Rhett Talks

Some of the best learning can take place outside of a lecture.

Rhett Talks is BU’s version of the popular TEDx talks. Listen to some of our University’s best faculty give brief, innovative, and engaging presentations outside of the classroom.

Three 15 minute presentations will occur at each event, all surrounding a particular theme. Have a question? A Q&A will follow each presentation. And yes, refreshments are included.

The Faculty-in-Residence program sponsors Rhett Talks, with assistance from the Dean of Students Office and Residence Life.

Upcoming Talks
Previous Talks
What They’re Saying About Rhett Talks

Upcoming Talks

This fall’s Rhett Talks schedule is robust and diverse. Take a peek at the schedule below and check back often for updates!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 7pm, George Sherman Union – Metcalf Hall

Radical Swimming Robots to Protect our Coast – Greg McDaniel, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering

From iPhone Apps to Geological Maps: How Cartography Shapes Our World – Dr. John Mackey – Chair and Master Lecturer, Social Sciences, College of General Studies

They’re in our pockets, in our cars, in shopping malls and on our walls – maps are ubiquitous.  But while maps come in many forms and serve many purposes, they are all subjective, and as such they all shape the way we see, understand, and interact with the world around us.  While ostensibly guiding us through the world as it is, maps make manifest a range of interests, priorities, aspirations, obsessions, and inequalities of power.  By examining sources ranging from nineteenth-century geological maps to smartphone navigation apps like Waze, this Rhett Talk will ask us all to take a second look at maps, and to reflect on the overt and subtle influence exerted by the science, art, and commerce of cartography.

Hiding in Plain Sight – Finding Ideas That Other People MissProfessor Mitchell Zuckoff, Sumner M. Redstone Professor of Narrative Studies, College of Communication

Professor Zuckoff’s talk uses the craft and skill of finding unique stories for journalists as a way to examine what it takes to come up with fresh ideas in all walks of life.


To request disability related accommodations or communication access for any Rhett Talks (ASL Interpreters or CART), please contact access@bu.edu or call 617.353.3658.

Previous Talks

Fall 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018 – Kilachand Hall – 1st Floor Lounge

Three bite-sized lessons about the physiology of eating, Senior Lecturer Elizabeth Co

The Wicked, Hard Problem of Countering the Use of Biological Weapons, Professor John Woodward

Climate Change and the Future of Democracy. Senior Lecturer Sam Deese

Monday, September 17, 2018 – Warren Towers – Multipurpose Room

Music Streaming and the Algorithmic Self, Associate Professor Michael Birenbaum Quintero

Can Comics Be Considered Seriously?, Senior Lecturer Liliane Dusewoir

The Weight of Empathy, Assistant Professor Victor Kumar

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 – West Campus – Rich Hall Multipurpose Room

Public Whippings as Popular Entertainment in the US, Dean Harvey Young

More Than a Citation, Assistant Professor Kinh Vu

    Cops, Crazy Ex-Boyfriends, and Catfishing, Clinical Associate Professor Kabrina Chang

    Wednesday, October 3, 2018 – 10 Buick Street – Student Atrium

    Trauma, Moral Injury, and the Shape of Sin, Associate Professor Joshua Pederson

    The Myth of the Imperial Presidency, Associate Professor and Director of Advanced Programs Dino P. Christenson

    The Surprising Role of the Supreme Court in the U.S. Government, Professor Jack M. Beermann

    Fall 2017

    Wednesday, September 6th – George Sherman Union: Metcalf Hall

    • Stop the Church? Religion and Politics in the American Culture Wars, Professor Anthony Petro
    • Disparities in the Era of Biomedical HIV Prevention, Professor Angela Bazzi
    • LGBT Rights under the Trump Administration – Can He Turn Back Time?, Professor Robert Volk

    Monday, September 11th – Kilachand Hall: First Floor Lounge

    • Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet, Professor Mark Stanley
    • Incentives in Healthcare, Professor James Rebitzer
    • Residents Only: How Neighborhood Opposition Creates Exclusive Communities, Professor Katherine Einstein

    Tuesday, September 19th – Warren Towers: Multipurpose Room

    • Social Class Complexities Influence Our Life Experiences: Have You Explored Yours?, Professor Sonja Ardoin
    • Odysseus in the Modern World: James Joyce and Homer, Professor Stephanie Nelson
    • Breaking the Gridlock in the Firearms Debate: Is There Common Ground?, Professor Michael Siegel

    Monday, September 25th – Rich Hall: Multipurpose Room

    • Brain Health in the Digital Era, Professor Rhoda Au
    • 12 Years a Slave and the Holocaust: Embracing Difficult Histories, Professor Nancy Harrowitz
    • Why Aristotle Matters, Professor David Roochnik

    Fall 2016

    Monday, September 12 – Metcalf Hall, George Sherman Union

    Tuesday, September 20 – Rich Hall: Cinema Room and Lobby

    • A Dissolvable Hydrogel Burn Dressing, Professor Mark Grinstaff
    • Children of Incarcerated Parents: Who Are They, and Why Do They Matter?, Professor Megan Sullivan
    • A Culture of Corruption, Professor Raymond Fisman

    Thursday, September 29 – 10 Buick Street: Student Atrium

    • The Problem with Democracy, Professor Jay Samons
    • Spiritual but not Religious – Is Religion Disappearing from American Life?, Professor Nancy Ammerman
    • Language Memory and Attrition in a Mobile, Multilingual World, Professor Charles Chang

    Thursday, October 6 – Warren Towers: Multipurpose Room

    • The Healthiest Goldfish, Dean Sandro Galea
    • American Politics in the Age of Trump, Professor Doug Kriner
    • Should we prevent preventable deaths?, Professor Christopher Gill

    Fall 2015

    Fall 2015 talks are available on YouTube

    Monday, September 7, 2015, 7-8 p.m., Rich Hall Cinema Room

    • Prof. Binyomin Abrams, Senior Lecturer, Chemistry, College of Arts & Sciences
      Ninety Years of Quantum Mechanics: Why Are We Still Teaching the Bohr Atom?
    • Prof. Jillian Goldfarb, Research Assistant Professor, College of Engineering
      Sustainability, Challenged: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus
    • Prof. Teddy Hickman-Maynard, Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Theology
      On Babies and Black Choirs: A reflection on racism and hope

    Thursday, September 17, 2015, 7-8 p.m.,  Warren Towers

    • Dean Hardin Coleman, Dean, School of Education
      Cultural Identity and Minority Student Achievement
    • Prof. Andrew Shenton, Associate Professor, Musicology, College of Fine Arts
      Music and transcendence: or how to be happy and healthy for free (and with very little effort)
    • Prof. Deborah Jaramillo, Associate Professor, Film & Television, College of Communication
      Why are we (still) ashamed of TV?

    Monday, September 21, 2015, 7-8 p.m., Kilachand Hall

    • Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff, A William Fairfield Warren Professor, Economics, College of Arts & Sciences
      Is the United States Bankrupt?
    • Prof. Bayla Ostrach, Assistant Professor, Medical Anthropology, School of Medicine
      Syndemics – An Interdisciplinary Concept in BioSocial Health
    • Prof. Pamela Lightsey, Associate Dean for Community Life & Lifelong Learning, School of Theology
      Talk title to be announced

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 7-8 p.m., 10 Buick Street

    • Prof. Muhammad Zaman, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering
      Saving lives through safer drugs
    • Prof. Paul Lipton, Director of Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program/Research Associate Professor, Neuroscience, College of Arts & Sciences
      To Pond Scum: Thanks for the Memories
    • Prof. Phillipe Copeland, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
      BlackMindsMatter: Mass Incarceration and Mental Health

    2014-15 Talks

    September 8, 2014

    September 16, 2014

    September 22, 2014

    September 30, 2014

    November 20, 2014

    January 19, 2015

    Special MLK Day edition: The Problem of Poverty

    2013 Talks

    What They’re Saying About Rhett Talks


    BU Today, September 8, 2014


    BU Today, September 9, 2013
    Daily Free Press, September 10, 2013
    Daily Free Press , September 17, 2013
    BU Quad, September 25, 2013
    BU Quad, October 2, 2013