Presented by Southwestern University on a biennial basis, the Brown Symposium was designed to enhance the effectiveness of the work for which the endowed professorships were established. Taking place on February 21-23, 2023, this year’s symposium, Radical Imagination: Art & Social Change, presents topics in the areas of study represented by Professor of Art History Kimberly A. Smith, the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts, and Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin, holder of the Lucy King Brown Chair.

The symposium will dive into revolution, rebellion, and resistance as moments that offer access to radical imagination. According to Smith and Selbin, radical imagination is a place that reflects our hopes, dreams, and desires; anger, resentment, and grievance; fears, commitments, and passions, often in daring acts of bricolage.

The three-day event includes speakers and events from different fields to discuss how art from the past and present challenges political oppression, cultural marginalization, and social inequity. Along with lectures and panels, the education experience will also showcase an art exhibit, Irresistible Revolution, and a DJ performance. They will explore the transformational capacity of art to protest injustice and imagine a better world.

“We thought about how people navigate different places on campus and tried to bring the energy and events of the symposium into those spaces,” Smith said. “We liked the idea of symposium attendees literally moving between and connecting these spaces.”

Smith and Selbin said that we are living in a time of interlocking crises and know that critique is an important aspect of identifying what isn’t working in a system or society. They want symposium attendees to feel hopeful after time spent learning and engaging in the topics presented and to have conversations about the possibility of making change and creating new futures.

“Equally important, we think, is wondering and imagining how the world could be better, fairer, kinder,” Smith and Selbin said. “Not as a naive belief that everything is or will be fine, but actively searching for sustenance and moments of creation. That capacity to practice hope is something we’re trying to tap into.”

You can find a full list of events and participants here