University Lecture Series

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University Lecture Series

University Lecture Series

Designed to create a campus-wide conversation, the University Lecture Series gives first-year students an opportunity to interact with leading members of our faculty—scholars, scientists, and civic leaders who are nationally and internationally renowned. All students, faculty, alumni, staff and community guests are invited, but the events will be aimed at entering first-year students. The series is funded by the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Excellence Fund for Undergraduate Studies.

View archived ULS events.

Fall 2019 Lecture Series

Defendant…How Do You Plead? A Look Into the American Justice System

Dr. Jim Patton, Department of Special Education; Prof. Jordan Steiker, School of Law; Dr. Mary Rose, Department of Sociology

Sept. 23 | 7-8 p.m. | Bass Concert Hall

Professor Steiker’s talk will focus on the past, present, and future of the American death penalty. Professor Steiker will focus on topics such as – the role of race in the American death penalty; the substantial withering of American capital practice; the changing discourse in the American death penalty debate; the prospects for abolition in the U.S.; and the American death penalty in comparative/international perspective.

In this talk, Dr. Rose will suggest that defendants “plead” far too often. Specifically, she will talk about the important role of juries in the American legal system. She will argue that, although juries are by no means perfect decision makers, they were integral to the Founders’ vision of a fair legal system, and particularly within the last half-century, we have permitted powerful others to seize the jury’s power, making the system less fair.

Prof. James Patton talk will focus on how the death penalty applies to individuals who have, or are believed to have, intellectual disability (ID). In 2002, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that the death penalty could not be used with individuals who have an intellectual disability. His talk will focus on the realities and issues associated with this exemption. Prof. Patton will share his experiences serving as an intellectual disability specialist in over 60 cases in which an ID claim has been raised. Specifically, he will highlight the ongoing issues in demonstrating that someone has ID in death penalty cases.

Watch the lecture.

One Giant Leap: 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing

Dr. Moriba Jah, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics; Dr. Caitlin Casey, Department of Astronomy; Dr. Wallace Fowler, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Sept. 24 | 7-8 p.m. | Bass Concert Hall

Dr. Jah will speak about the current state of space traffic and why we possibly face a “tragedy of the commons” in near Earth space and what he suggests we need to do to try and prevent such a thing, promoting space security, safety, and sustainability.

Dr. Fowler will discuss selected memories of the preparations for Apollo.

The past fifty years have been special for our relationship and evolving understanding of the cosmos. While we have taken our first steps beyond our Earth, we have set our eyes on a horizon almost incomprehensibly vast: the Universe itself. Astronomers and Astrophysicists have learned so much from the development of modern cameras and space-based observatories, from the formation of planetary systems around other stars to the most distant specs of light that have traveled billions of years to reach us. Dr. Casey will look back on some of these profound discoveries and how difficult they were while also providing an outlook for the future of astronomy and its relationship to space exploration.

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Associated Event

Sustainability Symposium
Oct. 25 | 8 a.m.-3 p.m. | Mulva Auditorium (EER)

This all-day event, funded by the generosity of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, highlights the collaborative research and work that UT students, staff and faculty perform every day on campus. Special attention will be paid to how UT Austin functions as a living lab through a series of rapid-fire talks. Additionally, Dean Michelle Addington of the School of Architecture will give a special keynote address. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on a first-come, first served basis. Please note that no food or drink is allowed in the Mulva Auditorium. Learn more.

Featured Video

Hear from University Lecture Series participants about their valuable experiences with the program.