Induction Weekend 2019: Speakers and Videos

Oct 11-13, 2019 |
Cambridge, MA
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The new members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences marked their induction with a series of events both celebratory and substantive. Videos of their presentations are available on the individual event pages and YouTube. 

Friday - A Celebration of Arts and Humanities
The new members of the Academy featured were theater director and scholar Harry J. Elam, Jr.; composer, singer, and songwriter Patricia Barber; playwright Donald Margulies; and writer, poet, and nonprofit leader Elizabeth Alexander. A video highlighting the work and values of artist Mark Bradford was shown. 

Saturday – Induction Ceremony
The Induction Ceremony brings together the Academy’s newest members and oldest traditions, as members sign the Book of Members, join an organization founded in 1780, and hear the compelling words of speakers elected in 2019. The induction ceremony featured these members representing different areas of the Academy:

  • For Mathematical and Physical Sciences, the speakers were climatologists Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie G. Thompson.
  • For Biological Sciences, the speaker was microbiologist Jo Handelsman.
  • For Social and Behavioral Sciences, the speaker was diplomat Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
  • For Humanities and Art, the speaker was historian Margaret D. Jacobs.
  • For Public Affairs, Business, and Administration, the speaker was lawyer and advocate Sherrilyn Ifill.

Also, humanitarian Jane Olson and attorney Ronald Olson read from the letters of Abigail and John Adams. 

Sunday - David M. Rubenstein Lecture
The annual David M. Rubenstein Lecture featured actress, playwright, professor, and author Anna Deavere Smith performing two pieces and then joining David Rubenstein for an illuminating conversation.


The 239th class of new members is available HERE


The new class joins the company of Academy members elected before them, including Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966) in the twentieth; and more recently Antonin Scalia (2003), Michael Bloomberg (2007), John Lithgow (2010), Judy Woodruff (2012), and Bryan Stevenson (2014).

A Celebration of the Arts and Humanities
Induction Ceremony
Annual David Rubenstein Lecture