Illinois Tech and Chicago Humanities Will Explore the Intersection of Humanity and Technology in a Series of Events May 18

From architects and AI pioneers to designers and artists, Illinois Tech will host a diverse array of Chicago Humanities thinkers and leaders who are forging the future of innovation, culture, and society in our rapidly evolving world


The words Humans + Tech are superimposed over a photo of a building.

CHICAGO—March 14, 2024—Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) and Chicago Humanities will join forces Saturday, May 18, for a scintillating day of talks and demonstrations exploring the intersections of technology, humanity, and our shared future. Featured speakers include former White House fixtures Jen Psaki and George Stephanapoloulos, novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and performance artist Marina Abramović. As Chicago’s only tech-focused university and home to the birthplace of human-centered design, Illinois Tech stands at the forefront of integrating the human experience into technology. Illinois Tech’s Institute of Design, College of Architecture, and the Humanities Department at the Lewis College of Science and Letters have joined forces to bring Chicago Humanities to its Bronzeville campus, a design epicenter on Chicago’s South Side.

“Chicago Humanities is a platform for and helps give voice to the broad range of voices that make up Chicago and our nation,” says Executive Director Phillip Bahar. “We welcome artists, authors, social scientists, policy makers, and other idea-makers to our stages to discuss the most pressing civic, social, and cultural issues of our time—from the impacts of climate change on our world to artificial intelligence on our society, from artists reflecting on our past and present to scientists looking to the future.”

“More than ever, we’re partnering in Chicago communities to amplify the stories of local voices and partners,” adds Co-Creative Director Lauren Pacheco. “This season—in places like the historic Ramova Theater in Bridgeport and on Illinois Tech’s iconic campus in Bronzeville—we’re exploring the relationship between activism and civil rights through the work of Chicago grassroots organizer Saul Alinsky, working with community advocates to talk about injustice, and celebrating local artists like JB Daniels and Clamor & Lace Noise Brigade, Chicago’s first marching band composed solely performers of marginalized genders.”

In addition to a full day of speakers, attendees will experience the largest concentration of Mies van der Rohe buildings in the world, including Crown Hall—home to the College of Architecture—and John Ronan’s contemporary translation of Mies, the Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship—home to the Institute of Design. The Institute of Design (ID), founded by Bauhaus émigré László Moholy-Nagy in 1937 as The New Bauhaus, is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in systems design and interdisciplinary innovation. The College of Architecture continues Mies van der Rohe’s mission of blending functionality with aesthetics, creating spaces that respond to and enhance the human experience. Lewis College of Science and Letters puts social consciousness at the heart of all its programs, encouraging students and faculty to use technology to solve human problems while advancing the leading edge of science and technology.

In one of more than a dozen events, John Maeda, Microsoft’s vice president of design and artificial intelligence, will have a conversation with ID Dean Anijo Mathew on “Redefining Design in the Era of AI.” They will discuss how, with advances in machine learning, AI can address functional needs to the point where traditional forms are obsolete, ushering in a new paradigm where function dictates existence without the constraints of physical form.

“In an era where the rapid advancement of technologies like AI is reshaping our world, the need for design has never been more critical. On May 18, ID is bringing this perspective to the forefront, showcasing the indispensable role of humanity-focused approaches in harnessing technology for societal good,” said Mathew. “Chicago Humanities provides an invaluable platform for these interdisciplinary exchanges, enriching our collective understanding of humanity's role in a technologically driven world.”

In another conversation, architect Walter Hood, who was awarded 2023 Project of the year by Architect’s Newspaper for the International African American Museum, will discuss his design approach on art, landscape, and urbanism with moderator Maria Villalobos Hernandez, director of CoA’s Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism Program.

“At IIT College of Architecture, we’re profoundly mindful that buildings are made for humans to inhabit, and that harmony of form and function elevates architecture as an art and a science both. The marriage of humanity and technology is an ethos embraced at the college and throughout Illinois Institute of Technology, and I’m excited for this opportunity to showcase those ideas with Chicago Humanities,” said Reed Kroloff, dean of the College of Architecture.

Game and interactive experience designer Caro Murphy will talk to Illinois Tech’s Carly Kocurek, associate dean of humanities at Lewis, in a playful discussion on the emerging field and art form of interactive, experiential, and live-action game design. Murphy has produced award-winning work in their role as immersive experience director for Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser environment, serves as co-executive director of the Playable Theatre nonprofit, and co-founded and led the Boston Festival of Indie Games for a decade.

“We sometimes forget that there is nothing more human than the technologies that we create. The humanities perspective on our technology future focuses on storytelling, cultures, and imagining different futures that challenge oppressive systems while opening spaces for exploration. Caro Murphy’s and Carly Kocurek’s work intersect at one of these imagined future places via the Star Wars experiences–Caro as a designer in that space building the stories, and Carly as a documentarian of that space, telling the stories about,” said Jennifer deWinter, dean of Lewis. “Lewis College and the Humanities Department is thrilled to work with Chicago Humanities to explore these humanistic questions at the intersection of storytelling and technological futures.”

Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American studies at Princeton University, will discuss her unique interdisciplinary perspective on social justice and technology. In her latest book, Imagination: A Manifesto, Benjamin argues that imagination gives us the power to challenge systems of oppression, such as hierarchies created by racism, sexism, and classism.

“Illinois Tech’s mission extends beyond the borders of campus; it’s about our deep relationship with our neighbors and co-creating an enriching environment for the Bronzeville community, the South Side, and all of Chicago,” said Alicia Bunton, assistant vice president of community affairs. “This collaboration with Chicago Humanities is a testament to our dedication to integrating education, technology, and the humanities in ways that benefit not just our students but our city as a whole. Through this partnership, we aim to foster dialogue, inspire innovation, and build bridges across diverse communities.”

Between Crown Hall and Kaplan, there will be art activations on campus, including the South Side Home Movies Project and a pop-up performance by Clamor & Lace Noise Brigade, Chicago’s first street marching band composed solely of musicians and performers of marginalized genders.

Tickets for Illinois Tech events on May 18 in partnership with Chicago Humanities are available for purchase through their website:

Illinois Institute of Technology

Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the power of collective difference to advance technology and innovation for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It’s home to the Institute of Design (ID), which Bauhaus émigré László Moholy-Nagy founded in 1937 and is recognized around the globe as a pioneer in human-centered design, systems design, and other methods that apply design to the real world. The College of Architecture builds on a legacy of disciplined experimentation in materials and technologies to educate and inspire the next generation of architects and landscape architects, and Lewis College of Science and Letters puts social consciousness at the center of a technology-driven education, bridging the gap between theory and application, ideas and action. ID, College of Architecture and Lewis College have joined forces for this unique look into our human and technology future. Visit

Chicago Humanities

For more than 30 years, Chicago Humanities has been curating live events that bring the world to Chicago while elevating Chicago on behalf of the people who call it home. Centered on culture, creativity, and connection, these experiences expose audiences to the most provocative thinkers—both established and emerging—while celebrating new perspectives and ways of thinking. Under the leadership of Executive Director Phillip Bahar, Chicago Humanities is one of Chicago’s most vibrant civic institutions.

Media Contacts

Petra Kelly
Communications Director
Illinois Institute of Technology
Cell: 773.771.1064

Kevin Dollear
Communications Manager
Illinois Institute of Technology
Cell: 773.860.5712

Stephanie Storey
Phone: 818.694.6450