University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The University Symposium is a space for the University community to convene around critical questions facing our community, state, nation, and world. The Symposium offers a series of critical interventions and discussions in current critical questions, with the object of working toward tangible action. Symposium activities may include discussions, workshops, lectures, and support for the related work of research and creative collaboratives.

Grand Challenges and the Land-Grant Institution

In Fall 2015, the IAS advisory board resolved to change how the University Symposium was organized. Formerly, the Symposium was a two-year examination of a theme or topic chosen by the board. Instead, the board determined that the IAS was uniquely positioned to take on critical questions and convene University-wide discussions about them. As the University community considers Grand Challenges and the responsibilities of a land-grant institution, the IAS can serve an important role in bringing together the many people across the University who are engaged in related work—creating connections, determining what can be done to address critical problems, and working toward concrete outcomes.

In conjunction with this new focus on critical problems and Grand Challenges, the IAS is featuring Critical Conversations, a series of online essays and discussions addressing issues articulated in the Strategic Plan and Grand Challenges, and pressing concerns within the University and our broader community.

Two-Year Themes

Until Fall 2015, the University Symposium focused on a theme which was examined for a two-year period. The theme of the Symposium was designed to catalyze conversations and advance innovative research and creative activity across the University of Minnesota. The Symposium topic was determined by the IAS advisory board and then developed by groups of faculty with interests related to the theme.  Launched in 2005, the first symposium focused on the Politics of Populations. Subsequent symposium topics were Time, Body & Knowing, Abundance & Scarcity, Site & Incitement, and Strategy. The Symposium offered an opportunity to incite creative interactions and innovative thinking through interdisciplinary endeavors, ranging from public lectures and exhibits to faculty fellowships and research initiatives.  Faculty who met for the first time at a Symposium roundtable often discovered common interests that lead to collaborative research in innovative new directions.

Symposium events