Uncharted Ideas Festival features the unexpected

From The New Yorker’s Allyson Hobbs through Pastor Pam Kurtz: 20 of the speakers confirmed for the 2017 Uncharted Festival of Ideas.

Bandak Lul grew up in a refugee camp in east Africa as his family sheltered from the conflicts that tore apart his native South Sudan. But Bandak and his family were among the lucky ones: granted refugee status by the US, they moved to Phoenix, where Bandak was able to get a foothold. He eventually secured both a bachelor and masters degree from Arizona State, and is now a human rights activist.

End-of-summer discount tickets available until Sept. 25

Uncharted co-curator Lance Knobel met Lul when he was at the Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference in June. Lul wasn’t a speaker or participant at the IRE conference; he was the Uber driver who happened to pick up Knobel. The fascinating conversation they had during that ride gave Knobel an idea.

“With Uncharted, we’re always looking for a different way to dig into the key issues in our society,” said Knobel. “Bandak has the ability to make vivid some of the issues surrounding America’s closing the door to refugees. Together with co-curator Helena Brantley, we’re putting together a diverse array of speakers and conversations that go beyond the lecture circuit or the usual suspects.”


In its fifth year, Uncharted has a record of featuring speakers ahead of the curve. The 2017 Uncharted promises more surprises for it festivalgoers. The full list of confirmed speakers and the program are available on the Uncharted website. Among this year’s speakers:

  • Jon Rapping, criminal justice innovator and founder, Gideon’s Promise
  • George Lakoff, pioneer of cognitive linguistics
  • Prudence Carter, dean of the graduate school of education, UC Berkeley
  • Jessica Zitter, ICU and palliative care physician, Highland Hospital
  • Cesar Cruz, Mexican immigrant activist on education
  • Rick Wilson, Republican political strategist and columnist
  • Allyson Hobbs, Stanford University associate professor of history and contributing staff writer, The New Yorker
  • Zachary Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Berkeleyside would like to thank the following partners for their support of the Uncharted Festival:

Levi Strauss Foundation / Panoramic Interests / DeYoe Wealth Management / Bregante + Company / North Berkeley Investment Partners / Jetton Construction / 2000 Center Street Mechanics Bank / McCutcheon Construction / BAMPFAJCC East Bay / Hotel Shattuck Plaza / Diablo Magazine /KALW / Mother Jones.

Follow Uncharted Festival on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram #BerkeleyIdeas — Listen to past Uncharted conversations on the Uncharted podcast.