Presidential Lecture Series | Office of the President | The University of Vermont(title)

Each academic year, the University of Vermont explores an aspect of today’s society through several components of its Major Lecture Series. Each lecture, made possible by endowments from generous donors, explores a particular aspect of that theme.

For the 2023-24 academic year, the university explores the newest form of mass communication, one that has become highly influential in its very short life: social media.

This year’s Aiken lecturer will speak about the role of social media in revolutionary political movements. The Burack lecturers will speak, respectively, about privacy concerns and the use social media to measure happiness and health. The Zeltzerman lecturer will speak about the effects of social media on mental health. The two Janus disputants will debate whether social media should be more regulated.

UVM sees these lectures as a natural part of its land-grant mission—a commitment to make academic work, good information, and thoughtful deliberation accessible to the widest possible audience. To this end, UVM’s Major Lecture Series promotes engaging scholarship often absent from the public eye and the fierce yet respectful debates increasingly absent from public discourse—yet essential for healthy democracies and healthy societies.

Upcoming Schedule

George D. Aiken Lecture Series


The George D. Aiken Lectures was founded to promote discussion in the three areas for which Senator Aiken was best known– namely, foreign affairs, energy, and agriculture–but is responsive to change within the context of those general areas. The lectures are delivered once each academic year.

Supported by an endowment created by George and Lola Aiken, the lectures, which began in 1975, provide a platform for distinctive views on critical American issues and is the University’s major annual public-policy forum. The tradition of keeping the Aiken Lectures free and open to the public endures.

Past Lectures

March 6, 2024: Zeynep Tufekci
Lessons from the Decade of Social Media
Talking with Zeynep Tufekci

Dan and Carole Burack President's Distinguished Lecture Series


The Burack Lecture lecture series brings to campus scholars, scientists, artists and writers who are acknowledged as preeminent in their discipline. In addition to enriching the academic environment, the Burack President’s Distinguished Lecture Series also helps to showcase the exceptional caliber of UVM faculty, students and programs.

Past Lectures

March 25, 2024: Nora Draper - "Privacy Resignation: How Digital Platforms Confuse, Frustrate, and Disempower Us.”
Promotional flyer (PDF) | Video Recording

November 13, 2023: Chris Danforth
Measuring the Happiness, Health, and Stories of Society through Social Media. 
Danforth Video Recording | Danforth Presentation

April 11, 2024: Steve Schlozman, MD UVMMC - "Social Media and Kids (What Could Possibly Go Wrong?)" 
Promotional flyer (PDF) | Video Recording

Zeltzerman Lecture Series


The Zeltzerman Lecture series was established in 1966 by Dr. and Mrs. Morris Zeltzerman in memory of their son, Michael Zeltzerman, who was a UVM graduate student in Anatomy at the time of his death in 1966. The Zeltzerman Lectureship is devoted to topics addressing the relationship between "science and other areas of knowledge concerning people as individuals or as societies."

Past Lectures

November 8, 2023: Bailey Parnell
Is Social Media Hurting Our Mental Health? 
Parnell poster (PDF)

Janus Forum


Dedicated to the proposition that engaging, thoughtful, rigorous, and respectful debate remains possible even in this era of intense partisanship, the Janus Forum presents competing viewpoints on important socioeconomic issues in the public square. The Forum invites two scholars to argue different sides of a proposition, modeling the “diversity of thought” necessary, in the words of UVM’s Amplifying Our Impact, for promoting “the interplay between education and a healthy democracy.”

Past Forums

February 7, 2024: James Steyer and John Samples - Ifshin Hall, 107 Keller Room
(55 Colchester Ave)
Yes or No: Social media should be more regulated to protect and promote the best interests of democracy, public health, and personal privacy. 
Steyer and Samples poster (PDF) | Video Recording