Creative ideas are the work of collective minds. So our plan is to bring the arts and sciences together.
New concepts can easily be traced to a source—which came from another source. To a degree, nothing is wholly original. Even the theories of a genius loner like Isaac Newton (and he was as reclusive and brilliant as one could be) were influenced by others. His concepts were built on the ideas of those who had come before. In a famous letter to Robert Hooke, he says, “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.”[i] Newton knew very well that he was part of a larger network of knowledge building. It would be nearly impossible to create a way of thinking independent from the influence of others.
In fact, studies have been undertaken to determine if there really are any people who are original in their thinking. I find it hard to believe than one could trace something like that. But from these studies, it appears that there are only three people who were original: “first-century Confucian metaphysicist Wang Chu’ung, 14th-century Zen spiritualist Bassui Tokusho, and 14th-century Arabic philosopher Ibn Khaldun.”[ii] Consider those three in comparison to how many people have lived on the planet—over a hundred billion. Going solo seems nearly impossible.
As the Department of Art at Augusta University grows, we will foster a collective mindset through a series of interactive discussions called LASER Talks.
LASER stands for Leonard Art Science Evening Rendezvous. These are events sponsored by Leonardo the International Society for Arts, Sciences, and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST). They happen all over the world including Zurich, University of San Francisco, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, New York City, London, Tacoma, Toronto, Montreal and Kansas State University.
Last year, we hosted our first LASER and became an affiliate. Thus, add Augusta to the list.
Fortunately for us, the Director of Cultural Programs for the National Academy of Sciences flew in to moderate ours. He was amazing, and the event was a huge success. We packed a large auditorium with a wide range of people from the university’s upper administration to esteemed researchers to high school students. We formed our panel to include art history, studio art, otolaryngology and anaplastology. It’s amazing how quickly the audience drew connections from these seemingly disparate fields. How do we know we succeeded? No one left the room for two hours—not even to use the bathroom. That’s success.
This year, plan to hold more LASER Talks. Plus, we opened it as a collaborative event including the university and region. We are collaborating with areas throughout the university to synthesize ideas from an array of fields. The first talk will be hosted by the College of Education. The second talk will be hosted by Allied Health. The third, will be the Department of Art (us). And the fourth will be a unique hybrid summit hosted by our Office of Leadership Development. Over the next couple of years, we plan to collaborate with all facets of the institution to foster conversation and collaboration between the arts and sciences.
Our first LASER of the year hosted by the College of Education is on September 13. The outstanding lineup includes experts from the local area focused on STEAM initiatives and innovation in teaching and technology. I’ll announce the specifics soon. We’ll also simulcast it so everyone can view.
On a final note, as we expand into the community and improve our offerings to students, we will seek the support of the community. If you would like to help us build a new form of art education, please click here. Where it says designation, toggle to “other” and type “Department of Art 29115.”
[i] (wikiquotes n.d.)
[ii] (Uzzi and Spiro 2005, Volume 111, Number 2, September, 448)