Princeton Talks

“The commons,” as both a question and an organizing theme, inaugurates a new initiative of the Princeton Public Lectures Committee called Princeton Talks, a series of short, informal and recorded presentations delivered by university faculty. It is hoped that the format of the talks will help to make them nimble intellectual resources for the community and a forum for enrichment across diverse fields of expertise. 

Is there value in invoking “the commons” as a concept or practice? In our present historical moment, questions about what is shared and who belongs converge around a set of ongoing crises: technologies that utilize and control ideas, data and genetic material; ecological destruction and the management of land and resources; conflicts over the spaces and voices that constitute political participation. The stakes of these contests are particularly high and urgent in the face of a global pandemic, an exceptionally consequential presidential election and an intensified reckoning with systemic racism. Can “the commons”—with its multiple histories and applications in fields as diverse as political science, engineering, biomedicine, architecture and philosophy—serve as an effective definition or critical term or perhaps even as an ideal today?

This spring we look forward to inspiring talks by Marina Rustow, Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History; C. Jessica E. Metcalf, Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and SPIA; Kevin M. Kruse, Professor of History; Robert Nixon, Professor of English; and Elizabeth L. Paluck, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs.

Past Talks

  • Professor of English
    Rob Nixon
    Environmental Justice and the Commons
    Apr 21, 2021
  • Professor of History
    Kevin Kruse
    The Civil Rights Struggle and the Common Ground: Race and Public Space in Atlanta
    Apr 7, 2021
  • Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs
    C. Jessica E. Metcalf
    Infectious Diseases and the Commons
    Mar 16, 2021
  • Department of Near Eastern Studies and History
    Marina Rustow
    Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East
    How to Live in Cario in the Year 1000 and Why You Should Try
    Feb 19, 2021
  • Department of English
    Jeff Nunokawa
    Professor of English Literature
    Good Enough Liberalism (What We Learned at Home)
    Nov 20, 2020
  • Department of Politics
    Jan-Werner Muller
    Roger Williams Straus Professor of Politics
    The Commons and Democratic Conflict: Three Lessons
    Nov 6, 2020

Is there a Talk you want to hear?