Extended to August 9th! CALL FOR APPLICATIONS—Special Opening Event: 3-Day California Workshop


The USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study at the USC Libraries announces an exciting opportunity for ambitious students.  Twenty participants will be selected to join an intensive three-day workshop to explore themes of California: Past Imagined, Present Innovation, and Future Sustainability through a polymathic lens and exchange ideas with peers and expert scholars and practitioners. 


In an era of hyper-specialization, the value of multidisciplinary approach to understanding the complexity of our world is undervalued and overlooked.  There is a great benefit in stepping back, thinking widely, gaining new perspectives and weaving together strands of inquiry into knowledge anchored in process and narrative.  The USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study promotes an integrated, multidisciplinary approach as a means of advancing new ideas, fostering innovation, and problem solving. 

The California: Past Imagined, Present Innovation, and Future Sustainability workshop is one such project that applies this integrated multidisciplinary approach to an exploration and understanding of this place and idea we call California.


Paradise. Extreme. Mythic. Beauty. Engineered. Fertile. Diverse. Dream. Creativity. Sunshine. Noir. Future.  No single word or image captures California. The Golden State is as diverse as it is iconic, as much myth as it is harsh reality. Simply put, California is a complicated place and idea.  With a range of special guest speakers, music and movies, this workshop will explore the state in all of its identities and offerings through a thorough examination of how it has been imagined and experienced, its creative and innovative nature, and its role in shaping and leading the future.


We are inviting twenty USC scholars (undergraduate and graduate) to attend and contribute to this workshop.  Applicants need not be subject matter experts—we are looking for a diverse mix of creative, intellectually curious future leaders in their respective disciplines who will energetically embrace this unique and challenging opportunity (Please note: You must be a current USC student to apply).  Participants will be expected to attend all of our three half-day sessions from Wednesday, August 26 through Friday, August 28 (see workshop outline below), to actively contribute to the proceedings, and to read and watch a modest amount of assigned materials in advance. 

To apply, please send a resume, indicating two references, and your response to the following prompt in 1 to 3 double-spaced, type written pages:

 Pitch a proposal to the next Governor of California or the LA Times or NY Times on how you envision the state could be a positive force domestically and globally in the future.  

Applications are due Sunday, August 9th.  Please send all materials to Dr. Karin Huebner, Academic Director of Programs, USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Studykhuebner@usc.edu.  Selected participants will be notified by August 13th.



Wednesday, August 26

USC Campus

California: Past Imagined

Sessions to take place 4:00p to 11:00p and will explore California as fact and imaginative creation, simultaneously the land of light and noir. 


Thursday, August 27

Clockshop, Elysian Park  (transport provided)

California: Present Innovation

Sessions to take place 3:30p to 10:00p and will examine the innovative and creative spirit of California through technology, industry, and artistic expression. The panels will explore the costs and benefits of what we are creating in California and the California we are creating.


Friday, August 28

The Huntington Library, San Marino (transport provided)

California: Future Sustainability

Sessions to take place 1:00p to 10:00p and will explore the issues of the present and future environmental and human challenges our state faces.  Social and environmental inequalities are replete in this story—can California’s innovative/creative spirit provide the solutions for a sustainable future?