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UT’s Humanities Center has announced the speakers for its 2016–2017 Distinguished Lecture Series.

The fifth annual series kicks off with Peter Railton, the Gregory S. Kavka Distinguished University Professor and John Stephenson Perrin Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. His presentation, “Moral Learning,” will be at 3:30 p.m. Friday, September 30, in the Lindsay Young Auditorium in John C. Hodges Library.

While the traditional view of morality has been understood as being part of maturation or genetics, Railton argues that morality might be attained through continuous learning as people interact with their environment. This method of thinking accounts for spontaneous moral learning and action according to community norms and values.

The second lecture this fall will feature Jeffrey Pilcher, professor of history and food studies at the University of Toronto. He will present “How Beer Traveled the World: A Global History” at 4:00 p.m. Monday, November 7, in the auditorium of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Almost every society has fermented alcoholic beverages—Mexican pulque, Peruvian chicha, Japanese sake, Chinese baijiu, Indian palm toddy, African sorghum beer—but a particular variety, German lager beer, has largely displaced these local brewing traditions to become a global consumer icon. This talk examines how European beer traveled the world over the past two hundred years through networks of trade, migration, and colonialism.

Pilcher’s books include ¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity, Food in World History, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, and The Oxford Handbook of Food History.

Seven other speakers will be featured in the spring as part of the series.

For more information on the Humanities Center, visit the center’s website.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,