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Illinois Tech and Chicago Humanities Explore Intersection of Humanity and Technology in 15+ Events May 18

March 14, 2024

Illinois Tech Mies campus in summer - blue sky and building
From Architects and AI Pioneers to Designers and Artists, These Speakers Are Forging the Future of Innovation, Culture, and Society

Illinois Tech and Chicago Humanities are joining forces Saturday, May 18, for a scintillating day of talks and demonstrations exploring the intersections of technology, humanity, and our shared future at Chicago’s only tech-focused university. Our Mies campus in Bronzeville, a design epicenter on Chicago’s South Side, will host more than 15 events in one day.

Featured speakers include Microsoft vice president of design and artificial intelligence John Maeda, author and Princeton professor Ruha Benjamin, architect Walter Hood, and game and interactive experience designer Caro Murphy, as well as former White House fixtures Jen Psaki and George Stephanapoloulos, novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and performance artist Marina Abramović.

In addition to a full day of speakers, attendees will experience the largest concentration of Mies van der Rohe buildings in the world, including Crown Hall—home to the College of Architecture—and John Ronan’s contemporary translation of Mies, the Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship—home to the Institute of Design, the birthplace of human-centered design.

John Maeda

John Maeda

John Maeda and Anijo Mathew

In one of more than a dozen events, John Maeda, Microsoft’s vice president of design and artificial intelligence, will have a conversation with ID Dean Anijo Mathew on “Redefining Design in the Era of AI.” They will discuss how, with advances in machine learning, AI can address functional needs to the point where traditional forms are obsolete, ushering in a new paradigm where function dictates existence without the constraints of physical form.

In an era where the rapid advancement of technologies like AI is reshaping our world, the need for design has never been more critical. On May 18, ID is bringing this perspective to the forefront, showcasing the indispensable role of humanity-focused approaches in harnessing technology for societal good. Chicago Humanities provides an invaluable platform for these interdisciplinary exchanges, enriching our collective understanding of humanity's role in a technologically driven world.
—Anijo Mathew, Dean, Institute of Design

Ruja Benjamin

Ruja Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin and Alicia Bunton

Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American studies at Princeton University, will discuss her unique interdisciplinary perspective on social justice and technology with Alicia Bunton, Assistant Vice President of Community Affairs at Illinois Tech. In her latest book, Imagination: A Manifesto, Benjamin argues that imagination gives us the power to challenge systems of oppression, such as hierarchies created by racism, sexism, and classism.

Illinois Tech’s mission extends beyond the borders of campus; it’s about our deep relationship with our neighbors and creating an enriching environment for the Bronzeville community, the South Side, and all of Chicago. This collaboration with Chicago Humanities is a testament to our dedication to integrating education, technology, and the humanities in ways that benefit not just our students but our city as a whole. Through this partnership, we aim to foster dialogue, inspire innovation, and build bridges across diverse communities.
—Alicia Bunton, Assistant Vice President of Community Affairs, Illinois Tech

Walter Hood

Walter Hood

Walter Hood and Maria Villalobos Hernandez

In another conversation, architect Walter Hood, who was awarded 2023 Project of the year by Architect’s Newspaper for the International African American Museum, will discuss his design approach on art, landscape, and urbanism with moderator Maria Villalobos Hernandez, director of the College of Architecture’s Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism Program.

At IIT College of Architecture, we’re profoundly mindful that buildings are made for humans to inhabit, and that harmony of form and function elevates architecture as an art and a science both. The marriage of humanity and technology is an ethos embraced at the college and throughout Illinois Institute of Technology, and I’m excited for this opportunity to showcase those ideas with Chicago Humanities.
—Reed Kroloff, Dean, College of Architecture

Caro Murphy

Caro Murphy

Caro Murphy and Carly Kocurek

Game and interactive experience designer Caro Murphy will talk to Illinois Tech’s Carly Kocurek, associate dean of humanities at Lewis, in a playful discussion on the emerging field and art form of interactive, experiential, and live-action game design. Murphy has produced award-winning work in their role as immersive experience director for Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser exhibit, serves as co-executive director of the Playable Theatre nonprofit, and co-founded and led the Boston Festival of Indie Games for a decade.

Technology has made the world more connected than ever, but the humanities are necessary to ensure that we become more conscious and compassionate. These talks highlight the significance of storytelling, ethics, and social responsibility in the development and application of technology, and I’m thrilled to show what Lewis College will contribute. Chicago Humanities is an excellent platform for fostering dialogue and collaboration across different disciplines, and we’re proud to contribute to its inspiring legacy.
—Jennifer deWinter, Dean, Lewis College of Science and Letters

Additional Activations & Tickets

Between Crown Hall and Kaplan, there will be art activations on campus, including the South Side Home Movies Project and a pop-up performance by Clamor & Lace Noise Brigade, Chicago’s first street marching band composed solely of musicians and performers of marginalized genders.

Tickets for Illinois Tech events on May 18 in partnership with Chicago Humanities are available for purchase through their website.