red map of countries

Arts Unplugged

The College of Arts & Sciences’ Arts Unplugged series brings research and creative works into the public sphere for discussion and inspiration. These outreach events invite a broad audience to explore the work of scholars and faculty from all disciplines, all backgrounds and all time periods and to celebrate the impact that work continues to have on our daily lives.

Aftershocks: Geopolitics Since the Ukraine Invasion

Aftershocks: Geopolitics Since the Ukraine Invasion 

Sept. 22, 2022

Watch the event recording!

As the war in Ukraine rages on, how is the ground shifting across Eurasia and beyond? Leading journalists and scholars covering Russia, Europe, China and the global political landscape discussed how international relations, security, trade and economics are shifting in ways not seen since World War II.

The in-person event featured:

  • Ann Simmons, the Wall Street Journal's Moscow Bureau Chief
  • Mark Landler, the New York Times' London Bureau Chief
  • Peter Katzenstein, the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies
  • Jessica Chen Weiss, the Michael J. Zak Professor for China and Asia-Pacific Studies 

Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, moderated the discussion.

countries with war planes flying over

News about Arts Unplugged

Past Events

Past Events

Arts Unplugged: Science of the Very, Very Small

Science of the Very, Very Small 

March 9, 2022, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Watch the event recording! 

The “science of the very, very small” offers possible solutions for everything from the energy crisis to disease. Ideas that once existed only in science fiction are becoming reality and Cornell scientists are leading the way in nanoscale and quantum materials research. In this virtual Arts Unplugged, we explored some of these exciting innovations – and their ramifications for human society. 

Presentations:

  • Welcome - Dean Ray Jayawardhana, Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences
  • Introduction - Natalie Wolchover, Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist Fellow, moderator
  • Walking nanorobots with brains – Itai Cohen, professor of physics
  • Manipulating genes with nanotech – Ailong Ke, professor of molecular biology and genetics, and Julia Markovits, associate professor of philosophy
  • Discovering the particles that define us – Liam McAllister, professor of physics, and Peter Wittich, professor of physics and director of the Laboratory of Elementary Particle Physics 
  • Intermission: Creating origami robots demonstration – Michael Reynolds, M.S. ’17, Ph.D. ’21, postdoctoral associate, Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering; and announcement of “Envisioning the Future” contest winners
  • The interplay of science and fiction – Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor, Emeritus; Liliana Colanzi, M.A. ’14, Ph.D. ’17, assistant professor of Romance Studies; and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, associate professor of literatures in English
  • Designing worlds at the nanoscale – Eun-Ah Kim, professor of physics; Brad Ramshaw, The Dick and Dale Reis Johnson Assistant Professor of physics; and John Marohn, professor of chemistry and chemical biology
  • Audience Q&A
Wynton Marsalis holding a trumpet

An Evening with A.D. White Professor at Large Wynton Marsalis and the Cornell Wind Symphony

Cornell welcomed Pulitzer and Grammy-winning artist Wynton Marsalis as A.D. White Professor-at-Large for a concert with the Cornell Wind Symphony on Nov. 6, 2021.  The concert at Bailey Hall was conducted by Barbara & Richard T. Silver '50, MD '53 Assistant Professor of Music James Spinazzola, along with Marsalis and his rhythm section. They performed a wide-ranging program including ragtime, blues, and jazz. Marsalis also offered a talk, "The University’s Place in Promoting American Democracy in the Disciplines."

Policy, Politics and Ethics of the Coming AI Revolution
Watch the event recording!

This interactive discussion with leading experts focused on the enormous changes and considerations of how we can enact policy that supports democracy and an ethical society as AI technology continues to expand.

Andrew Ross Sorkin
Andrew Ross Sorkin, financial columnist for the New York Times and co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Box

Moderated by Andrew Ross Sorkin ’99, of CNBC and The New York Times .

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is characterized by the fusion of the digital, biological and physical worlds. Artificial intelligence (AI) is central to this new era, and its influence on our lives is growing quickly. Given the enormity and the breathtaking pace of technological change, not to mention the tremendous promise and the potential peril, it is critical to examine the roles of policy, politics and ethics in shaping emerging technology – and vice versa.

Students in the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity, who are researching the use of artificial intelligence on social media, created a quiz to test your ability to distinguish AI-generated content from human-generated content. See how you fare by taking the quiz here.

AI Revolution

How has politics already been shaped and disrupted by technology and artificial intelligence?

If intelligent machines are going to be a part of our political system, can they make ethical decisions?

How can we develop public policy that harnesses the positive aspects of artificial intelligence? 

How can malicious actors be reined in, and how can we minimize their potential to harm our democracy? 

Cornell According to Sound event poster

Cornell According to Sound

Our third event in the series featured a sonic look at campus, brought to us by Chris Hoff ’02 and Sam Harnett, creators of The World According to Sound. The duo spent the fall semester finding and recording sounds across the university – from fish and frogs, to Latin speakers and dirt. Along with four performances at the Schwartz Center, listeners were able to visit five pop-up listening stations across campus to help them become more aware about the role and impact of sound in their lives.

Read more about Cornell According to Sound

During his visit to campus, Chris Hoff ’02, standing, of the World According to Sound, worked with students on recording techniques.
During his visit to campus, Chris Hoff ’02, standing, of the World According to Sound, worked with students on recording techniques.
Sam Harnett, left and Hoff, right, install sound equipment in a phone booth on the Arts Quad, one of five “listening stations” installed around campus as part of the event
Sam Harnett, left and Hoff, right, install sound equipment in a phone booth on the Arts Quad, one of five “listening stations” installed around campus as part of the event
Illustration of Toni Morrison

Cornell Celebrates Toni Morrison

The College hosted a yearlong series honoring our beloved alumna and literary icon on the 50th anniversary of her first book, "The Bluest Eye." Events included a “Toni Morrison at 90” colloquium to honor Morrison’s 90th birthday, a reading of “The Bluest Eye,” which included authors Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tayari Jones and Edwidge Danticat, activist Angela Davis, poets Sonia Sanchez and Kevin Young, as well as U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Other events virtual screening of “The Pieces I Am,” a documentary of Morrison’s life at Ithaca’s Cinemapolis theatre, an exhibit at Cornell University Libraries and a quilting project.

Read more about Cornell Celebrates Toni Morrison

Professor Angela Y. Davis
Jazz ensemble practicing
Poster for N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

Words from a Bear

Cornell’s newest film professor, Jeff Palmer, shared advice for creating a Sundance documentary and screened his latest feature film during our second Arts Unplugged event at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. “Words from a Bear,” Palmer’s first feature film, explores the creative works of N. Scott Momaday. Our event also included a talk by Gus Palmer, professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, and one of the narrators of the film.

Read more about Words from a Bear

A lecture by filmmaker Jeffrey Palmer at the "Words from a Bear" film screening
Filmmaker Jeff Palmer offered a masterclass on making a Sundance documentary as part of the celebration of his film release on campus.
Fillmmaker Jeffrey Palmer, left, and Austin Bunn, associate professor of performing and media arts, show off Palmer’s early plans for “Words from a Bear.”
Palmer, left, and Austin Bunn, associate professor of performing and media arts, show off Palmer’s early plans for “Words from a Bear.”
Poster for 'Odyssey in Ithaca' event

Odyssey in Ithaca

From tales of sinking ships to murderous fights to bedroom shenanigans, a cast of 75 readers told the story of Homer’s “Odyssey” during a daylong event in Klarman Hall, our inaugural Arts Unplugged event. The reading, spearheaded by Athena Kirk, assistant professor of classics, featured speakers from the community and local colleges, state and local representatives, as well as special audio segments from Annie Lewandowski, senior lecturer in music.

Read more about The Odyssey in Ithaca

Students at the 'Odyssey in Ithaca' reading
Students, faculty and staff followed along with the story in books available for borrowing during the event.
Faculty at the Odyssey in IThaca reading
Annie Lewandowski, senior lecturer in music, played a series of whale sounds during Chapter 12, “Difficult Choices,” which includes a run-in with a group of Sirens.