The University of Arizona

Noam Chomsky to Speak at UA

By Lori Harwood, UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences | January 9, 2012

World-renowned linguist Noam Chomsky will speak at the UA in February.

Noam Chomsky will speak at the UA in February. Chomsky is credited with revolutionizing the field of linguistics by introducing the Chomsky hierarchy, generative grammar, and the concept of a universal grammar, which underlies all human speech and is based in the innate structure of the mind/brain.
Noam Chomsky will speak at the UA in February. Chomsky is credited with revolutionizing the field of linguistics by introducing the Chomsky hierarchy, generative grammar, and the concept of a universal grammar, which underlies all human speech and is based in the innate structure of the mind/brain.

Noam Chomsky, a world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist, will speak at the University of Arizona on Feb. 8.

An Evening with Noam Chomsky” will feature a talk on the state of higher education, followed by a question-and-answer session.

During the free public event, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the UA's Centennial Hall, Chomsky will present his lecture, “Education for Whom and for What?” Doors open at 6 p.m.

Prior to his Feb. 8 talk, Chomsky will give a lecture geared toward UA students and faculty members.

The Feb. 7 event, also free and open to the public, will be held at 4 p.m. in the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. That lecture is titled, “What is Special About Language?”

“Noam Chomsky is not only a giant in the fields of linguistics and cognitive science, but is also a provocative and influential public figure," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, or SBS.

His lecture, which is co-sponsored by Confluence: Center for Creative Inquiry, is the first in the SBS Annual Lecture Series.

“The Confluence community is really excited about this event,” said Javier D. Durán, director of Confluence and an associate professor of Spanish and border studies.

“Noam Chomsky’s life-long trajectory as a scholar of language and as a committed public intellectual resonates highly with Confluence’s core values that emphasize creativity, innovation, collaboration and public engagement," Durán added.

Chomsky, an Institute Professor and a Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he worked for more than 50 years, has been concerned with a range of education-related issues in recent years.

Among them: How do we characterize the contemporary state of the American education system? What happens to the quality of education when public universities become more privatized? Are public universities in danger of being converted into facilities that produce graduates-as-commodities for the job market? What is the role of activism in education?

With unprecedented tuition increases and budget struggles occurring across American campuses, these are questions that are more relevant than ever.

Chomsky was asked to visit the University by UA Regents’ Professor of Linguistics Tom Bever and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, a UA linguistics and cognitive science professor. 

Bever and Piattelli-Palmarini have been friends and colleagues with Chomsky for years.

According to The New York Times, Chomsky is “arguably the most important intellectual alive.”

Chomsky has received numerous awards, including the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award and the Ben Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.

Over the years, Chomsky has been a profoundly influential voice, lecturing widely and publishing numerous books on U.S. foreign policy, Middle East politics and other related subjects.

In addition to the financial and organizational support provided by the linguistics department, others have provided support. 

Chomsky's visit is sponsored and supported by the colleges of social and behavioral science, education, and humanities; the schools of anthropology, geography and development, journalism, Middle Eastern and North African studies, and government and public policy; Confluence: Center for Creative Inquiry; the departments of linguistics, gender and women's studies, computer science, communication, philosophy, psychology and sociology; the cognitive science program; the Center for Middle Eastern Studies; UA BookStores; and the Arizona Daily Star and Elise Collins Shields and Creston Shields.

Contacts

Lori Harwood

UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

520-626-3846

harwoodl@email.arizona.edu 


Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

UA Department of Linguistics

520-626-6913

massimo@email.arizona.edu