Lecture series

Our department administers several of MIT's prestigious lecture series:

Karl Taylor Compton Lecture Series

The Compton lectures were established in 1957 to honor the late Karl Taylor Compton, who served as president of MIT from 1930 to 1948 and as chairman of the MIT Corporation from 1948 to 1954. The lecture series gives the MIT community direct contact with the important ideas of our times and with people who have contributed much to modern thought. Visit the Compton lecture site.

James R. Killian Faculty Achievement Award and Lecture Series

The purpose of the Killian Award is to recognize extraordinary professional achievement by MIT faculty members and to communicate their accomplishments to members of the Institute community. The recipient of the Killian Award holds the title of Killian Award Lecturer for the following academic year and presents, during that time, one or more lectures to the MIT community on his or her own professional activities. The Killian Award selection is made by faculty members elected by vote of the Faculty from a slate prepared by the Faculty Nominations Committee. Visit the Killian Award and Lecture site.

Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture Series

In 1997, the Ford Motor Company engaged MIT in a strategic partnership to address a set of 21st century challenges facing the automotive industry. Through this innovative program, the Nobel Laureate Lecture Series was introduced in 2000 and featured local and international Nobel Laureates leading provocative discussions in economics, physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, and peacemaking. These seven lectures, held from 2000 to 2005 at MIT, were organized by MIT's Community Services Office, Lecture Series Committee, Graduate Student Council, Industrial Liaison Program, Undergraduate Association, and the Office of the Chancellor. Visit the MIT Institute Events YouTube page to watch the lectures.

For information about other lectures, panels, and academic events on campus, please visit the MIT Events Calendar.


Susan Silbey, an MIT sociologist whose pathbreaking work has examined the U.S. legal system as experienced in everyday life, was named the recipient of the 2019-2020 James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award. The title of her lecture was, "Resilience of Law: Stories from Everyday Life."

Photo: Jake Belcher

Tom Friedman delivers fall 2018 Compton Lecture

Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist at The New York Times, delivered the fall 2018 Karl Taylor Compton Lecture.
Photo: Jake Belcher

Opera star Renée Fleming explores music and minds during her 2019 Karl Taylor Compton Lecture.

Photo: Jake Belcher