MLA Lecture Series

Join us for a variety of insightful discussions.

To be perfectly still or frozen in time is a notable phenomenon. Motion, or change of position, is a more familiar state. This year's theme will explore ways that motion impacts our physical and social worlds, and, on a smaller scale, our personal and professional lives.
Doug Wiens uses glacial movement and his research on Antarctica to address the global issue of climate change. David Marchant focuses on everyday movement. He shares simple practices for being present in our minds and bodies, and shows us that, by finding the pleasure in everyday activities, we can disrupt our habitual mindsets and rejuvenate our joy of living. Hillary Elfenbein addresses emotion at work. Emotion is both a kind of movement and something that moves people, and Elfenbein explores the power of emotional intelligence as a mover. Our series concludes with a return to macro-level motion: Zakiya Luna discusses social movements and their relationship to social change.

Note: This event is free and open to the public. All attendees will need to register to receive the Zoom link for the lectures. Lectures may be attended individually or in the entire series. Individual RSVPs are required for each lecture.

2022 Lecture Schedule:

February 5

Slow and not so Steady: Glaciers, Ice Sheets, and Sea Level Rise
Doug Wiens, Robert S. Brookings Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Science

February 12


Mindful Movement for Healthy Living
David Marchant, Professor of the Practice, Department of Performing Arts

February 19

Emotional Intelligence: A Skill that is Intended to Move You
Hillary Elfenbein, John and Ellen Wallace Distinguished Professor, Olin School of Business

February 26

Social Movements and Social Change
Zakiya Luna, Dean's Distinguished Professorial Scholar, Department of Sociology

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Master of Liberal Arts Degree

The Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) program fosters intellectual breadth through courses that address a broad range of cultural issues from different academic perspectives. Students may explore questions of identity through art, literature, and religion.

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Speaker Bios

Doug Wiens
Robert S. Brookings Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Science

Douglas Wiens is the Robert S. Brookings Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and is the author or co-author of hundreds of articles. He specializes in seismology and geophysics and has done research on large deep earthquakes in the Pacific Ocean and the seismology of Antarctica. He has taught courses on earth forces, seismology, environmental geophysics, and geodynamics. Through his research on the melting of ice sheets and the ensuing sea-level rise, Wiens is uniquely positioned to talk about climate change.

David Marchant
Professor of the Practice, Department of Performing Arts

David Marchant is Professor of the Practice, Performing Arts Department, and coordinator of the University College Somatic Studies program. He has been a full time faculty member in the Performing Arts Department at Washington University since 1994. He holds a Master’s degrees in Dance and is a certified instructor in the Alexander Technique. David was a company member with the Utah Repertory Dance Theatre and a recipient of the Iowa Arts Fellowship for excellence in choreography. He has performed and conducted master classes and residencies at universities throughout the United States and abroad including Movement Arts and Design in Europe (MADE) in France, Tsinghua University in Beijing China, Beijing Modern Dance Company, Chicago Academy of the Arts, and Scripps and Pomona College. 

Hillary Elfenbein
John and Ellen Wallace Distinguished Professor, Olin School of Business

Hillary Anger Elfenbein is the John and Ellen Wallace Distinguished Professor at the Olin School of Business.  She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, a Master’s degree in Statistics, and undergraduate degrees in Physics and Sanskrit, all from Harvard University.  Dr. Elfenbein served for five years on faculty at the University of California, and two years as a Senior Researcher at the Harvard Business School.  Her research focuses on emotion in the workplace, including emotional intelligence, interpersonal relationships, negotiation, and personality.  She served as an Associate Editor at Management Science.

Zakiya Luna
Dean's Distinguished Professorial Scholar, Department of Sociology

Zakiya Luna is the Dean's Distinguished Professorial Scholar in the Department of Sociology. She is the author of Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: Women of Color and the Fight for Reproductive Justice. She was the co-creator and co-editor of the University of California Press book series, Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century, and is currently working on an edited volume, Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis with Whitney Pirtle. She was a CoreAlign Generative Fellow and member of the Humane Resources Innovation Lab where her team focused on how reproductive justice movement organizations could be accountable to cultivating practices that recognize a person's whole self, in order to help people thrive while sustaining the movement.

Lecture Archive

  • 2021 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The 2021 series, entitled “Unprecedented times,” is a phrase we hear a lot these days. The present is tumultuous, but, conversely, can be repetitive and familiar on an intimate level.
  • 2020 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The 2020 series, entitled “Transition,” examined the transitions between the world as it is and the one it is becoming.
  • 2019 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The 2019 series, entitled “Memory,” addressed the nature, meaning and power of memory.
  • 2018 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The 2018 series, entitled "Rhythm," explored the fundamental role of rhythm in the human body, the clinical applications of rhythm in song and dance, the power of rhythm in language, and rhythmic forms that drive French film.
  • 2017 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The creative spark may seem a mysterious gift bestowed on artists and inventors. Join us as WashU scientists, designers, and entrepreneurs unpack the enigma by exploring the role of rest, failure, process, and aging on creativity.
  • 2016 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The 2016 series, entitled “The Modern University,” addressed issues that tap into the past, present, and future of higher education and its impact on American society
  • 2015 MLA Lecture Series Recordings

    The 2015 series, entitled “From Athens to Ferguson,” addressed broad questions about justice and community.