The Art of the Commencement Speech

The Art of the Com­mence­ment Speech is a pro­ject by The Human­ity Ini­ti­at­ive to col­lect the best com­mence­ment addresses since 1936. To date there are 29 speeches avail­able, from John F. Kennedy (Amer­ic­an Uni­ver­sity, 1963), Václav Havel (Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, 1995) and The Dalai Lama (Emory Uni­ver­sity, 1998).

The com­mence­ment cere­mony affirms each student’s search for know­ledge. It often includes a gradu­ation speech which seeks to put their recent hard (or not so hard)  work into the con­text of their future. Many of us hear one or two com­mence­ment addresses as gradu­ates or listen to a hand­ful as spec­tat­ors. Yet – as we gradu­ate from one year to anoth­er, one rela­tion­ship to anoth­er, one exper­i­ence to anoth­er – we always are learn­ing.