show episodes
 
The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.
 
The Civics series at Town Hall shines a light on the shifting issues, movements, and policies, that affect our society, both locally and globally. These events pose questions and ideas, big and small, that have the power to inform and impact our lives. Whether it be constitutional research from a scholar, a new take on history, or the birth of a movement, it's all about educating and empowering.
 
The Arts & Culture series enriches our community with imagination and creativity. Whether reinventing the classics for a new audience or presenting an innovative new art form, these events are aimed at expanding horizons. From poetry to music to storytelling, this series leaves our audiences inspired, encouraged, and seeing the world with new eyes.
 
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show series
 
“Ebo Barton is the queer echo to the first whisper of revolution.” This is what author Tara Hardy had to say about spoken word poet Ebo Barton’s first collection of poetry, Insubordinate, which explores Barton’s discovery of themselves, acknowledging their history, and navigating a world not ready for their existence. Barton invited us to hear sele…
 
Segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels, researcher Richard Rothstein argues. He believes this is especially true for the racial segregation in our neighborhoods. In th…
 
Not too long ago, parents lived with the near certainty of losing a child or two. Even in the world’s wealthiest nations, children died of diarrhea, diphtheria and measles, of scarlet fever and meningitis. Our culture was shaped by these deaths. But over the past century, we’ve made huge strides in reducing infant and child mortality rates, and Per…
 
College campuses in the mid-twentieth century are an oft-forgotten battle ground in the fight for (and against) civil rights. Professor Dr. Eddie Cole believes the role of campus activism in the fight for social equality has been overlooked. In conversation with writer and historian Shaun Scott, Cole joined us with findings from his meticulously re…
 
Meet the Smart Wife—at your service, an eclectic collection of feminized AI, robotic, and smart devices. Maybe she goes by Siri or Alexa, lives in your Google Home, or is a virtual anime hologram named Hikari Azuma. These feminized digital assistants are friendly and flirty—but what impact are they having on gender equity? Digital sociologist Yolan…
 
Long neglected in world history, the Ottoman Empire was a hub of intellectual fervor, geopolitical power, and enlightened pluralistic rule. Yet, despite its towering influence and centrality to the rise of our modern world, the Ottoman Empire’s history has for centuries been distorted, misrepresented, and even suppressed in the West, historian Alan…
 
Only a few years after the 2013 Sundance Film Festival premiere of Blackfish—an independent documentary film that critiqued the treatment of orcas in captivity—visits to SeaWorld declined, major corporate sponsors pulled their support, and performing acts cancelled appearances. And that was just the beginning of the impact of documentary films. Pro…
 
For more than five decades, Ron Chew has fought for Asian American and social justice causes in Seattle. He joined us for this livestreamed presentation to share stories from his deeply personal memoir My Unforgotten Seattle. In conversation with journalist Naomi Ishisaka, Chew documented the tight-knit community he remembers, describing small fami…
 
Why is the world the way it is? How did we get here? Does everything happen for a reason or are some things left to chance? Philosophers and theologians have pondered these questions for millennia, but scientist Sean B. Carroll joined us with startling scientific discoveries to assert that we live in a world driven by chance. Carroll drew from his …
 
From funding, to vouchers, to charter schools, public education policy has become a political football. Many feel that we are in the midst of a full-scale attack on our nation’s commitment to public education. And constitutional law scholar Derek W. Black contends that this assault threatens not just public education, but democracy itself. In this …
 
Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is a collaborative cross-disciplinary nonprofit biomedical research organization based in Seattle. In 2020, ISB is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a four-part virtual speaker series highlighting some of the most important topics in science and health care. ISB and Town Hall proudly present microbiome resear…
 
Ever wondered what nonbinary and gender nonconforming really mean? Genderqueer writer Stuart Getty joined us with a charming guide that answers that question and many more. In this livestreamed presentation, Stuart Getty unpacks all your burning questions in a fun, visual way, in conversation with local comedian Max Delsohn. With clips from their s…
 
Hugo Black, Glen Taylor, George McGovern, Robert F. Kennedy, Herbert Lehman, Theodore Francis Green, Al Gore, William Proxmire, Sherrod Brown. Did you know the common thread is a desk? Current desk occupant and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown joined us to share stories of those who preceded him. Utilizing anecdotes and history from his book Desk 88: Eig…
 
Alzheimer’s is a global health problem, with more than 5 million people in the US alone living with the disease. Tremendous gains have been made in the understanding of the science and basic biology underlying Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In this presentation, Dr. Maria Carrillo joined us to share the latest advances. Presented by Town Hall Sea…
 
Comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black wants to get (mostly) serious about the trouble with masculinity. He shared a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son—which also happens to be his book A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son—to offer a poignant look at boyhood, reveal his own complicated relationship with his father, and ex…
 
What does it mean to be an American? Author Laila Lalami joinsed us to discuss this question in conversation with fellow author Viet Thanh Nguyen. Drawing from her book Conditional Citizen, she recounted her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to US citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protect…
 
The fight against climate change is monumental and urgent. Yet one aspect of the international dialogue is conspicuously absent, Doug Kelbaugh argues—urban design. Professor and urban planner Doug Kelbaugh joined us to share from his book The Urban Fix: Resilient Cities in the War Against Climate Change, Heat Islands, and Overpopulation. He explain…
 
For better or worse, Wagner is often considered the most widely influential figure in the history of music. Around 1900, the phenomenon known as Wagnerism saturated European and American culture. Anarchists, occultists, feminists, and gay rights pioneers saw him as a kindred spirit. Then Adolf Hitler incorporated Wagner into the soundtrack of Nazi …
 
Is America fated to decline as a great power? Can it recover? Foreign policy expert Andrew Imbrie joined us in conversation with former White House communications director Jen Psaki to weigh in on exactly these questions. With absorbing insight from his book Power on the Precipice: The Six Choices America Faces in a Turbulent World, Andrew introduc…
 
Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is a collaborative cross-disciplinary nonprofit biomedical research organization based in Seattle. In 2020, ISB is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a four-party virtual speaker series highlighting some of the most important topics in science and health care. ISB and Town Hall proudly present Dr. Jennifer Rei…
 
During the Pacific War, more than 200,000 Korean girls were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers. Barely 10 percent survived to return to Korea, where they lived as social outcasts. Since then, self-declared comfort women have come forward only to have their testimonies and calls for compensation largely denied by the Japanese governm…
 
History often appears to consist of big gestures and dramatic shifts. But for every peace treaty signed, someone set the stage, using diplomacy to effect the outcome. Nobody knows this better than Capricia Marshall. Ambassador Marshall joined us to share unvarnished anecdotes from her time as the chief of protocol for President Obama. Pulling from …
 
From chatbots to brain-computer interfaces to the possibility of superintelligences, our reality is being transformed before our eyes. But can we actually know the nature of intelligence? Futurist and author Richard Yonck joined us to explore our past and future understanding of intelligence. Drawing from his book Future Minds: The Rise of Intellig…
 
Every year, Town Hall selects exceptional local artists and scholars for paid residencies. This fall, Town Hall’s Artist in Residence Hailey Tayathy designed a new piece which will serve as a visual installation of Town Hall’s land acknowledgement, written by the elders and youth of UNEA Clear Sky Native Youth Council. In this special presentation,…
 
World Without Hate seeks to replace hate and violence with empathy and love, restoring peace through storytelling and empathy education. They called together a panel of speakers from different storytelling backgrounds exploring the ways that empathy and stories help us connect with others. Through the transformative power of compassion, World Witho…
 
Birds are intelligent, sociable creatures that exhibit a wide array of behaviors—from mobbing and mimicking to mating and joint nesting. But why do they behave as they do? Biologist Wenfei Tong joined us with observations from her new book, Understanding Bird Behavior, bringing to light the remarkable actions of birds with cases from species around…
 
Many in America do not feel safe in spaces that used to be seen as refuges: our churches and schools, our movie theaters and dance clubs, our workplaces and neighborhoods. But this feeling begs the question: Is America destined to always be a violent nation? Pulling from his carefully researched and deeply emotional book The Violence Inside Us: A B…
 
Imagine turning on the tap in the morning to find an unpleasant brown sludge that tastes like metal. Then imagine you were told by officials that the water was safe to drink. Would you believe them? Environmental activist and renowned crusader Erin Brockovich joined us via livestream in conversation with journalist Suzanne Boothby to explore how ca…
 
The Deep End Friends podcast is an exploration of liberation, healing, hope, joy, and wholeness. What does it mean to be free? What are Black people doing to heal themselves and the world? Hear from incredible people from all walks of life about their journeys, what they are doing to thrive and how they are contributing to broader movements of empo…
 
Vaccines are a documented success story, one of the most successful public health interventions in history. Yet there is a vocal anti-vaccination movement. How can we better understand the history and concerns behind that movement? Science professor Jonathan Berman joined us via livestream with revelations from his book Anti-Vaxxers: How to Challen…
 
One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong joined us via livestream in conversation with editor Elsa Sjunneson. Wo…
 
Dr. Madeline Levine contends that the role of parent has evolved into an unhealthy relationship with achievement and stress. The COVID-19 epidemic is throwing many into dual roles as both parent and full-time teacher, leaving many to wonder how to best serve our children—and what the long-term effects will be on their education. Levine joined us fo…
 
Can birds smell? Do robins ‘hear’ worms? Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year? To answer the question of what birds are doing—and why—David Sibley joined us via livestream with insight from his new book What It’s Like to Be a Bird. Sibley answered frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often, covering everything…
 
American monopolies dominate, control, and consume most of the energy of our entire economic system–but we’ve broken the hold of behemoths like these before, author Thom Hartmann says, and we can do it again. In this livestreamed presentation, Hartmann shared how he believes monopolies threaten our systems and economy, and the damage that they have…
 
How much information is too much? Do we need to know how many calories are in the giant vat of popcorn that we bought on our way into the movie theater? Do we want to know if we are genetically predisposed to a certain disease? Not necessarily, argues behavioral scientist Cass Sunstein. Drawing from findings shared in his book Too Much Information:…
 
Award-winning reporter Erica Barnett her first sip of alcohol when she was thirteen. By her late twenties, her addiction became inescapable. By the time she was in her late thirties, she had run the gauntlet of alcoholism, and volatile relationships, blackouts, and unsuccessful stints in detox defined Barnett’s life. Barnett joins us via livestream…
 
Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In our highly digitized society, free speech is often invoked as a concept but rarely understood. Suzanne Nossel, a leading voice in suppo…
 
Observing its bustling stations today, it is difficult to picture Seattle and surrounding cities without Sound Transit—let alone imagine the agency teetering near collapse. But, as Bob Wodnik and Joni Earl recall, in 1996 the fledgling light rail program’s extended timetable and inflated budget led to a torrent of angry taxpayers and public ridicul…
 
Is organic food really worth it? Are eggs okay to eat? What does it mean if something’s labeled “Fair Trade,” or “Biodynamic,” or “Cage Free”? Health, nutrition, and sustainability expert Sophie Egan explored the world of ethical food choices we face every day. With insight that aims to revolutionize our understanding of food, Sophie drew from her …
 
Broad and principled opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency has drawn millions of previously disengaged citizens to the public square and to the ballot boxes. Journalist E.J. Dionne stepped up to Town Hall’s stage to comment on this inspired and growing activism for social and political change—an outpouring of engagement which hasn’t been seen sin…
 
From reproductive rights and the wage gap to #MeToo and #TimesUp—gender inequality permeates nearly every aspect of our culture. According to award-winning psychology professor Joanne Bagshaw, the message that our society sends to women and girls is clear: you’re not enough. In conversation with Washington at-large City Councilmember Kirsten Harris…
 
Spacious and affordable homes used to be the hallmark of American prosperity. But according to journalist Conor Dougherty, punishing rents and the increasingly prohibitive cost of ownership have turned housing into the foremost symbol of inequality and an economy gone wrong. Dougherty lead us on a fact-finding expedition to the West Coast epicenter…
 
Celebrate the magnificence of waterbird migration along the Pacific Flyway—the 10,000-mile migratory corridor from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego. Join the authors of the book Pacific Flyway, along with wildlife photographer Gerrit Vyn, and discover the vast network of saltwater and freshwater habitats linked by millions of waterbirds who migrate b…
 
Horticultural author Ross Bayton presented a crash course in plant history, ruminating on the origin and significance of the Latin plant names we encounter every day. Scientific plant names are an invaluable tool for those who understand them. Formed from Greek and, more commonly, from Latin root words, not only do they make it possible for gardene…
 
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