Student Seminar: The Power of Ideas and Why They Are Needed

How do “big ideas” catch on in public understanding… and why do they so often fail to do so?

Join veteran BBC journalist Gwyneth Williams, Spring 2020 Walter Shorenstein Fellow, for two seminars with exciting guest speakers:

Both seminars are open to Harvard ID holders only, and are not-for-credit. Registration is required for each seminar via the links below. You are welcome to register for and attend either or both seminars, but must register for both independently if you are planning to attend both sessions.


Thursday, February 27th, 1:30-2:45pm, 124 Mt. Auburn Street (Shorenstein Center)

Choosing Ideas

Gwyneth Williams is joined by philosopher and writer Anthony Appiah and Aleks Krotoski, presenter BBC’s The Digital Human.

Atul Gawande, Stephen Hawking, Daniel Barenboim, Grayson Perry, Hilary Mantel, Jeff Sachs, Anthony Appiah….. What do these have in common? They all have big ideas which is why they are all BBC Reith Lecturers. Why do some ideas take hold and others lie dormant? This seminar examines the power of ideas and asks how an idea emerges and changes how we think and then how we live.

Click here to register for Choosing Ideas on February 27th.


Thursday, March 5th, 1:30-2:45pm, 124 Mt. Auburn Street (Shorenstein Center)

Why News is Not Enough

Gwyneth Williams is joined by historian and broadcaster Linda Colley (Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History, Princeton University) and Aleks Krotoski, presenter BBC’s The Digital Human.

Rolling news, far from helping us understand the world, is often little more than background noise, even contributing to a brutalisation of our public culture. This seminar will explore why we need to extend and deepen the context around news and journalism to include other ways of thinking and areas of study, such as history and science. Could culture as well as an enquiring academic approach be the key to our understanding of unfolding events in this age of uncertainty?

Click here to register for Why News Is Not Enough on March 5th.