I’ve been this evening to the Ideas Cafe organized by the University. This was just the kind of event that makes me pleased to have chosen an academic life. The evening started with several short talks on the theme of Connecting Cultures, one of the “global priority” themes proposed recently for multidisciplinary research and collaboration as being topical and significant. Three interesting takes on the theme: health and cultures, memory and cultures, and translation.
All three themes provided food for thought, which was complimented by very nice food and drink of a physical kind, and enough time to chat with other academics from other disciplines. ostensibly about the theme but also at a wider level. It is this opportunity to meet thinkers in different subjects which in my opinion characterizes a rich, organic University life. I often go to seminars in other disciplines, but in the end these are quite focussed, and in the end everyone seems to rush off for other events, or lectures, or whatever. And one feels slightly silly and awkward just standing around to chit-chat. Here, we had the encouragement to stay and talk, with write-able tablecloth and a chance to summarise and come back into the large group in the end. While the more cycnical amongst us thinks of these as management-type gimmicks, they can work to facilitate dialogue.
Looking forward to more Ideas Cafes!
Actually, the last few weeks have been good for expanding horizons: I’ve been to the TEDx mini-event organized by students, a talk by the curator of an exhibition at the Mead Gallery, several great seminars, and interesting one-on-one chats with various people from other departments. Not bad for a campus in the Midlands, which even some colleagues dismiss as having not enough to do.