The Kenneth A. Spencer Lectures gives The Commons an opportunity to invite seminal figures to speak to the University of Kansas and area communities. The voices represented include scholars and public figures whose work applies across disciplines as they approach larger themes and topics that affect humans on a broad scale.
Since 2008, The Commons has been organizing and implementing the lecture series, because of its interdisciplinary mission and values.
Supported by the Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture Fund.
Writer, professor, scientist, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is well known for her 2015 book, "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants." She is an SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs that draw on the wisdom of indigenous and scientific knowledge to offer lessons for humanity. Kimmerer’s first book, "Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses," was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing.
Through her work, Kimmerer observes the natural world closely, exploring systems and communities across species, and sharing knowledge that reveals kinship across species.
Kimmerer holds a bachelor's degree in botany from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, a master's degree and doctorate in botany from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology. She lives in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.
The Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture is hosted by The Commons annually to invite leading thinkers, whose work applies across disciplines, to address the University of Kansas and regional communities. In recent years, the lecture series has featured architectural biologist Jessica Green, comedian Andy Borowitz, writer/activist Margaret Atwood, writer/historian Rebecca Solnit, poet/scholar/artist Eve Ewing, activist/writer Jose Antonio Vargas, and author/illustrator/screenwriter Jonny Sun.
Poster design by Alex McGettrick.