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Chancellor’s Lecture Series


The Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Lecture Series strives to connect the university and the Nashville community with leaders and visionaries who are shaping our world. For more information, email


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Fall 2019 Lineup

George Takei

October 2, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

“Takei’s Take: Reflections on Defying the Status Quo in America”
Keynote + Q&A

Takei, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise in 1960s science fiction classic Star Trek, has become a powerful voice on topics from politics to pop culture. During the lecture, he will share his complex story of American identity that spans from his family’s forced internment as Japanese Americans during World War II to his role in the fight for marriage equality in the United States. His lecture is part of the university’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.


Doris Kearns Goodwin

October 31, 4:30 p.m. (Doors open at 3:30 p.m.)
Ingram Hall at Blair School of Music

“Presidential Leadership Lessons”
Discussion moderated by Jon Meacham, Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in the American Presidency and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt

The two Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historians will discuss “Presidential Leadership Lessons” in Ingram Hall at the Blair School of Music on Thursday, Oct. 31. Goodwin, the 2009 Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal recipient and author of presidential biographies on Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, will engage in an hour-long conversation with Meacham, author of presidential biographies on Andrew Jackson and George H.W. Bush.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

November 21, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

Keynote + Q&A

Adichie, who was born in Nigeria and came to study in the U.S. at the age of 19, spurred international attention in 2009 with her TED Talk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story,” which illustrated the harmful effects of failing to acknowledge the full complexity of others in both literature and society. The speech has become one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time with over 19 million views on alone.


Amanda Little, Steven Pinker & Carl Zimmer

December 3, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

“2020 and Beyond: Tackling Global Issues in the Decades to Come”

Panel discussion moderated by Jon Meacham, featuring Writer-in-residence Amanda Little

(L-R) Amanda Little, Steven Pinker, Carl Zimmer

Rounding out the fall lineup is a panel discussion on the most pressing global issues in the decades to come.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, Meacham will moderate a discussion in Langford Auditorium featuring cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, award-winning science journalist and New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer and Vanderbilt Writer-in-Residence Amanda Little, who recently published The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World.

Over the course of the evening, the panelists will consider the cross-cultural international collaborations needed to solve these burgeoning problems.


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