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Ray Kurzweil at a lecture
About MCLA

Notable Speakers

We routinely welcome notable speakers to campus who meet with students and faculty, present to the community, and complement our academic mission. Recent speakers include:

  • Cokie Roberts, Political Commentator ABC News and NPR
  • Joy Reid, MSNBC Political Commentator
  • Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist, and a Director of Engineering at Google
  • Gloria Steinem, writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist
  • Jeff Corwin, Animal Planet Host and Leading Conservationist
  • Andrew Young lecturingAmbassador Andrew Young, Ambassador, Congressman, Mayor, and humanitarian
  • Senator George J. Mitchell, global diplomat, peace negotiator, and leadership expert
  • Zainab Salbi, author and co-founder of Women to Women International
  • Dr. Robert M. Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense 2006-2011
  • Vandana Shiva, world-renowned environmental leader

Hardman Lecture Series

Charlayne Hunter-GaultThis lecture series presents in-depth discussions with some of the leading journalists of our time and is made possible through the generosity of the Hardman Family Endowment.

Liz Plank

"Modern Feminism: It's Not Just About Women"

Liz PlankJournalist, Executive Producer, Vox Media
Thursday, October 10, 2019, 6 p.m.
Church Street Center
Free and Open to the Public
Information: 413.662.5224

Liz is an award-winning journalist and the Executive Producer of Divided States of Women at Vox Media where she also hosts Facebook Watch’s Consider It. In 2016, she produced and hosted 2016ish, an award-winning series about the presidential election.

Prior to Vox, she was a Senior Correspondent at Mic and co-creator of Flip The Script, an award-winning weekly video series confronting social issues. In 2016, she presented a TedxTalk, How to Be a Man: A Woman's Guide, which she is currently using to inspire her first book, which will be published by St. Martin's Press in 2019. Liz is amongst Mediaite's 2016 Most Influential in News Media and was ranked as one of the 50 most influential women by Marie Claire. In 2015, she was a correspondent for MSNBC's Krystal Clear and was named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Media.

Elizabeth and Lawrence Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture Series

This annual lecture series is named for Professor Lawrence H. Vadnais and is sponsored by the Vadnais Endowment.

Bill McKibbenBill McKibben

Author, environmentalist, and activist
Thursday, December 5, 2019, 7 p.m.
Murdock Hall, Sammer Dennis Room (218)
Free and Open to the Public
Information: 413.662.5224

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

Public Policy Lecture Series

In 2008, MCLA announced the establishment of the Public Policy Lecture Series, making public policy forums an ongoing part of the College's long-term speaker offerings, in complement to MCLA's major in political science and public policy. The series is made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust.

Senator Jeff Flake

Election 2020 and the State of U.S. Politics

Senator Jeff FlakeThursday, April 23, 2020, 7 p.m.
Church Street Center Auditorium

Free and Open to the Public
Information: 413.662.5224

Drawing on his nearly two decades of experience on Capitol Hill, in both the Senate and House of Representatives, Jeff Flake shares candid, thought-provoking, and engaging insights on today’s political climate. Combining riveting anecdotes from his time in office, lessons from his New York Times bestselling book Conscience of a Conservative, and insights on the importance of civil leadership and bipartisanship, Flake paints a vivid picture of our current political environment and where we can expect our nation’s democracy to go from here.

“We are no longer used to great Senate speeches,” wrote Lawfare Editor in Chief, Benjamin Wittes, in October 2017. “And then rises one Jeff Flake and delivers not merely a great speech but also a genuinely important one, perhaps the single most important address given on the Senate floor in my memory.”

Author of the New York Times best seller Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, Senator Flake has taken a lonely stand for principle and civility in an era of hyper-partisanship.

© 2019 Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts