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.


  • What are Berkeley's Latinx Thriving Initiatives?

    22/09/2023 Duration: 52min

    In Berkeley Talks episode 180, Dania Matos and Fabrizio Mejia, vice chancellor and associate vice chancellor, respectively, for UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, join Berkeley student Angelica Garcia to discuss the campus’s Latinx Thriving Initiatives (LTI) and how these efforts are supporting Berkeley’s goal of not only becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), but also of transforming Berkeley into a Latinx Thriving Institution.“There's a practical standpoint of this that's about becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution,” begins Matos. “That's why you'll hear HSIs a lot, and it's important in that naming and framing. Dr. Gina Garcia is a sort of national expert who talks about this, but for us, it's really taking it beyond that. Because becoming an HSI is about 25% enrollment of undergraduate students, which, by the way, the federal government does not count graduate students, and we care about graduate students here, too.“For us, we're thinking about (how to) build this ecosyste

  • Poet Ishion Hutchinson reads 'The Mud Sermon' and other poems

    08/09/2023 Duration: 41min

    In Berkeley Talks episode 179, Jamaican poet Ishion Hutchinson reads several poems, including "The Mud Sermon," "The Bicycle Eclogue" and "After the Hurricane." His April reading was part of the UC Berkeley Library’s monthly event Lunch Poems."I take this voyage into poetry very seriously," begins Hutchinson, "and take none of it for granted, because of the weight of history, both growing up in Jamaica and knowing the violent history that comes with that. But also the violence, too, of canon, and seeing that my work as a poet, in part, is to figure out what sort of emancipatory forces I should summon. Luckily, I stand in great shoulders within the Caribbean tradition of many poets and writers that I admire, and envy, and wish they hadn't been born. Don't tell them that. This isn't recorded, of course."Here’s “A Mud Sermon,” one of the poems Hutchinson read during the event:They shovelled the long trenches day and night.Frostbitten mud. Shellshock mud. Dungheap mud. Imperial mud.Venereal mud. Ma

  • Michael Brown's family on keeping his memory alive

    25/08/2023 Duration: 01h48min

    In Berkeley Talks episode 178, Rashad Arman Timmons, a fellow at UC Berkeley’s Black Studies Collaboratory, joins in conversation with the family of Michael Brown Jr., whose 2014 killing by police in Ferguson, Missouri, ignited a wave of protests across the country.During the March 8, 2023, discussion, Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., his stepmother, Cal Brown, and Timmons consider the enduring significance of Ferguson in the nation’s racial landscape and ponder Black grief as a resource for social transformation.“A note on grief,” begins Timmons. “We grieve because we care. We grieve because we love. And we grieve because we remember. I feel a responsibility to say this, to acknowledge grief for what it truly is: an ethical act of care, a radical act of love and a persistent triumph of memory.“When we grieve the Black dead and dying, we enact an urgent care for them. We profess a vigilant love over them and nurture a commitment to remember them. Christina Sharpe in her beautiful theorizing c

  • Oppenheimer's Berkeley years

    16/08/2023 Duration: 01h27min

    In Berkeley Talks episode 177, a panel of scholars discusses theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and how his years at UC Berkeley shaped him, and how he shaped the university.Oppenheimer, the subject of Christopher Nolan’s summer 2023 film Oppenheimer, came to Berkeley in 1929 as an assistant professor and over the next dozen years established one of the greatest schools of theoretical physics. He went on to direct the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, during which the first nuclear weapons were developed. He’s often referred to as “the father of the atomic bomb.”“Exceptional students and postdocs flocked here to Berkeley to work with him,” began Cathryn Carson, a Berkeley professor of history and a specialist in the history of 20th century physics, who moderated the July 28 discussion at Berkeley.“As we’ll hear today,” she continued, “the style of work that Oppenheimer unfolded at Berkeley was collaborative, pointed, directed at hard problems, not always success

  • Jessica Morse on how we can live with fire

    28/07/2023 Duration: 01h25min

    In this Berkeley Talks episode, Jessica Morse, the deputy secretary for forest and wildland resilience at the California Natural Resources Agency, discusses the current wildfire crisis in California and how we got here, strategies the state is implementing, and lessons they've learned in order to decrease catastrophic wildfires and create more resilient forests.Morse began her Nov. 4, 2022, lecture with a story about the Camp Fire, the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century that killed 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 structures in Northern California. "The story for me starts Nov. 8, 2018, almost four years ago to the day the campfire broke out in Paradise," began Morse. "I think all of us have some story of knowing where we were that day. It was a game-changer in terms of the deadliest, most devastating fire we've seen in California history. I went up there a couple days later to go help out and volunteer with the relief efforts. And what I saw was striking: We had 54,000 people displaced in

  • Siri creator Adam Cheyer shares secrets of entrepreneurship

    14/07/2023 Duration: 01h26min

    Siri creator Adam Cheyer talks about the long road to launching the virtual assistant, how to take an entrepreneurial idea from conception to impact and why he doesn't see anything as a failure."An entrepreneur and a magician are exactly the same," begins Cheyer, who also founded the startups, Viv Labs, Sentient and Bixby. "An entrepreneur needs to imagine an impossible future. Think about Siri: 20 years ago, if I told you that you could pull a device out of your pocket, it would know who you are and where you are and you could just talk to it using your words and it would not only talk back to you, but do things for you, book that reservation, buy a movie ticket, you would've thought that were magic."An entrepreneur has to imagine an impossible future that's desirable, that doesn't exist ... So, you have to reach far as an entrepreneur, dream big, dream magical. But you have to be very clear (and answer) 'Why would we want such a thing?'"This Feb. 9, 2021, talk was part of UC Berkeley's Sutar

  • Legal scholars unpack Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action

    10/07/2023 Duration: 01h01min

    In this episode, three leading legal scholars — john a. powell, director of UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI); Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law; and Sheryll Cashin, professor of law at Georgetown Law School — discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public and private universities cannot use race as a factor in admitting students. The court, with its conservative justices in the majority, ruled that such affirmative action violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, reversing decades of legal precedent.In California, UC Berkeley and other public colleges and universities have been prohibited from considering race in admissions since 1996, when voters approved Proposition 209.“The Supreme Court ignores the tremendous difference between using race to harm minorities as opposed to using race to remedy past discrimination and enhance diversity,” said Chemerinsky at the July 3 event, moderated by OBI Assistant Director Stephen Menendian. “When John Roberts tries to in

  • Poets laureate share works about creation, sacrifice and home

    30/06/2023 Duration: 01h18min

    In this episode, three poets laureate — Lee Herrick, the first Asian American poet laureate of California; Kealoha, Hawai'i’s first poet laureate; and Nadia Elbgal, the Oakland youth poet laureate — perform and read their works in celebration of National Poetry Month in April.Kealoha, a slam champion who has a degree in nuclear physics from MIT, began by performing a scene from his film, The Story of Everything, a creation story inspired by his son that tells 13.8 billion years worth of time, from the Big Bang to human life on Earth. Next, Elbgal, a Yemeni American activist and recent Berkeley High graduate, read three works of hers, including "Product of a Blended Culture" and "Spark." The event concluded with a reading by Herrick, who shared several pieces from his latest book of poetry, Scar and Flower.This April 20 event was presented by UC Berkeley's Arts Research Center in partnership with Engaging the Senses Foundation, and co-sponsored by the Center for Race and Gender and the English and ethnic studi

  • Biden economic adviser on building a clean energy economy

    16/06/2023 Duration: 01h20min

    Heather Boushey, a member of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and chief economist to the Investing in America Cabinet, discusses Biden's plan to build a clean energy economy in the U.S. "The president has made clear, I feel like gazillions of times at this point, that his goal is to build an economy from the bottom up and middle out," began Boushey at the March 22 event at UC Berkeley. "He wants an economy where growth is strong, sustainable. Where gains are broadly shared. Where the economy is stable, not just strong. Where our industries are globally competitive. Where we have a strong and vibrant middle class. Where we run our economy on clean energy and we bring down carbon emissions. And where we move beyond longstanding inequities."And so, we at the CEA, we help the president as he is thinking about the economics behind how we're going to do this. And so, today's conversation, what I want to spend the next little bit of time talking to you about, is about the president's economi

  • Climate grief: Embracing loss as a catalyst for collective action

    03/06/2023 Duration: 01h29min

    Journalist and climate activist Naomi Klein joins Indigenous scholar Yuria Celidwen and posthumanist thinker Bayo Akomolafe, both senior fellows at UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute, to discuss climate grief and why they see it not as a reason for apathy, but as an invitation to feel the loss deeply — together — and to use it as fuel for collective action."The moments that we face loss, and we really embody the grieving process, is the total moment of surrendering," said Celidwen at the May 4 event, hosted by the Othering and Belonging Institute. "Realizing that arrogance that keeps humans in a hierarchical organization, feeling that they are somehow exceptional from and different from all others, that arrogance dissolves the moment that we realize we are powerless, really, to the process of life, to the process of spirit, the process of nature."That idea of bringing not only the possibilities of the mysterious, the possibilities of the stories, that not everything can be measured as Western scie

  • Pulitzer-winner Natalie Wolchover: 'Knowledge of physics is a superpower'

    30/05/2023 Duration: 10min

    In this Berkeley Talks episode, Natalie Wolchover, a senior editor at Quanta Magazine and winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting, gives the keynote commencement speech to the Class of 2023 at Berkeley Physics"'Knowledge is power,' my grandpa always used to tell me," said Wolchover at the May 14 ceremony. "Well, I think knowledge of physics is a superpower. We tend to forget, when we're in a bubble of people who've studied physics, as we are in this auditorium, just how unusual it is to understand the laws of nature. Galileo wrote that 'the universe is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it. Without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.' You all understand the language of nature. You are not wandering about in a dark labyrinth. You have a headlamp on."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (

  • Sociology Ph.D. graduates on the power of family and deep inquiry

    26/05/2023 Duration: 13min

    In this episode, two Ph.D. graduates in sociology — Kristen Nelson and Mario Castillo — give the graduate student address at the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology's spring commencement ceremony."Like many of you, I was raised by a single mother," said Castillo at the May 19 event. "Her name is Mariana Leticia Castillo, and she was 17 when I was born. Now, I have tried to imagine what a 16-year-old mother-to-be must have felt as she prepared to bring a new life into this world, how she had hope for my wellness, happiness and success, coupled with an overwhelming sense of worry, anxiety and fear about the uncertain journey ahead."My mother's story, as a young working-class woman of color, finding her way as a single parent, combined with my own unique experiences as a queer person of color, propelled me towards deeper inquiry, self-discovery, and ultimately, the fascinating field of sociology."For Nelson, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the most segregated metro area in the U.S., opened her eyes to the st

  • Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones to graduates: 'The world needs your imagination'

    19/05/2023 Duration: 26min

    In an impassioned keynote address to graduates of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones urged them to do three things: disrupt, dismantle, discover."We are here to disrupt, not just in word, but with our very presence," he said at the May 14 ceremony. "I come standing with my ancestry. I come in a building as a first non-white member to represent my district. I come as the youngest member. I come as somebody who they said, 'You cannot come with long hair and hoop earrings." But you can see I'm my full self because we have to disrupt these systems of white supremacy and of patriarchy and of plantation capitalism that have hijacked our nation and that for too long have been the dominant voice."Last month, Jones and fellow lawmaker, Justin Pearson, were expelled from the House by the chamber's Republican majority after leading a group of students in a protest demanding gun reform. It was in response to a recent elementary school shooting in Nashville that left six dead,

  • How a lie from medieval Europe spread antisemitism across the world

    05/05/2023 Duration: 01h06min

    Magda Teter, professor of history and the Shvidler Chair of Judaic Studies at Fordham University and author of the 2020 book, Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth, discusses how an anti-Jewish lie that originated in medieval Europe has persisted throughout history and spread antisemitism across the world.Known as blood libel, the superstitious accusation — that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children at Passover to obtain blood for unleavened bread — first emerged in 12th century Europe, but became a dominant narrative in the 15th century."Why in the 15th century do we have this sudden shift in quantity, in quality of these accusations?" asks Teter, during the Center for Jewish Studies' Annual Pell Lecture on March 15. "The answer is Simon of Trent, the story of Simon of Trent."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Photo courtesy of Magda Teter.Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

  • ChatGPT developer John Schulman on making AI more truthful

    24/04/2023 Duration: 01h04min

    UC Berkeley alumnus John Schulman, the lead developer of ChatGPT, talks about how AI language models sometimes make things up — often convincingly — and offers solutions on how to fix this problem. Schulman's talk, which took place on April 19, was part of a series of public lectures at Berkeley this spring by the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Read a Berkeley News Q&A with Schulman in which he discusses why he chose Berkeley for graduate school, the allure of towel-folding robots and what he sees for the future of artificial general intelligence.UC Berkeley photo by Jim Block.Music by Blue Dot Sessions. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

  • International journalists on women's rights in Iran and Afghanistan

    07/04/2023 Duration: 01h29min

    Award-winning journalists — Arezou Rezvani, Jane Ferguson, Zahra Joya and Berkeley Journalism Dean Geeta Anand — discuss women’s rights in Iran and Afghanistan, and the challenges of reporting as women and about women in these countries.“I was last in Afghanistan in November of 2021, so the Taliban had been in control for several months,” says Ferguson, a PBS NewsHour correspondent. "Obviously, you’re there, you’re able to make connections with the women — you can talk to them on encrypted services, you can go and meet with them in places. But since then, I’ve been reporting from afar and you have to make connection with young women. And then, you have to try to do it as responsibly as you can. So, we’ll be interviewing them, hiding their faces, in some cases warping their voices, and you can really just take testimony from them on what life is like. It’s hugely challenging."This March 23 event was organized by the Pulitzer Center and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Support comes from the PIMCO F

  • 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.

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