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President's Speaker Series

President's Speaker Series

The President's Speaker Series welcomes distinguished scholars and thought leaders representing diverse points of view to examine topics and issues facing our communities and the world today. Driven by a desire to connect deeply with our community and inspire meaningful dialogue in the pursuit of truth, the series provides opportunities to cultivate an engaged and impassioned collective through civil discourse.

Recent Event

Jonathan Haidt - President Speaker Series 2022  

Free Speech and the Academy: A Conversation with Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt, professor of ethical leadership at the New York University Stern School of Business and author of New York Times best-seller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, led a discussion on the topic of free speech in the academy at the last installment of the President’s Speaker Series. One of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of morality, Haidt uses research on moral psychology to help people understand each other and to help important social institutions work better.


About the Speaker

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at the New York University Stern School of Business. His research examines the intuitive foundations of morality and how morality varies across cultures. Haidt’s goal is to help people understand each other, live and work near each other, and even learn from each other despite their moral differences. He has co-founded a variety of organizations and collaborations that apply moral and social psychology toward that end, including HeterodoxAcademy.org, OpenMindPlatform.org, and EthicalSystems.org.

Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom and New York Times best-sellers The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (coauthored with Greg Lukianoff). He has also written more than 100 academic articles and has given four TED Talks. In 2019 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and chosen by Prospect magazine as one of the world’s “Top 50 Thinkers.” 

Since 2018 Haidt has been studying the contributions of social media to the decline of teen mental health and the rise of political dysfunction. He is currently writing Life After Babel: Adapting to a World We Can No Longer Share.



Past Events


Byron Johnson - Pepperdine University

The Impact of Faith on Human Flourishing and the Common Good: A Conversation with Byron Johnson

Byron Johnson, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, led the second installment of the President’s Speaker Series with a discussion on the impact of faith on human flourishing and the potential for religion to facilitate and contribute to the common good of all humanity.



Matt Ford, Will Lockett III

The Dream King: How the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. Is Being Fulfilled to Heal Racism in America

The first installment of the 2022 President’s Speaker Series welcomed Will Ford III and Matt Lockett for a powerful exploration of their book The Dream King: How the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. Is Being Fulfilled to Heal Racism in America. The coauthors discussed the history of the civil rights movement, the power of prayer, and offered insights about healing the racial divide across the nation. 




Illustration of healthcare

Vaccines: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?

In light of the global and national focus on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the President’s Speaker Series welcomed a panel of leading medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology experts who explored “Vaccines: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?” on March 29, 2021, via Zoom. 

The engaging panel discussion featured Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, Stephen M. Hahn, former commissioner of food and drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration, and Jonathan B. Perlin, president of the Clinical Services Group and chief medical officer of HCA Healthcare, in conversation about the current state of the vaccines. Dee Anna Smith (’86), CEO of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, and chair of the Pepperdine Board of Regents, moderated the discussion. 



Bernard, Shirley, and Khalil Kinsey

The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection: "The Myth of Absence"

On February 24, 2021, the President's Speaker Series welcomed alumnus Bernard Kinsey (MBA '73), his wife, Shirley (MA '76), and their son, Khalil, who presented "The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection - 'The Myth of Absence.'" This event was part of Pepperdine's celebration of Black History Month that seeks to uplift Black voices, celebrate Black achievements, and serve as moments of reflection and remembrance of Black history in the United States.



Robert George and Cornel West

Honesty and Courage, Humility and Hope: Robert George and Cornel West in Dialogue

On January 12, 2021, Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and Cornel West, professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, discussed the deep character required to engage thoughtfully and respectfully in vibrant conversations that explore diverse viewpoints for the inaugural lecture of the President's Speaker Series.



Suggest a Speaker or Topic

The Pepperdine community is invited to participate in developing a robust roster of speakers with diverse backgrounds and perspectives for the President's Speaker Series. Submit a speaker or topic for consideration by completing the suggestion form. All submissions will be considered and evaluated based on programming needs.