The End of the Enlightenment?

A free, one-day conference to explore the role of science in the public debate and how science itself is shaped by societal forces.

The USC Center for Economic and Social Research’s 10th anniversary conference

Speaker biographies

Naomi Oreskes, Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

Naomi Oreskes is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. An internationally renowned scientist and historian, she is a leading voice on the reality on anthropogenic climate change and the history of efforts to undermine climate action and scientific truth.

Oreskes is an author of eight books, including, Why Trust Science? (2019) and Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know about the Ocean (2021), and over 150 scholarly and popular articles. Her opinion pieces have been appeared around the globe, including on The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times (London), and the Frankfurter Allgemeine.  In 2015, she wrote the Introduction to the Melville House edition of the Papal Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality, Laudato Si.  Her 2010 book with Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt, has been translated into nine languages, sold over 100,000 copies, and made into a documentary film. In 2018, she became a Guggenheim Fellow, and in 2019 was awarded the British Academy Medal. Her new book with Erik Conway, The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loath Government and Love the Free Market, will be published by Bloomsbury Press in February 2023.

C. Thi Nguyen, Associate Professor, Philosophy, the University of Utah

C. Thi Nguyen is associate professor of philosophy at University of Utah. He writes about trust, art, games, and communities. He is interested in the ways that our social structures and technologies shape how we think and what we value. His first book is Games: Agency as Art (OUP).

Dietram A. Scheufele, Taylor-Bascom Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Dietram A. Scheufele is the Taylor-Bascom Chair in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the Morgridge Institute for Research, and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. His work examines the social effects of emerging science and technology. 

Arie Kapteyn, Executive Director Center for Economic and Social Research, and Professor of Economics, University of Southern California

Arie Kapteyn is the Executive Director of the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) and Professor of Economics. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, fellow of the Econometric Society, past president of the European Society for Population Economics, and corresponding member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. Much of his recent applied work is in the field of aging, economic decision-making, and subjective well-being, with papers on topics related to retirement, consumption and savings, pensions and Social Security, disability, and economic well-being. Before founding CESR at USC, Professor Kapteyn was a senior economist and director of the Labor & Population division of the RAND Corporation. Prior to RAND, he held a chair in Econometrics at Tilburg University, where he served the university in numerous capacities including dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, and founder and director of CentER (a research institute and graduate school). He has held visiting positions at several universities, including Princeton, Caltech, Australian National University, University of Canterbury (N.Z.), and University of Bristol (U.K.). In 2006, he received a knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

Gad Saad, Professor of Marketing at Concordia University

Dr. Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), and former holder of the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption (2008-2018). He has held Visiting Associate Professorships at Cornell University, Dartmouth College, and the University of California–Irvine. Dr. Saad received the Faculty of Commerce’s Distinguished Teaching Award in June 2000, and was listed as one of the ‘hot’ professors of Concordia University in both the 2001 and 2002 Maclean’s reports on Canadian universities. Professor Saad was appointed Newsmaker of the Week of Concordia University in five consecutive years (2011-2015) and is the co-recipient of the 2015 President’s Media Outreach Award-Research Communicator of the Year (International), which goes to the professor at Concordia University whose research receives the greatest amount of global media coverage.

Professor Saad has pioneered the use of evolutionary psychology in marketing and consumer behavior. His works include The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature (translated into Korean and Turkish); The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption; Evolutionary Psychology in the Business Sciences, along with 75+ scientific papers, many at the intersection of evolutionary psychology and a broad range of disciplines including consumer behavior, marketing, advertising, psychology, medicine, and economics.  His Psychology Today blog (Homo Consumericus) and YouTube channel (THE SAAD TRUTH) have garnered 7+ million and 29+ million total views respectively.  In June 2020, he started a podcast titled The Saad Truth with Dr. Saad, which is available on all leading podcast platforms (6+ million downloads).

In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Saad is a leading public intellectual who often writes and speaks about idea pathogens that are destroying logic, science, reason, and common sense.  His fourth book The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense was released in October 2020 with the paperback edition released in October 2021. It is an international bestseller with 17 signed translation rights thus far.  His fifth book The Saad Truth About Happiness: 8 Secrets for Leading the Good Life will be released in July 2023.

He received a B.Sc. (1988) and an M.B.A. (1990) both from McGill University, and his M.S. (1993) and Ph.D. (1994) from Cornell University.

Amber D. Miller, Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair and 22nd Dean of the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Amber Miller is the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair and 22nd Dean of the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. A noted experimental cosmologist, she also holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at USC Dornsife. Dean Miller oversees the university’s largest and most academically diverse school. She is committed to raising the profile of all USC Dornsife programs and to building new pipelines into the community, through which scholars will create positive impact. Before joining USC Dornsife in 2016, she served as Dean of Science for Columbia University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Dean Miller received her M.A. and Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University and her B.A. in physics and astronomy from UC Berkeley.