Past Beatty Lectures

Past Beatty Memorial Lectures

Beatty Memorial Lecturer 2018: Roxane Gay, Writer and Cultural Critic 

Watch Roxane Gay's lecture on "Difficult Women, Bad Feminists and Unruly Bodies" online here.

Beatty Memorial Lecturer 2017: Professor Emeritus Charles Taylor, winner of the 2016 Berggruen Prize.

Watch Prof. Taylor's lecture on the "Challenge of Regressive Democracy," online here

The 2016 Beatty Memorial Lecture with internationally acclaimed author, essayist and poet Margaret Atwood.

2015 Beatty Memorial lecturer John Wood, Founder of the global literacy non-profit Room to Read. 

Beatty Memorial Lecture 2007: Anna Tibaijuka, "Divided Cities: Caught between hope and despair". 

Arthur Brendel, Beatty Memorial Lecturer 2011: world renowned pianist, poet and author ("Does Classical Music Have to be Entirely Serious?")

Beatty Lecture 2006: Richard Dawkins, "Queerer than We Suppose: The Strangeness of Science".



On this page, you will find the most comprehensive list available of past Beatty Lectures. Click on the title to watch the lecture or read coverage of the event, if available. Click here to visit the Beatty Lecture playlist on McGill's YouTube channel.



Marc Tessier-Lavigne
"Brain Development and Brain Repair: The Life and Death of Nerve Cells"
October 17, 2009

James Gustave Speth
"Capitalism and the Environment - from Crisis to Sustainability"
October 18, 2008

Anna Tibaijuka
"Divided Cities: Caught Between Hope and Despair"
October 20, 2007

Richard Dawkins
"Queerer than We Suppose: The Strangeness of Science"
October 21, 2006

Deepak Chopra
"Religion and Spirituality"
September 14, 2006

Michael Ignatieff
“Canada in the World: The Challenges Ahead”
October 1, 2005

Steven Sanderson
"Global Poverty Alleviation and the Impoverishment of Wild Nature"
April 22, 2004

Shirin Ebadi
"Democracy: The Precondition to Peace" (original in Farsi; English translation)
October 16, 2004

Herman E. Daly
"Uneconomic Growth and The Illth of Nations: Defining the Optimal Scale of the Macro Economy"
March 27, 2003

Sandra Steingraber
"Protecting the First Environment: The Ecology of Pregnancy and Childbirth"
December 3, 2002

Richard John Neuhaus
"Liberal Democracy and Acts of Faith"
October 10, 2002

William Galston
"Religion and Liberal Society"
October 9, 2002

Queen Noor of Jordan
"Creating a Culture of Peace"
May 23, 2002

John Maddox
"What remains to be discovered"
March 19, 2002

Wangari Maathai
"Standing up for the Environment"
February 12, 2002

Vartan Gregorian
"Libraries and Reading in the Computer Age"
November 16, 2000

Jonathan Miller
"Laughing Matters: Humour and Comedy"
October 12, 2000

Paul Crutzen
"The Importance of the Tropics in Atmospheric Chemistry"
March 8, 2000


Steven Mithen
"Becoming Human: The Evolution of Mind and Language"
October 20, 1999

Paul Ewald
"What's Catching: The Darwinism of Disease"
October 13, 1999

Eugenie C. Scott
"The Great Controversy"
October 6, 1999

Carl Djerassi
"Science-in-fiction is not science fiction"
January 26, 1999

Luc Montagnier
"AIDS on the Threshold of the Year 2000: Merging Western Experiences and African Realities"
November 17, 1998

Dame Cicely Saunders
"Lessons in Living from the Dying"
October 28, 1997

Oliver Sacks
"Neurology and the Soul"
September 30, 1997

John Horgan
"The End of Science"
January 21, 1997

Bernard Kouchner
"Conflict Prevention in an Age of Global Anxiety"
November 4, 1996

Roger Schank
"Why most schooling is irrelevant: Computers and the future of learning"
March 19, 1996

Yves Coppens
"From Africa, the Cradle, to America, the New World: The Prehistory of Man and the Peopling of the Earth"
November 30, 1995

Catherine Bertini
"Women Eat Last"
October 17, 1995

Paul Sacher
"Paul Sacher Remembers Béla Bartók"
November 1, 1994

Nancy Wexler
"Huntington's Disease: Member of an Expanding Family of Disorders"
October 20, 1994

David Akers-Jones
"Hong Kong Horizons"
September 27, 1994

Rudolph Marcus
"Life in Science: Interaction of Theory and Experiments"
April 19, 1994

Margaret Drabble
"The Corpse in the Garden: Concealments and Disclosures in Fiction and Biography"
March 1, 1994

Barbara Ehrenreich
"Can Feminism Change the World?"
December 7, 1993

Witold Lutoslawski
"About the Element of Chance in Music"
October 29, 1993

Mikhail Gorbachev
"The New World Order"
March 29, 1993

Jacques Attali
"Europe on the World Stage in the Twenty-First Century"
March 5, 1993

Arthur Ashe
"Living with AIDS"
December 7, 1992

Pierre Boulez
"Répons / How to Develop a Musical Idea"
May 22 and 23, 1991

C. N. Yang
"Symmetry and Physics"
March 5, 1991

Daniel Boorstin
"America: Discovery, Invention or Creation?"
March 21, 1990

Francis Bretherton
"Understanding the Earth System"
March 20, 1990

Norman Myers
"Safeguarding the Biosphere: What Cost? What Payoff?"
March 19, 1990

Gerald Edelman
"Morphology and Mind: Topobiology: The Problem of Morphology / Neural Darwinism: The Problem of Perception / The Remembered Present: Problems of Consciousness"
February 5, 6 and 7, 1990


Sally Falk Moore
"Nationalism, Cultural Pluralism and the State"
March 15, 1989

Kirk Varnedoe
"Fine Disregard: Inventions in Early Modern Art - New Space: Near and Far / New Time: Fragmentation and Repetition / Overview: The Flight of the Mind"
March 28, 29 and 30, 1988

Christopher Hill
"Milton and the English Revolution / Bunyan and His World / The End of the World"
November 26 and 27, 1987

John Mortimer
"The Art of Advocacy / Clinging to the Wreckage"
April 7 and 9, 1987

Francis Crick
"How Do We See Things? / The Search-Light Hypothesis/The Problem of Awareness"
May 13, 15 and 17, 1985

Lord William McCarthy
"The Limits of Trade Union Power"
September 19 and 21, 1984

I. F. Stone
"The Trial of Socrates Revisited: What Plato Doesn't Tell Us: The Case for the Prosecution / How Easily Socrates Might Have Won Acquittal / Plato on Trial: The Hidden Horrors of a Perfect City"
May 16, 18 and 20, 1983

Gwendolen Carter
"Apartheid: Dying or Resurgent / The African States Seek Economic Liberation"
March 9 and 10, 1982

Saunders MacLane
"How Mathematicians Get New Ideas / Distortion of Science by Politics"
December 1 and 2, 1981

Ralf Dahrendorf
"A Swing to the Right? Socio-political Changes in the Western World / The European Community at the Beginning of the 1980s"
March 23 and 24, 1981


Ved Mehta
"Mahatma Gandhi and Modern India"
November 22, 1979

Richard Feynman
"Light and Matter – The Modern View: Photons - Particles of Light / Quantum Behaviour / Interaction of Light and Matter"
October 29, 30 and 31, 1979

Jane Goodall
"Chimpanzees in the Wild: Perspectives on Primate Behaviour"
May 9, 1979

E. O. Wilson
"The Evolution of Social Behaviour"
November 9 and 10, 1977

Edwin Reischauer
"Japanese-American Relations"
March 30, 1977

Derek de Solla Price
"Craftsmanship and Jigsawpuzzling in Science"
November 25, 1976

Alexander King
"A New Economic Order - Is it Necessary or Feasible?"
April 8, 1976

Yehudi Menuhin
"Interpretation in Music and in Life"
December 7, 1975

Fred Hoyle
"The Emergence of Intelligence in the Universe/Cosmological Theories and Controversies/The History of Matter"
March 20, 24 and 26, 1975

Robert N. Bellah
"Relevance of Man's Religious Experience"
March 1974

Saul Bellow
"Joyce's Ulysses: A Personal View"
November 7, 1973

Robert Sinsheimer
"Genetic Engineering - Ambush or Opportunity"
November 1972

Lord Peter Ritchie-Calder
"Science and Social Change: Science and International Relations/Science and Human Rights/Science and Posterity"
November 1971


Elizabeth Han Suyin
"Asia Today - Two Outlooks"
October 1968

Max Beloff
"Commonwealth Weakness, Britain"
February 1967

E. E. Rich
"Montreal and the Fur Trade - The French Background/The American Frontier/The Northwest Company"
March 1964

A. L. Rowse
"The Political Uses of History / The Role of Germany in Modern History / The Responsibility of the Historian"
January 1963

Douglas Copland
"The Changing Structure of the Western Economy"
November 1961

Arnold Toynbee
"The Present Day Experiment in Western Civilization: The Experiment in Hellenization / The Attraction of the Western Way of Life / Parliamentary Democracy on Trial"
January 12, 17 and 19, 1961


Morris Bishop
"The Great River at the White Man's Coming / The Missionary and the Coureur du Bois: Sagard and Brandûlé / Champlain"
March 3, 10 and 17, 1959

Julian Huxley
"The Possibilities of Life, Mind, Man"
October 25 and November 1 and 5, 1956

Barbara Ward (Jackson)
"Interplay of East and West"
October 1955

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
"India and World Affairs"
October 1954


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