The OxNet-Ordered Universe 2019 seminar programme is in full swing with the 2019 cohort of school students aged 16-17 (Lower Sixth Form, Year 12) from the North-East. Students from Southmoor Academy, St Anthony’s, St Robert of Newminster, and Park View Academy, met earlier this week for the fifth part of their six-week seminar course, led by Ordered Universe team members, on their expert topics: Richard Bower (Durham) on Cosmology, Brian Tanner (Durham) on Physics, Joshua Harvey (Oxford) on Psychology, Nicola Polloni (Humboldt Berlin) on Philosophy and Translation, Colin Rennie (Sunderland) on Creativity and Giles Gasper (Durham) on History and Religious Studies. These take place in the entirely appropriate setting of St Peter’s Church, Sunderland, rich in its legacy for history of science as one of the home monasteries for Bede.
Claire Ungley, the OxNet North-East co-ordinator had the following thoughts on the fifth seminar session, which was led by Colin Rennie of the University of Sunderland and the National Glass Centre:
Today’s session, led by artist Colin Rennie, focused around creativity, and what this actually means. Is it simply doing something ‘new’? And does it have to be something seen outwardly? Students were introduced to the concept of modern creativity which focuses more on the individual, whereas medieval thinkers thought creativity came through a higher being such as God. Students questioned stereotypes and preconceptions, including ideas that creative people are solitary, emotionally tortured and flamboyant. They then debated whether scientists are classed as ‘creative’, such as Louis Pasteur and his discovery of pasteurisation. This led to a conversation about AI, and whether computers can be creative. As an example, in 2018 a piece of artwork entitled ‘The Butcher’s Son’ was created by AI and won the ‘Lumen Prize’. Some students felt trepidation at the thought of AI taking over more and more jobs – on average an Amazon order involves 30 robots but just 3 humans. However, the session ended on a lighter note, with students watching a TED Talk entitled ‘5 Dollars Can Save the Planet’. This brought some comfort in the knowledge that creativity still seems to be unique to humans. For now…
More to come, and we’re so excited to hear more from the students about their thoughts on medieval and modern art and science.