Whether balancing work and family, self and community, privacy and safety, present needs and future goals, trade-offs are a part of virtually every facet of human life. This year Scientia looks at the science, philosophy, ethics, economics, and art of the balancing acts that are so much a part of the human condition.

2021 Spring Lecture Schedule


  • Tuesday, March 2, 2021, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

Vaccines in The Time of COVID

Kirstin Matthews

Fellow in Science and Technology Policy, Baker Institute, Rice University

Rekah Lakshman

Director of Advocacy and Policy, The Immunization Partnership and Baker Institute Contributing Expert for the Center for Health and Biosciences

Rick Wilson

Herbert S. Autrey Professor, Professor, Statistics and Psychology, Rice University

Video of lecture is available here.


  • Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

Prophetic City: Exploring Some of the Difficult Trade-Offs That Will Inform the Future of Houston and America

Stephen L. Klineberg

Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Rice University; Founding Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research; Author of Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America (2020)

Video of lecture is available here.


  • Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

Virtual Lecture registration https://riceuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kDf_IIcyRvWAJsboI2iDjw

Trolleys, Treasures and Trinkets: What Are Trade-Offs, and Why Are They So Hard?

Gwen Bradford

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Rice University

Right or Left: The Economic Trolley Problem

Mahmoud El-Gamal

Professor of Economics and Statistics, Chair of Islamic Economics, Finance and Management, Rice University

Video of lecture is available here.

2020 Fall Lecture Schedule


  • Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

The 2010 Haiti Earthquake: A story of History, Race, Poverty, and Natural Hazards

Reginald DesRoches

Howard R. Hughes Provost; professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Video of lecture is available here.


  • Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

Enjoy Now or Let Someone Else Have A Better Tomorrow

Ed Emmett

Fellow in energy and transportation policy, Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies; senior fellow, Kinder Institute for Urban Research; professor in the practice, School of Social Sciences

Video of lecture is available here.

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

Climate Change: Trade-Offs Between People and Planet

Sylvia Dee

Assistant professor, Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

Pedram Hassanzadeh

Assistant professor, The Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group; Department of Mechanical Engineering; Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

Video of lecture is available here.

  • Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 4pm | Virtual Lecture

Affordable Housing Laboratory

Jesus Vassallo

Associate professor, School of Architecture

Trade-Offs in the Effort to Build Housing for All

Kyle Shelton

Deputy director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Video of lecture is available here.

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