Signature Events

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As a purveyor of vibrant public events, The Humanities Institute is proud to connect the Santa Cruz community with thinkers and doers on the leading edge of Humanities research and scholarship. Our signature events spark dialogue and encourage audiences to consider new perspectives on our increasingly complex world.
Join us as we explore what it means to be human:
Annual Event Series

Peggy Downes Baskin Ethics Lecture Series

The Peggy Downes Baskin Ethics Lecture Series is a lively forum for the discussion and exploration of ethics-related challenges in human endeavors. The Ethics Lecture is made possible by the Peggy Downes Baskin Humanities Endowment for Interdisciplinary Ethics which enables the Humanities Division to promote a dialogue about ethics and ethics related challenges in an interdisciplinary setting. The endowment was established in honor of Peggy Downes Baskin’s longtime interest in ethical issues across the academic spectrum.

The Helen Diller Distinguished Lecture in Jewish Studies

Every year, we honor Helen Diller, whose generous endowment continues to provide crucial support to Jewish Studies at UC Santa Cruz, by hosting a public lecture on campus by an internationally recognized scholar.

Morton Marcus Poetry Reading

The Annual Morton Marcus Poetry Reading honors poet, teacher, and film critic Morton Marcus (1936–2009). Morton, a nationally acclaimed poet, called Santa Cruz his home for more than 50 years. The annual poetry series continues Morton’s 40-year tradition of bringing acclaimed poets to Santa Cruz County, continues to acknowledge the significant role poetry has played in the community’s history, and works to maintain poetry’s influence in the county’s culture. The annual reading is held each year in November. Always free of charge.

UCSC Night at the Museum

This annual event series features scholars in conversation in a museum setting. The juxtaposition of thematic discussion with the objects and exhibitions of the museum invite the public into the work of The Humanities Institute and spark deeper engagement.

Questions That Matter

Questions That Matter is a public humanities series developed by UCSC Humanities Institute and the community of Santa Cruz. It brings together, in conversation, two or more UC Santa Cruz scholars with community residents and students to explore questions that matter to all of us. The series is a part of a strategic initiative of The Humanities Institute to champion the role and value of the Humanities in contemporary life.


Programming Themes

2019 – 2020 | Future(s)

2018 – 2019 | Data and Democracy

As technology increasingly shapes our habits and defines our access to knowledge, it is more important than ever that we understand how we got here and work to imagine a more inclusive, open, and transparent future. The Humanities are essential in helping us make sense of this changing world. During the 2018-2019 Academic Year, THI investigated this theme, presenting a series of public events with luminaries such as Jaron Lanier on campus and community conversations in downtown Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley.

2017 – 2018 | Freedom and Race

During the 2017-2018 Academic Year, THI addressed the most vexing questions surrounding the historic struggle of people around the world to be free. We launched our first-ever course and brought the Santa Cruz community together for standing-room-only events featuring the kind of thoughtful dialogue that defines the work of the Humanities.