We are what happens when you start reading a Wikipedia page and then you click a blue link and read the new page, then click another blue link, and another, and so on, and so on… You get so wrapped up in learning that it becomes entertainment. Or maybe you get so wrapped up in the entertainment you forget that you’re learning. Either way, the Ampersand Conference creates that feeling.
Ampersand is an annual non-profit, student-run conference at McGill run by the Arts & Science faculty and aimed at integrating arts and science into a thought-provoking and interactive event. Our goal is to inspire, educate, fascinate, entertain, and spark innovative ideas. Even in the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci was quoted to have advised the population to, “Study the science of art and the art and science.” and for four years now, we have made it our duty to continue his tradition. Since 2008, we have had speakers, performers, and workshop leaders from diverse specialties.
Past keynote speakers include Sue Johanson (famed Canadian sex educator) for our 2009 “Balance” themed conference, Christian Lander (author of the “Stuff White People Like” blog turned book) and Ben Huh (creator of the I Can Has Cheeseburger? franchise) for our 2010 “Creativity in the Digital Age” themed conference, and Brooke Magnanti (also known as Belle de Jour, former call-girl turned forensic pathologist and author) for our open-ended 2011 conference.
This year’s conference has the theme: MultipliCITY to show us the diversity and uniqueness that accompanies living in a city. Charles Montgomery, an urbanist and journalist from Vancouver, will be our keynote speaker, talking about the relationship between the design of our minds and our cities using Urban Experimentalism and the science of happiness. Our secondary speaker, Ilana Gershon (anthropologist and author of “Breakup 2.0; Disconnecting over New Media”) will discuss how the culture of social media changes our everyday interactions.
Our first workshop is a visit from Jonathan Emile, McGill grad and successful rapper who will teach us the basics of freestyle as well as the science of music production. Our second workshop is from a research-oriented company in Toronto called “Mammalian Diving Reflex” who will give an interactive demonstration of “Social Acupuncture” to encourage interactions between strangers in cities, a celebration of the generosity of the social sphere, and a promotion of civic engagement while easing through the discomfort (the pins in your back) for the greater social good (ultimate relaxation and release of tension). Finally, McGill student and artist Aquil Virani will be giving a live presentation throughout the conference as he paints his reactions and interpretations of the event.
When was the last time you did something spontaneous that you knew would inspire you to innovate, create, and spread the contagious message? In the words of Rémy de Gourmon, “Art includes everything that stimulates the desire to live; science, everything that sharpens the desire to know.”
Funds generated through the use of the McGill Mastercard support these types of student initiatives. To get yours, click here