* Diane Ravitch: Sept. 18, Roland Hayes Auditorium
* Thomas Friedman: Nov. 13, Tivoli Theatre
* Will Allen: Feb. 26, 2013, Roland Hayes Auditorium
* Ira Glass: April 7, 2013, Tivoli Theatre
All lectures start at 7 p.m.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, an education historian, an urban farming activist and a radio show producer will talk with Chattanooga locals during this year's Hunter Lecture Series at UTC.
Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, MacArthur Fellow Will Allen and "This American Life" host Ira Glass are this year's featured speakers.
The lecture series was created five years ago to bring respected influential figures to Chattanooga, said Lori Quillen, community program director for the Benwood Foundation.
"We try to find speakers who are engaging and bring a different perspective to Chattanooga," Quillen said. "It should be an engaging experience, and something that you can't do anywhere else."
The foundation co-sponsors the series with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and all lectures are free and open to the public.
Ravitch will kick off the series Sept. 18. She is well-known for her stance on education reform and wrote the best-selling book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System."
In November, Friedman will speak on community development. Friedman is the author of six books and has written on environmental issues, foreign affairs, globalization and the Middle East.
Allen, the founder of "Growing Power," a farm that produces healthy food for low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee, will visit Chattanooga in February. His lecture will focus on the environment.
The series will end in April, when Glass speaks. Glass produces a radio show on Chicago Public Radio that is heard by nearly 2 million people.
UTC Chancellor Roger Brown said the lecture series is valuable because people who attend can interact personally with the speakers.
"The series puts us in the same room with nationally renowned speakers to learn what they have to say firsthand and ask questions," he said. "It helps to create an awareness for us all on larger-scale issues and is truly an enlightening experience."
Each lecture lasts about an hour, Quillen said, and includes a question and answer session at the end. Typically, 700 people attend each session.
She said Chattanooga residents seems to enjoy the experience.
"We've gotten a tremendous response from the community," she said. "The lecture series has been really well received and I think people appreciate being able to hear from these speakers."