Enlightenment lecture series

The University is hosting a series of speakers who will seek to examine aspects of the Enlightenment's legacy in the context of our own fraught and hectic times.

We invite you to join us as global leaders in politics, philosophy, science and economics discuss their views and outlook.

Enlightenment graphical branding

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

McEwan Hall - Friday 6 June

Professor Steven Pinker

Language is the main channel in which human beings share the contents of their consciousness. It offers a window into human nature, revealing the hidden workings of our thoughts, our emotions, and our social relationships.

In his lecture, Prof Steven Pinker will explore an example of each: everyday metaphor as a window into human cognition; swearing and taboo words as a window into human emotion; and indirect speech-veiled threats and bribes, polite requests, and sexual come-ons as a window into human relationships.

Professor Steven Pinker

Prof Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT.

He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and Slate, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, and The Blank Slate.

The Optimal Diet for 21st Century Living

George Square Lecture Theatre - 12 June

Dr. Walter Willett

For the last 20 years the focus of nutritional advice has been to reduce total fat intake and consume large amounts of carbohydrate. However, this advice is inconsistent with many lines of evidence indicating that unsaturated fats have beneficial metabolic effects and reduce risk of coronary heart disease.

More recent evidence has also shown that the large majority of carbohydrates in current industrial diets, consisting of refined starches and sugars, have adverse metabolic effects and increase risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Thus, in what appears to be an optimal diet, most calories would come from a balance of whole grains and plant oils, proteins would be provided by a mix of beans, nuts, fish, eggs, and poultry, and the remaining nutritional needs would be filled by plenty of vegetables and a few fruits.

Important considerations include the role of dairy products, the interrelationships with physical activity and genetic variations, the implications of our food choices on environmental sustainability, and how we move from today’s pathological diet to a more optimal way of eating.

Doctor Walter Willett

Dr Walter Willett is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr Willett is the most cited nutritionist internationally, and is among the five most cited persons in all fields of clinical science. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of many national and international awards for his research.

Event details

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Prof Steven Pinker

Friday 6 June 2008, 6.00pm

Friday 6 June 2008, 6.00pm

McEwan Hall (note change of venue)

Find McEwan Hall on campus maps

The Optimal Diet for 21st Century Living by Dr Walter Willett

Thursday 12 June 2008, 6.00pm

Thursday 12 June 2008, 6.00pm

George Square Lecture Theatre

Find George Square Lecture Theatre on campus maps