About the Earl Lectures

For more than a hundred years, PSR has hosted the Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference, addressing critical theological, pastoral, and social issues of the day.

Founded in 1901 with a gift from Edwin T. Earl, the purpose of the Lectures was, according to PSR’s Board of Trustees, “to aid in securing…the adequate presentation of Christian truth, by bringing to Berkeley, California…eminent Christian scholars to lecture upon themes calculated to illustrate and disseminate Christian thought, and minister to Christian life…” Over the years, the content of the Lectures has reflected the important theological, political, economical, and social trends of their times, with a uniformly high standard of scholarship and boldness.

Lecturers have been Biblical scholars, educators, historians, authors, activists, church leaders, and scholars of literature, among others; some of the featured Lecturers were well-known within their field but little-known outside of it, while others were household names. Some of the names we recognize today include such international figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Elie Wiesel, Howard Thurman, Maya Angelou, Paul Tillich, Alice Walker, and Robert Reich.

The Lectures have taken different forms over the years: sometimes small gatherings held on the PSR campus, other times large gatherings that filled lecture halls at the University of California. For much of the last century, the Lectures were held annually.

Today, rather than standing alone, the Earl Lectures are incorporated into PSR’s key public events. The E. T. Earl fund continues to support public presentation of excellent scholarship through sponsored lectures throughout the year.