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Night of Ideas: Alive!

  • January 30, 2020
  • 6:00 PM
  • The Field Museum, Chicago

Field Museum 1400 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605 

Advance registration is required to attend this event.  Click here for complete details.

Celebrate life on Earth and imagine its future with this free, after-hours event, presented in partnership with Consulate General of France in Chicago.

Night of Ideas is a global celebration of art, science, scholarship, and community. For the first time, the event comes to Chicago with Night of Ideas: Alive!, an evening hosted in partnership with the Consulate General of France in Chicago. Explore the museum after hours while engaging with performances and talks on topics like biodiversity, urban sustainability, humans and technology, sex positivity, disability leadership, and more.

Connect with thinkers and creators from across Chicago, France, and beyond. Together, we’ll reflect on what it means to be alive—on Earth, in our cities, and within our communities.

Program highlights include three keynote presentations:

  • What Color is Utopia? by journalist Natalie Moore (WBEZ) and artist Amanda Williams—6:30pm
  • The Global Energy Challenge by Michael Greenstone, economist and former advisor under President Obama—8pm
  • Living and Acting: Re-thinking the Creator’s Commitment by novelist Alain Mabanckou—9pm

Take part in workshops and other interactive experiences like group yoga and tai chi and enjoy live music and performances.

Activities continue until midnight, along with access to museum exhibitions. Talents and voices will join from: University of Chicago, Field Museum, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, Arcure, Argonne National Laboratory, Black Sex Matters, Black Thread Agency, The Brimful Life, CorePower Yoga, the Era Footwork Crew, Fermilab, First Floor Theater, Floating Museum, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Indiana University, Lincoln Park Zoo, Lyft City Works, Northwestern University, Open Architecture, Poems While You Wait, Purdue University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Science Riot, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, Seventh Hill LLC, Shedd Aquarium, Sustainable Bioproducts, Super Tasty, SWOP-Chicago, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, University of Illinois System, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WBEZ and more.

This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration required. Food and beverage will be available for purchase at the Field Bistro. Use code ALIVE2020 for a 25% discount on Lyft rides to and from the Field Museum for the Night of Ideas.

Download and browse the schedule of performers, speakers, workshops and more for Night of Ideas: Alive!. 

Explore the evening


  • Fiction is About Living Beings by professor of literature Thomas Pavel (University of Chicago)—7pm
  • Why Your Social Life is a Matter of Life and Death by professor of sociology Linda Waite (University of Chicago)—7pm
  • Industrial Brain Mapping for Reverse Engineering Brains in Silico by neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri (Argonne National Laboratory)—7pm
  • When the Rainforest Goes Quiet by conservation scientist Zuzana Burivalova (University of Wisconsin-Madison)—7pm
  • We Must Adapt: Coming Alive Again After the Collapse of Neoliberalism by philosopher Barbara Stiegler—7:30pm
  • The End of the (Ancient) World: An Environmental Crisis? by professor of history Alain Bresson (University of Chicago)—7:30pm
  • The Living Nature of Dead Specimens: Mammals as a Lens to Discovery by postdoctoral researchers Dakota Rowsey and Daniela Rossoni (Field Museum)—7:30pm
  • 3 Billion Missing Birds by professor of biology Ellen Ketterson (Indiana University-Bloomington)—7:30pm
  • Studying Aquatic Biodiversity While Restoring Chicago’s Waterways by research biologist Austin Happel (Shedd Aquarium)—8pm
  • Making Sense of Things: Going Behing the “Stuff” in Museums to Find What it Means to Be Alive by anthropologist John Terrell (Field Museum)—8pm
  • The Social Logic at Work in Police Use of DNA Database by anthropologist, sociologist, and biologist Joëlle Vailly—8:30pm
  • Democratizing Science by professor of Earth sciences Gabriel Filippelli (Indiana University Purdue University)—8:30pm
  • Our Dynamic and Evolving Universe by professor of astronomy and astrophysics Wendy Freedman (University of Chicago)—8:30pm
  • Has the Earth Become a Phobic Object? by professor of planetary humanities Frédéric Neyrat (University of Wisconsin-Madison)—8:30pm
  • Harness the Power of Technology for Good: Easy Tips to Boost Your Positivity With Your Phone by founder and CEO of The Brimful Life Beth Ridley—9pm
  • Artificial Intelligence Cooperates with Life by founder and CEO of Arcure Franck Gayraud
  • Building Wildlife Friendly Cities by Seth Magle, Director of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute—9pm
  • Versailles and Giuseppe Penone: A Contemporary Critique of the Baroque “Tyranny Over Nature” by professor of literature Larry Norman and PhD candidate in literature Loriane Lafont (University of Chicago)—9:30pm
  • Is Male Domination “Natural”? by philosopher and sociologist Raphaël Liogier—9:30pm
  • What Happens When the AI Rubber Meets the Road by professor of computer science Ben Y. Zhao (University of Chicago)—9:30pm
  • In Denial: Philosophy and the Fear of Death by professor of religion and literature Sarah Hammerschlag (University of Chicago)—9:30pm
  • Dancing With Gravity by juggling artist Cyril Rabbath—10pm
  • The Poem Tree is Alive: Poetic Voices and Spaces in North Africa by postdoctoral fellow in Romance languages and literatures Khalid Lyamlahy (University of Chicago)—10pm

Panels and discussions

  • Diversity and Inclusion in Action: Black History Month and the Field Museum with Reda Brooks and Mark Alvey (Field Museum)—7pm
  • Great Universities in Vibrant Cities with Bala Srinivasan, Derek Douglas, Katherine Baicker, Deborah Gorman-Smith, and Jay Schrankler (University of Chicago)—7pm
  • The Lives We Lead: The Evolution of Disability Rights Across Generations with Rahnee Patrick (Illinois Department of Human Services), Emily Blum and Risa Jaz (ADA 25 Advancing Leadership)—8pm
  • Solving Environmental Challenges in Collaboration with Affected Communities with Kim Suiseeya, Jennifer Dunn, James Schwoch & Patty Loew (Northwestern University)—8pm
  • Chicago’s West Side Pride and Identity with architect and professor Odile Compagnon (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), David Jurca (Seventh Hill LLC), Corey and Graig Stevenson (Open Architecture), Andrew Schachman (Floating Museum), artist Jaclyn Jacunski, North Lawndale entrepreneurs Anna Maria Leon and Apriel Campbell, and product designer and design engineer Eric Hotchkiss—9pm
  • Cities 2020 and Beyond: Intelligent, Resilient and Sustainable with Elizabeth Kocs, Elena Grossman, Michael Stachyra, Joe Bozeman, Anne-Marie Hanson, Carolee Rigsby, Yu-Feng Lin, Ashish Sharma, Zhonghua Zheng, Laura Gray and Michael B. Reiter (University of Illinois System)—9pm
  • The Best Diet to Keep Our Bodies and the Planet Alive with journalist Monica Eng(WBEZ), Joseph Bozeman III (Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, UIC), and Thomas Jonas (CEO of Sustainable Bioproducts)—10pm
  • Building Cities Around People conversation led by LyftUp (Lyft)—10pm
  • Cultivating Sex Positivity in Chicago conversation led by Coelti, Kristiana Rae Colón, Liz Velek & Karen Yates—10pm
  • Performing Life: Alive in the Theater with theater director Hutch Pimentel, dramaturg Derek Matson, artist Regina Victor, and actor Abbas Salem—10pm


  • Feeling Alive with Science Riot by paleontologist Eric Gorscak (Field Museum), material science and engineering PhD candidate Nathan Bradshaw (Northwestern University), and professor of mechanical engineering Matthew Spenko (Illinois Institute of Technology)—7pm
  • Physics Slam by research associate Fernanda Psihas and scientist Pedro Machado (Fermilab)—7pm
  • Hands in the Pockets by juggling artists Jérôme Thomas, Jörg Müller & Martin Schwietzke—7:30pm
  • Music: Duo OASIS by Isabelle Olivier (harp) and Rez Abbasi (guitar)—8pm
  • Music: Trio OASIS by Isabelle Olivier, Rez Abbasi, and Ernie Adams (drums)—9:30pm
  • Dance performance by The Era Footwork Crew—11pm
  • DJ Set by DJ Spinn—11pm

Workshops and interactive activities 

  • The Meaning of Being Alive, a Philosophy Corner with professor of philosophy Agnes Callard and students from the Lab School and University of Chicago—8–11pm
  • To Create Is to Live Twice: Chicago Latinx and Black Communities Creating through Entrepreneurship, a pitch session with Phil Coleman, Dapo Kolawole, Bernardo Salazar, Ashton Clark and Ricardo Alvarado (Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce)—8pm
  • An Introduction to Taoist Long Life Practice, a tai chi and meditation class with philosopher and sociologist Raphaël Liogier—8:30pm
  • Dance workshop by The Era Footwork Crew—8:30pm
  • Glow Flow, Yoga Class with London Durand (CorePower Yoga)—10pm
  • Living Information: Motion Capture, Kung Fu and Quantum Entanglement, an interactive installation by STAGE Lab University of Chicago and Rush Motion Analysis Lab—7–9pm
  • Poems While You Wait, with poets Kathleen Rooney, Eric Plattner, Coelti, Meredith Boe and Hajrije Kolimja—7-9pm
  • Animated, an art installation by Peach, Nicole Ruggiero and Blackthread Agency—7-11pm
  • Ask a Scientist, Pritzker DNA Lab and Grainger Science Hub—7-9pm
  • The Lies We Tell, with urban planner and artist Vitaliy Vladimirov—7-11pm
  • Silhouette Portrait by artist Nina Nightingale—7-9pm
  • #ChangeMyMind Challenge and Hands-On Activities with Fermilab Scientists—7-11pm
  • Field Museum Science Stations with Field Museum Scholars Janet Voight, Jim Louderman, Matthew Nelsen & Matt Von Konrat —7-9pm

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The Chicago Gifted Community Center (CGCC) is a member-driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by parents to support the intellectual and emotional growth of gifted children and their families. 

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