Understanding America

Ever felt lost in translation? Join us as we attempt to crack the codes of contemporary American culture.

Our monthly series features guest lectures by Yale faculty accompanied by group discussion and other activities such as films and field trips. Everyone is encouraged to bring their questions, thoughts, and experiences to the table as we explore topics ranging from politics to popular culture.

Open to the Yale community. Registration is required. All sessions will convene at the International Center, 421 Temple Street. For more information, please contact our series coordinator: janine.stockford@yale.edu. Co-sponsored by Office of International Students and Scholars & Graduate and Professional Student Senate.


Fall Topics

Wednesday, October 7,

Understanding Yale

Join us for a talk by Professor Jay Gitlin about our own university, from its early history to its role in contemporary popular culture. Attendees are encouraged to bring their experiences of universities in America and around the globe for discussion. There will be a special appearance by Yale’s iconic bulldog, Handsome Dan.

Jay Gitlin teaches courses on American colonial and cultural history in Yale’s Department of History, in addition to serving as Associate Director of the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers & Borders. He is currently working on a book entitled The Rise and Fall of Modern Shopping.

Register Here

Thursday, October 29,

Understanding New Haven

Join us for a bus tour of New Haven guided by former mayor and current political science professor John DeStefano. Bring your questions and ideas about city politics and urban development to discuss as we enjoy pizza at our final destination. Space is limited, so register now to secure a spot!

John DeStefano is New Haven’s longest-serving mayor. Since leaving office in 2014 after twenty years of service, he has taught courses on city politics at Yale and Southern Connecticut State University. He is also Executive Vice President of Start Bank, a New Haven-based community development financial institution.

Register Here

Wednesday, November 18, 

New Haven and the American City

Join us for a talk by Professor Alan Plattus about architecture and urban issues in New Haven as they relate to the design and development of cities across America. Bring your reflections on our city tour and any thoughts on how New Haven compares to your hometown for discussion.

Alan Plattus is Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at Yale’s School of Architecture. He is the founding director of the Yale Urban Design Workshop, a community design center that pursues practice-based research projects in New Haven and communities across Connecticut. He is a recipient of the Elm-Ivy Award for his contributions to New Haven.

Register Here

Thursday, December 10,

Ten Restaurants that Changed America

Join us for a talk by Professor Paul Freedman about his forthcoming book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America. Attendees are encouraged to bring their thoughts about “ethnic” restaurants and the globalization of American cuisine for discussion.

Paul Freedman is Chester D. Tripp Professor of History and Chair of Yale’s Program in the History of Science & Medicine. His research interests include medieval social history, the trade of luxury products, and the history of food. 

Register Here