Presentation Descriptions

Festival of Ideas 2020 Presentations Keynote Presentation 9:30 am to 10:15 am ...

The Workshop of Humanity: Reading Towards Virtue

Dr. Brian A. Williams, Dean of Templeton Honors College, Dean of Arts & Humanities, Co-Director of MAT in Classical Education, Professor of Ethics & Liberal Studies

Aristotle asserts that the experience deficit of young people makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to develop the virtue of prudence. They lack an older person’s “eye sharpened by experience” which he thinks is essential for virtuous practical reason. However, one 16th  century classical educator, Philip Melanchthon, offers a solution: read Homer, whose epics educate through beauty and are the very "workshop of humanity." This talk brings these two thinkers together to explore how literature can help any reader nurture virtue, morally ordered affections, and prudence.


Session I 10:30 am to 11:25 am

"I have no love for reasonable painting": Eugene Delacroix and Romanticism
Bryan Smith, History Teacher, Loveland Classical Schools Eugene Delacroix was the de facto leader of the French Romantic movement--although he refused to accept the title. In this session, we will examine several of his paintings along with a few of his journal entries in order to plumb the depths of not only Delacroix, but the Romantic movement.

Medieval Mythological and Not Modern: Lewis, Tolkein, and the Inklings
Lander Hultin, Literature Teacher Lewis and Tolkien's fantasy work was part of a larger conversation wrestling with dangerous trends in modern thought and seeking to recover better ones from the medieval worldview. Flannery O’Connor: Shouting at the Hard of Hearing
Jared Dybzinski, Literature Teacher, English Department Head, Liberty Common High School Plenty of artists use shock for shock's sake. Flannery is not one such artist. This 20th Century American fiction writer did not live to see her fortieth birthday, but she stayed disciplined in her short time to leave us a body of work with plenty of purposeful shouting we need to hear. Flannery's use of the grotesque can be a confusing turn-off for some readers, but Jared Dybzinski will use Flannery's own letters and lectures and stories to explain her motivations. Flannery ultimately believed grace and healing and wholeness is available to us, but that we must first be honest with our own deformities. Mr. Dybzinski will specifically use Flannery's famous "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in order to access this amazing woman's artistic and profoundly human heart. He will also give highlights from her vast collection of personal and professional letters-highlights showing Flannery's thoughts on reading, writing, literary analysis, and faith. Mr. Dybzinski hopes all attendees will leave motivated to start or continue their own search into Flannery's vision. "Again, please!" Lauren Calvert, Literature Teacher Ever wonder why it’s humanly possible for a child to request (nay, demand!) you read The Giving Tree or Curious George Takes a Job for the forty-seventh time in a row? What is it about reading aloud to a child that fosters intellectual and emotional growth and well-being? Why is the “enchanted hour” not only a sacred time for a loving caretaker and child to connect but also a crucial “antidote” to broken attention spans and constant technological distractions? I will show you how reading aloud is the end-all cure to living in “the age of distraction” and how reading aloud need not stop when a child learns to read by himself. The Second Most Popular Book in the History of the World
Nick Weeks, Mathematics Pedagogue Euclid's Elements is the second most translated and most distributed book in the history of the world (second only to the Bible). It is the foundation of western mathematics and has been discussed for over two-thousand years. Join us for a thought experiment as we wrestle with and discuss the inaugural definitions and the first proposition from Book I. We will also look at a short excerpt from an interview with President Abraham Lincoln wherein he describes what led him to study Euclid and what benefits he was able to extract from the Elements.
What is Mass - really? From Classical to the Quantum
Dr. Robert Wilson, Physics Professor, Colorado State University In this presentation, I will explore the concept of mass.  I will begin with the familiar classical physics notions of substance and resistance to motion, move on to the fungibility of mass and energy in Einsteinian relatively, and end with the quantum picture of elementary particles gaining mass through interactions with an all-pervading quantum Higgs field, all with the bare minimum of equations.
Behind these Walls: Life in a Fortified City
Dr. Joel Penning, History Teacher, Liberty Common High School The twentieth century has been described as the century of walls coming down.  In our wide-open world, the idea of living surrounded by massive walls can seem strange or disillusioning.  This talk will examine how and why people built walls in the past, what it was like to live surrounded by them, how walls changed over time, and what walls could say about the people who lived behind them.  We will look at some of history's most famous walls, but with a special focus on Renaissance Italy.
Music for Velociraptors, Wizards, and Jedis: The Genius of John Williams
Dave Lunn, Local Musician, Music History, Theory, and Orchestral Teacher, Liberty Common High School John Williams is arguably America's greatest living composer. With over 100 movie scores and a record-setting 51 Academy Award nominations to his credit, John Williams has set the standard for film composing. What would Star Wars, ET, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jaws and more be without the iconic music of John Williams? We'll find out as we explore the techniques and influences that are employed by Williams to bring magic to the screen as well as the concert hall.
Duolingo or Textbook? Models of Foreign Language Acquisition
Paulina Deitrick, Spanish Language Teacher, Liberty Common High School Ever wanted to learn a foreign language? Don’t know where to start? Come learn about the different ways the brain acquires another language and which one will work best for you!


Session II

11:35 am to 12:30 pm

Economic Myths: 12 to a Hotel Room Makes Sense John Kaufman, Academy Principal, Loveland Classical Schools A practical discussion of Economics will take place, along with an accessible discussion on Capitalism and the importance of choice. Several common economic myths will be dissected from the consumer's perspective, including why Spring Breakers are rational. A free gift for all participants. Owl Moon: The Elements of Literature in Children's Stories Lander Hultin, Literature Teacher, Liberty Common High School A Socratic Seminar - in which I would read Jane Yolen's "Owl Moon" and teach it through a Socratic seminar using the elements of fiction. Hope and the Garden Emily Maeda The theological virtue of hope is often misunderstood and therefore difficult to pursue. In an exploration of garden design, we will see hope illuminated through the seasons of the garden unfolding in time. Gardener and viewer alike partake of its slow building patience and limits and both are able to enter into the reality of hope. G.K. Chesterton: A Man of Plain, Simple, Paradoxical Truth Jared Dybzinski, Literature Teacher, English Department Head, Liberty Common High School G.K. Chesterton was an early 20th Century, British writer of brilliant newspaper articles, literary criticism, poetry, detective stories, novels, and even biographies.  He had a knack for flipping ideas and sentences on their heads--only for readers to have the shock sense that they were now looking at them right-side up. He embraced normal reality as anything but normal and the common man as anything but uninteresting.  Come enjoy Mr. Dybzinski give highlights from Chesterton’s life and works that waged (and wage) a merry, sober war with modern assumptions about the world and being human. Richard the III and Adolf Eichmann: Two Faces of Evil Florian Hild, Literature, Logic, Rhetoric, & German Teacher, Loveland Classical High School This talk will look at evil that is deep, devilish, and destructive as well as evil that is banal, thoughtless, and yet just as destructive. By comparing Shakespeare's infamous villain and the Nazi operative Eichmann we will consider the nature of evil together: Does evil have a separate existence from us or does it run through each of our hearts? Is a pencil-pushing bureaucrat as culpable as a scheming tyrant if both of their actions result in death and destruction? How do we defend ourselves against evil? Physics for the Good Life Dr. Gavin Polhemus, Physics Teacher and Author, Liberty Common High School Peace of mind, cosmic perspective, contemplative retreat, intellectual discipline – physics in ancient philosophy is all of these. How can we free ourselves from the modern, "what is it good for" approach and restore physics as an exercise for the good life?

Zero and Her Evil Twin, Infinity

Ashley McAllister, Mathematics and Statistics Teacher, Liberty Common High School

We will explore some interesting paradoxes involving infinity and zero. We will also look at perplexing problems like "infinity times 0." Who will win in this epic battle between nothingness and totality?

Scarce Wars: Political Economic Lessons from a Galaxy Far Far Away

Stanton Skerjanec, History Teacher, Liberty Common High School

The great American mythology of Star Wars offers not only compelling stories of heroes and bravery, but lessons about the nature of politics, government, and economics. This presentation will examine some of the more important political economic topics through the lens of the epic saga that continues to this day.

Visionary Artists of 2020

Rex Seiple & Megan Salazar, Studio Art and Art History Teachers, Liberty Common High School

We will introduce you to artists that help us to see today’s world through a different lens. This talk will excite your imagination and expand your cultural literacy.


Session III: Student Presentations
1:30 pm to 2:00 pm

The Tiger and Magpie: A Look into Traditional Korean Art

Tori Jeon (11th grade)

Everyone knows about that one Japanese painting of a wave or the white and blue ceramics of China, but how much do you know about Korean art? In this session I will be discussing a specific type of traditional Korean art known as The Tiger and Magpie and delving into its roots and influence. Come if you are interested in learning about a new culture, enjoy art history, or want to listen to some folk tales!


Magic: A Modern Inquiry on an Ancient Art

Uriah Nevins (12th grade)

Magic is the name given to that which we cannot explain, or which challenges our understanding of reality. However, the modern, cliche stage tricks we call "magic" only scratch the surface of a diverse ancient art focused around feeding the curiosity and wonder that make us human. This presentation addresses some common misconceptions and adulterations of magic, in an effort to redefine the term as it pertains to the human experience.

Monumental Changes: The Evolution of War Memorials throughout History

Alexia Armatas & Nicole Hraban (12th grade) War has been present since the beginning of civilization, and consequently, the need for war memorials has emerged. This session will examine the change in war memorials throughout history, and reflect on the shifts of the purpose and design of war memorials along with social, cultural, and economic changes that occurred. 

Killing with a Conscience

Paige Moore (12th grade)

The death penalty is a widely disputed concept as a whole. However, the element that many fail to recognize is the corruption of the process of the executions themselves. From black market drugs to inept practitioners, this session explores the manners of carrying out capital punishment in a discussion environment. This is not a debate about the morality of the death penalty itself, and will contain material that is disturbing to some people.

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