Established in 1978, the Tanner Lectures on Human Values seek to advance and reflect upon scholarly and scientific thought relating to human values. Nine institutions, including Yale, permanently sponsor the lectures, which are funded by an endowment and other gifts received by the University of Utah from Obert Clark Tanner and Grace Adams Tanner. At Yale, the Tanner Lectures are hosted by the Whitney Humanities Center in collaboration with the Office of the President.
Appointment as a Tanner lecturer is a recognition of uncommon achievement and outstanding abilities. The lectureships are international and intercultural and transcend ethnic, national, religious, and ideological distinctions.
Yale first hosted a Tanner Lecture in 1989 with political historian John Pocock’s lecture on Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Distinguished lecturers at Yale have included Elaine Scarry, Salman Rushdie, Oliver Sacks, Paul Gilroy, Bruno Latour, and Judith Butler. Most recently, renowned AI expert Fei-Fei Li delivered the 2022 Tanner Lecture on Artificial Intelligence and Human Values, a special series of Tanner Lectures.