The 2023 Arts & Science Big Questions Event will be held on Friday, April 28, from 3 to 5 pm. This year, we invite scholarly engagement with the notion of Extremes.
Today, public life can be numbingly extreme. Loud discourse flattens topics as vast as politics, policy, culture, identity, history, and education into polarized positions, even as a steady stream of the unprecedented struggles to shock anew.
But extremes can be thrillingly superlative: the furthest planet, the oldest fossil, the wettest decade, the smallest constituent of matter. Extremes can be frontiers to be conquered, records to be broken, dangers to avoid, ideals to be attained. Extremes exist in relation to something else - a norm, an opposite, a continuum, a scale - and often serve to center something else. Yet centers and norms move over time. How do individuals, groups, and disciplines make use of extremes, whether as ideas or manifestations, in our time and through history? What is their value? What do extremes make possible? What might they obscure?
After an introduction and contextual framing of the questions above, we will launch into curated panels featuring video presentations submitted by individuals or groups of faculty, exploring innovative scholarship and research topics relevant to this conversation. After each panel is complete, we will open the floor for further reflection. The Big Questions Series is designed to spark conversation well beyond the parameters of each event.