Reflections on the IdeaFestival in Louisville in late September 2012

Left to right: Dr. Leslie Baylis, Sarah Fox, Dr. Jennifer Adam, Logan Eckler, Ann-Alan Callahan, and Dr. Gordon Baylis

Here are three brief reflections from members of the WKU community who attended the IdeaFestival in Louisville, which celebrates intellectual curiosity:

Dr. Leslie Baylis:

“I attended IdeaFestival in Louisville with WKU professor Dr. Jennifer Adam, and students, Sarah Fox, Logan Eckler and Ann-Alan Callahan. Many other faculty, administrators and students also attended the 4-day festival. The theme of the festival this year was Stay Curious. Founded in 2000, IdeaFestival is a celebration for the intellectually curious. It’s an eclectic network of global thinkers and one-of-a-kind innovators bound together by an intense curiosity about what is impacting and shaping the future of the arts, business, technology, design,  science,  philosophy and education.

The content of IdeaFestival is as diverse as the network itself – presentations range from discussions about life before life to the existence of parallel universes; from global politics to the philosophy of randomness; from disruptive innovation to living to be 250 and beyond.

Some of my favorite talks were given by Baratunde Thursdon (How to be Black); Curt Tofteland and his prisoner troupe from Shakespeare Behind Bars; Peter Van Buren (how he helped to  rebuild Iraq while losing the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people); and Richard Kogan (The Struggles, Music and Genius of Beethoven).”

Dr. Jennifer Adam:

“The IdeaFestival was an amazing interdisciplinary experience! The wide range of topics instigated great conversations within the population of WKU attendees regardless of area of study and expertise. I was truly impressed with the incredibly in-depth discussions with and among the students despite age differences. An experience like this will affect each of us as we move forward in our careers.”

Sarah Fox:

“The IdeaFestival was a fantastic experience. I met inspiring people and learned about innovative ways to influence the world for the better. My ideas were challenged and through that challenge, I have grown as a person. I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity.”

Ann-Alan Callahan:

“The overarching theme of the IdeaFestival seemed to be that we all tend to be a little (or a lot) averse to taking risks because we have a deep-seated fear of failure. However, what I learned from several of the speakers is that we need to re-frame our views of failure. Instead of viewing failure as an embarrassment and a reason to quit, we should instead view it as a teachable moment. Success, as one panelist put it, is a terrible mentor because it teaches us to do the same things over and over again. Failure, on the other hand, is a purifying fire that gives you the freedom and the courage to experiment with new ideas.”

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