Thematic Focus

In the 2019–20 season, the series will continue its thematic focus on “Threats and Challenges to the Public University: What Are They and How Can They Be Overcome?” Speakers are requested to address both parts of this question, though they may focus primarily on one of them.

This topic encompasses a wide range of issues including (but by no means limited to) changing notions of academic work, metrics of evaluation of faculty and students’ performance, the impacts of distance learning, the challenges posed by an increasingly global higher education market, and the changing curricular balance between education and skills.

Proposed forums that helpfully inform but do not directly address the year’s thematic focus will also be considered.

About the UC Davis Forums Series

The UC Davis Forums distinguished lecture series (formerly The Provost's Forums) is designed to promote informed and thoughtful dialogue, among members of the campus community and the public, about the serious challenges facing the public university, ways of responding to those challenges, and how the public university is evolving. With an ultimate goal of helping to produce a public university that our society wants and deserves, each year this series poses the following overarching question: What should and can the public university be in the 21st century?

Past forums have focused on privatization, commercialization, and corporatization; funding sources and budget constraints; educational accessibility and affordability; diversity and inclusion; community engagement and regional development; academic freedom; whether there is a shortage of STEM-qualified graduates, and other topics. All relevant topics, including ones addressed in a past forum, may be addressed in 2019–20.

Established by the Office of the Provost in 2012, and directed by a rotating faculty Steering Committee representing different UC Davis colleges and schools, the UC Davis Forums series presents about six lectures by distinguished visitors or resident experts each year, often in conjunction with a panel discussion by UC Davis faculty and always including a period for audience questions and comments. Featured speakers may also participate in related workshops and classroom visits during their time on campus.

Designed to leverage diverse and often-conflicting scholarly perspectives to inform, focus, and advance the current dialogue on the public university, the forums feature experts from all academic fields.

All interested members of the campus community and the public are cordially invited to attend all of the forums as well as the catered receptions that follow.

Regular funding for the forums is provided by the Office of the Provost, the Community and Regional Development Program, and the Center for Regional Change. Additional funding for individual forums comes from other campus units.

For information on the UC Davis Forums series and videos of previous years’ main presentations, see the series website.

Format Possibilities for the Forums and Related Events

Forums may have different formats, including the following possibilities:

The aim is for each main presentation to draw an audience of 50 to 100 persons.

Ideally, a campus unit that invites a speaker or speakers will also serve as the host department. As such, it will maximize a forum’s benefit to the entire university by arranging, as appropriate, related events such as class presentations, meetings with faculty, and meals with the invitees.

Costs will be covered for an appropriate honorarium for each main speaker, plus expenses for traveling, lodging, and a public reception. Co-sponsorships are encouraged.

How to Nominate Speakers

Audience participation is vital to the success of The UC Davis Forums. By suggesting one or more possible speakers, members of the campus community and the public can help define the specific topics to be addressed in the series. Each year’s roster will present speakers from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives.

Any interested department, group, or member of the extended UC Davis community may suggest one or more candidates.

Those wishing to suggest one or more speakers for the series are asked to supply, for each name, one or two paragraphs including the following information:

The UC Davis Forums Steering Committee (in consultation with the Office of the Chancellor and others as appropriate) will review the submitted suggestions, giving most weight to those that promise, individually and as part of the year’s plan, to be of greatest value and interest to the UC Davis community. A diversity of focus and perspective among the forums will be a key criterion in determining which suggested candidates will be invited to participate.

After the initial review of speaker candidates, the Steering Committee will pursue, as appropriate, further dialogue with the units or individuals who have submitted suggestions in order to collect more information or materials, and to discuss logistical or financial arrangements, before finalizing the year’s plan.

Please send speaker suggestions (addressing the three items listed above) plus any additional supporting materials to the chair of the Steering Committee, Professor Martin Kenney, at

Nov 14

Forum 45:

Jonathan Zimmerman

November 14, 2019

Jan 13

Forum 46:

Mariano-Florentino Cuellar

January 13, 2020