USAO to host festival celebrating our beautiful planet

USAO to host festival celebrating our beautiful planet


Festival of Arts and Ideas to happen on campus Jan. 16

The appreciation of the beautiful planet we call home will be celebrated during the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s annual Festival of Arts and Ideas. The free festival will be held on campus Jan. 16 and is open to the public. The one-night festival begins at 7 p.m. in the USAO Ballroom. This year’s theme is ‘Our Beautiful Planet’.

The goal of the festival is to celebrate the distinctive learning environment at USAO by presenting scholarly and creative work from the faculty, students, staff and alumni. The festival is a unique interdisciplinary conference featuring performances, lectures, discussions and exhibits that reflect and exemplify the liberal arts mission of the university.

“We hope that this year’s festival will encourage attendees to better appreciate the beauty of earth from the microscopic level to what we are able to sense through sight, sound and smell,” said Dr. Quan Tran, festival director and assistant professor of mathematics. “With this, and with every festival USAO hosts, we invite the community to experience this thought-provoking evening with us.”

The evening will begin with Dr. Stephen Weber, professor of music, and David Duncan, USAO’s video production specialist, combining a video documentary with a live musical performance highlighting the natural beauty of Oklahoma.

Katie Davis, associate professor of theatre arts, will discuss the role theatre plays in social change and will direct USAO students who will present a short performance from “Extreme Whether,” a play written by Karen Malpede.

In a presentation titled, “Our Innate Connection to the Natural World,” Dr. Rachel Jones, assistant professor of biology, and USAO student, Darby Albrecht, will encourage audience members to participate in an activity demonstrating how humans react to stimuli from our natural world, as compared to how they react to stimuli from our human-created one.

Chair of the division of social sciences and business and associate professor of history, Dr. James Welch, along with USAO students, will lead a discussion about why the debate of climate change is so heated and intractable using performances and video clips.

The evening will also feature performances by the USAO Concert Choir that will emphasize the wonder of our world through musical storytelling. Before and after the festival, attendees will have the opportunity to use microscopes to explore the minute symmetry and pattern of the natural world.

The evening will be emceed by Dr. Jeannette Loutsch, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Leah Oxenford, USAO lab coordinator.

The festival is sponsored by the USAO Foundation and received a generous endowment from the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma.

For more information about the festival, contact Quan Tran at (405) 574-1276.