Harriet Elliott Lecture Series

“Not Systems, but people,
are important.”

–  Harriet Elliott

Started in 1948, the Harriet Elliott Lecture Series (HELS) is one of UNC Greensboro’s oldest and most established lecture programs. Each year, HELS brings distinguished speakers to campus to present fresh insights into key issues in the social and behavioral sciences.

The series honors the pioneering professor, Harriet Wiseman Elliott, who taught political science and served as Dean of Women at the university from 1913-1947.


Capitalism and Racial Justice

Organized by the Department of Sociology, this year’s Harriet Elliott Lecture Series will address the topic of Capitalism and Racial Justice. The intersection of economic and racial inequalities is key to understanding social life and politics in the 21st century. This intersection of inequalities also provides us with a framework with which to explain the replication of historical patterns of inequalities in multi-ethnic and multi-racial societies like the USA. This lecture series brings scholars to campus who study the complex relationship between racial and economic inequalities.

2023 Events

Keynote Address 2023

Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want

Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University

Thursday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. | Elliott University Center Auditorium

Join us for the 2023 HELS Keynote Address, free and open to the public. Dr. Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and celebrated author, will speak.

Ruha Benjamin headshot
people seated in auditorium

Panel Discussion

Historical Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity and Capitalism

From Global to Local

Thursday, March 23 at 3:30 p.m. | Elliott University Center Auditorium

Join us for a free panel discussion, featuring three topic experts who will discuss the Haiti Revolution, Lynchings in Greensboro, and Capitalism and Racism in 14th century North Africa.

Past Speakers

Each year, one of the following UNCG departments takes its turn hosting the Harriet Elliott Lecture Series:

Sociology; Political Science; Psychology; Communication Studies; History; Anthropology; Geography, Environment, and Sustainability; and Economics.

Led by these departments, HELS has brought the following speakers to campus, among many others:

  • Dr. Lisa Cook, Economist (2022)
  • Dr. Robert Musil, President & CEO of the Rachel Carson Council
  • Tijan Dorwanna, former member of Ghana Dance and Kalifi Dance ensembles
  • Dr. Alex Smith, Assistant Professor of Percussion at University of Central Missouri
  • Dr. Rick Potts, Paleoanthropologist and director the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
  • Dr. Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Dr. John D’Emilio, Professor Emeritus of History and Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Dr. Lawrence Frey, Professor of Communication at University of Colorado Boulder
  • Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, Professor of Education at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
  • Scott Barry Kaufman, Cognitive Psychologist
  • Dr. Jennifer Drake, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Brooklyn College
  • Thomas E. Mann, W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution
  • Dawn Porter, Founder of Trilogy Films.
  • Dr. Jonathan Skinner, James O. Freedman Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College
  • David Owen, Staff Writer for The New Yorker
  • Dr. John Hawks, Paleoanthropologist and Professor of Anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Barbara Martinez Jitner, Human rights activist, Writer, and Director
  • Ishmael Beah, Author
  • David Zarefsky, Owen L. Coon Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University
  • J.W. Harrington, Economic Geographer
  • Dr. Katherine Newman, Professor of Urban Studies at Harvard University and Dean of Social Science at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
  • Matthew Fox, Founder and President of the University Creation Spirituality
  • Katherine Miller, Professor of Speech Communication and Director of the Center for the Study of Communication and Health at Texas A&M University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, Author and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Washington.
  • Orson Scott Card, Novelist
  • John Barlow, Technological Author, Speculator, and Digital Communications Specialist
  • James Miller, Lecturer at Harvard

Series History

Harriet Wiseman Elliott taught political science on this campus from 1913 until 1935, when she became Dean of Women. Professor Elliott was a pioneer in the women’s rights and suffrage movements and served during the 1940’s as presidential appointee under the Roosevelt administration. Her activities included Consumer Commissioner on the Advisory Commission to the Council of Defense and U.S. delegate to the 1945 U.N. Conference on Education, Science, and Cultural Organization in London. In the year following her death, the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina established the Harriet Elliott Social Science Forum in her memory. The Social Science Forum has evolved over the years into the Harriet Elliott Lecture Series-one of UNCG’s premier events.

Harriet Elliott with students

For more information on the Harriet Elliott Lecture Series, please contact Associate Dean Dr. Chuck Bolton (ccbolton@uncg.edu) or HELS Chair Dr. Charles Egeland (cpegelan@uncg.edu).