Seminole State College Speaker Series 2018-19

Each year, the Seminole State Speaker Series welcomes speakers representing diverse views and interests.

All events are free and open to the public. To request accessibility accommodations, please email Disability Support Services

The views expressed by these speakers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Seminole State College of Florida, its Board of Trustees, employees, students, alumni or partners.

Judy Shepard

Judy Shepard, Human Rights Advocate, Anti-Hate Crimes Activist, Author and Mother of Matthew Shepard

  • When: March 27, 2019, at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Concert Hall (building G), Sanford/Lake Mary Campus
  • Topic: The Legacy of Matthew Shepard

Judy Shepard draws from personal tragedy to promote a greater understanding of LGBTQ issues and empower audiences to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach and advocacy in their own communities.

In 1998, Shepard lost her son Matthew to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate that shocked and captivated the nation. Turning tragedy into a crusade for justice, this leading voice in the LGBTQ rights movement has since established The Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on her son’s legacy. Later, she spearheaded The Matthew Shepard Act, which expanded the federal hate-crime law to include crimes based on gender and sexual orientation.

The author of the bestseller, The Meaning of Matthew, Judy Shepard offers an intimate look at how her life and the entire fight for equal rights changed when her son was killed. With a name now synonymous with activism and equal rights, Shepard leaves an indelible imprint with her words, compassion and raw honesty as she urges audiences to make their schools and communities safer for everyone, regardless of race, sex, religion, or gender identity and/or expression.

The presentation will conclude with a Q&A period. A reception and book signing will immediately follow the presentation.

Naomi Oreskes
Photo by Kayana Szmczak

Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

  • When: Jan. 30, 2019, at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Concert Hall (building G), Sanford/Lake Mary Campus
  • Topic: Defeating the Merchants of Doubt: Where Do We Go from Here?

Dr. Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of earth and planetary sciences. She arrived at Harvard in 2013 after spending 15 years as professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, and adjunct professor of geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Professor Oreskes’s research focuses on the earth and environmental sciences, with a particular interest in understanding scientific consensus and dissent. 

Her 2004 essay, The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, (Science 306: 1686) has been widely cited, both in the United States and abroad, including in the Royal Society’s publication, A Guide to Facts and Fictions about Climate Change, in the Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, and in Ian McEwan’s novel, Solar. Her opinion pieces have appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Times (London), Nature, Science,The New Statesman, Frankfurter Allgemeine and elsewhere. Her 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and received the 2011 Watson-Davis Prize from the History of Science Society.

Merchants of Doubt  tells the controversial story of how scientists and scientific advisers, politics and industry, ran campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Dr. Oreskes will discuss the ongoing debates and how we work toward defeating the “merchants of doubt.”

The presentation will conclude with a Q&A period. A reception and book signing will immediately follow the presentation.

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat, The New York Times Op-ed Columnist and Author

  • When: Nov. 1, 2018, at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Concert Hall (building G), Sanford/Lake Mary Campus
  • Topic: Can the Republican Party Keep the Working Class?

Ross Douthat joined The New York Times as an op-ed columnist in April 2009. His column appears every Wednesday and Sunday. Previously, he was a senior editor at The Atlantic and a blogger for

Douthat is the author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, published in 2012, and Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (2005), and a co-author, with Reihan Salam, of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (2008). He is the film critic for National Review

He lives with his wife and daughters in Washington.  

In their book, Douthat and Salam, two of the Right's rising thinkers, challenged conventional wisdom and called upon the GOP to focus on the interests and needs of working-class voters. Douthat will discuss the current state of Republican politics and provide an updated viewpoint on how they can maintain popular support.

The presentation will conclude with a Q&A period. A reception and book signing will immediately follow the presentation.

Seminole State's Speaker Series is co-sponsored by CFE Federal Credit Union. For more information, please call 407.708.2776. To view a list of previous speakers at Seminole State, visit