Humanities


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What does it means to be literate in the age of Google?  At a time when you can search billions of texts in milliseconds, scan over trillions of online images, and look deeply into planet-wide maps, we need to rethink what it means to be literate, and to be a learner. Dan Russell, the Űber Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness at Google, reviews what literacy means today and shows how some very surprising and unexpected skills will turn out to be critical in the years ahead. Recorded on 10/18/2018.

Undermining widely held beliefs about the black-Jewish alliance, Marc Dollinger, Professor of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, describes a new political consensus, based on identity politics, that drew blacks and Jews together and altered the course of American liberalism. Dollinger's most recent book takes a new and different look at Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, showing how American Jews leveraged the Black Power movement to increase Jewish ethnic and religious identity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Recorded on 01/14/2019.

In the United States, privacy is considered a fundamental right. Yet today our activities are followed to a degree unfathomable not long ago by way of cell phones, online behaviors, and more. As genomic technologies continue to expand, another avenue now exists by which we may potentially be scrutinized: DNA sequence. Our genetic information contains our most private details, but we leave it everywhere and share the sequence closely with dozens or even hundreds of relatives. Laura Rivard, PhD, professor of biology at the University of San Diego, discusses ways in which our DNA may "escape" from our control, what can actually be done with the sequence, and whether there is cause for concern.

UCLA history professor Brenda Stevenson studies slavery and the Antebellum South, some of our country's most painful moments and eras. Because there is not much in the way of documentary evidence of the lives of women of color, enslaved women and women from the South, Stevenson must work as an investigator to discover their inner lives and experiences. This is often done through stories told through the age, some of which she shares in the UCLA Faculty Lecture. Recorded on 10/30/2019.

Twentieth-Century African American Freedom Struggles transformed both US and World History. These seminal liberation struggles include the important yet relatively unknown series of early twentieth-century southern African American streetcar boycotts as well as the iconic Civil Rights-Black Power Insurgency (1935-75). First, Waldo Martin examines why and how these foundational freedom struggles proved essential to the making of the modern African American Freedom Movement. Second, he examines the centrality of the modern African American Freedom Movement to both the creation of the modern United States and the development of the modern world. Waldo Martin is the Alexander F. & May T. Morrison Professor of American History & Citizenship at the University of California, Berkeley.

Empathy and grace in business and society can lead to profound change. Neal Nybo, Ken Blanchard, Nicole J. Phillips, Barbara Glanz and Jacques Spitzer discuss enthusiastic servant leadership and the practice of being tender with each other. One kind act can change a life and motivate a community. Recorded on 10/19/2019.

Social media and big data can have important practical applications in public health, disaster management, transportation, and urban planning. Data scientists are using machine learning algorithms, computer vision, and natural language processing to collect and analyze social media data (such as Facebook and YouTube) and environmental sensor/camera data to study human communications and movements. These big data technologies can be powerful tools to predict short-term future events, such as flu outbreaks, severe air pollution, traffic congestion, the weather, and patterns of disaster evacuation. At the same time, these technologies monitor users' digital footprints, opinions and geolocations. Ming-Hsiang Tsou, PhD discusses the challenges in social media analytics, including data noise and biases, fake news, and data privacy. Recorded on 03/04/2020.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of engineering that has traditionally ignored brains, but recent advances in biologically-inspired deep learning have dramatically changed AI and made it possible to solve difficult problems in vision, planning and natural language. If you talk to Alexa or use Google Translate, you have experienced deep learning in action. This new technology opens a Pandora's box of problems that we must confront regarding privacy, bias and jobs. Terry Sejnowski, PhD, explains how his research strives to understand the computational resources of brains and to build linking principles from brain to behavior using computational models.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen is a writer and Clinical Psychologist from Tel Aviv University. In her talk, she delves into the world of her newest novel, The Liar. Written with propulsive energy, dark humor, and deep insight, The Liar reveals the far-reaching consequences of even our smallest choices, and explores the hidden corners of human nature to reveal the liar, and the truth-teller, in all of us. Recorded on 11/17/2019.

In her new book, Ecopiety, Sarah McFarland Taylor offers an absorbing examination of the intersections of environmental sensibilities, contemporary expressions of piety and devotion, and American popular culture. Ecopiety evidences the important "work" taking place as mediated popular culture plays an integral role in framing contemporary American environmental moral and ethical sensibilities. Recorded on 01/14/2020.

The privilege and challenge of extending Margaret Atwoods source novel, the unexpected opportunities arising from a new location, and writing scenes that feel like a horror film all arise in this lively conversation about The Handmaid's Tale between writer/producer Kira Snyder and Carsey-Wolf Center associate director Emily Zinn. In this video, Snyder discusses breaking down the story arcs for season two and the choice to isolate Junes character when she gives birth. Recorded on 02/04/2020.

The challenge of blending three sound sources, the kinescope recording system, and the multimedia afterlives of 1950s television programs all arise in this conversation between film professor Ross Melnick, UCLA archivist Mark Quigley, and sound engineer Nicholas Bergh about the ABC television program Stars of Jazz. In this video, Quigley discusses the process of selecting which episodes to restore, and Bergh describes the principles of sound fidelity that guide his restoration work. Recorded on 03/03/2020.

Nationwide, universities are facing new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor of UC San Diego shares how his background in engineering and academia has shaped his approach to navigating these unprecedented times.

Scholar Henry Powell, MD discusses Irish women who showed great resilience in overcoming social and political difficulties in the first century of Irish independence. Powell surveys women's struggles during the Irish war of independence (the Rebel Countess: Constance Markiewicz); Irish women artists of international distinction; Irish writers such as Elizabeth Bowen; Irish leaders in the struggle for reproductive freedom; and Irish women who used journalism, social science and community history to bring to light huge injustices due to an unholy partnership between Church and State. Their efforts made Ireland a better nation as the long arc of its first century comes to a close. Recorded on 06/05/2020.

New film release models, cinemas in a post-COVID world, and opening night vibes at Magic Mike XXL all arise in this conversation about moviegoing during a pandemic between New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, Art House Convergence managing director Alison Kozberg, and UC-Santa Barbara professor Ross Melnick. In this video, the three reminisce about favorite movie theater memories and find hope in the potential for revitalized public cinema going after the current health crisis. Recorded on 04/30/2020.
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