“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

-Albert Einstein

Upcoming Programs

Curiosity: Emerging Sciences and Educational Innovations

We are poised, perhaps as never before, to better understand and facilitate curiosity across the human lifespan and between intelligent systems. This conference aims to foster an interdisciplinary conversation on this topic among scholars in neuroscience, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, psychology, education, philosophy, and beyond. The event will highlight cutting-edge empirical work on curiosity, as well as theoretical and applied innovations that enhance curious learning, improve pedagogical frameworks, and reimagine the educational environment.

This conference is an exciting collaboration between INRIA, France, and the Center for Curiosity in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. Building on INRIA’s two “Information Seeking, Curiosity, and Attention” conferences (2014 and 2016), as well as the Center for Curiosity @UPenn’s “Curiosity Across the Disciplines” symposium (2016) and “The Network Neuroscience of Curiosity” symposium (2017), this event aims to facilitate the interdisciplinary study of curiosity in both form and content. As has been the case for previous meetings, this conference will be single-track and consist of oral presentations by each participant unfolding over two days, with plenty of opportunities for questions and informal discussions.

Additional information.

Book: Curiosity Studies: Toward a New Ecology of Knowledge

Editors: Perry Zurn and Arjun Shankar
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (under contract)
Expected release date: May 2019
Curiosity Studies: Toward a New Ecology of Knowledge is the first English-language collection of essays to establish curiosity studies as a unique field of scholarly inquiry. Drawing together scholars from philosophy, history, literature, ethnic studies, education, anthropology, sociology, psychology, ecology, biomedicine, neuroscience, and visual art, this book stages an interdisciplinary conversation about what curiosity is and what resources it might hold for human and ecological flourishing. Contributors include Danielle S. Bassett (University of Pennsylvania), Barbara Benedict (Trinity College), Susan Engel (Williams College), Ellen Feder (American University), Narendra Keval (Tavistock Clinic), Christina Léon (Princeton University), Tyson Lewis (University of North Texas), John L. Jackson, Jr. (University of Pennsylvania), Helga Nowotny (ETH Zurich), Hilary Schor (University of Southern California), Arjun Shankar (Hamilton College and University of Pennsylvania), Seeta Sistla (Hampshire College), Heather Swanson (Aarhus University), and Perry Zurn (American Universitty).

Hamilton College Course

Dr. Arjun Shankar, Post-Doctoral Fellow
308S Curiosity: An Ethnographic Approach
Examines education as a site to analyze shifting cultural, political, and economic processes. The course will use the concept of curiosity as a fulcrum by which to dig into these debates: who can be curious, about what, when, and why? What are the economic, political, and social processes that enable or constrain curiosity for different populations? Students will create podcasts based on fieldwork across Hamilton’s campus. They will use ethnographic techniques to identify the manifestations of curiosity while learning the tenants of rapport building, ethics, and research-based narrative. More information here.

Past Programs

Curiosity: A New Ecology of Knowledge

Massive Open Online Course – Fall 2018

Event: “Reimagining Education: Curiosity and Mental Health”

Organizer: Dr. Perry Zurn
American University
April 6, 2018 (3-5pm, location American University Spring Valley Building, Room 401)
Co-sponsored by American University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Curiosity, this symposium will explore the nature of curiosity within the context of diverse learners, neural atypicality, and the potential of educational centers to serve as care cultures. Speakers include Kristy Johnson (MIT Media Lab), Emily Peterson (American University), Arjun Shankar (Hamilton College and University of Pennsylvania), Perry Zurn (American University). For more information, please contact Perry Zurn (pzurn@american.edu).

Network Neuroscience of Curiosity Symposium – November 2017

2016-2017 Seminar Series

Dean’s Eye View

October 20, 2016

Dean John Jackson and Dean Pamela Grossman discuss how institutions of higher education might better facilitate the growth of curiosity among students.

Curiosity Across the Disciplines: A Symposium

December 9, 2016

Scholars from a dozen different disciplines join together to investigate the concept of curiosity and to explore the potential for curiosity studies to illuminate key scientific, educational, and political questions of our times.

2015-2016 Seminar Series

Curiosity, Openness to Experience, and Creativity

November 4, 2015

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, Dr. Arjun Shankar, and Mariam Durrani engage in an interdisciplinary conversation about the relationship between curiosity and creativity.

Flexible Brain Network Dynamics During Learning

February 17, 2016

Dr. Danielle Bassett presents her research on brain network flexibility and its positive correlation with learning.

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