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USAO festival celebrates “Our Beautiful Planet”

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CHICKASHA, Okla. – Dr. Quan Tran, festival director and assistant professor of mathematics, said the Festival of Arts and Ideas will showcase what the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma is all about.

“We are a public Liberal Arts college emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach,” Tran said.

The festival theme this year is “Our Beautiful Planet.” Tran said the goal for the Festival of Arts and Ideas is to celebrate the distinctive learning environment at USAO. Festivities will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the USAO Ballroom, 1727 W Alabama Ave.

“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,” Tran said. “With this, and with every festival USAO hosts, we invite the community to experience this thought-provoking evening with us.”

Each festival presentation will approach the theme, “Our Beautiful Planet” from many different angles including a never done before audience-involved experiment and a discussion on the politics of climate change.

Tran said the festival has transformed since its inception in 2007 to become more universal and involve students, faculty, alumni, and staff. The evening will be emceed by Dr. Jeannette Loutsch, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Leah Oxenford, USAO lab coordinator.

Dr. Stephen Weber, professor of music, and David Duncan, USAO’s video production specialist, will kick off the event with a presentation 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 event is free and all are welcome. For more information about the festival, contact Tran at (405) 574-1276.

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E.I. Hillin

Elizabeth Ivy Hillin, 30, grew up in Lindsay, Okla., where the dirt is definitely red. Hillin...

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