Calculating your carbon footprint and the Cool Campus Challenge
Apr 2, 2019 • 43 min
1.5 degrees Celsius. That’s the maximum global temperature increase allowable before we see catastrophic impacts on food security, ecosystems, water access, frequency and extremity of weather events, according to a special 2018 report from the UN’s…
Product engineer Amy Heineike on how humans and machines interact with AI
Apr 2, 2019 • 22 min
Amy Heineike is the vice president of product engineering at Primer AI. One area the company is active in is around news data and news cycles — they model the contrasting narratives that people are telling around global stories using millions of…
Programmer and author Ellen Ullman on her life in code
Apr 1, 2019 • 34 min
Ellen Ullman is a computer programmer, essayist on technology and culture and an author of four books — two nonfiction and two novels — on the human side of technology. Her most recent book, Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology, in 2007 was…
Neurobiologist David Presti on the ritual use of psychoactive plants
Mar 28, 2019 • 67 min
For millennia, humans have cultivated deep relationships with psychoactive plants — relationships embedded within and guided by ritual frameworks honoring the powers of these plants as allies. As cultures have evolved, so also have these plant-human…
Poet Tarfia Faizullah reads from ‘Registers of Illuminated Villages’
Mar 26, 2019 • 33 min
Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Registers of Illuminated Villages (2018) and Seam (2014). Faizullah has won a VIDA Award, a GLCA New Writers’ Award, a Milton Kessler First Book Award, Drake University Emerging Writer Award and other honors. Her poems…
Author Ashton Applewhite on counteracting ageism
Mar 25, 2019 • 75 min
Ashton Applewhite, named one of PBS Next Avenue’s Influencers in Aging and author of the breakaway new book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, share her own personal experiences with ageism — defined as “treating a person differently on the…
Jimmy López on composing ‘Dreamers’ oratorio inspired by Berkeley undocumented students
Mar 20, 2019 • 79 min
Composer Jimmy López, who earned his Ph.D. in music from UC Berkeley in 2012, speaks about Dreamers, an oratorio he was commissioned by Cal Performances to write that is informed by interviews held with undocumented students at UC Berkeley. The piece was…
Michael Pollan with Dacher Keltner on the new science of psychedelics
Mar 16, 2019 • 62 min
In his latest book, How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan turns his focus to psychedelics — LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and the like — exploring their history, use, and potential to help people not only transcend, but also treat conditions from addiction…
Talk Policy to Me: The California housing crisis
Mar 15, 2019 • 21 min
NIMBYism, geographical limitation and weaponized policies have led California to the biggest housing crisis in state history. Can state-level policies fix a very local problem? California housing is an undeniable problem. Rents are too high and there is…
Professor Michael Omi on racial classification in the census
Mar 13, 2019 • 60 min
How are individuals and groups racially classified? What are the meanings attached to different racial categories? And what impact do these categories have on a range of policies and practices? Taking the U.S. Census as a site of racial classification,…
Year of the woman: Panel on the recent rise of women in politics
Mar 7, 2019 • 84 min
National analysts have noted the sharply increased number of women running for elective office in 2018, especially among Democrats. In a panel discussion, “Year of the Woman?,” Nicole Boucher, co-executive director of the California Donor Table; Mary…
Dancer Akram Khan on performing the unimaginable, theater of war
Mar 5, 2019 • 79 min
Dancer/choreographer Akram Khan appeared in the West Coast premiere of XENOS, a Cal Performances co-commission, in Zellerbach Hall on March 2-3, 2019. Khan, who is of British and Bangladeshi descent, is celebrated for physically demanding, visually…
Berkeley Law Professor Catherine Fisk on reimagining labor law
Mar 2, 2019 • 60 min
Berkeley Law Professor Catherine Fisk, author of Writing for Hire: Unions, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue (2016), gave a lecture on Feb. 13, 2019, that examines some of the recent radical changes in the law of the workplace in California and nationwide.…
East Bay poet Ari Banias reads new work at Lunch Poems
Feb 25, 2019 • 29 min
Ari Banias is the author of Anybody (2016), which was named a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Center USA Literary Award. His poems have appeared in various journals, in Troubling The Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics…
Richard Rothstein on how our government segregated America
Feb 21, 2019 • 53 min
Richard Rothstein, a fellow of the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley and author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America, gave a lecture on Feb. 6, 2019, about the forgotten history of how federal, state and local…
Panel discussion: The Changing California Electorate
Feb 13, 2019 • 86 min
In a panel discussion, “The Changing California Electorate,” Lisa García Bedolla, the director of Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies; Kristin Olsen, a Republican who served on the California State Assembly from 2010-2016; Mindy Romero, director…
Professor Tina Sacks on maintaining social welfare programs in the Trump era
Feb 1, 2019 • 54 min
What are some of the current challenges to maintaining social welfare programs for the nation’s most vulnerable people in the Trump era?Tina Sacks, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, gave a lecture on this topic on Jan. 30,…
Design anthropologist Dori Tunstall on decolonizing design
Jan 30, 2019 • 51 min
Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall is a design anthropologist, public intellectual and design advocate who works at the intersections of critical theory, culture and design. As dean of design at Ontario College of Art and Design University in Canada, she is the…
Ph.D. candidate Rosalie Lawrence on how our cells make decisions
Jan 29, 2019 • 28 min
On Nov. 6, 2018, Ph.D. candidate in molecular and cell biology Rosalie Lawrence gave an interview on KALX’s program, “The Graduates,” about her research on how cells in our bodies make decisions. She studies mTORC1, a protein complex that interacts with…
New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor on breaking the story that ignited #MeToo
Jan 15, 2019 • 40 min
Jodi Kantor is a New York Times investigative reporter and a recipient of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for her reporting on the #MeToo movement. Her work has exposed abuses of power, from Harvey Weinstein to Amazon. Kantor joined UC…
Berkeley Law Professor Daniel Farber on presidential power and individual rights
Jan 7, 2019 • 75 min
Presidential power is always a hot topic, but never more so than today. This lecture, given by Berkeley Law Professor Daniel Farber on Sept. 25, 2018, explains the constitutional limits on the president and how individual rights are affected. Dan Farber…
Astronomer Bob Kirshner on the accelerating universe to accelerating science
Dec 24, 2018 • 86 min
Twenty years ago, astronomers were astonished to learn from observations of exploding stars that cosmic expansion is speeding up. We attribute this to a mysterious “dark energy” that pervades the universe and makes up 70 percent of it. Scientists are…
Clinicians discuss where health and human rights meet
Dec 24, 2018 • 64 min
There are a greater number of forcibly displaced people in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II, and the Bay Area has welcomed many of these individuals. Hear from clinicians, including Sita Patel, who received her master’s…
Michael Pollan on science, psychedelics and the human mind
Dec 21, 2018 • 50 min
In May 2018, Michael Pollan, the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley and author of a multitude of best-sellers, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma, sat down with former Mother Jones editor Deirdre English to discuss his…
Jennifer Doudna on gene editing and the unthinkable power to control evolution
Dec 1, 2018 • 84 min
Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna joins oncologist Siddartha Mukherjee to discuss unprecedented advancements in gene editing and the effect new technologies will have on the future of humanity.Dr. Doudna’s research has led to what is being called the…
Anthropologist Eugenie Scott on evolution and creationism as science and myth
Nov 30, 2018 • 72 min
Myths symbolize ideas, values, history and other issues that are important to a people. They may be true or false, mundane or fantastic; their significance is their meaning, not their narrative content. Science is a way of knowing about the natural world.…
Robert Reich on why the common good disappeared and how we get it back
Nov 29, 2018 • 60 min
Professor of Public Policy Robert B. Reich ignites a discussion of the good we have had in common, what happened to it and what we might do to restore it. His goal is not that we all agree on the common good. It is that we get into the habit of thinking…
Artistic Director Robert Battle on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Nov 28, 2018 • 26 min
For over 50 years, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley has fostered a strong partnership with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Since the company’s debut performance at Wheeler Hall in March of 1968, it has played a central role in Cal Performances’…
Commentator Van Jones on seeking environmental justice during climate change
Nov 26, 2018 • 58 min
Across America, low-income and minority communities are being hit hardest by the economic and health impacts of climate change. Van Jones — news commentator, author and founder of Dream Corps — discusses how we can seek environmental justice for the…