Look Hoos Talking

A love of learning brings professors and students together from all fields


Look Hoos Talking, which takes place on Tuesday in Old Cabell Hall, features a variety of TED-inspired talks by University professors. 

Marshall Bronfin | Cavalier Daily

Students, faculty and Charlottesville community members will gather in Old Cabell on Tuesday for Look Hoos Talking — an event featuring TED-inspired speeches by University professors.

Student Council’s Academic Affairs Committee, which organized the event, asked students to nominate their favorite professors to give speeches. Committee co-chair and third-year College student Harlin Oh said the committee looked at popular demand and diversity of study when inviting professors to speak.

Photo: Marshall Bronfin

“The goal of the event is to inspire the love of learning and the pursuit of knowledge,” Oh said. “I think it is an opportunity to learn something that you are not necessarily going to major in or [something] you just don’t have the time to [study].”

History Prof. Gary Gallagher, Asst. Biology Prof. Sarah Kucenas, Law Prof. Douglas Laycock, Assoc. Art History Prof. Carmenita Higginbotham, Politics Lecturer and Fellow Evan Pivonka and Batten Prof. Craig Volden will speak at the event.

“It gets together faculty from … all different schools at U.Va., and it allows students who normally would find themselves on a certain educational track … the opportunity to hear faculty that they otherwise might not be able to,” Kucenas said. “It also lets students see that we aren’t just people who go into the classroom to teach material…we are also thinkers and researchers.”

In their speeches, professors will put a creative spin on ideas or research they are interested in. For example, Kucenas plans to give a talk titled “What If We’re Wrong?” about scientists’ fear of making errors and how scientific progress is consequently affected. Higginbotham plans to speak about Disney’s importance, using the movie “Frozen” as a launching pad for discussion.

“I’m a big supporter of these kinds of forums that bring students and faculty together outside of the classroom,” Higginbotham said. “I think it is great for students to see us and hear us, and I think it is also good for the faculty to learn how to connect with the students.”

The talks are split into two halves, and the Hullabahoos will perform during intermission. Afterward, there will be a reception giving attendees the opportunity to chat with professors about their talks.

“I have a topic that invites a kind of reaction and response and I’m very interested in seeing those responses and then afterward hearing people chat with me about the topic,” Higginbotham said. “My favorite part is that engagement and I am looking forward to that.”

In the past, the event has drawn more than 500 people to Old Cabell. This year, over 600 people have reserved tickets online. The event is one of the Academic Affairs Committee’s most popular, Oh said, and the organizers hope to attract even more speakers and attendees in the future.

“[The students] are incredibly lucky that some amazing people teach here at U.Va.,” Kucenas said. “Myself as a faculty member, I don’t get to take other people’s classes, so to get to sit and listen to my colleagues in an informal setting and get to listen to their ideas, that is what I am really excited about.”

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