Shankar Vedantam, science correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR), will be the featured speaker at the 11th annual Uka and Nalini Solanki Foundation Lecture on Wednesday, April 24, in The Pointe of The Walter Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB).
The event is presented by CSULB’s Yadunandan Center for Indian Studies.
Vedantam will discuss how subconscious bias in the human mind can affect how we look at the world. The event will include a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. that features a full Indian dinner followed by the lecture from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and a book signing for Vedantam’s “The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives.”
Yadunandan Center Director Tim Keirn, a lecturer in CSULB’s Department of Liberal Studies, applauded Vedantam’s selection as this year’s lecturer. He said Vedantam will focus in particular on South Asia and how subconscious bias affects the understanding of such things as caste, religion and race.
“The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences and how research in those fields can get his listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways,” Keirn noted. “The issues will be addressed both from an Indian perspective and from an American one. Unlike previous Solanki lectures, this one will be interactive with audiences engaged in a number of mental exercises by a speaker always on the move. This will not be your standard lecture.”
Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam spent 10 years as a reporter at the Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post. Vedantam also writes an occasional column for Slate called “Hidden Brain.”
In 2009-10, he served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and participated in the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, the 2003-04 World Health Organization Journalism Fellowship and the 2002-03 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.
The Solanki Foundation Lecture is an endowed lecture series established by Uka and Nalini Solanki with the express intention of inviting a distinguished individual to discuss South Asia-related topics.
Previous speakers have included last year’s William Dalrymple on “The Return of a King: Shah Shuja, the Great Game and the First Anglo-Afghan War, 1839-1842”; Bhagwati Professor of Economics at Columbia Arvind Panagariya; Sam Pitroda, chair of India's National Knowledge Commission; Ramachandra Guha, a historian and biographer; and writers Mira Kamdar, Pico Iyer and Suketu Mehta.
“What is especially interesting about this Solanki Foundation Lecture is that it does not address Indian history in the way other recent lectures have,” Keirn said. “This lecture will offer a slightly different angle of sociology and psychology. We’re opening our potential audience to more than those with a historical interest.”