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Creative Intelligence 2021-22

Campus Theme: Bridging Chasms

I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.

Baruch Spinoza, 1632-1677

Conflict has always pockmarked our social, political, and cultural landscape. How can we generate productive dialogue to help us navigate complex and polarizing issues, and when should talk give way to action? We must build bridges to empower, inspire and connect with one another, but when is bridge-burning necessary to secure a more just future? The important thinkers, activists and artists on this year’s Creative Intelligence series will help the Transylvania community think through such questions.  

Greg Partain, Director of the Creative Intelligence Program
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact professor Greg Partain at or the Creative Intelligence program at

Creative Intelligence Events

The following Creative Intelligence events are confirmed as of Sept. 7. Additional speakers will be added as they are confirmed. Specific details regarding attendance at the events, whether they are in person or virtual, or any specific health protocols, will be included as it becomes available.

September 17: Natasha DeJarnett

Academic Convocation

Natasha DeJarnett delivers this year’s Academic Convocation keynote talk titled “Code Red: Climate Changes Health and Equity.” She is an assistant professor in the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and a professorial lecturer in environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Read more from this list highlighting her academic writings.

  • Public lecture, Friday, Sept. 17, 4:30 p.m., Haggin Auditorium
  • Visitors to campus are asked to follow Healthy at Transy guidelines, which currently require masking indoors regardless of vaccination status.

October 13: Robert Gipe

2021 Judy Gaines Young Book Award Winner

Robert Gipe will present excerpts from his Canard County trilogy — illustrated novels set in a fictional Eastern Kentucky county beset by the opioid epidemic, environmental degradation, tensions associated with the coal economy, systemic poverty and a general history of malign treatment. He will also speak about his work as co-producer of Higher Ground in Harlan, a community arts organization that addresses social divisions through artistic collaboration, theatrical presentation and sharing of oral histories.

  • Reading and book signing, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 5 p.m. in Carrick Theater
  • Class visits, Oct. 13-14 in the Campus Center. 

Presented in collaboration with the English program  

November 17: Amory Lovins

Amory Lovins has been creatively and effectively working on energy issues since the 1960s. In 1982 he co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute to accelerate bridging the transition to clean energy.

  • Zoom lecture followed by Q&A, 7 p.m. Check back for registration details.

Presented in collaboration with Zoe Strecker’s Bingham-Young Professorship project, “Crucial Terrain,” and President Brien Lewis

February 16: David Wallace-Wells

David Wallace-Wells, author of “The Uninhabitable Earth,” will give a public lecture at 7 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium. “It’s worse, much worse, than you think.” So begins “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Wallace-Wells will help the Transylvania community make the unprecedented leap of imagination he believes is necessary to reckon with life in a world seriously altered by climate change.

Presented in collaboration with professor Zoé Strecker’s Bingham-Young Professorship project, “Crucial Terrain,” and the Hazelrigg-Humanities Endowment

March 23: Joy Harjo

Kenan Lecture

Joy Harjo

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will give Transylvania’s 2022 William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture. The first Native American U.S. poet laureate, Harjo is an internationally known, award-winning poet, writer and performer of the Mvskoke Nation. The winner of numerous writing awards, she is the author of a memoir and nine books of poetry, including the acclaimed “An American Sunrise.” She earned an MFA at the Iowa Writ­ers’ Work­shop and has taught at universities across the country and performed music and poetry internationally.

  • Public lecture, Wednesday, March 23, 7:30 p.m., Haggin Auditorium

April 6: Transylvania Faculty Panel, “Enduring Knots: Reflections on ‘Bridging Chasms’”

Led by professors Leslie Ribovich (religion) and Melissa Fortner (psychology), the panel will discuss challenges and strategies related to “bridging chasms,” especially as regards power dynamics and identities. Professors will highlight various “knots” — pedagogical, scholarly or community-based tensions, questions and crises encountered in their teaching, scholarship and community life.