8 Fascinating Free Lecture Series In The San Francisco Bay Area

Take advantage of lectures in the Bay Area
Take advantage of lectures in the Bay Area | © Steve Jurvetson / Flickr
Photo of Neha Pearce
2 July 2019

As home to the tech industry and many prestigious universities, the San Francisco Bay Area is teeming with some of the latest research findings. Take advantage of your time there with these opportunities to build your knowledge and broaden your horizons.

Lectures at Stanford

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If you are wondering what the geniuses of today are working on, Stanford provides lectures and discussions featuring national and international experts in their fields, spanning a breadth of topics equal to Stanford’s course material. Most of these lectures are free and open to the public, although some require you to RSVP in advance. A few departments also offer updates on their work for the public, such as the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. This organization provides open lectures every other month for members of the community to brush up on cutting-edge science, from updates on Higgs boson discoveries to the nanotechnology of diamonds.

Computer History Museum Lectures

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John Hollar interviewing Lawrence Lessig on his book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy at the Computer History Museum
John Hollar interviewing Lawrence Lessig on his book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy at the Computer History Museum | © Marcin Wichary / Flickr
The Computer History Museum has hosted lectures featuring interviews between journalists and the leading voices in business and technology. Past guests have included Mark Zuckerberg, Jane McGonigal, Sheryl Sandberg, and Elon Musk. Lectures are free to the public, and you can sign up for their mailing list to keep track of upcoming events.

San Francisco Amateur Astronomers Lectures

Get closer to the stars with monthly free astronomy lectures in the Observation Post at the Presidio, and a summer lecture and viewing series at the Mountain Theater put together by the SFAA club. The starry setting makes for a great romantic date or just to brush up on your knowledge of the cosmos.

Time lapse on top of Mt. Tam | © nate bolt / Flickr

Lectures at University of San Francisco

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The Dean’s Lecture Series is open to students, faculty and the public (with an RSVP). The talks are fueled by the university’s drive towards sustainability, diversity, internationalization, and academic excellence. They cover such topics as the Rwandan genocide, the theology of Salvador Dalí, and data visualization.

Lectures at California Academy of Sciences

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The California Academy of Sciences is a museum and research institute that has numerous science exhibits. The organization hosts scientific lectures and workshops for the price of general admission. They also offer the Benjamin Dean Astronomy Lectures series as well as talks given by esteemed professors as part of the weekly NightLife event, which occurs every Thursday from 6pm till 10pm, and often includes music, science, and cocktails.

Author Discussions at Books Inc.

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Books Inc. started as an independent bookstore — which the founders claim to be the oldest on the west coast, dating back to 1851 during the Gold Rush — that has since turned into a successful chain of 11 locations in California. In addition to a delightful treasure trove of good reads, the stores spotlight books by hosting discussions with the authors themselves. Different events are held at the East Bay, Peninsula, and San Francisco locations.

Shaping San Francisco

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Every Wednesday evening throughout the year you can attend the free public historical lecture series, Shaping San Francisco, at Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics. Supported by the City Lights Foundation, their topics include art and politics, ecology, history, literature, and social movements. They also store audio archives of past talks to browse in your spare time.
These recommendations were updated on July 2, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.