Berkeley Talks



A podcast that features lectures, conversations, discussions and presentations from UC Berkeley. It's managed by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.


  • Jitendra Malik on the sensorimotor road to artificial intelligence

    24/03/2023 Duration: 55min

    Jitendra Malik, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley, gives the 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecture called, "The sensorimotor road to artificial intelligence.""It's my pleasure to talk on this very, very hot topic today," Malik begins. "But I'm going to talk about natural intelligence first because we can't talk about artificial intelligence without knowing something about the natural variety."We could talk about intelligence as having started about 550 million years ago in the Cambrian era, when we had our first multicellular animals that could move about," he continues. "So, these were the first animals that could move, and that gave them an advantage because they could find food in different places. But if you want to move and find food in different places, you need to perceive, you need to know where to go to, which means that you need to have some kind of a vision system or a perception system. And that's why we have this slogan, which is from Gibs

  • The rise and destruction of the Jewish fashion industry

    10/03/2023 Duration: 01h18min

    Uwe Westphal, author of the 2019 book, Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry, discusses Berlin's once-thriving Jewish fashion industry and how the Nazi confiscations of Jewish-owned companies in the years before World War II led to the industry's demise."The destruction of the entire fashion industry meant forced labor, government-organized theft and the murder and the deportation of Jews," Westphal says. "Today, 78 years after the end of World War II, unlike most other industries in Germany, fashion producers small and large have not yet taken on responsibility for what happened. … A younger generation needs to understand the connection between the Holocaust and the destruction of the Berlin fashion industry.”This Feb. 15, 2023, lecture was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany San Francis

  • Economists on what it'll take to rebuild Ukraine

    24/02/2023 Duration: 01h24min

    To mark the first anniversary of Russia’s initial full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we are sharing a panel discussion with four leading economists about what it'll take to rebuild Ukraine. In this Feb. 14 talk, the panelists summarize trends in the region before the war, assess war damage and propose paths forward, laying the groundwork for future recovery efforts and increasing the chances of post-war success in revitalizing Ukraine.A recent Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) report, “Rebuilding Ukraine: Principles and Policies,” provides a background for the panel. The report is available to download in English and Ukrainian.Panelists include:Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Quantedge Presidential Professor of Economics, UC BerkeleyBarry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science, UC BerkeleyGérard Roland, E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics and Professor of Political Science, UC BerkeleyRoger Myerson, David L. Pearson Distinguished Service Professor of Global

  • Women of the Black Panther Party

    11/02/2023 Duration: 01h26min

    In celebration of the new book Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party, three women — Judy Juanita, Madalynn Rucker and Ericka Huggins — discuss their time with the Black Panther Party at a UC Berkeley event in October 2022. "I knew that my big purpose was to learn how to love because I was raised in a community that was not loved," says Ericka Huggins, who co-authored Comrade Sisters with photographer Stephen Shames and was director of Oakland Community School led by the Black Panther Party. "I could see the impact on the future generation's understanding that I came from a generation that didn't have what we were offering. And it worked."Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

  • Artist William Kentridge on staying open to the 'less good' ideas

    28/01/2023 Duration: 01h27min

    World-renowned South African artist William Kentridge discusses the process of making the 2019 chamber opera Waiting for the Sibyl. He also touches on why artists should stay open to new ideas, the complex relationship between humans and algorithms — "one has to make space for that which does not compute," he says — and the "unavoidable optimism" in the activity of making.During the 2022-23 academic year, Cal Performances, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) and the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley are participating in a campuswide residency with Kentridge.Cal Performances will present the U.S. premiere of SIBYL on March 17-19. SIBYL is comprised of two parts: The first part of the program, The Moment Has Gone, is a film by Kentridge with live music featuring a piano score by Kyle Shepherd and an all-male vocal chorus led by Nhlanhla Mahlangu; the second part is the chamber opera Waiting for the Sibyl. Learn more about the residency and upcoming events.Read a transcript

  • Adriana Green and Nadia Ellis discuss 'The Yellow House'

    13/01/2023 Duration: 43min

    Adriana Green, a Ph.D. student in the Department of African American Studies and African Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley, and Nadia Ellis, an associate professor in the Department of English, discuss Sarah Broom's The Yellow House, winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The memoir, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East, tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home."I am a diaspora scholar and I've had to explain what my field is to many people," says Ellis, who specializes in Black diasporic, Caribbean and postcolonial literatures and cultures. "Sometimes people seem to not understand what the word 'diaspora' means. And I think this is such a wonderful book that one can offer as an example of what it means to feel as if one is both from one place and also displaced from that place — to feel as if the place that claims you maybe most closely is also the place where you can't live, which is an extraordinary and painful and very, very idiosyncratic feeling to have. That

  • Emiliana Simon-Thomas on where happiness comes from (revisiting)

    31/12/2022 Duration: 01h25min

    In episode #158 of Berkeley Talks, we revisit a lecture by Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, in which she discusses happiness — what it means, where it comes from and how we can enhance it in our lives.“Where does happiness come from?” asks Simon-Thomas, who co-teaches the Science of Happiness, an online course that explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. “Humans have been wondering this for centuries. Early thought and philosophy on happiness was that it was just luck. It was divine favor. It was in the stars whether or not you ended up a happy person or not.”The Greeks and Romans, she says, had the idea that happiness was tied to how virtuous a person was. In another stretch of history, people believed that happiness was about maximizing pleasure and avoiding pain. And then, finally, and perhaps the most recent thinking, she says, is that happiness comes from social connection, from feeling a sense of belonging and community.“There’s some r

  • The social safety net as an investment in children

    16/12/2022 Duration: 01h20min

    Hilary Hoynes, a UC Berkeley professor of economics and of public policy, and Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities, discusses the emerging research that examines how the social safety net in the United States — a collection of public programs that delivers aid to low-income populations — affects children's life trajectories.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Photo by Kamaji Ogino via Pexels.Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

  • Inna Sovsun on what's next in Russia's war on Ukraine

    02/12/2022 Duration: 01h05min

    Ukrainian Member of Parliament Inna Sovsun joins Yuriy Gorodnichenko, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley, and Janet Napolitano, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and former secretary of homeland security, to discuss the impact of the war and what comes next for the people of Ukraine. This Nov. 8 event was co-sponsored by UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy; the Center for Security in Politics; the Center for Studies in Higher Education; the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies; and the Institute of European Studies.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

  • Poet Alex Dimitrov reads from 'Love and Other Poems'

    18/11/2022 Duration: 32min

    Alex Dimitrov reads from his 2021 book of poems Love and Other Poems. The Sept. 8 reading was part of the UC Berkeley Library’s monthly event, Lunch Poems.Here’s “July,” one of the poems Dimitrov read during the event:At last it’s impossible to think of anythingas I swim through the heat on Broadway and disappear in the Strand. Nobodyon these shelves knows who I ambut I feel so seen, it’s easy to be aimlessnot having written a line for weeks.Outside New York continues to be New York.I was half expecting it to be LAbut no luck. No luck with the guyI’m seeing, no luck with money,no luck with becoming a saint.I do not want you, perfect life.I decided to stay a poet long ago,I know what I’m in for. And stillthe free space of the skylures me back out—not evencanonical beauty can keep me inside(and beauty, I’m done with you too).I guess, after all, I’ll take love—sweeping, all-consuming,grandiose love. Don’t just callor ask to go to a movie.That’s off my list too!I want absolutely everythingon this Friday

  • Judith Heumann on the long fight for inclusion

    04/11/2022 Duration: 01h29min

    In Berkeley Talks episode 154, leading disability rights activist and UC Berkeley alumna Judith Heumann discusses her lifelong fight for inclusion and equality. This Oct. 26 talk was part of the Jefferson Memorial Lectures, a series sponsored by Berkeley's Graduate Division.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Photo courtesy of Judith Heumann. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

  • Indigenous access, political ecology in settler states

    22/10/2022 Duration: 59min

    Clint Carroll, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, gives a talk called "Reuniting with Our Lands and Waters: Indigenous Access and Political Ecology in Settler States.""The early periods of what is known as the U.S. Federal Indian Policy are defined in terms of the specific type of dispossession they entailed," begins Carroll, author of the 2015 book Roots of Our Renewal: Ethnobotany and Cherokee Environmental Governance. "While the removal era of the 1830s forcibly relocated tribes hundreds and thousands of miles from their traditional homelands, the creation of reservations beginning in the mid-1800s also entailed numerous relocations via treaties and land cessions."The early U.S. conservation movement, coinciding roughly with the establishment of Indian reservations, excluded Native peoples from former hunting-and-gathering areas in the name of wilderness preservation," Carroll continues. "The allotment era, from about 1887 t

  • U.S. military bases in World War II Latin America

    10/10/2022 Duration: 01h11min

    UC Berkeley history professor Rebecca Herman discusses her new book, Cooperating with the Colossus: A Social and Political History of U.S. Military Bases in World War II Latin America. She’s joined by Margaret Chowning, professor and Sonne Chair in Latin American History at Berkeley, and Kyle Jackson, a transnational historian of the Americas and a Berkeley Ph.D. candidate in history."Typically, when the war comes up, the remarkable thing is that it was this moment where almost every country in the Americas banded together, united around the war effort," says Herman. "So, when I talk about cooperating with the colossus, I'm thinking in this sort of critical way about how people in the region during the Second World War tried to make the most of the United States' sudden attention to the region and willingness to share resources with the region and willingness to send weapons to the region, while also trying to mitigate U.S. overreach and to grapple with the real significant asymmetries of power that

  • Novelist Ilija Trojanow on the utopian prerogative

    23/09/2022 Duration: 47min

    Novelist Ilija Trojanow discusses why we need to embrace the idea of utopia in order to imagine a better future."It's important to not confuse what does exist with what is impossible, which is how most people use the word "utopian" in everyday parlance," Trojanow says. "Progress has, at times, been utopia come true. By envisaging differing realities, we are imagining alternatives into existence."Truly utopian narratives challenge existing preconceptions by opening windows of thought and fantasy that give life to a multitude of possibilities," Trojanow continues. "In order to survive, we will have to redefine our modes of planetary existence, and this will be impossible without powerful utopian imagination. Thus, utopia is not the art of the impossible, it is the rational of the necessary."Tojanow, author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books, delivered the 2022 Mosse Lecture at UC Berkeley on Sept. 1. The annual lecture was organized by Berkeley's Department of German and the Institute of European Stud

  • Activist Pua Case on the movement to protect Mauna Kea

    09/09/2022 Duration: 01h15min

    Pua Case, a Native Hawaiian activist and caretaker from the Flores-Case ʻOhana family, discusses the movement to protect Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii and the tallest mountain in the world."We have been standing successfully for 12 years against the building of a huge telescope," Case said at a Berkeley Center of New Media event on Aug. 29, 2022. "Not because it's a telescope, but because it's an 18-story building of any kind that would be built on the northern plateau in a pristine landscape on a sacred mountain, and for so many reasons."For 12 years, we have remained visible, we have remained committed, we have remained engaged and fully activated. But it is as if on a daily basis we have never stood because they are determined to build. And so, any of you who are facing what we're facing today, when a corporation, an institution, a developer, whatever the case may be — for us, five countries are determined to build no matter the consequence — it is almost as if you

  • How we learn language across communities and cultures

    27/08/2022 Duration: 01h35min

    In Berkeley Talks episode 149, Mahesh Srinivasan, an associate professor in UC Berkeley's Department of Psychology, discusses the importance of child-directed speech in language learning, how poverty may suppress parents' speech to their children and how children learn language from overheard speech, a main form of children’s early experience with language in many cultures around the world.This March 2022 lecture was sponsored by Science At Cal.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Photo by Esteban Benites via Unsplash. Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit for more information.

  • Learning from nature to design better robots

    13/08/2022 Duration: 01h01min

    Robert Full, a professor of integrative biology and founder of the Center for Interdisciplinary Biological Inspiration in Education and Research at UC Berkeley, discusses how nature and its creatures — cockroaches, squirrels, centipedes, geckos — inspire innovative design in all sorts of useful things, from bomb-detecting, stair-climbing robots to prosthetics and other medical equipment.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Photo by Tate Lohmiller via Unsplash.Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit for more information.

  • Scholars on using fantasy to reimagine Blackness

    29/07/2022 Duration: 01h31min

    A panel of scholars discusses UC Berkeley professor Darieck Scott's new book Keeping It Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics, which explores how fantasies of Black power and triumph in superhero comics and other genres create challenges to — and respite from — white supremacy and anti-Blackness.Listen to the discussion and read a transcript on Berkeley News.Graphic courtesy of the Othering and Belonging Institute. See for privacy and opt-out information.

  • America wants gun control. Why doesn't it have it? (revisiting)

    15/07/2022 Duration: 01h26min

    "If having a gun really made you safer, then America would be one of the safest countries in the world. It’s not," said Gary Younge, a professor of sociology at Manchester University and former editor-at-large at the Guardian, in a lecture at UC Berkeley on March 4, 2020."Yet while Americans consistently favor more gun control," Younge continued, "gun laws have generally become more lax. That is partly due to the material resources of the gun lobby. But it is also about the central role of the gun, what it represents in the American narrative, and the inability of gun control advocates to develop a counter-narrative. ... When the national narrative is a story of conquering, dominating, force and power, a broad atavistic attachment to the gun can have more pull than narrower rational arguments to contain it."Listen to the lecture and read a transcript on Berkeley News.Detail of a mural by Kyle Holbrook and local youth in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Terence Faircloth via Flickr) See for privacy

  • ACLU leader on how voter suppression works

    01/07/2022 Duration: 59min

    Abdi Soltani, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, discussed on Feb. 18, 2022, key moments for voting rights and elections throughout U.S. history, current threats to voting that are unfolding across the country and work the ACLU is doing in California.Listen to the episode and read a transcript on Berkeley News.Follow Berkeley Talks and review us on Apple Podcasts.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.AP photo by Morry Gash. See for privacy and opt-out information.

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