Illume Speaker Series

The College of Arts and Sciences is the liberal arts heart of the University of San Diego. Our students and faculty exemplify the power, vitality and value of a liberal arts and sciences education every day. To champion the tradition and future of the artes liberales, we have created the Illume Speaker Series featuring our own renowned faculty scholars, invited thought-leaders and prominent public figures to advance the liberal arts on our campus and inspire lifelong learning in our surrounding communities.

Fall 2016 Schedule

Carl Hiaasen, Author

Wednesday, September 14 at 7 p.m.
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre

When Lane Coolman’s car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield — the eponymous Razor Girl — and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page.

After becoming an investigative reporter, Hiaasen began writing novels in his spare time. His first three were co-authored with his friend and fellow journalist William Montalbano: Powder Burn (1981), Trap Line (1982), and A Death in China (1984). His latest novel, Razor Girl, will be released in September.

Tickets are $28.05 and include a copy of Razor Girl. Tickets are available at

Ann Patchett, Author

Friday, September 23 at 7 p.m.
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved.

Patchett is the author of Bel Canto, for which she won the PEN/ Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. In her latest book, Commonwealth, she tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families.

Tickets are $30.23 and include a copy of Commonwealth. Tickets are available at

Humanities Center Opening Celebration

Thursday, October 13 at 5:30 p.m.
Humanities Center, Serra Hall, Room 200

The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to host a celebration in honor of the University of San Diego’s new Humanities Center. The center is dedicated to the exploration of the human condition and the limitless ways in which human beings understand and interact with our world. The space will serve as an epicenter of collaborative research, public humanities, interdisciplinary curriculum and digital humanities. Please join us for this significant celebration of the humanities at USD.

Mike Davis, PhD

Knapp Lecture Series and 14th Annual Labovitz-Perez Lecture
“Who Will Build the Ark?: The Anthropocene and the Challenges of the 21st Century”
Monday, October 24 at 6 p.m.
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre

In 2008 the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London announced the birth of a new geological age, the Anthropocene. Today, rapid climate change entails radical reshaping of ecologies, with widening socio-economic inequalities and their concomitant meteorological mandates. This raises the question of who will build the ark, lest human solidarity fracture like a West Antarctic ice shelf, shattering into a thousand shards.

Mike Davis’s talk confronts the challenges facing human solidarity in the age of the Anthropocene and the challenges of the 21st century, including a critical new vision of the humanities for the 2nd millennium.

Reception to follow. 

Rev. Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of San Diego

Reclaiming Our National Politics
Tuesday, November 1 at 5 p.m.
Warren Auditorium, Mother Rosalie Hill Hall

Just days before the presidential election, the Bishop of San Diego, the Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, will address the troubling U.S. political climate, contrasting it with the uplifting vision of politics that Pope Francis presented to Congress. Bishop McElroy will emphasize the importance of civic virtue, arguing that we must reclaim our national politics for the protection of the dignity of the human person and the advancement of the common good. Sponsored by the Humanities Center and Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture.

Joanna Williams, PhD

Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity
Monday, November 14 at 6 p.m.
Warren Auditorium, 
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall

Joanna Williams is a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at the University of Kent (United Kingdom) and author of Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought. In her Illume lecture, she will discuss themes from her recently published and highly acclaimed book, Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity. Noting that academic freedom in higher education is increasingly being threatened by a range of political and intellectual trends such as feminism, critical theory and identity politics, Williams argues that a challenge to the culture of censorship and conformity

Free admission and reception to follow.

Lisa Nunn, PhD

Success in High School: How School Culture Shapes Students' Lives
Wednesday, May 4 at 6 p.m.
Warren Auditorium, 
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall

Lisa Nunn, PhD, focuses her research on the sociology of education, organizations and cultural sociology. Her work also engages the fields of gender, sexuality and identity. Her latest book, Defining Student Success: The Role of School and Culture (2014), investigates how both schools and students refine and adapt cultural ideas about academic success, and how this process perpetuates existing social inequality in educational attainment. Her current research focuses on first-year college students’ dilemmas as they make the transition from high school to college. Professor Nunn has published articles on racial tension in classrooms, heterosexual privilege, experiential learning and community engagement.

Free admission and reception to follow.