March 17, 2017
Take the leap with us

Indiana Humanities' new two-year thematic initiative called “Quantum Leap” will encourage Hoosiers to explore and celebrate the spirit of possibility and problem-solving

Indiana scientists, engineers, doctors and entrepreneurs have been leaders in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields for generations—from the inventor of the first automobile gas pump to the first man to walk on the moon. Today, Hoosiers are still pioneers thanks to Eli Lilly and Company, Warsaw’s orthopedic industry, Dow AgroSciences’ state-of-the-art food labs and more. A new statewide initiative from Indiana Humanities, called Quantum Leap, will encourage Hoosiers to celebrate that legacy and explore our future by talking about what happens when we bridge the humanities with STEM.

Through grants, a radio series, a statewide read of “Frankenstein” and events such as field trips to places of scientific discovery and engineering marvels, Indiana Humanities will provide Hoosiers with opportunities to learn more about how we question, tinker, invent and imagine—and what the implications are for those innovations. The kickoff event for the two-year initiative will be held on April 20 at Butler University and feature a conversation with Dr. Alan Lightman, an MIT physicist and author of the acclaimed novel, “Einstein’s Dreams.”

Guided in part by a steering committee (listed below) consisting of leaders in business, science, engineering, agriculture, medicine and the humanities, Quantum Leap will look at global, national and local STEM issues through a humanities lens to engage Hoosiers in discussions about topics such as moral and ethical dilemmas, how we accept and embrace change (or don’t), and how we determine what’s factual and what’s not.

“In past eras, STEM and the humanities were seen as two sides of a common coin. Today, many people seem to view them as opposing forces, but it shouldn’t be that way,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “If Indiana wants to succeed over the next 200 years, we must value both technical proficiency and critical thinking. We must understand both the data and its implications. And we must push forward by understanding where we’ve already been. These are some of the conversations we plan to inspire through these programs.”

Quantum Leap programs and events include:

INconversation Series
This series pairs a thought-leader and local moderator for a candid, surprising and insightful discussion. The Quantum Leap kickoff event with National Book Award finalist and MIT professor Dr. Alan Lightman takes place on April 20 at Butler University and will be moderated by Rabbi Sandy Sasso. Lightman and Sasso will explore the connections between science and art, the process of creativity and the surprising links between the physical and metaphysical worlds. Learn more:

Chew on This: Are You Sure?
How do we know if something is true? What counts as evidence? It’s been 10 years since Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness”—the idea that something may seem or feel true, even if it’s not—but it’s an idea that seems to be at the heart of our culture in 2017. On Tuesday, May 9, we’ll hold simultaneous dinner conversations at restaurants around the state—facilitated by scientists, ethicists, ag business leaders and public health professionals—to discuss ideas like reliability, validity, confirmation bias and truth. Locations include Bloomington, Carmel, Greencastle, Indianapolis, Jasper, Muncie and Valparaiso. Learn more:

Radio Vignettes
In mid-March “Sound Bites” will launch across the state. The weekly series of five-minute audio stories will share moments of scientific discovery, creation and innovation in Indiana’s past and present. The pieces will run on radio stations such as Lakeshore Public Media in northwest Indiana and be available for download on the web and released as podcasts. Learn more:

One State / One Story: Frankenstein
The classic novel “Frankenstein” turns 200 in 2018 and will be the centerpiece of a statewide series in partnership with the Indiana State Library. Indiana Humanities will award book sets and program funds to libraries, schools and community centers of all sizes; sponsor a statewide tour of thought-provoking talks on the book’s key themes; offer an immersive winter weekend retreat; coordinate special courses, exhibits and film festivals at 11 colleges and universities; host an Indiana Sci-Fi and Horror Writers Festival; and kick it all off with a one-of-a-kind read-a-thon at the Indiana Medical History Museum on Sept. 30, 2017. Learn more:

Quantum Leap Field Trips
Indiana Humanities will take Hoosiers inside fascinating sites of scientific discovery and engineering marvels, where we’ll think, read and talk about how new frontiers of inquiry reshape our understanding of what it means to be human. At these indelible adult field trips, participants will explore the final frontier at Mooresville’s Link Observatory (July 28), consider what separates humans from animals at the Indianapolis Zoo (Aug. 25) and investigate the origins of ecology at the Indiana Dunes (Sept. 16). Learn more:

Quantum Leap Grants
Through a new grant program, libraries, museums, historical societies and other tax-exempt organizations can apply for project grants of up to $4,000 to develop their own public programs exploring the intersection of STEM and the humanities. Typical projects include discussion programs, museum exhibits, reading series, visiting speakers, walking tours and the creation of online exhibits or games. The first grant deadline is July 31, with two more deadlines to be announced in 2018. Learn more:

Hoosier Ingenuity Poster
Indiana Humanities will distribute a map of important Indiana inventions and inventors to all 2,500 schools and libraries across the state. This “Hoosier Ingenuity” map celebrates our legacy of innovation and encourages students to think about the problems they might solve in the future. Request one here.

Other Partnerships
• Indiana Humanities will also add books related to the thematic initiative to its free lending library for book clubs, called Novel Conversations. New titles include “Hidden Figures,” “Lab Girl” and “When Breath Becomes Air,” among others.
• “Take the Leap” columns will run in BizVoice, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly publication. These will highlight the voices and stories of business leaders who drive progress by creatively pairing STEM and humanities.
• In partnership with Indy Reads Books, Indiana Humanities will host a book launch for “Map to the Stars,” the new volume by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Indianapolis native Adrian Matejka. (May 25, 2017)
• As part of Gen Con, Indiana Humanities will host an INconversation with game designer Tracy Fullerton, whose new digital humanities game based on Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” was recently featured in The New York Times. (Aug. 16, 2017)
• Indiana Humanities is working with the leaders of the Hoosier Women at Work in Science, Technology and Medicine conference to host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to increase the number of entries about Indiana women in STEM fields. (Oct. 21, 2017)
• A conversation (plus a dandelion wine-inspired cider crafted by Ash & Elm Cider Company) with IUPUI’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will consider the “October Man’s” remarkable contributions to American culture and the space program. (Oct. 23, 2017)
• In partnership with the Harrison Center for the Arts, Indiana Humanities will co-host an art exhibit and First Friday event featuring work by Quincy Owens and Luke Crawley. The two artists (Crawley is also a science and mathematics teacher) combine arts and science into their works. (Feb. 2, 2018)
• Indiana Humanities will create discussion toolkits and offer stipends for communities to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1964 speech “The Quest for Peace and Justice,” which juxtaposes technological and social progress. (Jan.-Feb. 2018)
• A Quantum Leap-inspired issue of PATTERN will hit newsstands in spring, 2018.
• A partnership with Indy Film Fest featuring movies that ask big questions about the role of science in society.

Steering Committee Members
Chairs: Beth Bechdol, AgriNovus; Susanne Wasson; Dow AgriSciences
Members: Mary Wade Atteberry, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Brad Bishop, Orthoworx; Michael Crowther, Indianapolis Zoo; Andrew Cullison, Janet Prindle Institute of Ethics at DePauw University; Kathy Davis, Davis Design Group; Gerry Dick, Grow Indiana Media; Todd Mason Durell, Eli Lilly and Co.; Richard Gunderman, IU Medical School; Jason Kelly, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute; Mike Langellier, TechPoint; Jeffrey Patchen, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; Chad Priest, Red Cross of Indiana; Rafael Sanchez, Indianapolis Power & Light; Jerry Torr, Hamilton National Title and State Representative, House District 39

Indiana Humanities creates multi-year thematic programs around timely topics. Previous themes have included “Next Indiana”—tied to Indiana’s bicentennial and our next 200 years; “Spirit of Competition”—which celebrated sports, economics and politics during and after Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis; and “Food for Thought”—an exploration of food and agriculture that covered eating local, feeding the world and everything in between.

“As we talked to Hoosiers about their dreams and visions for our future during our Next Indiana bicentennial theme,” said Amstutz, “we quickly realized that there is palpable excitement about what’s powering Indiana’s economy. We’re home to thousands of scientists, engineers and IT professionals and we have an incredible legacy to celebrate in those fields. We want to shine a spotlight on those success stories and show how globally competitive Indiana is.”

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