The Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry grapples with some of the toughest questions of our time.
The University of Arizona’s research center explores human culture, history and creative expression, and it draws upon the expertise of social scientists, humanists, artists and others to find answers.
“It’s been a much-needed enterprise at the university, given our long history of interdisciplinary efforts through the years,” says Javier D. Durán, the center's director.
The center was created in 2010 and since then has awarded more than $1 million in grants and fellowships. Funded projects include everything from an examination of food security along the U.S. border to a study of the history and cultural heritage of an American Indian tribe.
Linguistics icon Noam Chomsky and author Luis Urrea have been guest speakers at some of the events the center hosts throughout the year. Their next function will focus on the culture of lowriders in Tucson.
As the center’s name implies, merging work from across a wide gamut of disciplines is a core component of the organization’s mission. Still, challenges arise from having people from so many diverse backgrounds and departments working together.
Duran says he fosters an atmosphere of collaboration by imbedding curiosity and a desire to learn something new into the workplace.
“Interdisciplinarity is not necessarily breaking boundaries,” he adds, “but also creating relationships.”
But the group’s research doesn't just benefit intellectuals in an ivory tower, Duran points out. Across campus and the state, findings from the center's projects have impacted and improved actual communities.
Looking towards the future, Duran says there are many things he’d like to mark off his checklist of goals for the Confluencenter.
“In 10 years, I want to see a multi-level center, virtual and real, that can really address the grand challenges of humanity that we face,” Duran says, "and make this a better place for a future generation.”