Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values

Grace a Tanner Lecture in Human ValuesObert C. Tanner was a Professor of philosophy at the University of Utah, as well as an industrialist and a philanthropist. Of all the gifts he has left to universities, the one he was proudest of is the Lectures on Human Values. The Tanner Lecture on Human Values was formally established at the University of Cambridge, England on July 1, 1978. In writing about the purpose of these lectures, Professor Tanner said, “I see them simply as a search for a better understanding of human behavior and human values." To this end, the lecture provides a forum in which to promote scholarly and scientific learning in the field of human values while embracing moral, artistic, intellectual, and spiritual values—both individual and social—and advancing the full register of values pertinent to the human condition, interest, behavior, and aspiration.

During the 2021-22 school year, the Tanner Center will celebrate the legacy of Grace A. Tanner—wife of O.C. Tanner, and the center’s namesake. The Year of Grace will focus on “Building Cultures of Meaning” in honor of Grace’slove for arts and culture and in recognition of her resilience in the face of trials. Join us as we celebrate forty years of the Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values at SUU.

Fall 2021 Lecture

Nalini Nadkarni

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni will deliver the Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values on Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 11:30 am in the Gilbert Great Hall on the campus of Southern Utah University. Dr. Nadkarni’s lecture, titled “TapestryThinking: Weaving Diverse Communities Through Nature” will draw on her experience as a rainforest ecologist and science communicator.

Dr. Nadkarni has been called “the queen of canopy research” and is deeply interested in sharing her discoveries with non-scientists. She has given two TED talks and has been highlighted in magazines such as Natural History and has appeared in television documentaries such as Bill Nye the Science Guy and National Geographic. She created
the “Research Ambassador Program” to train scientists to engage the public in non-traditional venues, such as churches, pre-schools, tattoo parlors, and sports stadiums. In 2005, she co-founded the Sustainability in Prisons Project, which brings science, scientists, and nature to incarcerated men and women.

In 2011, Dr. Nadkarni joined the University of Utah as a Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education. Prior to that, she was a faculty member at The Evergreen State College for 20 years. She received her B.S. degree from Brown University, and her PhD from University of Washington. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, the 2011 NSF Public Service Award, and the 2012 AAAS Award for Public Engagement, and the 2013 Carr Medal for Conservation. Her research concerns the ecological roles of canopy-dwelling biota in forest ecosystems. She has published over 100 scientific articles and four scholarly books. Her work in the Costa Rican rain forest was featured in the 1988 PBS series, The Second Voyage of the Mimi, starring a young Ben Affleck. She maintains an interest in public outreach, and her work was highlighted on the web page of the National Science Foundation. She is the author of Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees, and she contributed to a book for young explorers entitled, Kingfisher Voyages: Rain Forest.

Spring 2022 Lecture

Emily Esfahani Smith

Originally scheduled for Fall 2020, Emily Esfahani Smith will deliver the Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values on the topic of “Building Cultures of Meaning” on February 3, 2022 at 11:30 am in the Gilbert Great Hall.

Emily Esfahani Smith is a writer in Washington DC. She draws on psychology, philosophy, and literature to write about the human experience—why we are the way we are and how we can find grace and meaning in a world that is full of suffering. Her internationally best-selling book, The Power of Meaning, was published by Crown and has been translated into 16 different
languages. The Wall Street Journal called the book “persuasive,” “elegant,” and “valuable” while the Prospect (UK) dubbed it “an intelligent page-turner.”

In 2017, Smith delivered a talk called “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” on the main stage of TED. It’s been viewed over 9 million times.

The former managing editor of The New Criterion, Smith’s articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and other publications. Her articles for The Atlantic “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” (about the Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl) and “Masters of Love” (about romance and marriage) have reached over 30 million readers. In 2017, the New York Times published her article about rethinking success called “You’ll Never Be Famous—And That’s OK.” And her profile for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine of Joe Rago, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who tragically died at the age of 34, was shortlisted for a Folio magazine award in 2018. In 2019, she was a Poynter Journalism Fellow at Yale University.

Smith is also a reporter for the Aspen Institute's Weave project, an initiative founded by the New York Times' David Brooks to address the problems of isolation, alienation, and division. At Weave, Smith finds and tells the stories of people who are working to rebuild the social fabric.

Smith studied philosophy at Dartmouth College. She received her master’s degree in positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she continues to serve as an assistant instructor in positive psychology.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Smith grew up in Montreal, Canada. She now lives in Washington
DC with her husband, Charlie.