Harriet Elliott Lecture Series


–  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.

older, black & white photo of Harriet Elliot



Organized by the Department of Political Science, the 2023–24 Harriet Elliott Lecture Series explores Democracy in Crisis. The past decade has seen democratic systems come under attack both in the United States and abroad. Our distinguished speakers will examine the sources and dynamics of democracy’s challenges and responses – concentrating on historical and international examples of democratic breakdown and rebirth, democracy’s fraught relation to American racial politics and political behavior, and potential avenues for revitalizing democracy for the future. 

Previous Events

Keynote Address 2023


Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University

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

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

Panel Discussion


From Global to Local

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

A free panel discussion, featuring three topic experts who discussed 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
Illustration of Harriet Elliott with text reading "HELS: Harriet Elliott Lecture Series"

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