The Donahue Professor of the Arts Speaker Series celebrates the extraordinary power of the arts to inspire us, tell our stories and connect us.

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The Donahue Professor of the Arts Speaker Series events are free and open to the public, and most events will be recorded and available on the website.

Upcoming Events

Each semester, we are proud to offer informative talks from leading experts on a variety of topics. Check back here for the latest schedule of upcoming events.

About the Series

The Donahue Professor of the Arts Speaker Series is made possible by the generous support of philanthropist and Lowell native Nancy L. Donahue. Together with her late husband, Richard, she established the Nancy L. Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts in 2009. Founded to help connect the music, fine arts, theatre and creative writing programs at UMass Lowell with local music, arts and theater organizations in the Lowell community, the series seeks to nurture artistic passion and talent in students, while taking advantage of the vast artistic resources within the city of Lowell.

Past Events

Click on the plus signs below to access information about our past speakers.

  • Douglas Anderson.

    Living “Both/And” on a One-Way Street

    Wednesday, April 17, 2024
    6-9 p.m.
    The Overlook
    Mill No. 5, 250 Jackson St., Lowell, MA

    In the 20th century, philosophy and logic upheld the idea that statements are either true or false. Yet, a "both/and" approach offers richer insight into the human experience. Join philosopher and musician Douglas Anderson for an illuminating discussion, exploring this perspective through the lens of Americana music – a vibrant blend of blues, country, folk, rock and Celtic genres.

    Douglas Anderson, Ph.D., taught philosophy at four different universities over the course of his career. He is a retired chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department at the University of North Texas and currently teaches part time at Southern Illinois University. For more than 50 years, Anderson has performed Americana music and recorded albums under the nickname “Ol’ Moose.” He lives in Makanda, Illinois, where he works as a part-time carpenter, along with teaching occasional courses and playing music at a variety of local venues.

    This event is funded by the Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts and is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

    Against Critical Reason: Logic, Colonization and the Possibility of a Moral Perspective

    April 2, 2024
    Noon-1:30 p.m.
    Coburn Hall, Room 255
    850 Broadway St., Lowell, MA

    European settlement in North America is commonly deemed “settler colonialism.” This practice focuses on conquest, settlement and removal of Indigenous people. While responses typically stress critical thinking, they're constrained by colonial logic. This talk will examine the problem, summarize key elements of the inherited system and suggest an alternative grounded in a decolonizing moral perspective.

    Scott L. Pratt, Ph.D., is a professor and head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Oregon. His research and teaching interests are in American philosophy, philosophy of education, and the history of logic. Pratt is the author of “Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy” and “Logic: Inquiry, Argument and Order,” as well as numerous articles on pluralism, logic and Indigenous American philosophy. He is currently working on two books entitled “Posthuman Empiricism: Agency, Ethics, and Politics in Social Inquiry” and “Logic, Colonization, and Indigenous Philosophy.”

    This event is funded by the Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts and is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

    Massimo Pigliucci.

    The Quest for Character: What the Greco-Romans Can Teach Us About Leadership and Everyday Life

    Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023
    11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
    Weed Hall, Lecture Hall 2
    3 Solomont Way, Lowell, MA

    How do we become better persons? Both the ancient Greco-Romans and modern cognitive science converge on a similar set of answers. Join Massimo Pigliucci as he examines the idea of a philosophy of life and explore five conclusions about improving our character, derived from history, philosophy and science.

    Massimo Pigliucci is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His academic work is in evolutionary biology, the philosophy of science, the nature of pseudoscience and practical philosophy. His books include “How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life” and “Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk.” Learn more on the School for a New Stoicism website.

    This event is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

    Cristopher Moore.

    Uncertainty, Impossibility and Pluralism in Mathematics

    Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023
    12:30 - 2 p.m.
    Weed Hall, Lecture Hall 2
    3 Solomont Way, Lowell, MA
    What happens when a mathematical question has more than one answer, or cannot be solved at all? Is there just one true geometry and arithmetic, or are there many? Join Cristopher Moore for a thought-provoking talk about how mathematicians have wrestled with these issues from Euclid to Gödel and Turing, and what mathematics might offer to a society divided between doubt and authority.
    Cristopher Moore is a mathematician, physicist and computer scientist. He has held positions at the Niels Bohr Institute, the École Normale Supérieure, the University of New Mexico, Northeastern University, the University of Michigan and Microsoft Research. Moore’s research ranges from quantum computing and social networks to risk assessment in criminal justice. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Mathematical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    This event is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.
    Tad Brennan.

    A Good Life for the Dark Ages: Boethius’ “Consolation of Philosophy”

    Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023
    11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    Weed Hall, Room 318
    3 Solomont Way, Lowell, MA

    While imprisoned before his execution in 524 A.D., the Roman philosopher Boethius composed a treatise on the meaning of human life. Presented as a dialogue in prose and poetry between himself and Lady Philosophy, the “Consolation” had an impact on European culture in the Dark Ages second only to the Bible. Join renowned expert Prof. Tad Brennan for an illuminating talk on this work.

    Tad Brennan is a professor of philosophy and classics at Cornell University. He has previously held faculty positions at Northwestern, Yale and King’s College, London. Brennan has published dozens of articles on Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pre-Socratics, Epicureans and Stoics, as well as two monographs on Ancient Skepticism and Stoicism, a translation of the sixth-century Platonist philosopher Simplicius and a collection of essays on Plato’s psychology.

    This event is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

  • April 2023

    Chloe Cooper Jones, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her journalism on the violent death of Eric Garner, led a series of events over two days. She met with faculty to discuss journalism and ethics, talked with two classes to discuss these topics and led a well-attended public lecture on ethics and the arts at Olney Hall.

    December 2022

    Peter Catapano, a New York Times senior editor, joined us for a series of events over three days on the topics of self-hood and self-expression through journalism. The capstone event featured a two-hour roundtable at Lydon Library with Andre Dubus III and Sandra Lim, both from the UMass Lowell (UML) English Department.

    October 2022

    John Traphagan ‘83, a UML alumni and professor at the University of Texas Austin, came to campus for a two-day workshop and public lecture on anthropology, the self and space exploration. Traphagan led two classes, workshopped papers with students and gave a public lecture at Lydon Library.

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