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Annual Lecture

Each year, the CCSS annual lecture brings eminent thinkers to Cornell to address the campus and Ithaca community on pressing social issues.

  • Image of hallway in Clark Hall displaying previous annual lecture posters.

CCSS Distinguished Lecture in the Social Sciences

Co-sponsored by:

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Dr. Leah Stokes, University of California, Santa Barbara

Coming 2024-25!

​​​​​Dr. Leah Stokes is the 2023-24 Jeffrey S. and Margaret Mais Padnos Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and the Anton Vonk Associate Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is also affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department. Stokes focuses her research on climate policy and politics. Her recent book Short Circuiting Policy examines why we are behind on climate action, telling the history of electric utilities promoting climate denial and delay. It was named the Best Energy Book of 2020 by the American Energy Society, listed as a top 5 climate book from 2020 by The New York Times, and won 3 awards from the American Political Science Association. For her exceptional engaged scholarship, Stokes was recently recognized on the 2022 TIME100 Next and Business Insider Climate Action 30 lists. Her academic work is published in top journals and is widely read and cited. She is quoted frequently in national media, has written for top outlets including The New York Times, and hosts a popular climate podcast, “A Matter of Degrees.” 

Photo of Leah Stokes sitting in front of a laptop with a window behind her


Past Lectures

What We See and What We Value: AI With a Human Perspective

Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Stanford University

Sequoia Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University and Co-Director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute

Co-sponsors: Bowers College of Computing and Information Science and the Center for Data Science for Enterprise & Society Data Science

Chronicle Coverage

In this talk, Dr. Li presented her research with students and collaborators to develop intelligent visual machines using machine learning and deep learning methods. The talk focused on how neuroscience and cognitive science inspired the development of algorithms that enabled computers to see what humans see and how we can develop computer algorithms and applications to allow computers to see what humans don’t see. Dr. Li also discussed social and ethical considerations about what we do not want to see or do not want to be seen, and corresponding work on privacy computing in computer vision, as well as the importance of addressing data bias in vision algorithms. She concluded by discussing her current work in smart cameras and robots in healthcare as well as household robots as examples of AI’s potential to augment human capabilities.

For more on Fei-Fei Li, visit her website here.

News Coverage of Dr. Fei-Fei Li

    Thursday, October 5, 2023
Headshot of Dr. Fei-Fei Li

Improving Equality of Opportunity in America: New Insights from Big Data

Raj Chetty, Harvard University

William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University

Co-sponsor: Cornell Department of Economics

Chronicle Coverage

For more on Raj Chetty, visit his website here

    Monday, April 18, 2022

Our Racial Moment of Truth

Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Co-sponsors: Cornell Migrations: A Global Grand Challenge and Office of Faculty Development and Diversity

Chronicle Coverage

For more on Isabel Wilkerson, view her website here

    Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Democracy, Today: Fake News, Social Networks and Algorithms

David Lazer, Northeastern University

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science

Check out the video recording here.

Co-sponsors: CommunicationComputer ScienceInformation Science

    Thursday, October 24, 2019

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard University

Richard Clark Cabot Professor of Social Ethics and Chair in the Department of Psychology

Co-sponsors: Office of Faculty Development and Diversity,  Department of PsychologyCenter of Bright Beams

    Monday, February 11, 2019

Racism and the New Racial Science

Dorothy Roberts, University of Pennsylvania

George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights

Co-sponsors: Cornell Law School,  African Studies and Research Center

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Matthew Desmond, Princeton University

Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology

Co-sponsor: Center for the Study of Inequality

    Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Join Us

The CCSS is committed to providing universal access to all of our events and facilities. For disability accommodations (e.g, sign language interpreters, alternative formats) please contact Katie Anderson at or 607-255-3408 as soon as possible. 

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