2019 Annual Burnett Seminar

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Monday, Oct. 21 | 1 – 4 p.m.
Book signing to follow, 4 – 5 p.m.
George Watts Hill Alumni Center, Chapel Hill
Free and open to the public

View recording of Jonathan’s presentation.

View recordings of previous Burnett Seminars.

The topic of the 18th Annual Timothy B. and Jane A. Burnett Seminar for Academic Achievement is Thinking Beyond Normal: How to Live, Learn and Thrive Outside the Lines, featuring Jonathan Mooney, renowned writer, neuro-diversity activist and author.

The Burnett Seminar targets parents of teens and young adults with ADHD/LD. Its mission is to inspire this population that success in life is possible.

Sponsored by the Learning Center in the College of Arts and Sciences and the UNC General Alumni Association.

Program Description

Renowned writer, neuro-diversity activist and author Jonathan Mooney vividly, humorously and passionately brings to life the wonderful world of neuro-diversity: the research behind it, the people who live in it, and what it can teach those of us who care about the future of education. Explaining the latest theories, Mooney helps teachers and parents redefine how students in the 21st century can think, learn, and be successful. He provides concrete examples of how to prepare students and implement frameworks that best support their academic and professional pursuits.

This presentation will draw on the best practices of inclusion to challenge the audience to commit to inclusive educational environments that view learning disabilities not as individual flaws but as a result of environmental constraints. Mooney will describe how inclusive educational environments frame learning disabilities as a form of human diversity and thus take steps to include them within a larger diversity and civil rights paradigm. These environments have a strength-based, human-centered design approach to engaging and empowering, rather than pathologizing, people with cognitive and physical differences. Mooney will draw on research in inclusion and neuro-diversity to share best practices from communities around the world, affirming and celebrating the inclusive movement as a fight for every human being’s right to be different.

Sign up today for in-person seminar and livestream.

Jonathan Mooney

Jonathan Mooney is a writer and learning activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old. He is a graduate of Brown University’s class of 2000 and holds an honors degree in English Literature. Jonathan has spent his entire professional career as a social entrepreneur developing organizations, programs, and initiatives to improve the lives of marginalized groups. In 1997, as an undergraduate at Brown University, Jonathan co-founded Project Eye-To-Eye, a non-profit advocacy organization for students with learning differences. As the founding president and Executive Director, Jonathan grew the organization from an undergraduate project conceived in his dorm room into a national organization, which currently has 38 chapters in 20 states working with over 10,000 parents, educators, and students. Jonathan has also worked extensively to create career and college pathways to move low-income youth and adults out of poverty creating the Los Angeles Energy pathway program, The Urban Teacher Fellowship, and the Promo Pathway – an initiative Vice President Al Gore called “a model for moving at-risk youth into the creative economy.”

With the publication of Learning Outside the Lines (now in its 18th printing) when he was 23, Jonathan has established himself as one of the foremost leaders in the neurodiversity and learning revolution. His second book, The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal, was published in the spring of 2007 to outstanding reviews in The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and many other national publications. Both books are considered foundational texts in the disability rights movement, the inclusive education movement, and the learning revolution and are used in undergraduate and graduate programs at universities and colleges across the country.

Jonathan is a highly sought-after speaker on neurodiversity, education reform, the learning revolution, and creating college and career pathways for at risk youth. He has lectured in 43 states and three countries. He has been featured and quoted in/on The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, HBO, NPR, ABC News, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.

Live Stream Details

The stream will start just after opening remarks begin so there is no need for concern if the live stream isn’t active right at 1:00 pm.

Please click the link below to join the live stream:

Or iPhone one-tap: US: +16465588656,,689327040#  or +16699006833,,689327040#

Or Telephone:
US: +1 646 558 8656  or +1 669 900 6833
Canada: +1 647 558 0588
Webinar ID: 689 327 040
International numbers available:

For higher quality, dial a number based on your current location.


How will I get the link for the live stream?

  • Instructions for accessing the live stream have been emailed to pre-registered participants. See above section for additional details.

Where should I park for the in-person seminar?

  • Parking is available in the Rams Head Visitor Parking Deck, located on Ridge Road, just past the intersection with Stadium Drive. Hourly rates apply.

What should I bring?

  • You may wish to bring a sweater as the conference room can get chilly. You are welcome to bring sensory-friendly items to aid in focus during the presentation.

Can I view/download the speaker’s presentation ahead of time?

  • Jonathan Mooney will not be using slides for this presentation.
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