Crisis & creativity: Monfort Prof hosts symposium next week

Dan Beachy-Quick, the first Colorado State University faculty member in the humanities to receive a Monfort Professorship, is using a portion of the funding to host a symposium this summer to explore how the arts can inform solutions to the great challenges of our day.

photo of Beachy-Quick
Beachy-Quick is the first faculty member from the humanities to receive a Monfort Professorship.

The Crisis and Creativity Symposium at Colorado State University: Collaboration of the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences, will be held at CSU July 22-24.

“We’ll be using the arts and humanities the way they were formerly used, to offer ways of thinking about crises of the moment, be they environmental, socioeconomic, personal, or philosophical,” said Beachy-Quick, who as a Monfort Professor has received $75,000 a year for two years from the Monfort Family Foundation to support research projects, teaching efforts and public engagement.

The symposium will bring together artists, writers, scientists and scholars from multiple fields to consider new approaches to today’s most pressing difficulties.

“It’s different from trying to solve things with a ready-made answer,” he said. “Our hope is to re-integrate the arts and humanities into the largest concerns facing us today, from ecological disaster to social justice. We’re holding to the old belief that in the arts we have the longest, most comprehensive record of what it is to be human and face situations where our humanity is threatened – often by our own hands.”

Guest speakers

Prominent guests at the symposium include esteemed poet and activist Brenda Hillman, visionary artist Michael Swaine and preeminent CSU environmental scientist Diana Wall.

Morning sessions, guided by Hillman, Swaine and Wall, will give way to afternoon and evening events that will be open to the public. Each afternoon will feature a “maker’s space” in which invited participants and interested community members will have the chance to collaborate on a variety of projects addressing crisis and creativity. For instance, Beachy-Quick said, one “printing press” session will be devoted to recording language from the ideas, poems and words that arise during the discussions.

“We want to get peoples’ hands involved as much as their minds, and do that in literal kinds of ways,” he explained. “The grand experiment is that we don’t know what will come of any of it. The best work is often done without even knowing the question we’re asking. We have to discover the question.”

Evening events include a reading from Hillman and a panel discussion moderated by Dan Beachy-Quick, with the three special guests.

Up to 30 spots are available to members of the public interested in participating in the afternoon “maker’s space” sessions. To sign up, email

More information about the symposium is available at