Students and faculty at the state's only public liberal arts university are hoping to revolutionize ideas about education and learning by integrating concepts first developed in the 15th century into modern day life.
This retro-advance of knowledge will be on display at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Festival of Arts and Ideas on Monday and Tuesday on its Chickasha campus during an annual gathering of students, faculty and community in a collision of education and entertainment.
The year's festival will focus on the polymath — people commonly associated with the renaissance period who gained mastery over multiple disciplines and fields.
In a world of technology-fueled specialization in education, USAO educators like Rob Vollmar are hoping to inspire a generation of new thinkers by promoting wide-lens concepts that led to some of the most fundamental changes in human history.
But Vollmar said the larger implications of the polymath shouldn't frighten possible festival goers.
“Our curriculum, university and this festival are set up to appeal to people with curious minds,” Vollmar said. “That's really all you need, just a degree of curiosity and a willingness to learn about some new things.”
The two-day festival begins each night at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in USAO's ballroom. Speakers with different educational backgrounds will pair up for presentation topics ranging from neuroscience of the creative mind, actresses who led double lives as inventors, to a detailed look at possibly the most recognized early polymath — Pythagoras, a Greek scientist, philosopher and mathematician.
Vollmar said the presentations will be interactive and easy to follow. They will also match the fundamental mission USAO offers its students.
“It's in our DNA,” Vollmar said. “Every four-year degree seeking student who comes here is well-grounded in world history, American history, economics, science, math; the whole nine yards.”
IF YOU GO
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma's Festival of Arts and Ideas