The 2024 Ruskin Birthday Lecture

The Reilly Center, and the Glynn Family Honors Program, are delighted to bring Robin Wall Kimmerer to campus as this year's Ruskin Lecturer. She is the author most recently of the best-selling Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, as well as the award-winning book Gathering Moss. Kimmerer is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation; the Reilly Center is grateful for the involvement of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi in the organization of her visit.

The Ruskin lecture asks, each year: what do the humanities have to say to our current crisis? Kimmerer's work as a scientist and humanist, and as someone deeply learned in indigenous ways of knowledge, promises to bring new insight to this question. Her Ruskin Lecture is entitled "What Does the Earth Ask of Us?"

This year's Ruskin Lecture is part of the Kathleen Cannon, O.P., Distinguished Lecture Series; we are very grateful for the support of the Office of the Provost.

Our other sponsors include: the Alliance for Catholic Education, Native American Initiatives, the Initiative on Race and Resilience, and the Department of History, and in cooperation with the Native American Students' Association of Notre Dame. We are particularly grateful to the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, who will host the event in their magnificent new space. Copies of Braiding Sweetgrass may be purchased on the night through our partner, Brain Lair Books.

The lecture takes place, as usual, on John Ruskin's birthday, February 8, at 5:15 p.m. in the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art. Attendance is free, but ticketed.  The lecture can also be viewed via livestream. 

About the Ruskin Birthday Lecture

On February 7-8, 2020, we hosted at Notre Dame the conference John Ruskin: Prophet of the Anthropocene, the very last event in a year of international celebrations of Ruskin's 200th birthday. On the evening of February 8, Ruskin's 201st birthday, Clive Wilmer, who had just stepped down at the end of a long tenure as Master of Ruskin's Guild of St George, delivered a keynote address, reflecting on the role of the Guild in the world.

Clive's lecture launched a new annual Ruskin Birthday Lecture Series at Notre Dame, in which an invited speaker would reflect on the role of the arts and humanities to address the crises of the day—in the spirit of Ruskin, at least, if not always about Ruskin.

In 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic (a "crisis of the day" that none of us saw coming as we started planning the lecture in February 2020), we published a Garland of Reflections on pandemics and politics, in lieu of a lecture.

In 2022, Gabriel Meyer, executive director of the Ruskin Art Club in Los Angeles gave the lecture Ruskin, Laudato Si', and the Big Ecological Picture.

The Ruskin Birthday Lecturer for 2023 was Anahid Nersessian of UCLA, who gave the lecture Breeze or Soul: Thoughts on Species-Being.