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After more than 10 months of planning, HUBweek will kick off this Saturday with the first in a series of lectures, art installations, panels, and forums that will comprise the week-long celebration of Boston area innovation and arts.
The festival's inaugural iteration, which Harvard, MIT, the Boston Globe, and Massachusetts General Hospital are co-hosting, is slated to include more than 50 events at a variety of locations across Boston and Cambridge, including several on Harvard’s campus.
Events range from light shows to forums on food consumption, and from public health hackathons to experiential learning demonstrations, all aimed at showcasing the work of local institutions. Most events are free to the public, though some require advanced registration.
“People will see something they might otherwise have never seen, people will leave with a better understanding of all of the amazing things that are happening at universities and hospitals every day,” said Peggy Newell, Harvard’s deputy provost and a member of the festival’s executive committee. “People will leave feeling like Massachusetts is still the hub of discovery and innovation.”
Newell said that organizers hope the events will reinvigorate Boston’s image as an intellectual center and encourage students and business owners to put down economic roots in the Boston area. One of the initial inspirations for the festival, said Newell, was “to celebrate and reclaim Boston’s long history of leadership in discovery and innovation.”
Events are organized into “hub” and “spoke” categories—”hub” events involve collaborations between the four institutions behind the festival, while “spoke” events are hosted by one of the four. Harvard faculty members including Michael J. Sandel and Robert A. Lue will participate in theses events, which include some hosted by the Harvard Art Museums, the School of Public health, the Harvard Ed Portal, and more entities across the University.
“We have people working across many disciplines, and we have a level of excellence across those disciplines that is really quite extraordinary,” Newell said. “There are times when it’s easy to go around campus in these circles that you would normally travel in without seeing some of the great things around you.”
Lue, who will be part of a Harvard “spoke” event on Monday, said that Harvard’s involvement will ideally introduce the public to visions of “the future of learning” as embodied by institutions of higher education, a future which he believes hinges on collaborations between science and the humanities.
“It’s sort of a direction that we don’t expose to the public as often as we should,” Lue said. “We talk about STEM education as a separate thing, we talk about arts and humanities education as a separate thing, and really there’s a lot that can be achieved by bringing the two together.”
Lue’s sold-out event, “Art. Science. Learning.” demonstrates interconnections between the sciences and humanities through a showcase of strategies that Lue said are often used in Harvard classrooms.
These intersections, said Lue, are at the heart of HUBweek’s mission. “It’s a reaffirmation in my mind of the power of liberal arts,” he said.
HUBweek, which rose out of inspiration from collaborative festivals like South by Southwest, is also aimed at affirming Harvard’s role as a “citizen” within the Boston community with a responsibility to the “dissemination of knowledge,” said Newell. Depending on the success of the events, organizers will assess the future of HUBweek and the possibility of future festivals.
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