UCLA Arts launches ‘10 Questions’ event series that invites the public into the classroom

10 Questions Graphic

Clockwise from top right: UCLA’s Kristy Edmunds, Darnell Hunt, Tracy Johnson, Brett Steele, Ananya Roy and Peter Sellars are among the 40 scholars who will participate.


Giving community members a special opportunity to experience the conversations that drive innovation at the university, this fall the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture will present “10 Questions,” a hybrid academic course and public event series that brings together leading minds from across the university.

Beginning Oct. 2, every Tuesday for 10 weeks UCLA faculty members from disciplines as diverse as dance, medicine, photography, astrophysics, athletics, Chicana and Chicano studies, law, philosophy and religious studies will join UCLA Arts Dean Brett Steele to explore a fundamental question such as: What is space? What is failure? What is freedom?

A new platform for UCLA Arts, this initiative seeks to stimulate dialogue and exchange, and cultivate a greater understanding of the profoundly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge production in the 21st century.

Faculty participants include fine art photographer Catherine Opie; sociologist and co-author of the Hollywood Diversity Report Darnell Hunt, who serves as dean of the division of social sciences in the UCLA College; astronomer and MacArthur fellow Andrea Ghez; labor and immigration expert Abel Valenzuela; artist, curator and Executive and Artistic Director of CAP UCLA, Kristy Edmunds; neuroscientist and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Dr. Kelsey Martin; theater director and MacArthur fellow Peter Sellars; artist Andrea Fraser; psychological anthropologist and dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Marcelo Suárez-Orozco; architect Greg Lynn; UCLA gymnastics head coach Valorie Kondos Field; director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Ananya Roy; and Shakespeare scholar and poet Robert Watson.

“L.A. is the creative capital of the world — and California its fifth largest economy: a vibrant, productive center for the arts, architecture and culture; scientific, technological and economic innovation; urban design; social and political action; environmental conservation; and more,” Steele said. “UCLA is the place where the leading minds in all of these areas come together to experiment, forge new ideas, push the boundaries and invent the future. I find that the most innovative ideas begin with truly fundamental questions. Too often, we get stuck in our own particular concerns or disciplines. ‘10 Questions’ is an opportunity for us, as a university, to re-engage and re-imagine big questions and possible answers through conversations across diverse, multidisciplinary perspectives. What better time than now to pose these questions? What better group than the brilliant minds from across UCLA to tackle them?”

“10 Questions” debuts an innovative program format for UCLA Arts. Both an upper-level undergraduate course and a public event series, it is the first course of its kind at the school that invites the public into the lecture hall to experience firsthand exciting, interdisciplinary conversation among some of UCLA’s most esteemed faculty. Each Tuesday evening from Oct. 2 through Dec. 4, the public will join UCLA students in class for an intimate panel discussion featuring two faculty from the School of the Arts and Architecture, and two from across the university.

To further the program’s goal of helping bring the creativity and research energy of UCLA to the public, all of the lectures will be recorded for public distribution and made available on YouTube.

The course, conceived and developed by Victoria Marks, associate dean of academic affairs, with Anne Marie Burke, executive director of communications and public relations for the school, places the arts at the center of interdisciplinary scholarly discourse.

“The arts have a unique and profound ability to communicate, bring people together, and, ultimately, to transform society,” Marks said. “Now more than ever, we are facing fundamental questions and challenges, and now more than ever we need an energetic exchange of ideas to seed innovation and progress. ‘10 Questions’ puts the arts at the center of this exchange — as they should be. We designed this program to build vital cross-university conversation as we work toward understanding the unique perspectives each discipline brings to the larger equation of knowledge. It is my hope that these dialogues will better prepare us as a learning community — and as a society — for a richer and more substantial appreciation of what our different fields bring to the question of human understanding.”


  • Tuesdays, Oct. 2 through Dec. 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • UCLA campus, Glorya Kaufman Hall theater (room 200)
  • Free and open to the public (RSVP Required)
  • Pay by space parking available on campus adjacent to Kaufman Hall (Structure 4)

Oct. 2: What is space?
Dana Cuff, urbanist and architectural theorist; Andrea Ghez, astronomer; Rodrigo Valenzuela, artist; Paul Weiss, nanoscientist

Oct. 9: What is time?
Rebeca Méndez, designer and media artist; James Newton, composer, flutist, conductor; Asma Sayeed, scholar of Islamic studies; Scott Waugh, UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost

Oct. 16: What is beauty?
J.Ed Araiza, writer, director, performer; Paul Barber, evolutionary and conservation geneticist; Marla Berns, scholar and curator of African Arts and Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director of the Fowler Museum at UCLA; Kathleen McHugh, feminist media theorist and critic

Oct. 23: What is freedom?
Andrea Fraser, artist; Lauren McCarthy, media artist; Ananya Roy, social justice scholar; Seana Shiffrin, moral and political philosophy expert

Oct. 30: What is memory?
Darnell Hunt, sociologist; Kelsey Martin, neuroscientist; Polly Nooter Roberts, scholar and curator of African arts; Peter Sellars, theater director

Nov. 6: What is a body?
Susan Foster, choreographer and scholar; Jennifer Jay, environmental engineer; Tracy Johnson, molecular, cellular and developmental biologist; Greg Lynn, architect

Nov. 13: What is failure?
David Gere, arts activist; Valorie Kondos Field, head coach, UCLA gymnastics; Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, scholar of racial and ethnic politics; Janet O’Shea, author and martial artist

Nov. 20: What is work?
Willem Henri Lucas, designer; Catherine Opie, artist; Alfred Osborne, global economy and entrepreneurship expert; Abel Valenzuela, labor and immigration expert

Nov. 27: What is knowledge?
Kristy Edmunds, artist, curator, and executive and artistic director of CAP UCLA; Victoria Marks, choreographer; Todd Presner, digital humanist and cultural critic; Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, psychological anthropologist

Dec. 4: What is a university?
Bryonn Bain, performing artist and scholar; Jerry Kang, legal scholar and UCLA vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion; David Schaberg, scholar of comparative literature; Robert Watson, Shakespeare scholar and poet

For more information, please visit https://arts.ucla.edu/10questions