A magician, an artist, a political scientist and a journalist walk onto a campus — rather than the setup for a punchline, this group represents the speakers currently slated for the first half of Transylvania’s Creative Intelligence series. The 2023-24 installment of this annual series is based on the theme of “Skeptical Odysseys: Through a Glass Darkly.”
“When a person is unwilling to interrogate cherished assumptions and paradigms, stubborn convictions may limit growth and stifle deeper understanding,” said Greg Partain, director of Creative Intelligence. “Yet, skepticism carries risks. Reckless doubt can obliterate solid ground and send one spiraling into a black hole of chaos and folly.”
This year’s series focuses on exploring the liminal spaces where skepticism and belief collide, guided by critical thinkers from a wide range of disciplines.
Transy alumnus Patrick Davis ’11, one of New York’s most in-demand magicians, will kick off the series in September. At the university’s academic convocation on Sept. 21, Davis will give a talk about “Ethical Deceptions: How Skepticism Has Guided Magicians in the War on Frauds, Cheats and Charlatans,” followed by a Sept. 22 magic show revealing the psychological tools used by magicians.
Other events include an Oct. 12 artist talk by Geraldine Ondrizek, whose work will be featured as part of the Morlan Gallery exhibit “Dis/Belief: Skeptical Realities and the Power of Interrogating Assumptions.” Ondrizek’s art explores personal and political issues related to medicine, genetics and ethics.
Also in October, the university will host Ricky Jones, professor and chair of the University of Louisville’s Department of Pan-African Studies. Jones, a scholar of American race, politics, leadership and male identity, will give a public talk on Oct. 24 and participate in an informal forum on Oct. 25.
After the Thanksgiving break, journalist Isaac Saul will come to campus to discuss factors driving the loss of trust in the news, what needs to be done to change course, and how the industry must adapt to survive in today’s political landscape. The founder of Tangle News, an independent and nonpartisan news outlet, Saul will give a public talk on Nov. 30 and participate in an informal forum on Dec. 1.
Many of the speakers are also available to visit classes during their time at Transylvania.
The events are free and open to the public. Get more details about the events, as well as learn about new installments in the series as they are scheduled.