Speaker Events: How to learn about fascinating topics you might know nothing about

I went to an awesome lecture. This really isn’t surprising though, since Wash U is full of awesome lectures—if you have any doubt in that just look at the events page! Anyhow, I find myself drawn to a speaker event nearly every week. They bring in experienced members of specific fields to share their expertise and whether or not I am familiar with the area, I always come away from these events intrigued by something new. 

The awesome lecture I’m talking about this time is part of the International and Area Studies Speaker Series. They brought Dr. Jonathan D. Pollack, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution (the Brookings Institution guys!!!) to Wash U. For those of you who don’t know the Brookings Institution,  it is a really well known think tank in DC. The lecture, titled, “North Korea: Saga without End?”  focused on analyzing the threat of North Korean Nuclear attack and on North Korea’s continued existence today. There were a lot of people attending—faculty, undergrads, grads—everybody. Since I came in a little late due to a class, I joined a group of students standing by the walls to the side of the room to listen to the lecture (the food was also already eaten except for a few cheese cubes ;-;). Awesome, awesome lecture. 

Dr. Jonathan D. Pollack

The next day, the IAS department hosted an International Relations Roundtable Q&A discussion where students could ask questions that they maybe didn’t have the chance to ask the night before while lunch with Dr. Pollack. This group was much smaller— maybe thirty students when it was fullest (due to the variation in class schedules, it’s common for people to come and go periodically at various events).

This round table was a little special, since it was also co-hosted by the Career Center’s Government and Public Policy work group, which students who think they might be interested in government or policy work can join to gain resources for career exploration ad guidance. Because of this, the first half of the two-hour round table actually focused on life inside a Think Tank, advice to succeed in the field, and interesting anecdotes illustrating how people make their own contributions to the field.

Maybe I’m just a nerd for going to lectures in my free time, but they are still such an enriching part of my life here. They let me explore different topics that I might later want to take a class on or just get a better awareness of the fields of study that are out there. There are lots of interesting lectures going on in all departments—all it takes is a little check on the Wash U events site or the website for the major you’re in. And trust me, it’s worth it.