We believe that the arts and humanities are an essential element of our social and civic lives. The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa is thus committed not only to developing a diverse array of public programs each year, but to serving our larger community. On October 14, the Center hosted nearly 100 sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students from San Miguel School of Tulsa for a free program on the cultre and science of food. TU faculty members led three different interactive workshops that offered the visitors an opportunity to think about the role food plays in shaping personal, familial, and cultural identity.
Keith Symcox, Professor of Chemistry, looked at the science at work in our kitchens in a series of tasty experiments. The students then met with Bruce Willis, Professor of Languages and current Humanities Research Fellow, and shucked corn while talking about its vital role in Mayan creation stories and Mesoamerican cultures. Finally, Sean Latham, Professor of English, led students through a writing exercise that revealed the powerful connection between smell and memory. The students came away from these diverse events with a richer understanding of food and its integral role both in our own lives and in a larger global history.
Each year, the OCH sets out to design at least one program focused on local schools and uses our annual theme to provide students with a unique set of opportunities. In 2014, for example, the Center hosted a special set of performances, exhibitions, and workshops about the start of WWI, while last year we used the theme of humor to bring nationally recognized political cartoonists to Booker T. Washington High School. We hope to expand such programming in coming years in order to connect the arts and humanities more deeply to the life of our city, region, and state.