Monday, February 13, 2017

Creativity animates life, connects people and is central to our human experience. That is the driving idea behind the Creative Matters lecture series, which continues this spring with a group of speakers who challenge us to think in new ways about the arts, sciences, business and engineering.

Sponsored by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Creative Matters series was born out of the UI Arts Advancement Committee, which seeks to leverage the great artistic resources of the UI into enhanced campus and community enrichment as well as to promote the visibility of UI arts programs both in Iowa and worldwide.

“Our greatest human achievements are due to unleashing the power of curiosity and creativity,” said David Gier, director of the UI School of Music, Erich Funke Professor in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Administrative Faculty Fellow in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. “The University of Iowa has long fostered the creative minds that explore outer space, develop paradigm shifting medical procedures and pharmaceuticals, and launch artists whose work inspire generations. The Creative Matters lecture series builds on this great tradition.”  

Four speakers are confirmed for the spring semester, and detailed information is available online at

All events are free and open to the public.

Michael Rohd, artistic director

Title: Devising Civic Practice: Listening is the New Revolution
April 5, 7 p.m.
Room: 240 UI Art Building West


What does it take to build an effective, ethical and productive partnership across fields and areas of experience? Michael Rohd, Artistic Director of Center for Performance and Civic Practice and the Sojourn Theatre, will speak about his work with arts councils, service organizations, artists, community agencies and local governments around the country to make space and context for meaningful arts based partnership practice. The Sojourn Theatre’s current projects include How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes, a participatory performance model for community engagement staged in Chicago, Louisiana, Washington, DC, and other locations. Rohd is also a professor at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and Art, where he and other faculty collaborators are launching a think tank/action space called The Ensemble Lab. He is author of the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue, used around the world in theater-for-community settings and teaching institutions.

Marin Alsop, conductor

Title: How the creative process is central to the human experience
April 19, 5:30 p.m.
Room: Voxman School of Music, Recital Hall


Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony, made history in 2007 as the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Alsop is an inspiring and powerful voice in Baltimore and the international music scene, a music director of vision and distinction who passionately believes that “music has the power to change lives.” She is recognized across the world for her innovative approach to programming and for her deep commitment to education and to the development of audiences of all ages. Marin Alsop is the recipient of numerous awards and is the only symphony conductor to receive the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given to U.S. residents in recognition of exceptional creative work.

Neri Oxman, designer

Title: Everything Is Connected: How to Innovate and Collaborate Across Diverse Disciplines
April 20, 7:30 p.m.
Room: Main Lounge, Iowa Memorial Union


What does innovation look like when we dissolve the borders between artistic creativity and the scientific method, speculative design and applied engineering, problem solving and problem seeking? In her Creative Matters lecture, Oxman empowers audiences to think beyond corporate departments and disciplinary boundaries, break down silos, unleash latent potential, and create in truly interdisciplinary ways. Her breakthrough model, The Cycle of Creativity, boldly connects design, science, engineering, and art in surprising new ways. Based on years of her work, research, and observation, Oxman’s method is a major contribution—a total rethink of the future of innovation and collaboration. Oxman is the Sony Corporation Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded and directs the Mediated Matter design research group.

Co-sponsors for this event include: Theme Semester, JPEC (John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center) and support from WISE (Women in Science and Engineering).

David Grinspoon, astrobiologist

Title: Creating Our Future with a Cosmic View of Our Past
April 25, 7 p.m.
Room: 240 UI Art Building West


What are we doing here on this planet? Can a deep-time and deep-space viewpoint help us gain the perspective to create a sustainable civilization? Informed by comparative planetology and a survey of the major transitions in Earth history, David Grinspoon will describe a series of planetary catastrophes meant to illuminate the unusual nature of the “Anthropocene”– our current time of human-driven planetary changes–and reframe our environmental predicaments as part of a larger narrative of planetary evolution. This saga has now reached the pivotal moment when humans have become a major agent of global change, and geological and human history are becoming irreversibly conjoined. Is this a likely or even inevitable challenge facing other complex life in the universe? Possible implications for SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will be considered, as well as the choices our civilization faces in seeking to foster a wisely managed Earth. Grinspoon is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and adjunct professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. NPR’s Science Friday named his new book Earth in Human Hands a Best Science Book of 2016.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Leslie Weatherhead at in advance of the event.

The Creative Matters lecture series seeks to demonstrate that creativity is not only at the core of all research and discovery, but is also central to our human experience. The lineup of invited speakers includes artists, thinkers, builders, and doers who challenge conventional thinking about creativity, science, and artistic expression, borrowing from a range of influences and disciplines in their work.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover