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What's the Big Idea?


By Mary Daily

Published Sep 14, 2018 8:00 AM

The most intriguing answers begin with truly fundamental questions.

Photo by Elena Zuchova.

What is freedom? What is failure? What is time?

These are just three of the topics being addressed this fall in “10 Questions,” a new interdisciplinary course offered by the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (SOAA) and open to the public.

Every Tuesday evening for 10 weeks, leading scholars from across the university — from disciplines as diverse as dance, medicine, photography, athletics, religious studies and astrophysics — join SOAA’s dean, Brett Steele, to explore one question through dialogue and exchange.

“The most intriguing answers begin with truly fundamental questions,” Steele says. “Too often, we get stuck in our own particular concerns or disciplines.” In contrast, he says, “10 Questions” offers an opportunity to examine questions from diverse perspectives. “UCLA is where the leading minds in all of these areas come together to experiment, forge new ideas, push the boundaries and invent the future, and [we are] inviting the Los Angeles community to join us.”

Faculty participants in the course are leading thinkers in their fields. They include Andrea Ghez, physics and astronomy; Paul Weiss, nanoscience/chemistry and biochemistry; Scott Waugh ’70, history; David Gere, world arts and cultures/dance; Peter Sellars, world arts and cultures; Kelsey Martin, neuroscience; Valorie Kondos Field ’87, gymnastics; and Darnell Hunt M.A. ’91, Ph.D. ’94, sociology.

“10 Questions” is an upper-division undergraduate course, as well as a series of public conversations. The sessions will meet in Glorya Kaufman Hall on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with discussion sections on Fridays. Find more information or rsvp at



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