Director’s Lecture Series

Gleditsia triacanthos 'skyline' 485-56-ADirector’s Lecture Series

Each winter, Director William (Ned) Friedman and the Arnold Arboretum present the Director’s Lecture Series, featuring nationally recognized experts addressing an array of topics related to Earth’s biodiversity and evolutionary history, the environment, conservation biology, and key social issues associated with current science. The Director’s Lecture Series is open to current Arnold Arboretum members only; visit our membership page for information on becoming a member. Lectures take place in the Hunnewell Building Lecture Hall. Parking will be available along the Arborway and in front of the Hunnewell Building on lecture nights.

Visit Past DLS Series to see descriptions and listen to audio (when available) of past lectures.

2020 Series

William (Ned) Friedman

Asa Gray, Charles Darwin, and the Discovery of Intercontinental Disjuncts

William (Ned) Friedman, PhD, Arnold Arboretum Director and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

Monday, February 3, 7:00–8:30pm; Hunnewell Building

“Eastern Asia – eastern North America temperate woody disjuncts” is a mouthful. But, once you get the hang of it, you will discover the fascinating evolutionary stories of botanical emigrants that have journeyed from Asia to North America and evolved into much of what now makes up forest ecosystems in the eastern United States. You will also discover that the Arnold Arboretum holds one of the most important collections of such disjuncts, and that for nearly a century and a half, has been facilitating family reunions between such long-separated evolutionary cousins. This biogeographic story of temperate trees and shrubs began to unfold in the mid-nineteenth century with none other than Charles Darwin and Asa Gray, then Harvard Professor of Natural History. Wait until you hear about their correspondence!
Fee Free. Members only. Registration required as seating is limited
Emily Broad Leib

Food Waste Policy: Using Systems Change to Stop Squandering One of Our Greatest Resources

Emily Broad Lieb, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, and Deputy Director of the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

Monday, February 24, 7:00–8:30pm; Hunnewell Building

More than enough food is produced to feed every person, yet nearly 40% of food is wasted in the United States. This waste squanders our natural resources and has negative impacts on the environment and the economy. The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic has been at the forefront nationally in terms of educating about the relevant laws, supporting innovative models to increase food recovery, and driving policy change at the federal, state, and local levels to align incentives to reduce food waste. Emily Broad Leib will share the key knowledge developed by FLPC, providing an overview of the causes of food waste, the key legal and policy opportunities, and a snapshot of current trends in federal and state government approaches to the issue.
Fee Free. Members only. Registration required as seating is limited
Stephen Pinker

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Monday, March 9, 7:00–8:30pm; Hunnewell Building

Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Assessing the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophesies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, Pinker suggests that we follow the data with which he shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

Fee Free. Members only. Registration required as seating is limited

The Director’s Lecture Series is a benefit of membership. Become a member of the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum.