UK faculty joins festival encouraging fresh thinking

By Colleen McCoy

Most people would not see what a fashion designer from New Zealand, a California neuroscientist and UK faculty members have in common.

The answer can be found at the fifth Idea Festival, a three-day event beginning Sept. 13 in Louisville that encourages dialogue from professionals in a variety of disciplines.

Well-known innovators such as Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, Karen Walker, a New Zealand-based fashion designer and Homaro Cantu, a chef and leader in molecular gastronomy, will be among those highlighted at the festival.

More familiar to students are UK faculty members and Idea Festival presenters Lisa Broome-Price, Tom Marksbury and John Stempel. Phil Kraemer, the associate provost for undergraduate education, has provided coordinating support for the festival.

“I heard about the Idea Festival last year,” Stempel said. “As a college professor, I think it is important to stimulate thinking on these ideas.”

Originally held in Lexington, the Idea Festival was founded in 2000 by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC). In 2006, the festival relocated to Louisville to accommodate the growing number of participants.

UK has been an important source of support since the event began, said Kris Kimel, president of KSTC.

The event, held in the Kentucky Convention Center hosts about 75 different organizations, including KSTC and UK.

The festival began out of the need for an affordable international forum in Kentucky to provide discussions, presentations, music, performances and films in all areas of life and work.

“I feel like in today’s world, it is really all about innovation,” Kimel said. “Ideas change the world, and the only competitive edge is the ability to out-innovate the competition.”

Even with a network of previous presenters, finding the innovators for the festival is a constant, year-round search for those involved, Kimel said.

“We always have our radar up, looking for interesting people,” Kimel said. “We’re just always on the lookout.”

Broome-Price, a student affairs officer, said she was “entirely hooked by the concept.”

A large goal of the event is to share information from seemingly opposite fields, Kimel said.

“Whether you are a dancer, chef, scientist or fashion designer, you learn something from the intersection of others’ fields,” Kimel said. “The point is to get out of the box and use different people’s knowledge to do what you do better.”

Ticket prices range from free to $75 depending on the presentation. More information is available at the festival Web site (