2019 Tucson Humanities Festival

Humanity’s achievements bring about widespread changes. We’ve harnessed fire, created languages and built civilizations. We’ve explored our planet and beyond. New technologies rise. New ideas develop. People and culture influence one another. How will society transform again? What’s beyond the horizon? Can the past be a guide for the future? How can the humanities shape tomorrow’s world? What’s Next?

SPACE & WONDER: Humanity’s Endless Quest for Answers

Presented by Dr. Valerio Ferme
University of Cincinnati

While technology has led humankind on a search through space to evolve its ‘destiny,’ the basis for this exploration comes from the deep-seated desire of human beings to answer ‘big questions’ about their role in the universe. Spurred by the sense of wonder of early philosophers and astronomers, and centered in the original Liberal Arts, our technological forays in the future have been rooted in humanistic practices that have produced great works of art and a fascination for the beyond that continues to permeate popular culture. This lecture provides a brief history of this exploration, and suggests why human imagination, and humanistic inquiries have to be part of any conversation about our future on and off this planet.
DESIGNING WOMEN: Overlooked Trailblazers of the Bauhaus

Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Otto
University at Buffalo

A century after its founding in 1919, scholars and the art-and-design interested public associate the Bauhaus with modernist architecture, sleek avant-garde design, and abstract painting by artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, or László Moholy-Nagy. But the Bauhaus was much more than the work and lives of the famed few reveal. Perhaps least understood of all are the Bauhaus’s women, who made up over one third of its members. In the photography and experimental design of key Bauhaus women, we see a new side to this foundational movement of modern art, and reach a better understanding of the past to enable us to come to grips with what comes next.
FRIENDS OR ENEMIES: Politics & Poetry in Contemporary Russian Rap

Presented by Dr. Philip Ewell
Hunter College

The spoken word has always held a special place in the hearts of Russians, from Alexander Pushkin’s revolutionary writings through generations of Russian playwrights, librettists, poets and bards. This vibrant oral tradition lives today in Russian rap. Artists such as Husky, Noize MC, Oxxxymiron, Timati, and Vasya Oblomov are skilled wordsmiths who advance not just the literary form of poetry, but also political and cultural messages. As true at the genre’s inception as it is in today’s oppressive political climate, Russian rap artists’ careers can hinge on taking a friendly or antagonistic stance toward government.
RITUAL & HUMAN FLOURISHING: Theories From Classical China

Presented by Dr. Michael Puett
Harvard University

Visions of human flourishing that developed in classical China are among the most complex in world philosophy. Focusing on the inter-relations between anthropology, history, philosophy, and religion, Michael Puett explores these visions in relationship to developments in recent Western thought. Puett places the study of China into larger historical and comparative frameworks, offering new perspective on what theories from classical China have to offer in contemporary discussions.
TRANSFORMING LIVES: Empowering Philanthropy Through Humanism

Presented by Dana Vandersip
Make-A-Wish Foundation

What can a better tomorrow bring? Zayden, 7, heart condition, wished to go to Saturn and meet aliens. Avery, 3, cancer, wished to celebrate her caregivers. Leona, 5, cancer, wished to have a pirate ship in her backyard. Make-A-Wish granted all of those life-changing wishes, helping children with critical illnesses replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope. Using wishes as a backdrop, Dana Vandersip, Vice President of Development at Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego, will discuss the relationship of philanthropy to happiness, wholeness, connection, relevance and humanity, and how aligning resources with a community’s needs transforms the lives of everyone involved.

2017 Tucson Humanities Festival PODCASTS

PUNK PRAYER: Pussy Riot’s Fight for Global Freedom of Expression

Presenter: Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot

The three refuges – the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teaching), and the Sangha (Buddhist community) – mark the pivotal transformation in Buddhism and official commitment to embarking on the Buddhist path. But what does this path entail? How is refuge understood when you are of the world and seeking to transcend its limitations at the same time? While the Buddhist quest has been accommodated across Asian cultures, it is also dependent by social and political realities and the cultural conditions of where refuge is sought. Explore some of the ways seeking refuge and finding refuge has manifested itself in history.
IMPERFECT LEGACY: From National Liberation to Meaningful Freedom in Africa

Presenter: Phyllis Taoua, French & Italian

The push for independence in African nations was ultimately an incomplete process, with the people often left to wrestle with a partial, imperfect legacy. The various transitions to independence from Ghana to South Africa produced uneven results that do not fit neatly into narratives of “failure” or “success.” Decolonization in Africa unfolded as a tug of war between the leaders of protest movements and the defenders of European colonial rule, with violent repression defining the landscape and leaders often murdered or jailed. Living with tremendous loss, survivors forged on in continued hope, while custodians of imperial domination pushed back. Rather than liberation in name alone, the ongoing struggle has been one for meaningful freedom.
CROWN VS. CROSS: Resistance and Resilience of Religion in the Roman Empire

Presenter: Grant Adamson, Cynthia White & Courtney Friesen

Shifting ideologies over the history of the Roman Empire exposed different religious minorities to violence and repression. This panel will explore the range of expressions of resistance and resilience in Judaism and early Christianity in the face of that trauma. After the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple that had served as the center of worship for centuries, Jews and Christians responded with apocalyptic visions of God’s imminent intervention to deliver His people and to judge the world. Nearly three centuries later, in a striking historical reversal, the Emperor Julian announced his intention to rebuild the Jewish Temple, apparently as a reaction against recently ascendant and increasingly intolerant Constantinian Christianity.
FORCES UNLEASHED: Why the Spanish Civil War Still Matters

Presenter: Malcolm Compitello Spanish & Portuguese

Scholars have called The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) a “fratricidal war in Europe’s backwater.” The conflict became much more, galvanizing adversaries on the left and the right and serving as a prelude to the Second World War. More than 60 years later, that “war in Europe’s backwater” and its consequences still loom large in Spain and beyond. Because of its profound political, social and artistic influence, the war and the lessons learned from it still have much to teach us about how societies confront the crises that increasingly threaten civil society.
SYMBOLS OF REVOLUTION: Legacies of Luther in Germany

Presenter: Steven D. Martinson, German Studies

Martin Luther’s intemperate writings and unabashed public statements caused a whirlwind of religious and political turmoil that has reverberated across centuries. How has Luther been portrayed and employed at critical times of revolt and revolution in German history and culture, including National-Socialist Germany? How is Luther being received in German politics today? Martinson, the author of Between Luther and Münzer: The Peasant Revolt in German Drama and Thought, will speak as part of a year-long series of special events at the University of Arizona commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: reformation.arizona.edu.
EXPLORING THE UNIVERSE: Science and Humanities United

Presenters: Dante Lauretta, Planetary Sciences

In the 21st century, space exploration transcends national boundaries and has the potential to bring humanity together. Scientific collaboration has transformed the rivalries of the Cold War era into a shared search for knowledge. Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission, will discuss how a degree in Japanese in addition to theoretical math and physics has given him a career advantage. Since the Japanese Space Agency is heavily involved in asteroid exploration, Lauretta has applied his humanities degree to establish a cross-cultural exchange program and effectively engage his Japanese colleagues. Space exploration is an activity for all humanity and forms a natural vehicle to foster international collaboration and understanding.