There were as many questions as answers in Wigtown last Saturday (8 June), as the Book Town joined forces with the University of Glasgow’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies in its 20th anniversary year to celebrate A Day of Curiosity, part of the ongoing Year of Conversation.
Organised by the School as part of a packed calendar of events marking 20 years in Dumfries, in association with Wigtown Book Festival, the programme set out to be a celebration of inquisitiveness. In a series of more than 20 short talks, it also provided an insight into some of the innovative research coming out of the Dumfries campus at the Crichton.
Post-graduate researcher David Peters talked to Ralph Jessop about the huge influence of Scottish thinking on America’s founding fathers and its implications for the current constitution. John Shi explained how as well as being the possible cause of a new world war, the need for water was already creating opportunities for terrorism.
The natural world was a focus. In a fascinating session with David Borthwick, Natalie Weldenrevealed what an everyday beach can tell us about our world, as well as touching on the threat of plastic pollution. Other subjects included how Dumfries and Galloway might become a leader in dementia-friendly tourism, how learning languages changes the brain and the politics of knife crime.
Adrian Turpin, artistic director of the Wigtown Book Festival said: “One of the joys of the day was to see the connections between subjects that, at first glance, feel very unconnected.
“I think it’s essential that the Book Town to tap into our nearest university and I hope that the Day of Curiosity will become a regular feature in Wigtown’s growing year-round programme. We will definitely picking up the theme of conversation at this year’s Wigtown Book Festival.”
Professor Carol Hill, Director of Campus and Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies said: “The Day of Curiosity was a way for us to make what we do at the University accessible to everyone and this is particularly important in our 20th anniversary year.
“We are passionate about our work and sharing our curiosity with so many people was a real privilege. The whole day was fascinating and I hope the people who came along enjoyed the insights into what curiosity can lead to.”
Creative Director of A Year of Conversation, Tom Pow said: “What impressed me most was the sheer range of what resulted from the exercise of curiosity, but also the conversations about curiosity itself: how it can be encouraged and nourished at every stage of life.”