I’ve recently been a lot more proactive about seeking out opportunities to attend guest lectures and other “nerdy” academic experiences. Despite the fact that I am busier than ever with classes and on campus recruiting, I find that the time I make, the extra hour here and there, has accumulated to some of the most interesting experiences of my fall semester so far.
About a month ago, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, professors of Design and Emerging Technology at The New School in New York, came to campus and participated in a round-table where students and professors got to talk about what critical design meant to them in an increasingly technological and digital age. How does the professionalization of design affect creativity? What do we need to consider to design systems for humans? Is materialization necessary to create immersive environments? Suuuuper open ended questions that don’t necessarily have right or wrong answers, but the fact that Penn brought in experts in the field to discuss these ideas is, I find, an incredible opportunity that I’m not sure I would as easily have access to were I not a part of an academic institution.
Another really cool lecture I attended was by Billy Mitchell of the Apollo Theatre—this guy literally lived history. He was inspired by James Brown to try harder and do well in school; he watched as Ella Fitzgerald, then a nervous young girl, accidentally started scatting at Amateur Night; he’s seen people like Jamie Foxx, Dave Chapelle, and Adam Sandler all booed off stage I admit that I didn’t know about Billy Mitchell or the Apollo Theatre at all before this lecture (which I stumbled upon last minute from a listserv email from my department chair), but I was completely floored and somewhat inspired to hear about this man’s life and opinions as a cornerstone of modern American history.
These events are not nearly as in-depth as a full semester’s worth of studying architecture history, but that I even have the chance to get these snippets from the people themselves has definitely been a highlight of my semester so far.