Beatty Lecture

Change Through Exchange

Established in 1952, the Beatty Lecture has fostered the exchange of ideas by bringing the world’s leading thinkers to McGill. The Beatty Lecture is McGill’s most distinguished endowed lectureship, and aims to bring internationally renowned visitors to the University to give a public lecture on a subject of their choice. This lecture series provides an opportunity for McGill graduates, present students and staff, as well as people in the wider Montreal community to further their education on topical issues.

McGill has hosted many prestigious voices under the Beatty banner including Nobel Laureates, leading neuroscientists, renowned musicians, and trailblazing activists. And the topics they have covered have been equally eclectic and provocative, including Plato, evolution, comedy, urbanization, environmental challenges, and much more. In recent years, our speakers have been the author Margaret Atwood; John Wood, founder of the global literacy nonprofit Room to Read; and Dr. Karl Diesseroth, Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Regardless of their background, Beatty Lecturers present talks that will appeal to both the McGill community and the general public. 

The Beatty Lecture traditionally takes place annually in the fall, on the University’s downtown campus. Research and Innovation organizes the major public lecture while a McGill department or Faculty serves as host, organizing additional events where the Beatty Lecturer can interact with students, faculty, and staff.

A Lasting Gift

In 1952, McGill received a $100,000 gift from Dr. Henry A. Beatty in memory of his brother, Sir Edward Beatty. A world reknowned nation-builder, Sir Edward Beatty was the first Canadian born president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a position he held for twenty-four years while also serving as Chancellor and Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors from 1920 to 1943. The gift endowed the Beatty Lecture, which aims to bring the world’s most respected and influential scholars, scientists, or leaders to McGill.

(Photo credit: Margaret Atwood, 2016 Beatty Memorial Lecturer, photographer: Jean Malek)

What's the change you want to see in the world? If you have an idea for a future lecturer, we want to hear from you.