‘Questions that Matter’: New public humanities series brings campus to community

Questions That Matter Poster-UC Santa Cruz
Anthony Aguirre, Professor of Physics at UC Santa Cruz
Anthony Aguirre, Professor of Physics at UC Santa Cruz, studies the formation, nature, and evolution of the universe. He is co-founder and associate scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which supports research on the frontiers of physics and cosmology.
Minghui Hu, Associate Professor of History at UC Santa Cruz, focuses on the intellectual h
Minghui Hu, Associate Professor of History at UC Santa Cruz, focuses on the intellectual history of early modern China. His monograph “China’s Transition to Modernity: The Classical Vision of Dai Zhen” will be published later this year. Hu organized an international conference, “Cosmopolitanism in China,” at UCSC in 2012.

The UC Santa Cruz Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) will present Making the Cosmos Local—the first event in a new series of public dialogues titled Questions That Matter—on Tuesday, January 27, at Kuumbwa Jazz Center.

The evening will feature a conversation with UC Santa Cruz professors Minghui Hu (History) and Anthony Aguirre (Physics), moderated by IHR director Nathaniel Deutsch.

“We want it to be a conversation with the community about questions that matter to all of us,” said Deutsch. “One of our main goals is to share cutting-edge thinking going on at the university about big topics.”

“But we don’t want to just tell it to the public. We want to share it with them in the form of a public interaction with the community,” he added.

Deutsch noted that the new series is part of a broader effort to integrate the university with the Santa Cruz community

“Showing people what the humanities are revealing is—and always has been—about questions that matter: life, death, the universe, love, play, community. The title of the first event, ‘Making the Cosmos Local,’ captures the spirit of this series which is to bring big questions to the Santa Cruz commons.”

Another important element of the series is to bring thinkers from different fields, revealing that scholars in different areas of study at the university are working on the same problems and questions, often from very different perspectives.

“We think it will be illuminating and exciting for people to participate in a conversation with these scholars as they work publicly and collaboratively on some of these questions,” said Deutsch. “We’re trying to break down barriers between the town and the university.”

Associate IHR director Irena Polic added that one of the goals of the Institute for Humanities Research is to partner with local Santa Cruz institutions such as Bookshop Santa Cruz, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and the public libraries to highlight that these are all big cultural institutions in the city.

“The more collaboration there is, the more interesting it becomes. It creates a synergy that becomes more compelling,” said Polic. “The university should not be seen as an ivory tower on the hill, but rather as an organic partner in the community.“ 

“Making the Cosmos Local” takes place on Tuesday, January 27, at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Doors open at 6 p.m. for Wine & Hors d' oeuvres. The program begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, including one complimentary drink, available at santacruztickets.com. For more information, call  (831) 459-5655 or email ihr@ucsc.edu. This event is co-sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz.