10 Questions: Centennial Edition — What is A UNIVERSITY?

10 Questions: Centennial Edition — What is A UNIVERSITY?

October 16, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


– Welcome to “10 Questions”. My name is Victoria Marks, and I’m a choreographer,
a professor of dance, and associate dean in the School of the
Arts and Architecture, and I’m so delighted to
see you all here today. This is week one of “10 Questions”, and we couldn’t have a more auspicious way to begin an academic year
and a centennial year than to ask the question,
what is a university? Before I introduce this
evening’s extraordinary guests, I wanna say a few words
about what we’re doing here. “10 Questions” is a both a lecture course of about 70 students, students, where are you? – [Student] Hi. – All right, (audience applauding) indeed, and a public event. The combination of a
class and public event was really put together to build bridges between what we do inside the university and the ways in which we
connect with our communities beyond the university campus, but I also see a number of you who are from the university itself, and we’re so glad that more
of you are here to be with us. In these bridges, we hope that we’ll make
the work we do here in the nation’s leading
public research university more visible and more accessible, and for you, our students, I hope you will take pride
in the work that you’re doing even more so because
you’re nestled by a public who are interested in
what you’re thinking about and what we’re discussing in this room. Each of the “10 Questions”
of this year was selected because it serves as a
touchstone for our lives, our civic, communal,
and personal experience. If you continue to join
us over these 10 weeks, now, I know I’m not talking
to the students right now ’cause you will join us, (audience laughs) but for everyone else,
you will meet 28 people, members of UCLA’s extraordinary faculty, outstanding alumni, and affiliated artists and activists. We have purposefully brought together this diverse and luminous group in order to emphasize the ways in which interdisciplinary
conversations are necessary to build understanding and complexity, and to spur progress in this
tightly interconnected world of ideas and experience, so here’s the structure for the evening. Each of our guests will
speak for 10 to 15 minutes, and then this will be followed by some conversation between them. Then we’re gonna take a short break, not the kind of break
where you leave the room, but the break where you catch your breath, and we’re gonna ask you to
speak with someone near to you to share something that stood out for you, a question that’s unfolding, to try to articulate
some of what’s going on between you and what we’ve just heard, and then we will continue our event, inviting you to join
us in the conversation. Finally, this is the administrative part, please silence and separate yourself from your digital devices. We ask you not to photograph
or record this event in any way. As you can see, we have cameras rolling. We will be recording. We are recording, and we’ll be very happy to
share these with the public. Also, take a look at the exits. Hmm, I think maybe over there
and over there and up there in case you need them. I’d like to thank Anne
Marie Burke and her, there she is, Anne Marie, and her extraordinary arts (audience applauds) communications team, Kylie
Carrigan and Louise Cale, I don’t know where you
are, but they’re here, who have nurtured and brought
this project to fruition, from big picture to the granular details. Dean Brett Steele, right here, and the School of the
Arts and Architecture have housed this tremendous effort, and you are here in Kaufman Hall, my home, the home of the Department of
World Arts and Cultures/Dance, and we thank them for hosting us, and for the considerable
planning and technical expertise they have marshaled to make
“10 Questions” possible, and we are very grateful to Andres Cuervo, who I believe is up somewhere, he’s waving his hand in the balcony, and the UCLA Centennial
Celebration Committee for their significant
support and their wisdom in celebrating “10 Questions” as a marquee centennial event. Okeydokey.
(audience applauding) I am now honored to
introduce our two guests, but before I ask them to join the stage I’d like to share a little bit
about each of them with you. An accomplished engineer and
sustainable energy expert, Emily Carter is now UCLA’s
executive vice chancellor, and provost, and a distinguished professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Dr. Carter began her academic career at UCLA in 1988, rising through the chemistry
and biochemistry faculty, kind of like gas, maybe, and helped to launch, (laughs), sorry, our Institute for Pure
and Applied Mathematics and the California NanoSystems Institute. In 2004 she moved to Princeton University, where she spent the next 15 years jointly appointed in mechanical
and aerospace engineering and in applied and
computational mathematics. At Princeton she was selected
to be the founding director of the Andlinger Center for
Energy and the Environment and served as dean of
engineering and applied science before rejoining us at UCLA just exactly a month ago. Dr. Carter is the recipient
of numerous honors, including election to the
National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, and the National Academy of Engineering, and I’d like to also introduce Peter Sellars, a stage
and festival director. He’s a distinguished professor right here in the Department of World
Arts and Cultures/Dance, and he’s internationally renowned for his groundbreaking and
transformative interpretations of artistic masterpieces, and for collaborative projects of collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of artists that span disciplines and the globe. Peter has led several
major arts festivals, including the L.A. Festival, how many of you remember
the L.A. Festival? Few of you here. Yes. The Ojai Music Festival,
the Adelaide Festival, and New Crowned Hope, a
monthlong festival in Vienna celebrating the 250th
anniversary of Mozart’s birth. He is currently a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival. He’s a recipient of a
MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize for
contributions to European culture, and he’s a member of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded the
prestigious Polar Music Prize, and that was shivering, and been named Artist of
the Year by Musical America. Everyone, please help me welcome Emily Carter and Peter Sellars. (audience applauding) Thank you. So perhaps, Emily, you’d like to just start us off with a response the the question, what is a university? And, of course, what could it be? – Thank you, it’s great to be here. As was just stated, I’ve
only been here a month after an absence of 15 years, and I came back because I’m on a mission to show what a university can be and do for the world, but before I get into that I have to answer the
question more precisely, what is a university? And everyone, I think, that you talk to will have a different
answer to that question. Usually there is a banal answer that says that it involves
teaching, research, service. What I think it does is
transform human beings. I think it also creates new knowledge. It curates and makes sure that we maintain the knowledge passed from
generation to generation, and it has the ability to help society and through discoveries be able to transform the
world into a better place, and so notice I used
the word transformation, so I think a university
has a responsibility to accomplish all of those things, those kinds of transformations, and it does so through the
members of its community, so it’s people like the role I’m in now, an administrative leader, faculty, staff, students, the public, all have a role to play in
the success of a university, and again, the university is the steward, really the steward of knowledge, and passing knowledge on, and creating new knowledge
among the community to have an effect on civilizations, so now that’s very broad,
so let me get more specific. It was mentioned that I
was the founding director of the Andlinger Center for
Energy and the Environment at Princeton University, and I have to say that I have now, for a dozen years, devoted my research life to working on sustainable
energy technologies, and a whole wide variety of them. I still do that, and I did that because in 2007 I read the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change science report, not all of it. It’s a very long report, so
I read the executive summary, but anyway, it made it very clear that we, at that time, even a dozen years ago
it was absolutely clear, I think it was clear to many
scientists even before that, but it made it very clear
that the 95% confidence level human beings burning fossil
fuels were warming the planet, and it’s very clear that fossil fuels have been necessary to the
success of our civilization, but it’s time to get off them, and we’re not gonna be able
to just turn the spigot off. It takes ingenuity. It takes new invention. It takes training the next generation and the next generation after that, and that’s what universities do. I think universities also are responsible for really transforming how opening students’ eyes, and even, and I would
say professors’ eyes too through the conversations with students, to new ways of thinking, new
ways of viewing the world, and also new ways of viewing yourself and your role in the world, and your ability to make
a difference in the world, and so one of the things
that happened to me after reading that report was that I decided to devote my, decided every research grant
proposal I wrote after that was 100% going to be about working on sustainable
energy technologies, so how does, fast forward to when I was asked by UCLA to think about whether I
might want to come back, and what I realized, now I’m gonna be very specific about UCLA, is that UCLA has a tremendous opportunity, and I hope to lead everyone, all of you, and all of I hope to
galvanize the faculty, and the students, and
the staff on this campus to think about how much more we can do in Los Angeles to help Los Angeles become the city that it should be, the city of the 21st century, and by so doing, and the reason I say this in particular is because Los Angeles is
this incredible, beautiful, hyper-multicultural patchwork of peoples, and I think it’s an opportunity
unlike any on the planet, that I think UCLA should seize, to help figure out what are the struggles that different cultures have, essentially bringing together people, experts from sociology, and anthropology, and public health, and all over to come and talk with people
in different communities that are, especially
immigrant communities, to learn what the problems
are and figure out, then bring in people like me, bring in engineers and other people who can bring both social and
technological interventions to test out ideas that are paying attention to the cultures and making sure we’re
solving the real problems of the cultures to make Los Angeles a
sustainable, resilient, more livable, more
equitable city all over. If we could do that, and then we could figure out
what are the best practices, and then export those all around the world, what would that do? Well, in my, my aim is to try to do
what we can to mitigate, as best we can, about climate change, and the only way we can do
that is if we transform cities because more than half
the world’s population already lives in cities, and it’s only going to grow, so given that, what better
place on the planet, and what better university on the planet to try to make that happen
but UCLA in Los Angeles? And so I bring that up
as a specific example. That’s my personal mission, but what it shows is the possibility of how universities not only, their primary mission
is to educate and train generations after generations of students, and to create new knowledge, but to also have this incredible, be this incredible force
for good in the world through using the talent that’s here to solve these kinds of problems, both social and technological problems, in order to transform the
world into a better place, so for me, the university
has both the internal mission of education and research, but also this very
important external mission of harnessing the talent we have to be able to really transform the world, so that’s what a university is to me. – Welcome to Los Angeles again, please. (laughs)
– I know. – Truly great to have you back, Emily. – Thank you.
– Thank you, thank you. You know, I think, for me, the I love the word universe. That’s a good start. That’s inside university, and for me, that sense is actually being
about thinking holistically, thinking of a larger picture, understanding that a picture emerges from multiple perspectives and not from a single perspective, and so one of the things
I’ve always dreamed of is to harness a major university around a topic, let’s say the drug war, or let’s say ecological sustainability and the climate emergency, and what I would love to do is invite key people from every
department in the university to contribute so we get a 360-degree view of drugs, how drugs work, where they don’t work, what is going on? Can we figure that out from neuroscience? Can we figure that out from
the English department, where most of English
literature was written by people who were high on drugs? (audience chuckles) Can we get, from the
anthropology department, that drugs were not antisocial in Peru, in Andean and Amazon societies? Can we actually begin to
understand these questions from law enforcement, but also from public health, also all the way around because we’re only getting, usually, one view presented of the media, which is reductive and simplistic, and constantly causes
the so-called solution to be inadequate, or in
fact counterproductive, and for me, one of the big crises is that with the invention of critical
studies in the university 40, 50 years ago, the last 40 years of research are missing from the public sphere. Elections are right now being
fought, and so-called debates, in terms that are 40 years out of date and have none of the
current research involved, and most people who vote do not know what we’ve
been doing for 40 years because our language is in a language that is incomprehensible
to most Americans, and so for me, the task of a
university is public service, but public presence, and clarity, and ability in truth-telling in order to put complex truths forward in accessible language and images, which are missing from all of
our current election cycles because we have a job
as a public university to defend democracy, and we have very little
democracy occurring right now, so for me, the university is about the promise of democracy, which is about multiple voices, and understanding every issue is complex and needs to be arrived
at through multiple paths, not simply a single path, and what a university recognizes is that as human beings
we’re complex beings, and the things we make are complex and need to be understood in complex ways instead of reduced to a sound-bite, so for me, that idea which we still don’t
have across the society, I feel the university, we’ve
all gotten so specialized, and we’re all in such silos, and there are zones of excellence, but they’re truly, truly isolated, and the degree now, in the 21st century, the degree which we can talk to each other within a university and actually model
sophisticated conversations around difficult topics
from multiple viewpoints in public space, that would be really
powerful and tremendous, and for me, we’re also at
a very interesting point, and it’s thrilling to be sitting right next to Emily Carter where yes, there’s a lot
of knowledge to hand on, and from previous eras, but frankly, what we’re facing right now has never been done before, and it’s new, and we’re really talking new knowledge, and we’re talking the new
part of new knowledge, and so many parts of university culture are very conservative because it’s about, in a way, privileging the past, and I have to say right
now we have 10 years to change the way we’re
living on this Earth with the climate emergency. We don’t have time to drag
all that history forward. We actually need to move forward boldly, with incredible clarity and daring, and we need a new generation
that can move that way, and excuse me, in the history of the
world that’s young people. Young people filled out
those civil rights marches. Young people ended the
Vietnam War in this country, and the presence of young people at the forefront of shifting the climate reality, both in terms of better
ideas, new research, new ways of cooperating, new ways of engaging different publics because the climate
emergency is so serious we can’t just talk to ourselves. It actually is gonna require everyone. What does that mean? Everyone? That’s where I come back to
the universe in university. Our task in a university actually has to, yes, speak to everyone
within the university, but as Emily has said so eloquently, we have to now turn around and reach in all directions
outside the university and engage those multiple avenues, eloquently and powerfully, to face the crisis that is planetary and that is urgent, and so for me, a university has to shift
at this moment from being, of course I don’t wanna prevent anybody from studying the past, but actually right now we have to shift the way
we treat advanced research in this university, and we have to actually move into a mode of experiential learning,
learning on the job, because we have the job in front of us, and to have students on
the front lines of creating the next reality, so for me, that positions
a university creatively in a vanguard, as Emily says, having a huge, huge impact around us, but also truly having a new culture of democratic listening and that kind of engagement. As Americans we don’t
listen that well that often. What would it be to actually deepen the
culture of listening and deepen the conversation? For me, the old days,
universities in this country had distinguished presidents of universities could go and have a word
with Franklin Roosevelt and start the nuclear program, (laughs) and those times are over because you can’t have much
of a word in the White House at the moment, but just to say in fact we are responsible for the
public faith of the nation. That’s what a public university is is not just teaching students,
but teaching citizens, and not just professing, but actually leading by example. Emily has been very eloquent about that, and what does it mean that
we can create working models? But also that we are
a model of governance, of civility, of exchange, of respect, of honoring the finest qualities that human beings bear because, as Emily said very movingly, we are all here to be transformed. We are all here for reasons
we don’t even understand, and we need to see
ourselves and each other in completely new ways. That is the actual research. I’m, of course, coming
from the cultural picture, and what new knowledge means culturally is new relationships, new conversations, new language, new vocabulary, new images that allow
us to address each other and work together with insight and harmony, and inside contradiction and furious disagreement, to hold this zone of respect and zone of permanent possibility, and not say these questions
have been answered, but say these questions
need to be answered, and the old answers do not are not adequate to what we’re facing, and so to liberate our students into a new activism and just say it doesn’t
mean that the students have to stand outside the
administration building and protest, and throw
things, and get arrested. The very thing that’s the
subject of that protest should actually be the
course material. (laughs) This should not be
protesting the structure. The structure should actually
be about the very things that the students are
insisting upon right now, and we’re in a new era where a 13-year-old is addressing the UN. Hello, I just wanna hear youth. I need the presence of youth, and we’re here in a university to empower young people, period, and have young people
challenge the established order and move us all forward, and that really means having
outstanding facilities and actually giving young
people the training, the confidence, and the keys to the car, and right now we need a young
generation to be informed, to be truly eloquent and articulate, and to put their shoulder to the wheel and be non-stop activists. The university is the breeding ground for those qualities
that we admire the most and that we are most in need of, so I also hope the universities themselves can lift themselves to move forward with the velocity and impact of the urgent questions that
we face as a civilization. – Thank you, both, for these– – No problem. (audience and panelists laugh) (audience applauding) – If I were to put together
what you each have said, I would say that part of
what we’re talking about is an expansion of the
very idea of knowledge, and I’m wondering if you might
wanna just talk a little bit about the ways in which the university can address this question of not only knowing things, but knowing how to apply
what we’re learning in a way that we can make more
than the sum of our parts. – Well, I think I liked very much what
you had to say, Peter, and I think part of I’m just gonna riff a little bit off of one thing you
said earlier, which is I think the university has the opportunity to play the role of an honest broker in the conversations across
the nation, across the world, because the university should be developing conversations
that are based on evidence, that are based on provable facts, and hopefully one, in fact, I can give you an example of something that I started at Princeton when I was the director
of the Andlinger Center. I really noticed that the public lacked, and people that were changing
laws in this country, lacked just good information on which to base their opinions, their decisions, and so I started a
public eduction project. It’s called the Energy
Technology Distillates project, meaning to distill down to the essence the key ideas that any person, without regard to background knowledge, could read and learn about, holistically, areas related to emerging
energy technologies, and it’s just one example, but it was very important to me to pull that together as something that was
completely non-partisan, just recognizing that we wanted
to provide good information, and then let people decide for themselves once they could be informed, and I think that’s a great
role for universities, in many different arenas, to be able to provide
that kind of information so one can have a dialogue about about the evidence, and I do believe that it is
very important, as you said, that we all have to become good listeners and as empathetic as possible because we all come from
different experiences, and were taught different
things as we grew up, and so it’s challenging
to talk with people who have different points of view, but that’s how we can that’s the only way forward, I think, is that we try to really listen, and be empathetic to each other, and try to have a good, vigorous discussion in a respectful way about
all the issues of the day. I don’t know if I answered your question, but this is something I think
is also a very important part of what the university can do, both within the university and going out into the community. – And I would just, to continue with that, one of the, I think, exciting things to do is actually reimagine a lot of the disposition of the university resources
within the university and start to reflect the world that we’re actually living in, so for example, here at UCLA
or most American universities, the English department is gigantic, the French department is pretty big, and then all of Africa is three
people in a basement room, and there’s like Scandinavia’s somewhere on the fourth floor, but in fact the actual places in the world that we’re talking about, the hot spots, which are really exploding, and the very place for
transformation and new breakthroughs, are very rarely represented
in the university structure, and the ocean issues in the Pacific, well, we actually have a
very slim representation of Pacific cultures in
the university structure, and so for me, one of the other things is really addressing now how the university was
structured in a previous era, in a colonial era where
everything was about London, and actual the decisions would be made in three cities on Earth, and those are the primary
cultures we’re gonna discuss, and those are the only
people we need to talk to, and what does it mean
– Really good point. – to actually say university,
the word universe? We should be more representative
of the world we’re in, and our students are
graduating not equipped because they’ve only had a conversation that could happen in Paris,
or London, or New York, and in fact we need to have conversations in the archipelago of Indonesia. We need to have the
conversations that are going on and the spaces in Kazakhstan, the spaces where the world is changing and on the cusp of tremendous crisis, but again, I read crisis as this is the place where the action is and where the breakthroughs will come, and many of our students
are, and many Americans, are just underequipped and
underinformed about these zones, and therefore, inevitably, our actions in those
places are well-intentioned but colonialist and frequently backfire, and so those are, for me, one of the next level
of the 21st century is can we also make our
institutions more representative? – Yeah, I actually think
that’s a really good point. I mean, I think there is a tendency, everyone, whatever they’re doing, they wanna protect their
environment or turf, I was going to be a little– – [Peter] Nice word. – But it is often about turf, and I think what I hope
that the university, I hope we will do this at UCLA is that we will think beyond
our own small boundaries, and that we will think about what UCLA should do to
make sure we are preparing generation after
generation after generation to meet the challenges of the future, and the present frankly, and so that means actually pulling back, and looking with a broader lens, and saying, just as you said, we can’t do things like
we did them before, and we have to be willing
to sacrifice our own turf in order to put to invest in the areas
that are so critical for knowledge to be either
created or transmitted or both, absolutely. – And now, to really
create a new generation of interdisciplinary education because I think I’m right now serving on the L.A. River Master Plan Commission, and as it was reported in
the L.A. Times this weekend, we had an astounding report that took two years of staff time to discuss homelessness
along the L.A. River because, yes, you can’t
just talk about water flow, and I mean, yes, you’re
trying to rehab a river, so you have to talk about he
water flow, but guess what? You also now have to
understand homelessness in depth and detail, and so everything is
now interdisciplinary. Whatever project is underway actually flows into
another body of knowledge and another reality that, in order to get that building built, in order to create the advance you want, you actually need to work
with all of these other fields that are impacted. – Yeah, I like to say that
all the simple problems were solved a long time ago, and the only ones that are left are really thorny and
require many perspectives and expertise from many disciplines. – And so, I mean, for me, the
new model of the university, when I went to university, it was, there were a few professors
who were the great the great icons of knowledge, and that’s the man who knows
everything about this topic, and that’s ancient history because every topic’s expanding
exponentially every week. Nobody can be on top
of any field right now, but more than that, I think we have a much deeper
and more interesting model that we need to perfect. So much of the university system, starting with standardized
testing and so on, is all about your own
individual brilliance, and certainly in the arts, but even in science you
have Venko, and Einstein, and individual genius, but in fact nothing happens through individual genius at all, and the deeper reality is
the world is so complex, and things are moving so quickly, knowledge is held in
communities, not by individuals. No individual has a level of knowledge that can solve anything right now. – So I think I’ll be interesting
for me to disagree with you about something, okay?
– Oh fantastic. – (laughs) I absolutely believe that the problems of today are so complex that they’re going to require expertise across a lot of disciplines, and people need to work together in teams to really get to the best
solutions, absolutely. However, I do strongly believe in educating people
deeply in a discipline, and then also being
able to reach out across with a broader lens in some area that you’re
particularly interested in because I think you still have to, if all you do is know
a little about a lot, you’re not very helpful, actually. You need to be an expert in something, and that’s why we have majors,
and that’s very important, but to have multidisciplinary minors, things like that, that would give one a
chance to learn about topics that really don’t live in one discipline is a way to really broaden the context of how you think about how you can use your
expertise going forward. – Yes, and I would really
just say what I’m getting at is that the discipline
itself needs to expand, and that we, of course
you need to drill down and get to be good at something. Please, go ahead, but that by itself is not adequate for what we’re facing, and so all I’m just saying is you need a lot of other people that are also good at something, and that ability to work together and to actually realize the
way the knowledge moves across, rather than is siloed, that’s
my obsession right now, and that we, in universities, we’ve created these very siloed universes, and it’s very hard to get
people out and across, and for me, the time we’re living in is the answers aren’t just
scientific answers. The answers aren’t just the humanities. The combination is really,
really important right now. – Absolutely. – And I need more
sophisticated views of science from humanities people, and humanities people should
get their facts together, and at the same time I
need science to open up and acknowledge that there that a lot of things are
affected by very complex moving realities in human events, and how we connect those things in order to be effective and move forward is, for me, very important, and we, right now, have very narrow worlds in which the humanities
are a little self-absorbed and not really engaged with the
world in the way of science, and at the same time science, in order to engage with the world, needs to actually engage
with human beings, and so we need a little more humanities sophistication going on, and so, for me, if we could braid those things
in a more sophisticated way in some structures within the university, that would be great. I don’t want my dentist not to know how to work
on my teeth, believe me. I do believe there should
be credentials, and tests, and they should know what they’re doing. I have no problem with that, but I need them to also
know a few other things. That’s my dream, my… – Oh, absolutely. I think, in fact, understanding
other disciplines, in fact leads to greater creativity. – Everywhere. – You come with new perspectives. You learn, and when you enter a new field you bring your own perspective, or you learn from someone
else something that through someone else’s eyes. It’s like one of the
beauties of teaching is, and we’ll hear from you soon, that the questions that students ask open the eyes of the professor because they just haven’t thought, either they haven’t
thought about it like that for a long time, or they haven’t though
about it like that ever, and wonderful things can come
from that as well, right? – And this space of creativity, and this space of possibility, and the space that we’re moving towards is, for me, very, very
important right now. So much of the society
that we’re living in is negatively slanted in structure, and for me, one of the
biggest tasks of academia not generally known, academics are not generally
known as positive people (Emily laughs) and are, in fact, have
a level of pathology that is really shocking, but (audience and panelists chuckle) somehow can the university actually inject a positive dimension in a very negatively
slanted period of history? – Yes, I think absolutely.
– And that positivity that you’re talking about, just the engagement with
students is so exciting that you actually don’t feel stuck. You feel that we can move forward, and at a time right now of
such political paralysis and such social paralysis
that we’re facing, can the university create
enough positive energy and momentum in the society itself that says, no, no, we’re not done yet with this civilization. We actually have a lot more to do, and we’re in the middle of it. – And we don’t have a choice, – We don’t have a choice.
– okay, ’cause consider the alternative, so we all have to move forward together, and everyone has a role to play. I think it’s actually a
fantastic opportunity. That’s what often happens in crisis is that people then, all of a sudden, it focuses the mind, crises, and I think that there are many ways, I know many ways to incentivize ways to
break down those silos. – Thank you. – So I think that’s, and it’s, great things will come from that. There’s no question about it. We’ll do it. – I mean, I wonder if you
might speak for a moment a little bit about how
we break down those silos because, as we’re saying
that the important activity is that we develop these
depths of knowledge, and yet we need to learn
how to talk to one another as if the learning how
to talk to one another is something that’s going to
happen with a cup of coffee. How do we do that here in the university? How do we, not just share a project, but actually share a kind of deep respect for the knowledges that we bring together? – Well, I think there are
lots of different mechanisms to do that, and not surprisingly some
of them involve money, insofar as you can incentivize people to come up with creative
ideas for research that you offer seed money for some kind of creative
project or research that, and I’ve done this before, basically, using behavior modification to say at least two people coming together, not from the same department, working, and they’re not allowed to
have worked together before, coming up with something
that is different to work on than they’ve ever worked on before, so essentially just saying
you come up with a great idea, two people from different disciplines, completely different than
what you’ve done before, and we’ll give you money
to start that project, for example. Another way is by teaching, is teaching an elective
or something like that where you bring people together, you incentivize ways from different departments
to teach together in there are a number of
multidisciplinary centers and institutes all over campus,
organized research units, interdepartmental degree programs, where one could get… The beauty of getting two people from different disciplines
to teach together is that they come, and they have their own, again, they come with their
own lens on the subject, and they work together,
and teach each other, and teach the students differently too, so there are ways to do that. There are other mechanisms involving… I don’t know all of the… I’ve been away for 15 years, so I don’t know whether
structures have changed, but just making it easier for graduate students, for example, to work with people
from other departments, or work between departments, or postdoctoral fellows doing that because those people can
also provide, in some sense, the glue to work on something together and break down those barriers. – Great, great. I have one more question before we move into a possible break, and Peter, I understand it’s, well, actually I feel like we’re talking about science and humanities as if this is the great coming together, and I understand that on this campus ’cause we have the North Campus
and we have the South Campus and the DMZ– – [Peter] That is beautiful, yes. Thank you.
– Yeah, yeah, but–
– Somebody very wise put that together. – Yeah, yeah. We’ve never had like North-South
issues before, either, historically speaking, but I wonder if we could
just locate the arts in this conversation. I think, when you say humanities I think you’re kind of using
it, perhaps, as a shorthand for not-scientific investigation, the arts/humanities, but I wonder if we
could just take a moment to think about why the arts
are here in the university, what they do, and what is
so essential about them, whether it’s going to be as we operate and become a catalyst
for making a viable city, or for something even
larger than the city itself. – Well, she asked you, but
I’ll take a stab at it, (audience laughs) and I’m coming to this, not
as an artist, but I mean, I just think the arts have
a tremendous role to play because they evoke people’s hearts in a way that I think you can
tell stories through the arts in ways that people will remember them, in ways that a dry
scientific lecture won’t, so you could imagine, I don’t know, showing the life of a polar bear with a shrinking iceberg or something. The point is I think imagery, and theater, and film have the ability to transmit messages, and evoke emotion, and change people’s minds, and imprint on people the importance, and maybe inspire people in ways that oftentimes, I can say this
’cause I’m a scientist, okay, scientist and engineer. Most scientific lectures are not the most you don’t see people – In tears.
– in tears after them. (audience laughs) Yes, exactly, right? – Or if you do, it doesn’t
mean the same thing. – Yes, exactly,
(audience laughs) so I think the arts,
from my point of view, I mean, again, I don’t mean
to be transactional here, but I’m on a mission, and I feel like the thing that the arts
can really contribute here is to really awaken people through their emotions. – Wow. (sighs) Thanks for coming back to (Emily laughs) to California. Again, for me, I do feel very strongly that the presence of
the arts in a university is different from the presence
of the arts in an art school. Art school, you spend all
day with other artists or just alone, yourself, in your studio, and to me, if you’re an
artist at a university, you’re actually part of the people who are doing the thinking
about the future of the society, and your job is to be among them, and your job is to be heard, and your job is to take what they’re
saying and challenge it and create a way in which
it finally reaches a public, or a mirror is held up to it and people can see what
they’re really saying, and they say, “Oh, no,
no, I don’t mean that.” Well, hello. That’s ’cause you haven’t
had a mirror to look in that reflects back these
things you’re saying, so for me, the arts have a very specific
role in a university, and I regard an artist
who goes to a university different from an artist
who goes to an art school, and to me, the responsibility is to be at the heart of the conversations creating the new society, not at the heart of the conversation that’s creating the new artistic style. – Can I–
– Go! (panelists and audience laugh) – No, I was just gonna say
I thought that was fantastic because I usually am saying
the reason I love universities is because they’re not
institutes of technology, and you’re just saying
it about art school, but it’s the same kind of thing because institutes of technology,
not to dis them, okay, I went to one of them for part of my life, but the fact is that it’s a narrow view. It’s a narrow view of the world. It gives you so you don’t get the full
range of perspectives, and that’s the beauty of the university is that you can choose to
dive into something deeply, and you can also get a taste of so many different
disciplines, and perspectives, and ways of thinking, and ways of expressing yourself. – And for me, it’s just crucial that artists who are engaging
the public are informed and are not only informed but are on the front edge of
new knowledge, new thinking, and are themselves
leaders in new thinking, and that is the mission of the arts is to open up this space on the edge, open up this space on the edge, and what’s on the other side of that edge, and to keep moving, and to also, if I may say, say things that nobody else can say because if you’re an artist
you have nothing to lose (panelists laugh)
’cause you’re not running for reelection, and if people really hate your
work you might have a career, (audience and panelists laugh) and so artists, we’re paid to say things
that no one else can say, and anyone else would lose
their job if they said it, and that’s why the arts were invented– – [Victoria] That’s
why we don’t have jobs. – That’s why,
(audience laughs) well, that’s why, I mean, we
agreed to that at the beginning because something in us has to live in a challenging, permanently challenging position, and in order to challenge
you have to be challenged, and you have to be willing to take that, and so for me, that positionality of the
arts within the university is they’re not ornamental, and that’s what drives me crazy is the thought of the arts as ornamental instead of the arts are actually at the heart of the university’s mission, and need to be at the center
of the university’s mission, and need to put, again, a human face on the last
two generations of research, and that begins to be worthy and necessary. – Whew, wow. Well, let’s take a little pause there. I feel like I wanna burst
into applause for both of you. (audience applauding)
– No, no, no. – Well, it’s very exciting to contemplate this giant
organism that we’re a part of, this sort of semi-utopia
that we’re struggling through and that has so much potential. I wanna take a moment, though, now to suggest that we take a short break, and by break I mean, actually, this is a time to talk amongst ourselves. The reason why I’d like you to do that, I really like, you know,
what stood out for you? What kinda got caught in your craw? I don’t know what a craw is. Jaw? What question would you like to ask? Just take a moment to digest this very,
very rich conversation with someone else, so I’d like a very noisy room for the next like five minutes or so, and then we’ll come back and
talk to our guests some more. so this conversation
would not really be a full conversation without all of you, and so I want to invite all of us here now to join in with Emily
Carter and Peter Sellars to address these questions
about what is the university? What can it be? Who can UCLA be? Not who, as in a person. I’ll be UCLA, but here’s
the way I’d like to do this. If you would like to ask a question just signal, but I wanna ask you to… We’ll use a mic so that everyone can hear, and there are microphones
on either ends of the house, so we’ll pass them to you, and I wanna ask you one more thing. I wanna ask you to keep
your question short. It doesn’t have to be two words, but please try to speak for under a minute so that we can actually
rejoin the conversation. Okay, so I think I already saw some eager participants. There’s somebody right there. We’ll start there, and
then we’ll pass the mic in to right there and then right there. – [Audience Member] Hi. – [Audience Member] I wanted to thank you for the depth of your comments, and also this question is really, it’s a question that’s needed
to be answered right now because it’s not just
abstract and timeless. It’s historically situated, and you spoke to this
moment that we’re in, and it’s important to
deal with that question in this context, so I’m Tala. I’m part of the Revolution Club, and I’m in a National Revolution Tour
organizing people for revolution. I’m making a comment, and it will be brief, but it’s also very complex, so I’m gonna work my way through it. I’m currently facing trial right now, facing two years in jail for speaking out against
a government official who came to this university
a year and a half ago, Steve Mnuchin, and the university actually had a hand and insisted that they press
criminal charges against us, and through the process
of discovery we found out, in the police reports, that UCPD was actually
conducting surveillance, even in situations where people were just
talking to other people and doing perfectly legal
political organizing, so I say this because
people should know about it and oppose this, but also to give some
life to that crossroads that you’re speaking to ’cause it is a battleground
that we’re on right now where fascism is consolidating
in broader society. We have the concentration camps. We have them tweeting
about the coming civil war, and we’re in a situation where there’s not sufficient
outcry in academia, from academics and from students, where, as everything
evidence-based is under attack, from climate change and evolution all the way up to the actual
history of this country and the crimes it commits
throughout the world. All of this is under attack
and being undermined, and there’s not enough outcry, but also the university
has been playing a role of cutting the legs out
from under the people who are opposing this
fascist reframing of reality, so they’re fighting we’re fighting for the generation. We’re fighting for how we’re
gonna train the future people, and one side is actually
trying to bring forward a generation of people that are gonna go along with
and justify these crimes, so what do we do?
What does this look like? What does opposition and defiance
look like in this context because you’re talking about activism, how that should be spread all throughout the
classroom and everywhere, and how we should be
engaging with broader society rather than stuck in our silos. I completely agree. There is a call for people to drive this regime from
power Puerto Rico-style, which I think we should take up, but these problems don’t
go away even after that. There’s all this bubbling
underneath the surface, and we actually have to address that, and the university has
played a critical role in these things historically. I keep thinking about Nazi Germany, and how the transformation
happened in the university there, so it’s not really a
question, but it’s a question. – Well, I’m sorry you’re
facing this situation. I don’t know any of the details behind it, so I really can’t speak
to it except to say that I know that the administration
feels very strongly that we have to allow for civil discourse wherever it comes from. I think it’s extremely important that everyone have the
opportunity to speak, and I think we will continue
with that value, okay? Absolutely, really staunch defenders of free speech of all kinds, even things that may
make people uncomfortable or upsetting. The fact is that we have a right to free
speech in this country, and we have to defend that, and it sounds like you were speaking. I don’t know the circumstances,
so I can’t really speak further about your particular situation, but I can tell you that
it’s extremely important to everyone on this campus that bothers to think about this at all, to maintain the ability
for everyone to speak, and that includes every type of minority, that we have to allow that,
and what we do in return if we don’t agree with the point of view of some person who’s in the minority, here on this campus a minority might be a
conservative viewpoint, we need to hear those viewpoints. It will sharpen our thinking
as well, and so every time you
hear something which is that you may disagree with, it’s still really important
to hear those views, and take it under consideration, and then think about how
you can talk about it in a respectful way, and let them speak in a respectful way, so I can’t say any more because
I don’t know the context. I think we should move
on to another question. – Sure, you bet. I think, do you have a mic? – I have a mic.
– Geneva, do you have a mic? – Okay. – I have a mic. – Who has a mic? – I’m right here. (laughs) – Okay, great. Angel, is that right? Yes. (laughs) I was wondering if you could talk about the university as a capitalist system because UCLA costs $30,000, and for international
students it costs $60,000, and yet it calls itself
a public university, but takes $300 million in private
gifts almost every year, so I was just wondering if
you could talk about that. – Well, I mean, again, what I can tell you is that the I don’t know the exact
numbers in terms of the cost, the cost estimates per student, but I can tell you that right now we’re not really a public university in terms of finances, okay? Because the state of California, just like many other states, has not provided the funds, has made a decision to not
provide the funds it takes to actually educate you, and so, as a result,
we want to educate you. We wanna make sure you have
a fantastic experience, and the only way we can do that is to find other means
of bringing in revenue, and in fact tuition hasn’t risen in the
University of California for seven, eight years. I don’t know the exact number. It’s been a long time, and it’s a problem. I understand that no one
wants tuition raised, but the fact is that we’re in a situation where we can’t actually, through the money that’s
provided by the state, and we’re not alone, it’s happening all over the United States, decisions are being made that they’d rather spend
money on other things than in training the next generation, and I think that is really, really sad. I think that states should be investing. You are the future, and the states should be investing, and right now they are
making other decisions, so that’s what happens,
and that’s why we have to we have to charge. We don’t charge students anything
close to the actual cost, and that’s why the money has
to come from other places. – Just to say, the state of California
rather spectacularly created the world’s largest and
most generous and open public university system in the world, and then, starting in 1984, created the world’s largest prison system. – [Emily] Exactly. – Where we have imprisoned more people than Mao Tse-tung and
Joseph Stalin put together in the state of California, and built new prisons all over the state, and we will spend, per prisoner, $68,000 per year, which is more than your tuition, and for special kids, particularly juvenile detention, up to $200,000 per child
per year to ruin their lives and to make sure they don’t get educated, so we’re spending a lot of money to actually completely disempower a large number of people. Now, the state of California has figured out that’s a mistake, and so we have, as voters, passed Prop 47, Prop 57. The tide is turning, but
just to say historically that’s where we found ourselves, and that’s why, for me,
every class in the university should be involved with the prison system because that’s where your tuition is, that’s where your money is, and that’s also where the future is because those people should
be the future of the state, and those neighborhoods should have been given
schools, not prisons, and it’s not an accident that the communities where
the prisons were built, the schools were, in
fact, completely gutted and made into condominiums
for wealthy people, and so we have a real scandal of a certain period in
the history of California, so let’s make a new
history of California next. Thank you. Okay, I think that there was, Karen, if you could send your mic in to the gentleman in the gray shirt, and was there somebody over here who? No? Okay, next. Okay, here we go, right over here. Trying to remember
what I was gonna say now. Some powerful talk. – It will always come
back if it’s important, – We could go to someone
else and come back to you. Yeah, do one more quick. – Okay, right here. Thank you for giving us your thoughts. My question’s about mental
health and mental wellness, and I work in Alumni Affairs, so I see these students
after they graduate, so good luck to you all, universities are such
a pressurized system, I feel like, these days, and I graduated from UCLA in 2010, and I don’t feel like I went
through the same pressures and the same stresses that current students
go through these days, and I’m a first-gen student who had to pay my way through college
and work through college as well, so how do we ensure that our students, when they graduate, have the right skill set, but also the right mental
wellness and self-awareness to be successful? – Great. – It’s, of course,
incredibly important. I think that… I’m still learning what is available here. I know that one thing that we have started is a Healthy Campus Initiative that I think goes partway toward some of these issues. I know that all over the nation this is really a national issue, and part of it is probably that
people are speaking out more about it, but the stresses, I think, were there, but maybe people are now
comfortable speaking out more about the need and what they feel, and so I think it is… I think the main… There’s not one solution, right? I mean, there would be a
whole portfolio of ways in which we can reach out to
people who are struggling, and we need to make sure to do that, and I think the key is to
make sure that people aren’t that they know that they’re not alone, that there are places where
they can reach out and get support. Think that’s the most important thing, and we need to make
sure that that’s there. – I would just say that UCLA has actually done
something so impressive, which is to make the Grand Challenge, and the UCLA Grand
Challenge is two topics. – That’s a good point. – Number one topic is sustainability, and the second topic is depression, and those are really serious topics
on this campus, but I wanna just say youth
suicide across the entire country is at a completely, completely, absolutely unprecedented rate, and it’s very serious across a generation and what it means at a moment in history when many young people choose not to live. That’s an indication something is not right
in the whole society, and our war on youth, which
we’ve just come through, has given us this catastrophe. Now, for me, the beauty
of the Grand Challenge is that the two topics are
related in the same topic because many of the behaviors
that are not sustainable and that are creating a dead-end society are the very reasons that
we need to turn around, treat each other differently, and I wanna just say, please, it drives me crazy in
this materialist society to think that sustainability is just about the ocean or the land. I’m sorry, it’s about people. Sustainability is the greatest zones of environmental degradation are the very same zones of the greatest zones
of human degradation. They are completely
overlapping and the same, and we keep wanting to materialize, instrumentalize the natural world. The natural world is sending us a message about the human world, and these changes are human changes that have to be made by human beings, and depression results from, in your life, making a series of wrong choices, choices that have no future and where you’re actually
steadily removing the possibility of a future, and the way to come back from depression is to be part of somebody’s solution, and to not just think about yourself, but to actually put your life
in the service of other people and questions that are
larger than yourself, and to participate in a shift, a turn, a new hope, a new possibility, a new
movement, a new purpose, and there’s a reason
to live for a new day, so for me, these two things are connected, and we have to connect them
mindfully and meaningfully, and know what we’re
doing, and move forward, and may I just say move forward
with the weakest among us because the weakest among us are telling you something really
important you need to hear, and America has been based for too long on a nightmarish model
of quote-unquote success, and excuse me, please save the planet
from successful people, (audience and panelists chuckle) and let’s move forward
together, all of us. – Thank you. – Yeah, I just wanna say
I love the format of this class. This is just an amazing opportunity. I agree.
I love what you guys have been saying. I think it’s great, very
important information. I see it being comfortable
in a postgraduate situation. I remember looking back
to my career in college, and my daughter just
graduated from here last year, class of 2019, and her situation was similar, that a lot of what an
undergraduate does here is survive. There’s a structure you have
to navigate your way through, and it’s like I gotta get
this class by next term so I can do this, and there’s so much
structure you’re maintaining, so much survival to get
through the process. There’s not a lot of freedom
to do esoteric thinking like we’re requiring here. How do you see and also the motivation of many of us who all went to college was I need to get a job so I can live, and so many of these jobs that we’re teaching them to prepare for are the ones that are the problems that are causing the problems
we’re trying to solve, so there’s a lot of clashes involved in this topic, especially in the undergraduate level. – Can I just say that, for me, one of the things I most
admire about Emily Carter was just coming out right away and saying you don’t go
to college for a job; you go to college to transform your life, and for me, the idea that colleges have
been reduced to job training is loathsome and despicable, and a model of how low
and primitive we’ve sunk, that that’s our best idea is your job, and that your life is only based on money and there are no other questions, and that money is the winning question, and that eliminates moral questions, all kinds of other questions because money is the only
thing we actually care about. The Greeks, of course, in the 15 minutes that
their democracy lasted before the oligarchs moved in, used to write Euripides, in every play, made a speech about who can possibly
confuse money with freedom? That is, of course, a tension. It’s a permanent tension, and I would just like to say a university has a larger purpose than your next job, and always has, and always will. I would also just say this
question of esoteric thinking, as Emily said a moment ago, the power of independent thought, and the power of people pursuing things that may not even be popular,
may not even be known, may not even have a sense
of why they are here and what their purpose is yet, the point is the university
has to be the place that incubates a whole series of things whose importance we don’t yet understand, and we need a series of ways
of thinking and ways of acting that are not available in the marketplace and that are not available in the media, that are unspoken truths that we need to learn to speak and that we don’t yet have the words for, so I would just emphasize
that the university is actually a place where something that we don’t
understand is taking place, and again, as an artist, your rule for when you
make a work is you… Only politicians work with something they think they understand
and claim to understand. As artists, and as researchers, we recognize what we don’t understand, which creates some humility, and realize we need a
new way of understanding, and we can’t understand it alone, and therefore we need to
work with other people to finally create some critical
mass of a new understanding. That’s the beginning of an
incipient democratic process, and that is what I hope and think the university’s here to do. – I agree with what you said, but I also wanna say that I also understand where you’re coming from in the sense that I think a university can be many things to many people, and so a student
that wants to pursue their passion in the classics, they should do that. A student that wants to come in, and maybe there won’t be so
many jobs with the classics, but if that’s their passion, I really
firmly believe they should pursue that. If you come in and you say, “No, I don’t feel I have the luxury,” and I think many students come in
and feel they don’t have the luxury to just study the classics, that they need to go and major in engineering or what have you, something more “practical”, and so I think the
beauty of the university is that you have choices, and you can go in either direction, and even those students that,
I mean, I would say, this is something I’m very
interested in, actually, is taking students I wanna encourage students
to study the humanities because I think it provides
such great perspective and empathy for society, and provides a way of looking at the world that can be used in many different venues. You don’t have to go off and
become a classics professor, and so I think I’m very interested in the possibility of taking students that
major, for example, in something that you
think is not practical, and giving them an
opportunity to, for example, get a certificate in data science, in artificial intelligence,
or something like that, where they can learn some techniques that maybe that combined with humanities will allow them to be very marketable if that’s what they want, so I think there are ways. The beauty of a large university is that you can pursue different paths and still, and so if you wanna pursue
a path, a practical route, that’s also possible. – And maybe I could just nuance
that a little bit and say, of course, quoting Euripides,
I also support the classics, but just to say for me it’s not about stepping
into the existing economy. It’s I need this new generation
to create a new economy. We are looking for the green economy. We’re looking for the blue economy. We’re looking for new economic models, not to simply step into the roles that are currently available
in the current structures, and so to me, what we’re
training students to do is actually generate the new economy, and I would just say the first step is please choose what you
want to do in this world, and then create a new economic
model in order to do it. That’s really what I’m
hoping we’re talking about. – I see a couple of other questions right smack in the middle up top. Yeah, um, yeah, where’s
that mic gonna come from? And we could line up another mic if there’s another person who, okay. – Thank you to both of you. I guess I had a question which seems to segue
nicely from that point, not to say that the university has in any way in the past been passive, but there seemed to be more
opportunities in the past to come, especially in the humanities, to study your passion project, and come here, and then leave, and then live your life, per se, and it seems like there’s
a moral imperative to some of what you’re advocating for in the world of create newness, which, I imagine, for my
generation and younger is quite a daunting task to
have to take on, perhaps, of what are you going to
do with this education? So I wonder is there a place for, perhaps, an aesthetics of beauty,
of dancing for dancing, of painting for painting, of, I’m sorry, I don’t have
a parallel in the sciences, but maybe you can think of one, but of doing for doing
without that moral imperative, and not to require you, either of you, to make a moral judgment on folks that might just study the classic if there is a just in there, but is there a place for
that anymore in your minds? – The creation of beauty
is a moral action, and the appreciation of beauty
is one of the main, main things that we have to put next
to our nuclear complexes just to say it is a powerful action, a gesture of beauty because it’s about actually respecting, and honoring, and understanding something
beautiful in the world, and creating a zone that protects and elevates that beauty and reminds people that
we’re here on Earth in a very destructive world, in a world of incredible violence,
and incredible injustice, and incredible absence of balance, to me, the act of creating
a moment of balance, where an artist cares
enough to paint a flower, or a dancer cares enough to make a gesture that is beautifully judged, it has to do with fineness of judgment, fineness of understanding,
fineness of balance. Those are powerful questions, and they are super-political,
and super-urgent, and super-necessary to
create a real society. – I heard something different, so that’s why it’s so great
to have different (laughs) come from different perspectives. What I heard is you were
concerned about the pressure to create something new when you graduated, potentially. Maybe that’s not what you meant, but that’s what I took. Again, that’s the incredible
opportunity for you is that you don’t have to. That’s an option, okay? Don’t feel pressured by that. It’s just that when you
do have the option of, especially if you go to graduate school, that’s part of the imperative when you go to graduate school, to create something new,
to create new knowledge, to create new works of
art, or what have you. If you don’t go to graduate school you can go out and get a job, (laughs) and you don’t necessarily
have to create something new, but hopefully you harness the
skills that you learned here and the perspective that
you learned here, okay? – I know I’m not a speaker, but just as you were
saying that I was thinking, well, just the fact
that you live your life, you are creating something new, like every day you are making choices, and those are new choices and a new set of moments held by a system, so I think that it isn’t
necessarily about a new thing. It’s the continuity of living are these new moments in which you make choices that
feels like a moral center. – And could I just say I don’t mean to be so
puritanical and judgmental. I’m not really thinking of it that way. I really am just thinking of the pleasure of being alive every day is the pleasure of bringing
children into the world, the pleasure of lots
of things that are new, that arrive because new
people are arriving, and just new people bring new things, so the newness that I have
in mind is not some giant carved above the mantel
of the door in marble. It’s just that a fruit tree has new fruit. All kinds of things are blossoming. All kinds of things transform. That transformative energy, that Emily started the night with is just, that’s what I’m really talking about is you don’t have to just it’s like what we do as artists. We don’t just accept things as they are. When you start with a
blank piece of paper, and by the end of the day there’s a drawing that
wasn’t there before, and that is really, really powerful,
and for me, this idea that you’re not Cezanne painting Mont Sainte-Victoire
with his back to the view. There’s something more to be said, and that nobody’s figured out yet, and that’s really exciting, and the other thing that
is genuinely thrilling is this idea that
you really are making something that nobody has seen yet, but as an artist you can see it, and then you make your work of art, and suddenly everybody sees something that nobody saw before. That’s really beautiful. – Okay, I think we have time for like one or two more questions. How’s everybody feeling? – Good, good.
– You okay, you okay? – Yeah.
– All right, good, so right here in the middle
second, third row back, Kate, can you see? All the way in there, and then I think we’ll have an opportunity
for one more question, comment. Yeah, I have a question in
regards to the sciences. I’m actually a neuroscience major here, and I noticed when I came here that there’s not open
communication about mental health, or how people are feeling, or there’s not even a safe space for people in the sciences
to talk about their stress because they’re constantly
under the pressure of having to perform well on tests, specifically a lot of the pre-med students, they don’t see their fellow
students as a community, rather as threats or competition, so there’s no room for community in that kind of environment. How can we be the change in that as a, just starting at the pre-med level because we have all these
physicians committing suicide. There’s this whole
campaign of SaveOurDoctors. It all starts as premeds, so
how do we start doing this now? – Well, I can, first
of all let me tell you that what you described is not new. It doesn’t solve the problem. I’m just telling you it’s not new, okay? When I was here teaching I taught lots of premed
students many years ago, and when I was a student I
saw premed students around me. You know, it’s really tough. I think that, again, it goes back to something I
said before about mental health, which is it’s all about
finding your own community that can provide you support because it’s really hard to
change other people around you. You have to find the right community. I’ve been in situations
myself in the sciences, a woman in the sciences, oftentimes, still, even today, can be the only woman in the
room in certain situations, and we know from studies that that’s a really bad social dynamic, and what I can tell you, and what I used to tell students who were suffering from feeling that hostile environment, or this competition which just felt toxic, you just have to get yourself
out of that situation and find your community that’s
gonna be supportive of you. Doesn’t mean that you stop doing the work, but the point is you find people that, whether it’s your family, your friends, and if you’re in a situation, I told undergrads here when I was teaching here, who went off, actually, to a university that
shall remain nameless, who actually had a great time here, and then was in a program
where it was incredibly toxic, and I told this one woman,
who I’m still in touch with, that she just needed to
get out of the situation if it’s that bad. Life’s too short, okay? But the other thing that’s really important
in those situations is to use that support system, and in particular get perspective from that support system, and recognize that all
of the people around are under stress, are insecure, and are acting out because of
that insecurity, generally, and so you have to look inside yourself and, again, get perspective and remember that why you’re
doing what you’re doing. If you’re passionate about neuroscience you gotta block out that stuff. It’s not important.
– I don’t mean just in regards to neuroscience. I mean in regards to like I see classmates crying
during office hours. It’s not just me. It’s just like I’m talking about like
the sciences as a whole. It’s not just like, oh, this
is specifically my situation. I’m lucky to have a support system, which is why I’m here
talking to you about it because I have the strength
to tell you about it. I’m talking about people
that don’t say anything and turn to drugs, or
turn to like depression, or they just power through depression, and then they make jokes about it. That’s like what I’m talking about, like I’m blessed to have some like great people in my life, and great family, and like you know, like a community that
will be there for me, but there’s some people
that don’t have that, and those are the people
that are at a risk for being in danger of this
depression that’s like, it’s in throughout all the
South Campus, it seems like, and it’s just really
devastating to see that. I’m just wondering how we can be armed as
like science students to learn to talk about
this in a meaningful way, or like how can there be more
emphasis on this during class? – Well, it’s hard to do it during class, but I think that there
could be opportunities outside of class to… There isn’t a lot of time in
class to do that kind of thing, but I think it goes back to issues… It’s a separate issue, but I think about sexual harassment and the fact that one of the ways to help with mitigating and
preventing sexual harassment is for there to be
bystanders who intervene, and I help develop trainings
for that kind of thing, and again, I think having people like you, if you’re not having a problem, and there are others who
are strong, like you, that can actively be either trained or be, essentially, allies for people, and recognize when someone’s struggling, and reach out to help them get help, and start to provide a support system. – [Audience Member] Thank you. – I think that I’d like to give Peter and Emily an opportunity to say some
closing thoughts, but we’ll… Or not, I mean
(Emily laughs) we could leave it at that, but what I do wanna say
is that, before that, next Tuesday “10 Questions” continues in terms of our guests from the larger university or the public we’ll be addressing the
question, what is knowledge? And I think that in many ways I imagine the conversation
that’s been started here will continue in new forms next week with three presenters, and so before we depart from one another, if there are any last
comments you’d like to make… – Well, I’ll just thank you for spending your evening here with us, and I hope it was thought-provoking, and we all have our struggles,
we all have our stresses, and the most important
thing is to make sure that you have people that
you can talk to about them, and I mean, I feel that way too, okay? And we’re all connected. We’re all part of this planet, and so the point that I
was making earlier is that we are here to help each other, and only through working together will we be able to solve
all of these problems that we’re thinking about
and struggling about, and we can do it better
together at the university. – And just to add, for young people here, our task is reforming and
reimagining institutions, and creating more justice in places where more
justice needs to be created, and really inventing new
institutions that don’t yet exist to really solve problems
that are going unsolved, and so that act of imagination, and then the follow-through,
and the commitment. I just wanna emphasize,
there’s been talk about jobs, and I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but I really don’t think
about the word job, ever. I do think about life work, the things that need to
be done on this Earth we’re gonna spend, you’re
gonna spend your whole life on, and it’s a life commitment, and that’s what we’re talking about, and yes, it involves sacrifice. It involves imagination
and it involves leaps. It involves changing the culture and creating the world you wanna live in on the terms of your generation, and that’s the agenda,
and please enjoy it. (panelists chuckle) – Just in our departing together, I do hope that “10 Questions” becomes one of those many
opportunities in the university to tease out the work that
is really there for us, our life work and our university work. Just a little administrative detail. Hopefully the forums
will be up and running by 9:50 or 10 this evening. If they’re not, uh-oh. (audience chuckles) I hope, because we’re gonna
carry this conversation on online in our small groups, and then in section on Friday, so I wanna thank you all, and most particularly, what
a awesome way to begin. – Welcome to UCLA, Emily Carter! – Yes.
(audience applauding)