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Generalized Darwinism: A New Paradigm for Positive Cultural Change

David Sloan Wilson has made major contributions to generalized Darwinisim throughout his 50-year career. He is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and president of the nonprofit organization ProSocial World, whose mission is "to consciously evolve a world that works for all." Sponsored by the the Lewis Honors College, the Gaines Center for the Humanities, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Biology.   

An Evening with George Saunders

Celebrated author George Saunders will headline the University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities 2023 Bale Boone Symposium. The event will take place both in-person and via livestream at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Kentucky Theatre.

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Recurring Programs

Thanks to generous donors and special grants, the Gaines Center is able to bring a number of authors, artists, musicians, and scholars to Lexington each year. The vast majority of these programs are free and open to the public. Listed below are the Center's staple programs, each named after the respective benefactor. 

Bale Boone Symposium

Through the Bale Boone Symposium, the Gaines Center promotes dialogue, intellectual exploration, and partnerships among campus, Bluegrass, and Commonwealth communities by sponsoring an array of public humanities and arts events.

These events are a testament to the influence and memory of Joy Bale Boone and George Street Boone, who were committed to the betterment of the humanities. The Bale Boone Symposium is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Past Symposiums: 

  • 2022 - An Evening with Bill T. Jones: Bill T. Jones, Artistic director of New York Live Arts and artistic director/co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company headlined the 2022 Bale Boone Symposium. Jones is recognized for his contributions as a dancer and choreographer. Renowned for provocative performances that blend an eclectic mix of modern and traditional dance, he creates works that challenge us to confront tough subjects and inspire us to greater heights. Performances by UK Department of Theatre and Dance and Blackbird Dance Theatre opened the event.  You can view the recording of the event by clicking here. Due to technical difficulties, the sound is occasionally disrupted; however we encourage you to put on the "closed captioning," which helps. We appreciate your patience as we continue to work through our new hybrid formats. 
  • 2021 - An Evening with Rhiannon Giddens: Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she also plays banjo and fiddle. She began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett– produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly evident on Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy nominated album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess.
  • 2019 - An American Marriage: The Gaines Center for the Humanities was pleased to welcome acclaimed author and professor Tayari Jones, who presided over the most successful Bale Boone Symposium to date, with more than 1,200 attendees present at her keynote lecture. Jones is the author of four novels: An American Marriage, an Oprah Book Club pick; Silver Sparrow, chosen for the NEA’s Big Read Library; The Untelling; and Leaving Atlanta
  • 2018 - Kentucky Reads: All the King's Men (An Evening with Jon Meacham) As a capstone to Kentucky Humanities’ statewide literacy initiative Kentucky Reads: All the King’s Men, Meacham spoke on the relevance of Robert Penn Warren’s work, from politics to race to regional culture, as well as Warren’s impact on literature and American culture.

To read about Bale Boone events prior to 2018, click here

Bingham Seminar


The Bingham Seminar provides faculty and students a chance to explore a subject not within the university's regular course offerings and to do so on-site, as the Gaines Center provides funding to offset the cost of travel, either in the US or abroad. The Seminar meets according to a regular course pattern during the spring 2023 semester, with the travel portion taking place over spring break, or early in May following finals week. 


$4,000 research and study grant
Up to $2,000 of travel expenses
Up to $2,000 towards a special Thomas D. Clark Lecturer 

$1,000 travel scholarship per student 

The Gaines Center also offers funding to invite a special lecturer to help further enrich the experience. This lecturer may speak with the course, but must also host a lecture that is free and open to the public. 

Breathitt Undergraduate Lecture

Established to honor Edward T. Breathitt, an eminent Kentuckian (Governor of KY, 1963-67) and a UK alum with exceptional passion for higher education and the humanities, this lectureship is awarded to an undergraduate whose qualities of mind and spirit have been expressed eloquently on one of more of the basic concerns of the humanities: form, value, and memory. The award is presented by the Gaines Center for the Humanities, and the Edward T. Breathitt Lectureship recipient receives a special award and an honorarium of $500.

Applications for the prestigious 2024 Edward T. Breathitt Undergraduate Lectureship in the Humanities will open in February 2024. 

Click the links below to view available lectures. 

Past Lectures: 

To see a list of past Breathitt lectures prior to 2019, click here

Lafayette Seminar in Public Issues

Gaines' annual Lafayette Seminar offers an opportunity for Lexington community members, elected officials, and faculty and students to discuss such issues as the local economy, town and gown relationships, and the creation of successful public spaces.  The Seminars are supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Click the links below to view available seminars. 

Past Seminars: 

To see a list of past Lafayette Seminars, click here