13 minutes | May 26, 2023
Sociology Ph.D. graduates on the power of family and deep inquiry
In this episode, two Ph.D. graduates in sociology — Kristen Nelson and Mario Castillo — give the graduate student address at the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology's spring commencement ceremony. "Like many of you, I was raised by a single mother," said Castillo at the May 19 event. "Her name is Mariana Leticia Castillo, and she was 17 when I was born. Now, I have tried to imagine what a 16-year-old mother-to-be must have felt as she prepared to bring a new life into this world, how she had hope for my wellness, happiness and success, coupled with an overwhelming sense of worry, anxiety and fear about the uncertain journey ahead. "My mother's story, as a young working-class woman of color, finding her way as a single parent, combined with my own unique experiences as a queer person of color, propelled me towards deeper inquiry, self-discovery, and ultimately, the fascinating field of sociology." For Nelson, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the most segregated metro area in the U.S., opened her eyes to the stark inequality in the country and caused her to ask, "Why is it like this?" "When issues ... go unspoken, that is a politics of silence that perpetuates exclusion," Nelson said. "This motivates me to practice a politics of articulation, where we choose to say out loud what has been overlooked, because we cannot change what we cover with silence. So, fellow graduates, as we step into the next chapter, one way that we might apply our sociological training is to ask ourselves: What needs to be spoken?" Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu). Photo courtesy of Kristen Nelson. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
27 minutes | May 19, 2023
Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones to graduates: 'The world needs your imagination'
In an impassioned keynote address to graduates of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones urged them to do three things: disrupt, dismantle, discover. "We are here to disrupt, not just in word, but with our very presence," he said at the May 14 ceremony. "I come standing with my ancestry. I come in a building as a first non-white member to represent my district. I come as the youngest member. I come as somebody who they said, 'You cannot come with long hair and hoop earrings." But you can see I'm my full self because we have to disrupt these systems of white supremacy and of patriarchy and of plantation capitalism that have hijacked our nation and that for too long have been the dominant voice." Last month, Jones and fellow lawmaker, Justin Pearson, were expelled from the House by the chamber's Republican majority after leading a group of students in a protest demanding gun reform. It was in response to a recent elementary school shooting in Nashville that left six dead, three of them 9-year-olds. "A lot of people said, 'What were you thinking when you were expelled from the legislature? What was going through your mind?' I said, 'Well, this was just another day at the Tennessee General Assembly.'" Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News. Photo by Catharyn Hayne/KLC Fotos. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
67 minutes | May 5, 2023
How a lie from medieval Europe spread antisemitism across the world
Magda Teter, professor of history and the Shvidler Chair of Judaic Studies at Fordham University and author of the 2020 book, Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth, discusses how an anti-Jewish lie that originated in medieval Europe has persisted throughout history and spread antisemitism across the world. Known as blood libel, the superstitious accusation — that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children at Passover to obtain blood for unleavened bread — first emerged in 12th century Europe, but became a dominant narrative in the 15th century. "Why in the 15th century do we have this sudden shift in quantity, in quality of these accusations?" asks Teter, during the Center for Jewish Studies' Annual Pell Lecture on March 15. "The answer is Simon of Trent, the story of Simon of Trent." Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News. Photo courtesy of Magda Teter. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
64 minutes | Apr 24, 2023
ChatGPT developer John Schulman on making AI more truthful
UC Berkeley alumnus John Schulman, the lead developer of ChatGPT, talks about how AI language models sometimes make things up — often convincingly — and offers solutions on how to fix this problem. Schulman's talk, which took place on April 19, was part of a series of public lectures at Berkeley this spring by the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence. Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News. Read a Berkeley News Q&A with Schulman in which he discusses why he chose Berkeley for graduate school, the allure of towel-folding robots and what he sees for the future of artificial general intelligence. UC Berkeley photo by Jim Block. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
89 minutes | Apr 7, 2023
International journalists on women's rights in Iran and Afghanistan
Award-winning journalists — Arezou Rezvani, Jane Ferguson, Zahra Joya and Berkeley Journalism Dean Geeta Anand — discuss women’s rights in Iran and Afghanistan, and the challenges of reporting as women and about women in these countries. “I was last in Afghanistan in November of 2021, so the Taliban had been in control for several months,” says Ferguson, a PBS NewsHour correspondent. "Obviously, you’re there, you’re able to make connections with the women — you can talk to them on encrypted services, you can go and meet with them in places. But since then, I’ve been reporting from afar and you have to make connection with young women. And then, you have to try to do it as responsibly as you can. So, we’ll be interviewing them, hiding their faces, in some cases warping their voices, and you can really just take testimony from them on what life is like. It’s hugely challenging." This March 23 event was organized by the Pulitzer Center and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Support comes from the PIMCO Foundation. Learn more about the speakers on Berkeley Journalism's website. Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News. Photo by Alisdare Hickson via Flickr. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
56 minutes | Mar 24, 2023
Jitendra Malik on the sensorimotor road to artificial intelligence
Jitendra Malik, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley, gives the 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecture called, "The sensorimotor road to artificial intelligence." "It's my pleasure to talk on this very, very hot topic today," Malik begins. "But I'm going to talk about natural intelligence first because we can't talk about artificial intelligence without knowing something about the natural variety. "We could talk about intelligence as having started about 550 million years ago in the Cambrian era, when we had our first multicellular animals that could move about," he continues. "So, these were the first animals that could move, and that gave them an advantage because they could find food in different places. But if you want to move and find food in different places, you need to perceive, you need to know where to go to, which means that you need to have some kind of a vision system or a perception system. And that's why we have this slogan, which is from Gibson, "We see in order to move and we move in order to see." For a robot to have the ability to navigate specific terrain, like stepping stones or stairs, Malik says, it needs some kind of vision system. "But how do we train the vision system?" he asks. "We wanted it to learn in the wild. So, here was our intuition: If you think of a robot on stairs, its proprioception, its senses, its joint angles can let it compute the depth of its left leg and right leg and so on. It has that geometry from its joint angles, from its internal state. So, can we use it for training? The idea was the proprioception predicts the depth of every leg and the vision system gets an image. What we asked the vision system to do is to predict what the depth will be 1.5 seconds later. "That was the idea — that you just shift what signal it will know 1.5 seconds later and use that to do this advanced prediction. So, we have this robot, which is learning day by day. In the first day, it's clumsy. The second day, it goes up further. And then, finally, on the third day, you will see that it ... makes it all the way." Malik's lecture, which took place on March 20, was the first in a series of public lectures at Berkeley this spring by the world's leading experts on artificial intelligence. Other speakers in the series will include Berkeley Ph.D. recipient John Schulman, a co-founder of OpenAI and the primary architect of ChatGPT; a professor emeritus at MIT and a leading expert in robotics, and four other leading Berkeley AI faculty members who will discuss recent advances in the fields of computer vision, machine learning and robotics. Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News. UC Berkeley photo. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
79 minutes | Mar 10, 2023
The rise and destruction of the Jewish fashion industry
Uwe Westphal, author of the 2019 book, Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry, discusses Berlin's once-thriving Jewish fashion industry and how the Nazi confiscations of Jewish-owned companies in the years before World War II led to the industry's demise. "The destruction of the entire fashion industry meant forced labor, government-organized theft and the murder and the deportation of Jews," Westphal says. "Today, 78 years after the end of World War II, unlike most other industries in Germany, fashion producers small and large have not yet taken on responsibility for what happened. … A younger generation needs to understand the connection between the Holocaust and the destruction of the Berlin fashion industry.” This Feb. 15, 2023, lecture was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany San Francisco. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo © Ullstein-Bild/Zander&Labisch. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
84 minutes | Feb 24, 2023
Economists on what it'll take to rebuild Ukraine
To mark the first anniversary of Russia’s initial full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we are sharing a panel discussion with four leading economists about what it'll take to rebuild Ukraine. In this Feb. 14 talk, the panelists summarize trends in the region before the war, assess war damage and propose paths forward, laying the groundwork for future recovery efforts and increasing the chances of post-war success in revitalizing Ukraine. A recent Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) report, “Rebuilding Ukraine: Principles and Policies,” provides a background for the panel. The report is available to download in English and Ukrainian. Panelists include: Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Quantedge Presidential Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science, UC Berkeley Gérard Roland, E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics and Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley Roger Myerson, David L. Pearson Distinguished Service Professor of Global Conflict Studies in the Harris School of Public Policy and the Griffin Department of Economics, University of Chicago; 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, University of Chicago The Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES) sponsored this event. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. UNDP Ukraine photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
86 minutes | Feb 11, 2023
Women of the Black Panther Party
In celebration of the new book, Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party, Judy Juanita, Madalynn Rucker and Ericka Huggins discuss their time with the Black Panther Party. "I knew that my big purpose was to learn how to love because I was raised in a community that was not loved," says Ericka Huggins, who co-authored Comrade Sisters with photographer Stephen Shames and was director of Oakland Community School led by the Black Panther Party. "I could see the impact on the future generation's understanding that I came from a generation that didn't have what we were offering. And it worked." This conversation, which took place on Oct. 20, 2022, was hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists at UC Berkeley and The Reva and David Logan Gallery of Documentary Photography at Berkeley Journalism. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
88 minutes | Jan 28, 2023
Artist William Kentridge on staying open to the 'less good' ideas
World-renowned South African artist William Kentridge discusses the process of making the 2019 chamber opera Waiting for the Sibyl. He also touches on why artists should stay open to new ideas, the complex relationship between humans and algorithms — "one has to make space for that which does not compute," he says — and the "unavoidable optimism" in the activity of making. During the 2022-23 academic year, Cal Performances, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) and the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley are participating in a campuswide residency with Kentridge. Cal Performances will present the U.S. premiere of SIBYL on March 17-19. SIBYL is comprised of two parts: The first part of the program, The Moment Has Gone, is a film by Kentridge with live music featuring a piano score by Kyle Shepherd and an all-male vocal chorus led by Nhlanhla Mahlangu; the second part is the chamber opera Waiting for the Sibyl. Learn more about the residency and upcoming events. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Marc Shoul. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
43 minutes | Jan 13, 2023
Adriana Green and Nadia Ellis discuss 'The Yellow House'
Adriana Green, a Ph.D. student in the Department of African American Studies and African Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley, and Nadia Ellis, an associate professor in the Department of English, discuss Sarah Broom's The Yellow House, winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The memoir, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East, tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home. "I am a diaspora scholar and I've had to explain what my field is to many people," says Ellis, who specializes in Black diasporic, Caribbean and postcolonial literatures and cultures. "Sometimes people seem to not understand what the word 'diaspora' means. And I think this is such a wonderful book that one can offer as an example of what it means to feel as if one is both from one place and also displaced from that place — to feel as if the place that claims you maybe most closely is also the place where you can't live, which is an extraordinary and painful and very, very idiosyncratic feeling to have. That's very characteristic actually of Black life and Black life in America." Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
85 minutes | Dec 31, 2022
Emiliana Simon-Thomas on where happiness comes from (revisiting)
In episode #158 of Berkeley Talks, we revisit a lecture by Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, in which she discusses happiness — what it means, where it comes from and how we can enhance it in our lives. “Where does happiness come from?” asks Simon-Thomas, who co-teaches the Science of Happiness, an online course that explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. “Humans have been wondering this for centuries. Early thought and philosophy on happiness was that it was just luck. It was divine favor. It was in the stars whether or not you ended up a happy person or not.” The Greeks and Romans, she says, had the idea that happiness was tied to how virtuous a person was. In another stretch of history, people believed that happiness was about maximizing pleasure and avoiding pain. And then, finally, and perhaps the most recent thinking, she says, is that happiness comes from social connection, from feeling a sense of belonging and community. “There’s some really compelling neuroscience studies that show that if we are isolated, this actually engages pathways and structures in our brain that signal vigilance to threat. So, being alone, being isolated, is actually not a safe state for the average human.” This lecture, given on July 28, 2021, was sponsored by Science at Cal. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
81 minutes | Dec 16, 2022
The social safety net as an investment in children
Hilary Hoynes, a UC Berkeley professor of economics and of public policy, and Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities, discusses the emerging research that examines how the social safety net in the United States — a collection of public programs that delivers aid to low-income populations — affects children's life trajectories. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Photo by Kamaji Ogino via Pexels. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
66 minutes | Dec 2, 2022
Inna Sovsun on what's next in Russia's war on Ukraine
Ukrainian Member of Parliament Inna Sovsun joins Yuriy Gorodnichenko, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley, and Janet Napolitano, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and former secretary of homeland security, to discuss the impact of the war and what comes next for the people of Ukraine. This Nov. 8 event was co-sponsored by UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy; the Center for Security in Politics; the Center for Studies in Higher Education; the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies; and the Institute of European Studies. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
32 minutes | Nov 18, 2022
Poet Alex Dimitrov reads from 'Love and Other Poems'
Alex Dimitrov reads from his 2021 book of poems Love and Other Poems. The Sept. 8 reading was part of the UC Berkeley Library’s monthly event, Lunch Poems. Here’s “July,” one of the poems Dimitrov read during the event: At last it’s impossible to think of anything as I swim through the heat on Broadway and disappear in the Strand. Nobody on these shelves knows who I am but I feel so seen, it’s easy to be aimless not having written a line for weeks. Outside New York continues to be New York. I was half expecting it to be LA but no luck. No luck with the guy I’m seeing, no luck with money, no luck with becoming a saint. I do not want you, perfect life. I decided to stay a poet long ago, I know what I’m in for. And still the free space of the sky lures me back out—not even canonical beauty can keep me inside (and beauty, I’m done with you too). I guess, after all, I’ll take love— sweeping, all-consuming, grandiose love. Don’t just call or ask to go to a movie. That’s off my list too! I want absolutely everything on this Friday afternoon when not one person is looking for me. I’m crazy and lonely. I’ve never been boring. And believe it or not, I’m all I want. Alex Dimitrov is the author of three books of poetry — Love and Other Poems, Together and by Ourselves and Begging for It — and the chapbook American Boys. His poems have been published in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Paris Review and Poetry. He has taught writing at Princeton University, Columbia University and New York University, among other institutions. Previously, he was the senior content editor at the Academy of American Poets, where he edited the popular series Poem-a-Day and American Poets magazine. Lunch Poems is an ongoing poetry reading series at Berkeley that began in 2014. All readings happen from 12:10 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month. Find upcoming talks on the Lunch Poems website and watch videos of past readings on the Lunch Poems YouTube channel. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Sylvie Rosokoff. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
89 minutes | Nov 4, 2022
Judith Heumann on the long fight for inclusion
In Berkeley Talks episode 154, leading disability rights activist and UC Berkeley alumna Judith Heumann discusses her lifelong fight for inclusion and equality. This Oct. 26 talk was part of the Jefferson Memorial Lectures, a series sponsored by Berkeley's Graduate Division. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo courtesy of Judith Heumann. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
59 minutes | Oct 22, 2022
Indigenous access, political ecology in settler states
Clint Carroll, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, gives a talk called "Reuniting with Our Lands and Waters: Indigenous Access and Political Ecology in Settler States." "The early periods of what is known as the U.S. Federal Indian Policy are defined in terms of the specific type of dispossession they entailed," begins Carroll, author of the 2015 book Roots of Our Renewal: Ethnobotany and Cherokee Environmental Governance. "While the removal era of the 1830s forcibly relocated tribes hundreds and thousands of miles from their traditional homelands, the creation of reservations beginning in the mid-1800s also entailed numerous relocations via treaties and land cessions. "The early U.S. conservation movement, coinciding roughly with the establishment of Indian reservations, excluded Native peoples from former hunting-and-gathering areas in the name of wilderness preservation," Carroll continues. "The allotment era, from about 1887 to 1934, broke up Indigenous systems of communal land ownership and opened Native lands to speculators in the market. Since this time, access has become a principle issue for Native peoples — specifically, the ability to access lands and waters through which to enact culturally sustaining practices and ceremonies that are tied to relations of reciprocal care." This Sept. 22 UC Berkeley event was sponsored by the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, part of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. It was co-sponsored by the Native American Studies Program, Native American Student Development, the American Indian Graduate Program, the American Indian Graduate Student Association and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo courtesy of Clint Carroll. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
71 minutes | Oct 10, 2022
U.S. military bases in World War II Latin America
UC Berkeley history professor Rebecca Herman discusses her new book, Cooperating with the Colossus: A Social and Political History of U.S. Military Bases in World War II Latin America. She’s joined by Margaret Chowning, professor and Sonne Chair in Latin American History at Berkeley, and Kyle Jackson, a transnational historian of the Americas and a Berkeley Ph.D. candidate in history. "Typically, when the war comes up, the remarkable thing is that it was this moment where almost every country in the Americas banded together, united around the war effort," says Herman. "So, when I talk about cooperating with the colossus, I'm thinking in this sort of critical way about how people in the region during the Second World War tried to make the most of the United States' sudden attention to the region and willingness to share resources with the region and willingness to send weapons to the region, while also trying to mitigate U.S. overreach and to grapple with the real significant asymmetries of power that structured that cooperative relationship." Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Berkeley Department of History photo. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
48 minutes | Sep 23, 2022
Novelist Ilija Trojanow on the utopian prerogative
Novelist Ilija Trojanow discusses why we need to embrace the idea of utopia in order to imagine a better future. "It's important to not confuse what does exist with what is impossible, which is how most people use the word "utopian" in everyday parlance," Trojanow says. "Progress has, at times, been utopia come true. By envisaging differing realities, we are imagining alternatives into existence. "Truly utopian narratives challenge existing preconceptions by opening windows of thought and fantasy that give life to a multitude of possibilities," Trojanow continues. "In order to survive, we will have to redefine our modes of planetary existence, and this will be impossible without powerful utopian imagination. Thus, utopia is not the art of the impossible, it is the rational of the necessary." Tojanow, author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books, delivered the 2022 Mosse Lecture at UC Berkeley on Sept. 1. The annual lecture was organized by Berkeley's Department of German and the Institute of European Studies, in collaboration with the Mosse Foundation and the German Historical Institute's Pacific Office at Berkeley. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo courtesy of Ilija Trojanow. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
75 minutes | Sep 9, 2022
Activist Pua Case on the movement to protect Mauna Kea
Pua Case, a Native Hawaiian activist and caretaker from the Flores-Case ʻOhana family, discusses the movement to protect Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii and the tallest mountain in the world. "We have been standing successfully for 12 years against the building of a huge telescope," Case said at a Berkeley Center of New Media event on Aug. 29, 2022. "Not because it's a telescope, but because it's an 18-story building of any kind that would be built on the northern plateau in a pristine landscape on a sacred mountain, and for so many reasons. "For 12 years, we have remained visible, we have remained committed, we have remained engaged and fully activated. But it is as if on a daily basis we have never stood because they are determined to build. And so, any of you who are facing what we're facing today, when a corporation, an institution, a developer, whatever the case may be — for us, five countries are determined to build no matter the consequence — it is almost as if you have to re-establish every day that you are here." This talk was presented as part of the Art, Technology and Culture Colloquium, the History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series, and the Indigenous Technologies Initiative. It was co-sponsored by the American Indian Graduate Program, the Arts Research Center, the Department of Ethnic Studies, Media Studies, the Center for Race and Gender, and Native American Studies. Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News. Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Matt Biddulph via Flickr. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.